Earnings at Lagardère Publishing fell 9.6% in 2018 compared to 2017, falling to €190 million from €210 million in the prior year. The company attributed the decline primarily to a “sharp fall” in education results in France, the U.K., and Spain. Earlier this year, the company said publishing revenue fell 1.6%, to €2.52 billion.
The Hachette Book Group was a bright spot for the company in terms of sales and earnings growth. Total revenue rose 3.7% in the U.S. over 2017, and profits increased by an unspecified amount.
In a prepared statement, HBG CEO Michael Piestsch said: “HBG’s increased profits in 2018 were the result of superb publishing across our divisions, solid revenue growth, a continued rise in downloadable audio sales, and a strong backlist performance.”
Overall, the U.S. and Canada accounted for 29% of Lagardère Publishing’s total revenue in 2018 (about $736 million at today’s exchange rate), up from 27% in 2017. HBG’s results also reflected a small contribution from Worthy Publishing, which was acquired last September.
Lagardère reported that sales of digital audio rose 30% across its publishing operations and accounted for 2.7% of total revenue, up from 2.0% a year ago. E-book sales fell in the U.S. and U.K., but still represented 7.9% of revenue, even with 2017.
Looking at HBG’s prospects for 2019, Piestch said “the year will be full of important and bestselling publications,” pointing to such titles as Malcolm Gladwell's Talking to Strangers, James Patterson’s The 18th Abduction, Harlan Coben’s Run Away, Jared Diamond’s Upheaval, and George Will’s The Conservative Sensibility, among others.