Pandemic gives an unexpected boost to books

Book sales pandemic boost

Pandemic gives an unexpected boost to books

A leading publisher claims people have ‘rediscovered books’ after seeing a surge in sales during lockdown.

Bloomsbury, the firm best known for publishing the Harry Potter books, reported its best half-year profits since 2008 – a 60 per cent jump to £4 million from February to August.

Online book sales and e-book revenues were both “significantly higher”.

It said bestsellers during the period included “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race” and “Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood”.

Other popular consumer books during the period included “White Rage”, “Humankind” and “Such A Fun Age”.

Nigel Newton, founder and chief executive of Bloomsbury, said the firm initially feared lockdown would batter the business after it shut all its shops in March.

But he told the BBC: “As we cycled through the month there became a real uptake in reading, perhaps people tired of watching streamed movies which they binged on to begin with and turned to books.”

Bloomsbury had previously warned about the impact of social restrictions and lockdowns on sales as stores were forced to shut. “It’s been a surprise to us as well,” Mr Newton said, pointing out that the company’s outlook had been “very grim” when lockdowns were enforced across the world.

Bloomsbury also said it was well positioned to benefit from universities’ rapid switch to distance learning, as the pandemic had made traditional face-to-face teaching difficult.

Photo: Jessica Ruscello

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