Harry Potter publisher says Covid is weaving magic over book sales

The Harry Potter publisher, Bloomsbury, has reported its most profitable first half in more than a decade, after a nation tiring of box sets fuelled a lockdown boom in book sales.

The company furloughed staff as the coronavirus crisis forced the publishing industry to shut down, but has seen a remarkable change in fortune as the pandemic has persisted.

“It is a complete surprise because we had as grim a beginning to the pandemic as everyone else in March when 100% of our customers shut down worldwide,” said Nigel Newton, the chief executive.

“And then we found that early on people showed short attention spans and were watching TV. But then reading reasserted its power and people found they could escape through books, and sales have been booming ever since.”

Profits surged 60% to £4m in the six months to the end of August, the highest first-half earnings since 2008, as revenues grew 10% to £78.3m. The better-than-expected performance sent Bloomsbury shares 15% higher, to 242p, at midday on Tuesday.

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