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Two major groups have announced strong quarterly figures. Profits at HarperCollins worldwide increased by 32% for the second quarter of 2017, compared to the same period in 2016, and sales at Hachette UK were up 17.5% for the fourth quarter.
Among titles that performed well for HarperCollins were Chaos by Patricia Cornwell, Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance and The Midnight Gang by David Walliams, which performed particularly strongly in the UK. Sales for the quarter ending 31 December 2016 increased by 4%, taking earnings up to $466m.
At Hachette UK, JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – both published by Little Brown – helped boost sales by 17.6% in the fourth quarter of 2016. Parent company Lagardère said that for the year as a whole, the Cursed Child title increased turnover for the publishing division by 11%.
However, Hachette UK CEO Tim Hely Hutchinson pointed out that the “outstanding” final quarter of 2016 was the result of “sales across the board”. He cited its Pokémon Go titles as also particularly helping Harry and his pals achieve those good figures for the group.
The publisher’s biggest selling novels for the fourth quarter of 2016 included John Grisham’s The Whistler, Martina Cole’s Betrayal and Jodi Picoult’s Great Small Things.
Internationally, Lagardère noted that its sales for the fourth quarter were were down 6.4% in France and 12.4% in the US, but were stable in the Spanish/Latin America territories.
On digital, HarperCollins saw sales increase by 3% for the second quarter of 2016, to represent 16% of revenues for the period, while there was just a small increase at Lagardère where ebooks accounted for 7.6% of total revenue for the fourth quarter, compared to 7.5% for the same period in 2015.