Fantasy fiction and ‘phenomenon’ author Sarah J Maas drive sales for Bloomsbury

Readers turning to fantasy fiction and the ‘BookTok’ social media trend has boosted sales for Bloomsbury Publishing, which hailed author Sarah J Maas as a “publishing phenomenon”.

Shares in Bloomsbury surged by a 10th on Wednesday after it said it was expecting profits for the year to be higher than previously thought.

Chief executive Nigel Newton said the demand for fantasy fiction had helped drive an “exceptionally strong” recent sales period for the group.

Sarah J Maas, whose titles have been published by Bloomsbury for more than a decade, was partly responsible for charging its consumer division with the release of House Of Flame And Shadow at the end of January.

The book was a chart-topper in the UK, US, Australia and many markets around the world, and also drove demand for the author’s previous 15 books.

Bloomsbury revealed it has six titles in the pipeline as part of its contract with Maas.

Fantasy books have become extremely popular around the world, Bloomsbury said.

Data from Nielsen Bookscan showed that the fantasy and sci-fi genre has grown by more than 50% in the UK in the last five years.

Mr Newton said: “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 Harry Potter publisher said the companion gift book had been a recent bestseller (Bloomsbury/PA)
The Harry Potter publisher said the companion gift book had been a recent bestseller (Bloomsbury/PA)

Social media trends such as ‘BookTok’ on TikTok have helped popularise certain titles with millions of people posting videos using the hashtag.

Bookseller Waterstones’ managing director James Daunt said on Wednesday that social media has “reinforced reading real books” particularly amongst younger people – meaning paper books rather than ebooks.

Meanwhile, Bloomsbury said its revenue and pre-tax profit for the year to the end of February is set to be “significantly higher” than previous expectations, which had already been upgraded.

Analysts had previously forecast sales of £291.4 million and profit of £37.2 million. The group will report its results in May.

The publisher revealed that other recent bestsellers include Ghosts, the companion book to the BBC television series, cookbook Pub Kitchen by chef Tom Kerridge, and the gift book The Harry Potter Wizarding Almanac.