Book publisher earnings roundup: Hachette, Random House

Bertelsmann and Lagardère, the parent companies of Random House and Hachette, reported earnings Tuesday.

Lagardère reported publishing division revenues of €626 million for the third quarter of 2012, up 0.1 percent on a like-for-like basis. In the first nine months of 2012, publishing revenues were  €1.53 billion, down 1.4 percent on a like-for-like basis. “Activity recovered in the third quarter, with General Literature rising sharply in France (+12.4%), the United Kingdom (+17%) and the United States (+7.3%), particularly thanks to the release of J.K. Rowling’s latest novel The Casual Vacancy.”

In the third quarter, ebooks accounted for 20 percent of “adult trade book sales” at Hachette U.S. and 20 percent at Hachette U.K., “thereby representing 6.4% of total net sales in the Lagardère Publishing division.” Those figures reflect big ebook growth in the U.K. over last year but flat performance in the U.S.: Ebooks made up 9 percent of total book sales at Hachette U.K. in the first nine months of 2011, and 21 percent of U.S. sales in that period.

Ebooks as a percentage of total sales were also down compared to the first six months of 2012 — when ebooks made up 27 percent of the company’s adult trade sales in the U.S. and 23 percent in the U.K. The company attributed this to “timing differences between the recognition of physical book sales and digital sales, regarding mainly J.K. Rowling’s book copies.” (Publishers account for print book sales when the books ship from the warehouse but don’t count ebook sales until after the customer has bought the ebook.) (release)

Bertelsmann didn’t share specifics about Random House’s performance. For the first nine months of 2012, revenue across the group was €11.4 billion, up 5.7 percent from the same period last year, while profits were €528 million, up 40 percent from €377 million last year. Chairman and CEO Thomas Rabe said “the subdued economic outlook and the Euro crisis make it difficult to predict our future performance at this point.” Random House is in the process of merging with Penguin. (release)

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock user Carlos Andre Santos