Pandemic puts books back in business — real ones


Pandemic puts books back in business — real ones

Though e-books sold well, revenue is rocketing for publishers, with the US seeing a huge increase in sales

Martin Ivens

Last year, theatres went dark, galleries closed and concert venues stood silent. But there was one creative industry that flourished during lockdown: the reading and publishing of books. Many in the industry, as well as parents and educators, are now hoping the habit will stick around post-Covid-19. My guess is it just might.

HarperCollins, one of the big five publishers dominating the Anglo-Saxon market on both sides of the Atlantic, had a “historic” final quarter of 2020. Then it posted a 45% jump in profits and a 19% increase in revenue in the quarter ending March 31, compared with the year-earlier period. CEO Charlie Redmayne points to profitable backlist sales: favourite fantasy writers such as JRR Tolkien and George RR Martin provided escapist thrills, while Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries provided isolation comfort food.

An April 19 NPD BookScan survey of the first quarter of 2021 saw sales of print books in the US grow 29% over the same quarter in 2020, the highest volume of first-quarter print sales since they began tracking it in 2004. Sales of adult non-fiction and juvenile fiction led the way...

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