The UK publisher doubled profits and turnover last year and is ready to surpass this figure, as the Harry Potter success story continues. The series has been extremely valuable in Bloomsbury's aim to increase overseas sales, while the creation of a US children's publishing division will further establish its position as an international entity to be reckoned with.
Everything is looking up for UK publishers Bloomsbury. The company expects H1 turnover and operating profits to be significantly higher than last year's figures. This is no mean feat: last financial year Bloomsbury saw pre-tax profits and turnover double, to reach GBP5.5 million and GBP50.7 million respectively.
Trading was helped by bestsellers by such authors as Joanna Trollope, Margaret Atwood, Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ondaatje. However, the phenomenal growth has been widely attributed to the Harry Potter book series and the success of the book shows no signs of dying down. After 208 weeks, Harry Potter is continuing to feature in bestseller lists. Revenues from the boy wizard are set to continue rising as the year progresses, with the launch of the paperback edition of Goblet of Fire on July 7 and a film of the first book due out in November. Book and merchandise sales are both expected to receive a major boost.
Bloomsbury also announced hopes to replicate the success of the UK children's publishing unit with the creation of a US children's division. The new operation will start commissioning books later this year for publication from 2002. But the UK publishing company's international ambitions are not limited to the US. One of the group's goals is to increase exports from reference publisher A&C Black's library of content and has already signed distribution contracts in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Continental Europe, the Far East and South America.
The publishing group has its targets set high, but the method of approach seems sensible. The Harry Potter books have provided Bloomsbury with a new tool to help it develop business in new countries, as well as markets that have been relatively limited so far. It is a shame that the children's division was not already set up in the US when the books first came out, as a major moneymaking opportunity was lost. However, Bloomsbury seems to be spending its magically-gained riches wisely enough to be left in a strong position by the time the craze dies down.