Monday 18 December 2017

Waterstone's books show printed word is bouncing back as Irish arm strengthens

Anna O’Sullivan from KPMG with pupils Munirah Mahamed and Nikola Wowak at North Presentation Primary School in Cork on World Book Day as KPMG donated books. Photo: Darragh Kane
Anna O’Sullivan from KPMG with pupils Munirah Mahamed and Nikola Wowak at North Presentation Primary School in Cork on World Book Day as KPMG donated books. Photo: Darragh Kane

Gordon Deegan

The chief executive of book giant Waterstones said yesterday that the physical book was enjoying a rejuvenation and "it was happy times for booksellers".

Speaking on World Book Day, James Daunt said sales at the Irish arm continue to strengthen.

"Sales have gone up a few notches recently and we are making a reasonable amount of money to be able to re-invest in the business," Mr Daunt said.

He said that while the company's Cork store "is doing brilliantly", disruption caused by the Luas works on Dublin's Dawson Street "have been a nightmare" for the firm's flagship Hodges & Figgis store.

He said that overall the firm's Irish shops "are in a happy place".

In the 12 months to the end of April last, Waterstones Ireland doubled its profits to €1.9m as revenues increased by 7pc to €14.2m.

Mr Daunt said that the firm is to re-invest in its Irish stores and is ready to expand once more.

"We are just beginning to look at properties and any expansion will be a local initiative," he said, adding that the company's UK business returned to profit last year.

Mr Daunt said that the physical book is enjoying a rejuvenation, with sales of e-readers plateauing or declining.

Asked to comment on celebrated Irish author Donal Ryan going back to his Government job after being unable to sustain a living as a full-time writer, Mr Daunt said: "It has always been a tough world trying to make a living from being a writer."

Mr Daunt said that the correlation between great reviews and sales "is not precise and the same can be said for books that receive dreadful reviews and that go on to enjoy great sales".

Separate accounts for two Irish masters of their own genres show it is still possible to make a lucrative living from writing.

New accounts filed by top children's author Eoin Colfer show that accumulated profits at his firm, Artemis Fowl, topped €2.8m last year.

The cash pile at the firm totalled €1.5m while pay to the two directors increased four- fold to €400,000 - that included pension payments of €200,000.

The 2016 accounts are the final accounts to be publicly available after the company secured unlimited status.

Meanwhile, the firm owned by the author of the Charlie Parker series, John Connolly, enjoyed profits of €150,000 in 2015 as the firm's cash pile hit €197,083. The firm's shareholder funds totalled €771,714 that includes a €400,000 value on intangible assets.

Irish Independent

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