Bloomsbury confident of life after Potter

Bloomsbury assured the market last week that the magic has not deserted it in the post-Harry Potter era and it is banking on a strong line-up of books in the year ahead.

Reporting 2007 results, the publisher said it not only benefited from big sales for the final boy-wizard instalment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but also from the success of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns and other books.

Revenues more than doubled to £150,2-million from £74,8-million, while pre-tax profits trebled to £17,9-million from £5,2-million as Blooms-bury said the final Potter book made 2007 exceptional in the company’s 21-year history.

The Potter books have catapulted Bloomsbury from a small independent publisher to a multimillion-pound business.

Founder and chief executive Nigel Newton struck gold by signing JK ­Rowling when no other house would.

Bloomsbury ships her books into 83 markets.

The publisher’s investors have watched the company take off, and last year earnings per share rose to 16,1p from 4,99p. It raised its full-year dividend by 9% to 4p.

The final Harry Potter book exceeded even Bloomsbury’s expectations, selling more than 2,7-million copies out of British bookshops on the first day of release.

But the last instalment also raised questions over Bloomsbury’s ability to survive without the wizard.

Newton said the final paperback edition has yet to go on sale, and box sets of the complete series are likely to sell for years.

“We are well positioned for the post-Harry Potter era. We have reduced overhead costs, are successfully developing new business areas in specialist publishing, and have a strong pipeline of titles”.

“We will continue to do what Bloomsbury does best—discovering new talent and developing it both in the United Kingdom and overseas.”

Bloomsbury admitted the United States market was tough last year, but Newton said that was not necessarily linked to reports of a book-­buying slowdown in North America.

“We published great books in the adult list but not as many of them went into overdrive as we had predicted,” he said.

The company said across its markets, strong momentum from 2007 had carried on into the start of 2008.

It is particularly looking forward to the release of Sheila Hancock’s Just Me, a follow-up to The Two of Us, a book from Anne Michaels and another River Cottage book from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

Newton also tipped a “dark horse” in this year’s pipeline: Mary Ann Shaffer’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

As well as discovering new authors—including, it hopes, the next Rowling—Bloomsbury seeks to make more of its archive. In 2007, Don’ts for Wives and Don’ts for Husbands, etiquette books from subsidiary A&C Black’s catalogue, were unexpected hits.

Newton also hopes the internet can prolong Bloomsbury’s success. The publisher recently signed up to Microsoft’s Live Search programme, where users can find books and print them on demand.

“It’s a useful way of giving books a third lease of life after their hardback and paperback has died down,” he said.—Â

Client Media Releases

What does the future hold for SMS?
Changes at MBDA already producing the fruits
University open days: Look beyond banners, balloons to make the best choice
ITWeb, VMware second CISO survey under way
Doctoral study on leveraging the green economy