First quarter sales at Lagardere Publishing fell 26 million euros (or 6.2 percent) in the first quarter, to 393 million euros, “due mostly to the comparison” to a strong quarter a year ago, which included sales of the Fifty Shades trilogy in France. Similarly, for the US unit, HBG USA ceo Michael Pietsch said they “had a tough comparison due to Q1 2013 movie tie in bestsellers of Nicholas Sparks’s SAFE HAVEN, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, and Stephenie Meyer’s THE HOST, but new bestsellers made up most of that ground…. Ebook sales slowed from last year’s first quarter pace, while downloadable audio continued to grow.”
In a nod to the company’s now-public standoff with Amazon over terms negotiations, Pietsch remarked, “We are encouraged by strong performance of our publications at book retail chains and independent bookstores.”
In the US, ebooks comprised 34 percent of sales, “in a market that is contracting slightly,” the company said, but in the UK ebooks grew to 40 percent of adult trade sales, compared to 31 percent a year ago.
Separately, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced the acquisition of Channel One News, a digital content provider “dedicated to encouraging kids to be informed, digitally-savvy global citizens.” The company’s daily news programs are exposed to 5 million school children daily through satellite and online. HMH says it “will bring significant video and cross-media production capabilities in-house” and is part of their “continued development of high-quality digital content.”