Sales at Lagardère’s publishing group rose 3% in the first quarter ended March 31, 2023, over the comparable period in 2022, rising to €570 million. The increase was largely due to the 2022 acquisitions of Welbeck Publishing Group and Paperblanks, which added €12 million.
Sales in Lagardère’s French, U.K., and Spanish divisions were up in the first period, but in the U.S., Hachette Book Group had a tough quarter, with sales falling 11%. HBG CEO Michael Pietsch attributed the drop to a strong first quarter for HBG last year, which included the release of Dolly Parton and James Patterson’s Run, Rose, Run, as well as what Pietsch called “a generally softer market, especially for hardcovers.” Hachette Audio had “a standout” quarter, Pietsch added, with increased sales across frontlist and backlist offerings, and three Audie Awards.
Fiction highlights in the first quarter included big bestselling thrillers—The House of Wolves, Countdown, I Will Find You, The Cabinet of Dr. Leng—and continuing strong sales of Colleen Hoover’s Verity. Leading nonfiction titles were Young Forever, Eat to Beat Your Diet, The Answer to Anxiety, and Walk the Blue Line, Pietsch said.
The second quarter started on a high note, Pietsch said, with Admiral William McRaven’s The Wisdom of the Bullfrog becoming a #1 bestseller and Sandra Boynton’s Woohoo! You’re Doing Great! hitting the bestseller list in its first week on sale. The second quarter will also see the staff in Workman’s New York offices move to HBG’s headquarters in May. HBG bought Workman in September 2021.
Lagardère did not offer any update on the financial forecast for the full year. Previously, the company said it expected total publishing sales and earnings in 2023 to be about even with last year.