Third quarter sales at Hachette Book Group USA fell 18.5% in the period ended September 30, 2014 compared to the third quarter of 2013, parent company Lagardere reported. The decline was attributed to difficult comparisons with last year when the company had an “unusually high” number of bestsellers led by The Longest Ride, Lagardere said. The “difficult situation” with Amazon also impacted sales and some titles were delayed because of scheduling issues, Lagardere said.
For all of Lagardere Publishing, revenue in the quarter fell 2.9%, to 564 million euros. In addition to softness in the U.S., sales were down in France and the U.K., but rose in Spain/Latin America.
For the first nine months of 2014, total revenue was down 2.0%, to $1.47 billion euros. Sales in the U.S. were down 3.5% in the period and were off 2% in the U.K. Strong lists last year and slower e-book sales, which were hurt by the inability of consumers to pre-order titles, were cited for the decline in the year-to-date results in the U.S. Ebooks accounted for 28% of HBG revenue through September 2014 compared to 31% in the January-September period in 2013.
HBG CEO Michael Pietsch pointed to a number of “amazing books” due out in the current quarter, including titles by David Baldacci, Amanda Palmer, Chuck Todd, and Marla Heller. Pietsch noted that the agreement with Amazon “will be a wonderful boost to the end of the year.”