Revenue at Hachette Book Group rose 3.3% in the first quarter ended March 31, 2019, over the comparable period in 2018, parent company Lagardère reported. The increase reflected about $13 million in favorable currency exchange and a little more than $2 million from Worthy, which HBG bought last fall. Still, HBG CEO Michael Pietsch said, even excluding extraordinary items, sales in the quarter were up over 2018.
Pietsch credited a mix of frontlist and backlist titles for the gain, citing, among other books, good performances by Run Away by Harlan Coben, The Cornwalls are Gone by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois, and The Case for Trump by Victor Davis Hanson Popular backlist fiction included Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple and Circe by Madeline Miller.
Pietsch said Little, Brown Books for Young Readers also had a solid first quarter led by Malala Yousafzai’s We Are Displaced. Another contributor to the gains in the quarter was continued growth in downloadable audio sales.
For all of Lagardère Publishing, total revenue, including extraordinary items, rose 4.1% in the quarter, to €460 million. Throughout the publishing group, Lagardère said e-book sales were flat in the quarter compared to last year’s first period, while digital audio sales accounted for 3.8% of revenue, up from 2.5% in the quarter of 2018.
Pietsch didn’t make any predictions for the second quarter, but noted a strong lineup that featured Thomas Harris’s first new thriller in 12 years, Cari Mora, and Jared Diamond’s “monumental” Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis.