Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hachette takes record share of the book market in 2009
22.01.10 Catherine Neilan in The ookseller

Hachette UK has achieved its biggest ever market share, closing 2009 with 16.4% of the country’s book sales, shrugging off a tough 12 months in which seven of the top 10 publishers saw sales decline.
Hachette grew 1.9% in sales terms, snatching market share from competitors Random House, Penguin and HarperCollins, which dropped from 14.9% to 13.7%, 10% to 9.7% and 8.3% to 7.6% respectively.

Tim Hely Hutchinson, chief executive of Hachette UK, said: “I came
back from last Christmas thinking it was going to be tough, but it was a record year.”

Stephenie Meyer (Atom) was "obviously...tremendous", but Hely Hutchinson also highlighted Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben, Maeve Binchy, Ian Rankin, (all Orion) Martina Cole (Headline), Stephen King (Hodder) as strong contributors, and said a lack of exposure to the non-fiction market helped buffer the firm from sluggish sales.

“We went into Christmas knowing we had a slightly thin non-fiction list, because we hadn’t seen anything that was that good . . . Obviously, we’re pleased we hadn’t taken on undue risk.”

In December, Hely Hutchinson announced a restructuring of Headline, cutting back on non-fiction books, and making a number of redundancies. He said the group now had the “right balance of fiction, non-fiction and children’s, and is able to prepare for a year which we think will be the tipping point for e-books”. But he added: “Every time you have good results, it puts pressure on you to do even better next time.”

Gail Rebuck, chairman and chief executive of The Random House Group, said it had ended 2009 “ahead of expectations as a result of great publishing and prompt action ahead of the recessionary curve. The market for celebrity non-fiction fell away from the high point of 2008 when we had two titles—Dear Fatty and At My Mother’s Knee—selling over 600,000 each in hardback. However, this was offset by strong hardcover fiction performances; most notably Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol and a very strong share of paperback fiction.”

Victoria Barnsley, chief executive at HarperCollins, said the publisher had “held up reasonably well”. Amid the slow celebrity biography market, HC had successes with Frankie Boyle, Chris Evans and JLS. Barnsley shrugged off the slight fall in market share as the figures had been “pretty stable over the past five years” and the company had grown during 2008—alongside Random House.

But Peter Field, chief executive of Penguin UK, said he did not expect the firm to claw back its share, with DK titles being cut by 30%. “When you aggregate Penguin and DK together, I don’t think we will find it that easy to get back to 10%,” he said, estimating the house would hover around 9.5% instead. “Penguin will climb, but DK will be a little hamstrung by this decision to cut back. But the bottom line is it is absolutely the right decision.”

As DK had found, the travel market struggled generally, genre dropping 8.5% on 2008, to £86.6m. However, UK and outdoor activities books have fared well with publishing including Bradt, Cicerone and Punk experiencing a rise. Richard Ward, retail sales manager at Ordnance Survey, said: “It’s because of the whole growth in the domestic market, people have had staycations.”

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