By Malachi Martin
During the lockdowns caused by the pandemic over the last few years, members of the nation were forced to develop skills and take up new hobbies, one of which included reading. Two years on, the necessity for lockdowns is now behind us, but the reading boom that came as a result of said lockdowns continues to endure, as revealed by Bloomsbury Publishing.
The publisher reported that the increase in reading that began during the pandemic had become “permanent” following the lockdowns being relaxed. The publisher’s annual sales increased by 24%, a record high of £230 million according to Bloomsbury’s chief executive, Nigel Newton. Additionally, the publisher’s profit grew by 40% to £26.7 million over the past year.
Compared to two years ago, Bloomsbury’s sales and profits are up to 41% and 70%, respectively. Alongside this, Bloomsbury’s shareholders will find that their closing dividend will also increase by 24%, equalling £7.7 million.
Bloomsbury shared that among the sales that contributed to the publisher’s record high report were titles written by American author Sarah J Mass. Her sales jumped to 86% over the year, according to the publisher.
Bloomsbury’s academic titles also saw a rise in sales with online learning, resulting in a 28% increase in pre-tax profits to £22 million.
Amid the publisher’s disclosure of its annual earnings, Nigel Newton said “the surge in reading, which seemed to be one of the only rays of light in the darkest days of the pandemic is perhaps now being revealed as permanent, with the simple act of reading shedding light and giving joy to millions of people.” Additionally, Newton also shared the thoughts and concerns that arose following the lockdowns beginning to ease, “the question on all our minds was: would the pandemic surge in reading continue? We now know the answer: reading is a reacquired habit and continues to thrive.”
“The pandemic made us all re-evaluate how we spend our time and this has resulted in an increase in sales of books that enable us to explore our hobbies and personal interests such as cooking, fitness, history and reading novels for enlightenment and escape,” Newton added.
In April 2020, it was revealed that figures from the Publishers Association showed that the biggest rise in sales was for audiobooks, at 37% in the UK compared to 2019, meanwhile, sales for fiction jumped to 16%. Non-fiction increased by 4% and children’s rose by 2%. Following Bloomsbury’s release of its annual earnings, it is clear that the interest in book reading has entered a period of renaissance.