BookTok trend and 'phenomenon' Sarah J Maas sends Bloomsbury profits soaring

By John Mercury February 15, 2024

Bloomsbury Publishing has said its profits for the last 12 months are set to be “significantly” ahead of previous expectations thanks to fantasy author Sarah J Maas and the so-called BookTok social media trend.

The company said Maas’s novel House Of Flame And Shadow, which topped book charts in the UK and around the world following its release last month, had been a major factor in its “exceptional growth”.

The American author signed with the publisher 13 years ago and her popularity has soared in recent years with reported sales of more than 38 million books worldwide.

Bloomsbury said Maas’s latest release – which tells the story of a half-fairy, half-human woman – had also driven demand for her 15 previous works.

It plans to publish a further six titles as part of its contract with her.

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The rise of the BookTok trend on TikTok – in which users upload videos of themselves talking about books – had also helped to fuel sales, Bloomsbury said.

Analysts previously forecast the firm would have sales of £291m and profit of £37m for the year ending 29 February 2024. Its preliminary results will be announced in May.

In the 2023 fiscal year it reported revenue of £264m and £25m profit.

Bloomsbury, which is perhaps best known for publishing the Harry Potter series, said bumper sales of Maas’s books reflected a broader trend of growing demand for fantasy fiction and sci-fi.

It pointed to figures by Nielsen Bookscan, which said the genre had grown by more than 50% in the last five years in the UK.

The company also publishes hit Chinese fantasy writer Cixin Liu, and is set for a further boost next month when a Netflix adaptation of his popular Three Body Problem trilogy is released.

However, the firm said other bestsellers had also helped its fortunes, including Pub Kitchen by Tom Kerridge and award-winning children’s novel Impossible Creatures by Katherine Rundell.

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Bloomsbury chief executive Nigel Newton: “I am overjoyed to report an exceptionally strong period of trading, principally driven by the increasing demand for fantasy fiction.

“Sarah J Maas is a publishing phenomenon and we are very fortunate to have signed her up with her first book 13 years ago.

“Her books have a huge audience which continues to grow, backed by major Bloomsbury promotional campaigns, driving strong word of mouth recommendation, particularly through TikTok and Instagram channels.”

The publisher’s shares rose more than 9% on Wednesday following its trading update.


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