Consumers turning to ‘affordable’ books in tough times, Bloomsbury says

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Consumers are turning to books and cutting back on more expensive forms of entertainment, the boss of publisher Bloomsbury said after reporting record-high financial results.

The Harry Potter publisher said it achieved its “best ever” financial performance in the year to the end of February.

Its revenues grew by 15% to to £264 million and its pre-tax profit also jumped by 15% to £25 million compared to the same period last year.

Bloomsbury said it outperformed the wider UK publishing market, which saw growth of 4% year-on-year.

Nearly three quarters of its total revenues came from international sales, Bloomsbury told investors.

“In challenging economic times, readers are turning to books as affordable as they cut back on more expensive forms of diversion,” Nigel Newton, the publisher’s chief executive, said.

The remarks come amid a squeeze in household incomes, with other retailers like electronics giant Currys saying its customers have been chasing down deals or switching to cheaper products.

Bloomsbury said its bestsellers include recipe books Bake by Paul Hollywood and Real Life Recipes by Tom Kerridge, as well as fantasy titles by American author Sarah J Maas.

Paul Hollywood
Paul Hollywood’s book Bake was among the bestsellers for Bloomsbury last year (PA)

Furthermore, a decade-long Harry Potter television series with streaming platform HBO Max is in the works, with each season dedicated to one of the seven books.

Revenues from academic and professional sales soared by 28% to £76 million, driven by a growing number of digital readers.

Mr Newton added: “Our long-term strategy to invest in digital content, which has delivered strong growth and cash, which enables future strategic investment in both our academic and consumer markets and potential acquisitions – the flywheel of Bloomsbury.

“Trading for the 2023 to 2024 financial year has started in line with the board’s expectations and the board is confident in its ability to achieve continued long-term success.

“Bloomsbury plans to invest in further acquisitions and organic growth.”

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