Revenue at U.K.-based Bloomsbury rose 6.7% in the first half of 2004, to £31 million ($56 million) and operating profit increased 15%, to £2.8 million. Company chairman Nigel Newton said that in the first half of the year Bloomsbury laid the groundwork for better results in the second part of 2004 as well as for 2005.
Trends are similar in Bloomsbury USA, where editorial director Karen Rinaldi said sales in the first half of 2004 were "fine, not spectacular," and noted that the house's "big guns" are being released in the last half of the year. Bloomsbury's biggest gun to date has been Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which will have more than 400,000 copies in print by mid-October. Schott's Food and Drink Miscellany, a follow-up to the popular Schott's Original Miscellany, has also done well, while the paperback edition of Faerie Wars has been a surprise bestseller in the children's segment. Books that are just shipping now or will be during the holidays that Rinaldi has high hopes for include Anthony Bourdaini's Les Halles Cookbook, David Gilbert's The Normals, Neil Jordan's Shade and The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollingshurst, which was shortlisted for the Booker last month.
The publication of Jonathan Strange is the most recent example of Bloomsbury's strategy of publishing certain titles simultaneously across its U.S., U.K. and German operations. Rinaldi estimated that about 25% to 30% of Bloomsbury USA's adult list overlaps with the U.K., while about 50% of the books on the children's list are published in both the U.S. and U.K. The overlap with the German division is lower, Rinaldi added. She said the three divisions publish the same books "whenever we can agree" the titles will work in the individual marketplaces. A forthcoming title that Rinaldi thinks will work in the U.S., U.K and Germany is The Highest Tide, a first novel by Jim Lynch that will be released next fall. Rinaldi acquired worldwide English plus German rights to the book.
Bloomsbury USA will publish about 63 adult titles this year and 40 to 45 children's books. In 2005, plans call for the release of 70 adult titles and 50 children's books. The U.S. office, first opened in late 1998, now has 25 full-time employees, and Rinaldi expects to add a few new spots over the next several months. During the summer, Bloomsbury doubled the size of its children's division staff, adding Diana Blough (sales and marketing manager), Melanie Cecka (executive editor), Debra Shapiro (senior publicity manger), and Lizzy Bromley (senior designer).
Rinaldi said that, overall, expansion plans for Bloomsbury USA are on target. The company recently renewed its distribution agreement with Holtzbrinck under more favorable terms, and is beginning to benefit from economies of scale as the size of its list grows. The unit had sales of £9.1 million ($16 million) in 2003, and Rinaldi expects to top that figure this year.