Ebooks lead to growth at Bloomsbury

THE CHRISTMAS boost in e-reader sales led to a strong quarter for Bloomsbury, the London-based publisher, which reported significant growth in its digital department.

For the September to December period inclusive, Bloomsbury saw a 38 per cent increase in ebook sales compared to the same quarter the previous year. Over a million electronic reading devices were sold during the holiday period.

Cookbooks boosted sales during the quarter too, with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg Everyday and Heston Blumenthal’s Heston at Home remaining bestsellers.

Other popular Christmas purchases included Stephen Kelman’s Pigeon English, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize last year, and box sets of J K Rowling’s wizard adventure.

The Harry Potter publisher also generated revenues from a range of projects, including a licencing deal with Indian brand Wisden which is expected to bring in $3.2m (£2.1m) plus royalties over five years.

Taking into account the possibility of unwanted gift returns over the next few weeks, Bloomsbury feels confident it will deliver results in line with expectations.

The group rounded off 2011 with net cash of £7m.

Bloomsbury chief executive Nigel Newton said: “I am delighted at the way the group has performed during this extremely active time in the industry.

“We have a robust business, strongly adapted to the digital market place, that we have positioned to take full advantage of the continuing opportunities arising from growth of online sales and sales of ebooks.”

Shares in the book group jumped two per cent, closing at 99p.