Fifty Shades of Grey helped bookstores enjoy one of their strongest summers in a number of years and the trilogy delivered in a big way for publisher Random House which this morning reported that sales for the first six month of 2012 rose 20%, to 947 million euros, while operating EBIT jumped 64% to 113 million euros. Random House’s English-language imprints sold 30 million copies of the trilogy in the second quarter alone, RH parent company Bertelsmann reported, with units divided evenly between the trade paperback and e-book editions.
In his letter to employees, RH chairman Markus Dohle, while acknowledging the “record-setting volume and velocity of sales” from Grey, pointed to other strong sellers in the period, including Calico Joe by John Grisham; Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn; The Lorax by Dr. Seuss; and George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. With Grey sales continuing to do well in all RH territories, Dohle noted that “creating and fulfilling the unequalled demand for the novels has mobilized an ongoing Random House publishing effort of unprecedented scale and teamwork within and across our international divisions.”
Growth in e-book sales continued to rise significantly in each of RH’s divisions, Dohle said, and was “complemented by our increasing market share among physical retailers. The special programs and services we have created for them have led to their enthusiastic sell-through of Random House books.” E-book sales comprised 27% of RH U.S. first half sales and 22% of RH’s worldwide revenue.
Beyond Grey, Dohle noted that RH is “always actively working to drive change around us, this year in particular by expanding the scope of services and tools we offer our authors. We also are working diligently to get even closer to readers to help them discover our books. Our company-wide priority is to better understand how and why readers make their book-purchasing choices, and to tailor our marketing and publicity campaigns accordingly.”
Led by Grey, sales in July and August were strong and after listing a long list of potential big fall titles, Dohle reminded RH employees that “all our authors are counting on us to give their books everything we’ve got—and I know we will. At Random House every book we publish is a commitment to quality and an investment in the future success of our authors and our company.”