Bloomsbury, the book publishing company behind the Harry Potter phenomena has said its investments in database technology and internet trading will drive revenues in 2008. Pre-tax profits for 2007 jumped to £17.8 million in 2007, up from £5.2 million in 2006, due in part to the publication of the final Harry Potter story.
“In 2008 we will continue to develop and exploit the range of electronic formats now available for our products,” said chief executive Nigel Newton.
Newton said content databases whereBloomsbury owns the intellectual property rights would be “an important element to Bloomsbury’s long term strategy”.
“Profitable new publishing opportunities are emerging,” said Jeremy Wilson, non-executive chairman. It has entered into a significant business relationship with Microsoft, which will place its products onto the Microsoft Live Search web search engine. “In 2007 we undertook a number of significant initiatives as part of our strategy to exploit our content in a wide variety of different formats, in print and online,” Wilson said. Online the company has formed partnerships with other publishing companies, including Oxford University Press (OUP), to develop digital editions of its products. Who’s Who, the famous guide to the good and the great of society, became an internet subscription service, alongside the book, as a result of the OUP deal.
Microsoft, in association with digital book specialist Ingram is scanning the entire Bloomsbury backlist of titles in preparation for exploiting emerging digital book markets, as well as sales opportunities.
Book publishers have, to date, not kept a digital archive of their products; relationships with Microsoft will enable Bloomsbury to produce new products using existing content at a low cost. “By participating in Microsoft’s Live Search programme, Bloomsbury Group titles will benefit from controlled search on the internet leading to increased sales,” Wilson said.
Bloomsbury has also entered into a significant database deal with the Qatar Financial Centre Authority to produce Qatar Finance – The Ultimate Resource as a digital service for CEOs and CFOs, revenues from this project will be delivered in 2008.
Revenues for Bloomsbury increased to £150.2m, up from £74.7m, the bulk of which was generated in the UK. The Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows novel accounted for the majority of the revenues jump. Bloomsbury has also been reducing costs and made redundancies in its US operations. It also divided the company into two distinct parts, Trade (mainstream books sold through book shops and Amazon) and Specialist. Cost savings of £1.75 million have been made and it expects to make a further £0.78m savings this year.
As part of its digital strategy Bloomsbury hired Richard Charkin as Executive Director. Charkin had been CEO at rivals Macmillan that has aggressively moved its book and Nature journals divisions online.