Harry Potter Publisher Bloomsbury Reorganizes to Focus on Electronic Books

Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, publisher of the Harry Potter novels, is reorganizing to better focus on electronic books, sales of which grew 18-fold last year.

Sales of e-books are currently running at almost 10 percent of print revenue for non-textbooks, the London-based company said in a statement today. Full-year profit dropped 32 percent due to charges including impairment of goodwill at its German- language Berlin Verlag unit.

Electronic book sales are growing, with fiction e-books making up almost 15 percent of total revenue in the U.S., Bloomsbury said. The company is restructuring to benefit from the boom in e-reader sales such as Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle device and Apple Inc.’s iPad, and to meet homogenizing global tastes, Chief Executive Officer Nigel Newton said.

“Taste itself is globalizing,” Newton said in a telephone interview. “E-books are essentially international by definition.”

Bloomsbury’s e-book sales grew 18-fold to $2.3 million last year, and should show a “dramatic uplift” this year, Newton said. The company, which published nearly 1,800 e-books in 2010, is dividing itself into four units: Adult, Children’s & Educational; Academic & Professional, and Bloomsbury Information & Business Development.

The changes are to help secure world rights to books and market them globally, Newton said. Bloomsbury’s biggest customer in the U.K. is the worldwide seller, Amazon, he said.

Net income last year was 3.4 million pounds, or 4.61 pence, compared with 4.98 million pounds, or 6.74 pence, a year earlier. Revenue gained 4 percent to 90.7 million pounds.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Altaner in London at daltaner@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Colin Keatinge in London at Ckeatinge@bloomberg.net

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