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Harry Potter casts new spell over Bloomsbury book sales

Justin George Varghese

Reuters

| Wed, May 23, 2018 | 02:09 pm
Harry Potter casts new spell over Bloomsbury book sales

Harry Potter fans attend an anniversary presentation at Waterstones bookshop in London, Britain June 26, 2017. (Reuters/Eddie Keogh)

Harry Potter special editions helped Bloomsbury’s revenue to its highest level since 2007, when the last of the original books came out, lifting the publisher’s shares to a 10-year high.

Sales of the boy wizard’s adventures rose 31 percent in the year to the end of February, while titles such as Tom Kerridge’s ‘Lose Weight For Good’ and ‘A Court of Wings and Ruin’ by Sarah J. Maas also shone, Bloomsbury said on Tuesday.

The London-based publisher said its performance this year will be “well ahead” of previous expectations, helped by a strong autumn book list and the acquisition of IB Tauris, which focuses on history, social sciences and culture.

Bloomsbury shares were up 8.7 percent to 225 pence at 1023 GMT, their highest level since February 2007.

The robust performance reflects an improving British book market, where special editions featuring vintage covers and new artwork have helped draw readers back to print formats.

Bloomsbury’s revenue rose 13.3 percent to 161.5 million pounds ($217.3 million) in the year, surpassing the 150 million pounds it reported in 2007, while full-year pretax profit rose 10 percent to 13.2 million pounds.

Read also: ‘Harry Potter: A History of Magic’ goes online

Spreading the magic

Bloomsbury has been looking to reduce its reliance on the Harry Potter books, which have sold more than 450 million copies worldwide to date, and is making a push into digital.

This year, as part of this digital drive, it expects to launch five new online resources, which cover a range of disciplines in humanities, social sciences, visual and performing arts, on top of five it launched last year.

Over the next year, the company plans to launch new online resources such as Bloomsbury Architecture Library, Fashion Video Workshop and Applied Visual Arts Library.

Harry Potter’s success has also helped it invest in higher-margin academic and professional publishing, focusing on business-to-business digital publishing.

However, revenue at Bloomsbury’s academic division, which specializes in the arts, humanities and social sciences, fell 5.8 percent, hit by a decline in Britain’s education sector.

Digital revenues grew by 12.5 percent to 18 million pounds in the year, while print revenues grew 15 percent to 134.8 million pounds, Bloomsbury said.

Bloomsbury announced a final dividend of 6.36 pence per share, bringing the total dividend for the year to 7.51 pence, 12 percent higher than the total payout last year.

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