Bloomsbury hails highest ever profit amid fantasy fiction craze

bloomsbury hails highest ever profit amid fantasy fiction craze

Bloomsbury

Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury has reported its highest ever profit after being boosted by the craze for fantasy fiction books.

The company hailed author Sarah J Maas for driving a surge in popularity for the genre.

Bloomsbury Publishing revealed that its pre-tax profit surged by nearly two thirds to £41.5 million in the year to the end of February, from £25.4 million a year earlier.

For its consumer division, which consists of both adult and children’s books, revenues soared by nearly 50% year on year.

Sarah J Maas is a publishing phenomenon and we are very fortunate to have signed her up with her first book 14 years ago

Nigel Newton, Bloomsbury

Total sales were up by 30% to £342.7 million for the latest year.

The publisher said Sarah J Maas was behind a large part of this success, as the American author behind romantic fantasy series Throne of Glass, A Court of Thorns and Roses, and Crescent City.

It said her books have “captivated a huge audience”, supported by the publisher’s own major promotional campaign and through social media channels.

“Recent success has been principally driven by the increasing demand for fantasy fiction,” said Nigel Newton, chief executive of Bloomsbury.

“Sarah J Maas is a publishing phenomenon and we are very fortunate to have signed her up with her first book 14 years ago.”

Mr Newton added: “We had an outstanding year at Bloomsbury with exceptional trading leading to the highest revenue and profit in Bloomsbury’s 37-year history.”

Maas’s books have sold more than 38 million copies in English worldwide, and are published in multiple other languages.

They have gained fame on video sharing app TikTok, with trending hashtags such as “BookTok” helping popularise titles online.

When Bloomsbury says there will not be a new title from Sarah J Maas in its current financial year, investors are understandably worried

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell

Meanwhile, Bloomsbury said the Harry Potter series was continuing to sell strongly, 26 years after first being published.

Other bestselling titles including cookbooks by authors Poppy O’Toole and Tom Kerridge, and young adult, fantasy book Impossible Creatures by Katherine Rundell.

However, sales from its academic and professional division dipped by about 7% year on year, amid a wider shift toward digital learning since the pandemic.

Bloomsbury said it is expecting trading for the next financial year to be slightly higher than previous guidance, with six new books contracted with Maas.

However, it is not expecting to publish a new Maas title in the next financial year.

Experts said this could have spooked investors, with shares in Bloomsbury down by about 6% on Thursday.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: “The twin-headed machine that is Harry Potter and Sarah J Maas has made Bloomsbury the envy of the publishing world and taken its share price to new heights.

“Therefore, when Bloomsbury says there will not be a new title from Sarah J Maas in its current financial year, investors are understandably worried.

“That shifts the emphasis on making money from her back catalogue, in the same way that Bloomsbury has managed to sweat its Harry Potter assets with new versions of the beloved book series, bringing in a new generation of readers.”

He added that investors want the “star author to keep churning out new titles”.

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