U.K.—based Bloomsbury Publishing has posted a profit for the 10th consecutive year since introducing young wizard Harry Potter to the world.
Pretax profits were up 38.3%, to £15.4 million ($27.7 million), and sales increased 22%, to £83.1 million ($149 million). Company chairman Nigel Newton makes no secret of his plans to expand into international markets, in case the magic of Potter wears off. "We are seeking our future growth in the two book markets that are bigger than our own: the U.S. and Germany," he said.
Substantial inroads have been made at U.S. Bloomsbury, where the list is growing; this year's successes include Herbie Brennan's Faerie Wars, the Latin edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and, for adults, Original Miscellany and Bitter with Baggage Seeks Same. Sales for the U.S. operations were £9.06 million for 2003, compared to £8.96 million for 2002. Bloomsbury's most successful adult paperback last year was Donna Tartt's The Little Friend.
Bloomsbury's acquisition of Berlin Verlag from Bertelsmann has yet to bear financial fruit, but Bloomsbury Kinderbucher, as the company has been christened, is poised to take full advantage of generous backing from its parent company and its key geographical position in European book publishing. More cooperation among the operations of the U.K., U.S. and German businesses is now a priority. Celia Rees's Pirates! was the first to be published across the three markets.
The next big international launch is a first novel by Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, scheduled for this fall. Newton expects it to be a bigger seller in Germany and the U.S. than in the U.K. Bloomsbury is also looking to develop books with film and TV tie-in potential in association with Creative Artists Agency in Hollywood.