First quarter sales at Lagardère Publishing fell 6.2%, to 393 million euros compared to the first period ended March 31, 2013. The company attributed most of the decline to the strong sales of the Fifty Shades trilogy that sold 1.8 million copies in France last year.
Lagardere said in English-speaking countries, “business was down slightly due to a lower programme of titles and to some postponements of releases.” At its U.S., division, Hachette Book Group,first quarter revenue was "slightly below budget but gross profit ahead of budget," according to HBG CEO Michael Pietsch. Pietsch said HBG faced tough comparisons with last year's first quarter which was led by strong sales of tie-ins to the Safe Haven, Beautiful Creatures and The Host films.
E-book sales slowed from last year’s first quarter pace, Pietsch said, while downloadable audio continued to grow. E-book sales accounted for 34% of HBG trade sales in the quarter, the same as in the first period of 2013. "We are encouraged by strong performance of our publications at book retail chains and independent bookstores,” Pietsch added.
E-book sales rose worldwide and accounted for 13.4% of revenue at the end of the quarter compared to 12.4% a year ago.