The Lagardère Group reported that revenue in its Hachette Livre publishing subsidiary rose 4.4% in the first half of 2019 over the comparable period in 2018, but recurring EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) fell 9%. Total sales at Hachette Livre were €1.04 billion, while EBIT was €36 million.
The decline in earnings, Lagardère said, was due mainly to investments in its educational publishing programs, primarily in France. The revenue increase was due in part to a €23 million positive impact from foreign exchange, as well as €9 million from the acquisitions of Gigamic in France and Worthy Publishing Group in the U.S.
In looking at the individual performance of Hachette Livre’s operating divisions, Lagardère reported that sales in the U.S.’s Hachette Book Group fell 1.5% in the first half of the year. The decline was due in part to strong sales last year of The President is Missing by James Patterson and Bill Clinton.
HBG CEO Michael Pietsch noted that despite the sales decline, profits rose. Among the top sellers in the first half of 2019, Pietsch pointed to a number of frontlist titles including Summer of ’69, The 18th Abduction, Run Away, Dark Sacred Night, and The Case for Trump. Backlist hits included the longtime bestsellers You Are a Badass and Outliers.
Lagardère also said sales of digital audiobooks had a “solid advance” in the first half of the year at HBG. For all of Hachette Livre, Lagardère reported that digital audio accounted for 3.4% of total revenue in the first half of 2019, up from 2.5% in the first six months of 2018. E-books represented 8.2% of total revenue in the period, down from 8.4% in the first half of 2018.
Pietsch said the second half of the year features a number of big books from authors such as Malcolm Gladwell, James Patterson, Brent Weeks, Donald Trump Jr., Michael Connelly, Julie Andrews, and Judge Jeanine Pirro.