Big books from familiar names lifted Hachette’s first half sales beyond its 2013 performance despite what CEO Michael Pietsch called in a press email (below) “recent market challenges.”
Those challenges came in the form of Amazon, the world’s largest bookseller, ceasing pre-orders of upcoming Hachette titles and other tactics as part of its negotiation with the publisher over a new trading agreement.
Despite it all, Hachette revenues were up 5.6% in the U.S. versus the first six months of 2013 to €226 million ($303 million). The company attributes its results to strong sales from authors like J.K. Rowling (writing under the pen name Robert Galbraith) and Donna Tartt as well as the integration of the Hyperion business.
At Hachette Book Group: HBG net revenues were up 5.6% over the first six months of 2013, “thanks to the integration of Hyperion, and the takeover of Disney’s distribution activity” notes Lagardère’s press release, as well as “good performances in General Literature, with the publication of THE SILKWORM by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling), reorders for THE GOLDFINCH (Donna Tartt) and LONE SURVIVOR (Marcus Luttrell), and the release in theatres of the movie adaptation of THE MONUMENTS MEN,” which supported the sales of Robert Edsel’s book by the same name. In addition to these titles, books that made significant contributions to US revenues in the first half include James Patterson’s UNLUCKY 13, David Baldacci’s THE TARGET, Nicholas Sparks’ THE LONGEST RIDE, and T.D. Jakes’s INSTINCT.
CEO Michael Pietsch said “It is gratifying to have first half sales that exceed last year’s, especially in light of recent market challenges.”
HBG has had 108 titles on the New York Times bestseller list in print and 43 titles on the New York Times ebook bestseller chart in the first six months of the year, with 32 #1 bestsellers in the first half.
At Hachette Livre: the global publishing division delivered net sales of €903 million, down 1% over the first half of 2013. Looking at the second quarter 2014, the division was up 2.5% over Q2 2013. The slight decrease versus first half 2013 was expected, due to a tough comparison with a strong first half of 2013, especially in France, where Hachette Livre benefitted from the publication of volumes 2 and 3 of the Fifty Shades series and strong sales of Dan Brown’s Inferno. Hachette Livre saw solid growth (+7%) in their Partworks business. In the United Kingdom, business was up 1.1%, due in part to good performances in General Literature, ebook momentum, and Education sales. And in Spain and Latin America, activity was down 6.7% due to challenges to the Education business.
Ebooks accounted for 11.3% of sales in the first half of 2014, unchanged versus the same period last year. In the US, digital sales dropped from 34% of trade sales in 2013 first half to 29% in the first six months of this year, “reflecting market trend, fewer movie tie-ins compared to 2013, and Amazon’s punitive action,” according to Lagardère. In the UK ebooks still showed sustained growth, with 36% of net sales in Adult Trade vs 31% at the end of June 2013.
At Lagardère: the company reported net sales of €3.36 billion, down 1.2% versus the first half of 2013. Net sales in the second quarter are up slightly (+ .1%) versus Q2 2013. Total recurring EBIT, or profit, for Lagardere is €113 million, up 8%.
At HBG, we have a spectacular Fall 2014 season ahead including LIVING COURAGEOUSLY by Joyce Meyer, YOU CAN, YOU WILL by Joel Osteen, 13 HOURS by Mitchell Zuckoff, HOW GOOGLE WORKS by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg, GUS & ME by Keith Richards, “SHOULDN’T YOU BE IN SCHOOL?” by Lemony Snicket, DEATH OF A KING by Tavis Smiley, and BURN by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge, LEARNING FROM THE GIANTS by John Maxwell, AMERICA: FARM TO TABLE by Mario Batali, WINTER STREET by Elin Hilderbrand, JJ VIRGIN’S SUGAR IMPACT DIET by JJ Virgin, BLUE LABYRINTH by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, THE ESCAPE by David Baldacci, THE BURNING ROOM by Michael Connelly, THE UNIVERSAL TONE by Carlos Santana, HOPE TO DIE by James Patterson, and The DASH Diet Younger You by Marla Heller.