The popularity of ebooks helps to boost profits at Bloomsbury

THE RISE of ebooks has led to increasing profits at Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury, despite shoppers spending less on books.

The company said that a 58 per cent rise in sales of ebooks meant lower printing and distribution costs, and fewer customers returning books. Ebook sales exploded over Christmas as record numbers of ereaders were unwrapped.

This means that operating profits since September have risen year-on-year, despite a fall in sales the company estimated would amount to two per cent.

The company said cookery books had been some of its best sellers in the build-up to Christmas. Paul Hollywood’s How To Bake and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Three Good Things were among Bloomsbury’s most-popular titles, while Hogwarts Library – additional Harry Potter titles – was another success.

“We are making good progress on many fronts during the transition of the market towards more digital sales. Ebook sales are showing strong momentum,” Bloomsbury chief executive Nigel Newton said.

The company also announced a tie-up with BBC cooking programme MasterChef, which will see a range of MasterChef-themed books go on sale.

Newton said Bloomsbury was well positioned for further successes in the new year, as digital book sales continue to surge and new books from Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, emerge.