Hachette Livre is the world’s third-largest trade book publisher for the general public and educational markets (number one in France, number two in the United Kingdom, number three in Spain, number four in the United States).
Hachette Livre (or Lagardère Publishing) is a subsidiary of Lagardère Media, which is the holding company for Lagardère’s media operations.
In 2016 the group published 17,696 new titles in more than 150 imprints, including the trade publishing houses Grasset, Fayard, Stock, Calmann-Lévy and Lattès in France. In textbooks, Hachette Éducation and the Alexandre Hatier group make Hachette Livre the leading educational publisher in France. In the United Kingdom, Hachette UK was the second-largest publisher in 2016. It covers six divisions: Octopus for illustrated books; Orion; Hodder & Stoughton; Headline; Little, Brown for general literature; and Hachette Children’s Books in the Youth Works segment. Hachette Livre Spain has been the third-largest publisher in Spain since Santillana’s acquisition by Penguin Random House, and ranks as the leading publisher of textbooks through Anaya and Bruño. In the United States, Hachette Book Group is the fourth-largest trade book publisher with Grand Central Publishing; Little, Brown; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; FaithWords; Orbit; Twelve; and Mulholland.
Worldwide, Hachette Livre is present either directly or indirectly in more than 70 countries across all of its business lines.
Hachette also holds further stakes, partnerships or other activities in China, with Phoenix Publishing & Media Group, PPMG, and Russia, with a 49 % share in Atticus.
Analysis & Key Developments
Lagardère closed fiscal 2016 with revenues increasing by 2.6% from 2.2 billion EUR to 2.3 billion EUR, despite the continued decline of e-book sales. The company’s recurring EBIT increased by 10 million EUR to 208 million EUR.
Hachette Livre reaped its full share of the upturn in its markets, particularly in the United Kingdom, where Hachette UK (HUK) achieved remarkable success in General Literature, notably with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and in Textbooks, and the company’s US sales of printed books increased in line with the market. Additionally, the American robust cost-containment plan resulted in firmer margins.
Illustrated Books continued to sell very well, especially thanks to the runaway success of the cookbook Simplissime.
Trends in foreign exchange rates had a negative impact overall on Lagardère Publishing’s results given the fall in sterling against the euro.
Sales by publishing segment were led by education with 16.7% (15.9% in 2015). Illustrated books represented 13.1% (16.6% in 2015), partworks 11,4% (10,9% in 2015), and 15.2% from other genres (16.1% in 2015).
In January 2016 Hachette Livre started a partnership with Knewton to develop adaptive curricula for K-12 and higher education students. Partnership also extends personalized learning across French schools.
In April 2016 Kadokawa Corporation and Hachette Book Group announced an agreement to create a new venture to bring together Hachette’s Yen Press imprint (a US publisher of Japanese manga and “light” novels) and Japan’s Kadokawa, which will hold majority ownership.
In August 2016 the Hachette Book Group started a partnership in the US with the online mobile Platform Tapas Media, an app-provider with a combination of free comics and paid book titles in the US.
In early 2016, Hachette announced it would buy Perseus’s publishing division through the Hachette Book Group in the US, while Perseus’s distribution and fulfillment division Constellation would be acquitted by Ingram. The deal was first attempted 18 months earlier, but fell apart. Perseus’s revenues will be consolidated into the balance sheet of Hachette from 2016.
In June 2016 Hachette acquired Neon Play, a mobile games development company, with the objective to create both books-related games and standalone games under the guidance of Hachette UK.
In December 2016 the company announced that it acquired a majority stake in Brainbow Ltd, a London-based British mobile app company, as another step in Hachette Livre’s mobile strategy.
In March 2017 Hachette Livre bought the independent e-book publisher Bookouture, to help it grow e-book sales across the group.
In March 2016 Hachette Livre sold its 50% stake in Harlequin France to HarperCollins.
Change in Management
In May 2017 Hachette Livre announced that Tim Hely Hutchinson will retire as CEO of Hachette UK at the end of 2017. He will act as a consultant to the Group until the end of 2018. David Shelley, at present CEO of Little, Brown Book Group and Orion, will become CEO of HUK from 1st January 2018.
Hachette Livre’s key markets include France, the US, the UK, and Spain. Sales in France declined by 1.2% to 28.1%. Revenues in the US rose to 24.7% due to higher sales of printed books increased in line with the market, and a robust cost-containment plan resulted in firmer margins. Hachette’s UK revenues slipped by 1.8% to 18.5%. Spanish revenue slipped slightly by 0.1% to 6.3%. Hachette’s other markets provided a growth in sales and contributed to 22.4%.
Hachette’s eight-pronged strategy is unchanged and, with plans for selective investments in high-growth markets such as Russia, India and China.
Hachette was met with stagnating sales of e-books and significantly stronger sales of printed books in the US and UK. In the US the e-book segments revenues lost 6% (excl. Perseus) and Hachette UK’s digital sales fell by 9%. Hachette ascribes the decline to the sharp drop of sales of devices, through which the market appears to have reached a saturation point in the United States. In addition the loss is contributed to the new agency agreement between the major publishers and retailers, which triggered, in the US and the UK alike, the end of discounted e-book prices. In total the contribution of e-books to Lagardère Publishing’s overall sales fell to 8%, from 9% in 2015.
In 2016, Hachette acquired through its British arm games developer Neon play, and also started a partnership with Shazam, a specialist in visual recognition through Hachette Livre, with both deals meant to speed up Hachette’s digital business. “It’s something where we are very much on the front foot. E-book sales are not declining because people don’t like digital things. They are declining because there is less discounting in the market. What people are really looking for with the digital world is more interactivity. So communicating with each other on social networks and playing games, you’re not just looking at something, you’re directly involved. And that’s where we want to be,” said CEO of Hachette UK Tim Hely Hutchinson.
Hachette Livre has already made many of its catalogue titles available on e-book sales platforms: Hachette Book Group in the USA currently has a digital catalogue of over 8,000 titles, up from 7,000 titles in 2015. Hachette UK currently offers around 31,000 digitized titles (25,000 in 2015), and in France, Hachette Livre currently markets over 30,000 (26,000 in 2015).
During 2016 Hachette UK placed 102 titles on the Sunday Times bestseller, 18 of which made it to first place. The company achieved particularly strong success in general literature and textbooks. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child broke records and it became the biggest selling large-format book in the United Kingdom for ten years in the space of just a few weeks, with four million copies sold. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Famous Five for Grown-ups sold 1 million and 1.5 million copies, respectively. Other bestselling titles were The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley) and The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt by Andrea Wulf.
In the US, the Hachette Book Group (HBG) once again dominated the bestseller lists, placing 215 printed or digital titles on the New York Times lists, which contributed to an increase of 18% compared to the year 2015. Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter sold 475,000 copies at a retail price of 40 USD. Illustrated Books continued to sell very well, driven by the runaway success of Simplissime. Further strong sellers were Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks, James Patterson’s Woman of God and Bullseye, Joel Osteen’s Think Better, Live Better, Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall and Gary Byrne’s Crisis of Character.
Illustrated books continued to sell very well in France thanks to the cookbook Simplissime by Jean-Francois Mallet. The first volume sold a total of 450,000 copies. Many of Hachette Livre’s books won awards, including Petit pays by Gaël Faye (370,000 copies), Le dernier des nôtres by Adélaïde de Clermont-Tonnerre (150,000 copies), Et tu trouveras le trésor qui dort en toi by Laurent Gounelle (190,000 copies) as well as Un président ne devrait pas dire ça by Gérard Davet and Fabrice Lhomme (220,000 copies).
In 2016 Hachette España published a total of 3,029 new titles, as well as 4,536 reprints, while 326 new titles and 621 reprints were published in Latin America. Based on Spain’s leading rankings, the company’s bestsellers in general literature included Del otro lado by Michael Connelly, Cuentos de Navidad by Charles Dickens and Cocina sana para disfrutar by Isabel Llano.