The national lockdown in March seems to have had an unexpected impact on the number of people rediscovering a love of literature and wanting to spend more time reading books. Publisher, Bloomsbury said that they initially feared a downturn in demand due to shops closing as a result of the pandemic. But, they have instead just announced their best half-year profits since 2008.
Bloomsbury, possibly best known as the publisher of the Harry Potter series, said that people seem to have “rediscovered the pleasure of reading”. Their profits have jumped by 60% between February and August. Sales of e-books and online shopping websites seem to be the reason for the increase. The availability of online shopping combined with people having more time on their hands seems to have resulted in more individuals choosing to read.
Sales of reading material also seem to have reflected the public mood, with subjects such as philosophy, race and social issues proving popular. A trend towards healthier eating also seems to have developed as sales of cookbooks have increased steadily through the year.
Sales of e-books are “dramatically higher” than they would usually be. But it isn’t just e-books and fiction works that have seen the surge in demand. Thanks to schools resorting to online learning digital resources have seen a 47% increase in sales. This is likely to be sustained as schools and colleges are still being encouraged to make sure that they have remote learning provisions in place in case of further closures.
It seems that as the lockdown eased, and stores began reopening, the increased enthusiasm for reading has not dispersed. Philip Jones, editor of the Bookseller, said “we are seeing an early Christmas for bookshops. November’s book sales are happening in October. Normally the bookshop market gets up to 40 million units per week in November, but it has already happened”.