HarperCollins and Hachette digital safety nets kick in. HarperCollins sees 39% of H2 revenue from digital. Digital and Netflix boost Hachette

The HarperCollins fiscal year runs to June 30, and this year fiscal Q4 (2020 Q2) saw a 3% drop in revenue from $419 million to $407 million. But profits were up 9%, to $47 million. As reported by parent company News Corp, for the full fiscal year revenue of $1.67 billion was down 5% on 2019, with profits down 15% to $214 million.

Bookstore closures of course played a role, but News Corp CFO Susan Panuccio reported a strong showing from the ebook and audiobook sector, describing it as “the strongest digital sale performance in years”, that helped offset the bookstore closures.

Compared to the same period 2019, digital sales were up 26%, with ebook performing best with a 31% rise, while audiobooks rose 17%. Together the two digital sectors made up 29% of HarperCollins revenue in Q2 2020.

Read more over at Publishers Weekly.

Meanwhile Hachette UK’s H2 2020 performance has been described as “sterling” by parent company Lagardère, with revenue down only 2.8% despite the  severe UK lockdown, with Hachette UK CEO David Shelley adding it was an “extremely strong” performance.

Shelley noted the company had seen a “sharp increase” in market share in the UK and in Australia.

School closures hit the company’s bottom line hardest, as across publishing, but trade “helped to mitigate the challenges”, explained Shelley.

We continue to diversify our business for the future by launching in-house studios to enable us to publish a greater number of audiobooks, while a new generation of imprint, Hodder Studio, is taking a more innovative approach to storytelling across print, digital and audio. We have also announced plans to open five new regional offices—in Edinburgh, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and Bristol—to help us tap into the wider creative talent pool around the UK.

Lagardère added that Hachette UK had seen,

robust growth in digital formats.

Hachette’s home performance in France was less robust, with a 14.7% dip in revenue in the period, while Ibero-America saw a 5.2% dip.

The US by contrast performed well in difficult circumstance, leading Lagardère to observe the English language markets had better digital and e-commerce infrastructure.

The US revenue for Hachette were stronger – just a 1% slip in the US – with the book sales resultant of the Netflix streaming original The Witcher acknowledged as the driving force.

That’s something to throw back at the idiot-squad who insist fewer books are being read because people are bingeing on Netflix.

“Fast-paced growth in digital formats” also got a mention, with ebooks totalling 10.6% of Lagardère Publishing’s H2 2020 revenue, up from 8.2% in first-half 2019, with digital audio accounting for 5.3% of revenue, up from 3.4% in same period 2019.

Lagardère Publishing concluded that the results were “stable” despite exceptional challenges and that the stability came from,

a more favourable revenue mix, driven by growth in backlist sales and a sharp rise in sales of e-books and audiobooks.

As the new normal emerges it’s safe to presume Lagardère will continue to pursue that “more favourable revenue mix.”

Read more at The Bookseller.