Books have proved an enduring medium for centuries despite continually being written off and the reading boom created as people sought escapism in the pandemic shows no sign of wearing off judging by Bloomsbury’s record results.
The publisher of the Harry Potter titles is maintaining its magic touch as it guides for the current financial year to be ahead of expectations, the second upgrade in a matter of months, and sprinkles a slice of sorcery over the numbers with a generous special dividend.
Bloomsbury faced a painful transition following its mid-noughties peak at the height of Pottermania but it is no longer a one-hit wonder with a diverse list of bestsellers in its portfolio.
“While bookshops have been closed for long spells during lockdown, consumers have been used to buying online or purchasing titles for e-readers,” says Danni Hewson, financial analyst at AJ Bell.
“Releasing content in a digital format allows Bloomsbury to generate revenue from a ‘backlist’ of previously published books at very limited additional cost, benefiting margin performance.
“Bloomsbury has been prioritising its academic and professional publishing arm as part of its growth strategy and a focus on digital resources served it well during the pandemic.
“Even with returning lots of cash to shareholders, Bloomsbury has plenty of money in the bank and this may raise questions over the prospect of acquisitions to boost its footprint and take advantage of a buoyant market.”