Bloomsbury has posted its best first-half profits in 12 years after the coronavirus crisis boosted online sales of books and ebooks.
The Harry Potter publisher said families had ‘rediscovered the pleasure of reading’ during the pandemic, when lockdown measures forced people to spend more time indoors.
Bloomsbury said this helped boost its profits for the six months to August 31 from £2.5m to £4m – its best performance since 2008.
Best-selling fiction titles included a Harry Potter spin-off book by JK Rowling and Crescent City: House Of Earth And Blood by Sarah J Maas.
Non-fiction titles including Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge and White Rage by Carol Anderson also proved popular, as did a cookbook by Indian restaurant chain Dishoom.
The strong financial performance prompted Bloomsbury to bring back its dividend, which was paused earlier on in the pandemic to save cash.
It also highlighted Bloomsbury’s focus on higher-margin online sales, which the company said rose ‘significantly’ during the period as many High Street shops faced virus restrictions.
The online boost was reflected in the 60 per cent rise in profits – despite the company reporting only a 10 per cent rise in first-half revenues to £73m.
Nigel Newton, Bloomsbury’s boss, said he initially feared lockdown measures would hurt the company.
But there was a ‘real uptake in reading’ as the lockdown wore on, he said.
Shares surged 18.1 per cent, or 38p, to 248p.