It had to happen eventually--slowing sales of Stephenie Meyer impacting results at Hachette Book Group USA. In its preliminary report for 2009, parent company Lagardere said sales at HBG USA fell 20% in the fourth quarter as strong sales of True Compass, Say You’re One of Them and Outliers could not offset the sales of Meyer books in the fourth quarter of 2008 when her books sold 8 million copies in December alone. E-book sales continued to increase in the fourth quarter and accounted for about 5% of sales in December. Lagardere said prior to the fourth quarter, sales at HBG USA had been up by over 10%. For the full year, HBG USA still reported record revenue and EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes).
For the entire Lagadere publishing group, total revenue rose 5.3%, to 2.27 billion euros ($3.1 billion) and would have been up 6.5% excluding the impact of foreign exchange. While slowing Meyer sales hurt the U.S., rising sales in the U.K. led to gains there. France had a strong finish to the year, led by the illustrated books and general literature categories, which benefited from The Lost Symbol.