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Pandemic Impact: HarperCollins Sees Decline in Book Sales

by | Aug 15, 2023 | News

HarperCollins has partly blamed the bursting of the pandemic bubble for a 10% decline in global book sales.  In results for the financial year ending 30 June 2023 posted by parent company News Corp, HarperCollins’ revenues stood at $1.98bn (£1.56bn), compared to $2.19bn (£1.73bn) in 2022.  For the three months ending 30 June 2023 (fourth quarter), revenues stood at $446m (£351m), down 13% from $513m (£404m).  Profits were down 45%.

CEO Brian Murray in part blames the bubble in book sales that was one of the unexpected consequences of the covid pandemic.  He pointed out that many accounts over ordered which in turn led to over-printing by publishers.  There was a decline in consumer book buying once the various lockdowns were over and consumers had other distractions.

Murray told Publishers Weekly that results in the third quarter ended this March showed some improvement, but the fourth was a disappointment when profits tumbled 66%. “I thought we could work through things in six months, but it looks like it took a full year,” Murray said, noting that orders from the majority of accounts were down throughout fiscal 2023 and that the plunge in profits in the fourth quarter was due in part to heavy returns.

He was encouraged that while industry sales are down in 2023 from last year, they are still ahead of 2019, and he noted while North America was down, results were up in the UK, Spain, Germany, Brazil, and India. “North America had the biggest pandemic bubble and it had the biggest burst,” he said.

In conclusion, he added: “I think the industry is finding its equilibrium.  It was a challenging year.  The numbers don’t paint a rosy picture.  [But now] I’m feeling better about things.”

 

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