In a financial performance the publisher acknowledged was unexpected, revenue at Bloomsbury Publishing rose by 18% in the first four months of fiscal 2021, which began on March 1. Bloomsbury released the four-month results ahead of its annual meeting today.

The U.K.-based publisher said that the sales gain was due to a 63% jump in digital revenue and a 9% gain in print sales over the same period in 2019. Digital revenue, Bloomsbury said, includes academic digital products as well as e-books and audiobooks. E-book sales were 53% higher than last year, the publisher reported, and Bloomsbury Digital Resources had a 60% gain over the comparable period last year. Total revenue for the four months was £49.5 million.

By market, the U.S. had the strongest performance, with sales up 38% in the period, while revenue in the U.K. increased 16%. Those gains offset a 1% decline in Australia and a 70% plunge in sales in India due to what Bloomsbury said was the “severe impact of government lockdowns.”

Sales in Bloomsbury's consumer division rose 28% over the same period a year ago, with sales hitting £31.5 million. The increase was led by strong print and e-book sales, Bloomsbury reported, with revenue in the adult group up 29% and children’s group revenue ahead 27%. The academic and professional division had a sales increase of 4%, led by strong growth in Bloomsbury Digital Resources and e-books and offset by “significantly lower print sales,” the company said.

The company said that despite its surprisingly strong start to fiscal 2021, it still could not provide financial guidance for the full year given the uncertain course of the coronavirus. “Our good May and June performance in particular were unexpected, and historically demand for books has been resilient in times of economic downturns,” Bloomsbury said. “However, our customers are unclear about what is to follow. Our outlook in the next eight months therefore remains uncertain as the pandemic continues.”