Revenue at the Hachette Book Group USA fell 8.4% in the fourth quarter, and was down 4.8% for the year, parent company Lagardere reported. The drop, Lagardere said, was thanks to a stronger publishing lineup in 2013, as well as problems stemming from the publisher's standoff with Amazon over sales terms. Total revenue for Lagardere dropped 5.5%, to 2.00 billion euros for the year, and declined 3% in the final quarter, to 537 million euros.
E-book sales took a big hit at HBG in the fourth quarter, comprising 19% of trade sales in 2014 down from 27% in the fourth quarter of 2013. Once again, Lagardere blamed a stronger publishing schedule in 2013 and the Amazon dispute for the drop in e-book sales. For the full year, e-book sales accounted for 26% of all trade revenue, down from 30% in 2013. HBG added some more details to digital results, noted that the combination of e-book and downloadable revenue represented 30% of net sales last year compared to 33% in 2013.
In a statement, HBG CEO Michael Pietsch said, “Although 2014 was a challenging year, great publishing from all our divisions produced hundreds of bestsellers, our authors won major awards – a Nobel Peace Prize, a Pulitzer Prize for Literature, A Grammy Award, and a Nebula Award – and we closed 2014 with the acquisition of Black Dog & Leventhal publishers. 2015 is off to a great start, with a strong financial performance, many bestsellers, and two exciting awards -- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers' Caldecott Award for Dan Santat’s Beekle and Hachette Audio’s Grammy Award for the young adult edition of Malala Yousafzai’s I Am Malala. We have a spectacular list of new books in the coming months."
Recapping results by geographic segment,s Lagardere said revenue in France was down 8.6% due to declines in both the general literature and education segments. In the U.K., sales fe;; 4.6% compared to 2013 which had gained from the exceptional success of Sir Alex Ferguson's autobiography as well as The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith. Sales in Spain/Latin America fell 1.1% as Spain was affected by the low renewal rate on textbooks.
With declines in U.S., e-book revenue accounted for 10.3% of sales across all publishing divisions in 2014, down from 10.4% in 2013. Somewhat offsetting the decline in e-book sales in the U.S., e-book sales rose in the U.K., accounting for 31% of adult trade sales, up from 27% in 2013, In France, e-book sales accounted for 3.8% of sales of the general literature group.