Sarah J. Maas fantasy novels spell report income for Bloomsbury

  • House of Flame and Shadow is the latest title in Maas’ Crescent City series 
  • The book’s popularity spurred further purchases of Maas’ backlist titles

Popular: Sarah J. Maas (pictured) recently released House of Flame and Shadow, the latest title in her Crescent City series

Popular: Sarah J. Maas (pictured) recently released House of Flame and Shadow, the latest title in her Crescent City series

Soaring demand for Sarah J. Maas’s fantasy novels has enabled Bloomsbury Publishing to record another record year of revenues and profits.

House of Flame and Shadow, the latest title in Maas’s Crescent City series and her 16th book with Bloomsbury, became a number one New York Times Bestseller after its release in February.

The sequel continues the adventures of a half-human girl called Bryce Quinlan and her friend Hunt Athalar, who fight the Asteri, a race of god-like conquerors who rule the planet Midgard.

Its popularity spurred further purchases of Maas’s backlist titles, including those in the Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Nigel Newton, chief executive of Bloomsbury, described the New York-born author as a ‘publishing phenomenon, whose books ‘have captivated a huge audience’.

He said her novels have been supported by significant promotional campaigns and word-of-mouth, especially on social media channels.

Analysts have attributed the success of Maas’s titles to ‘BookTok,’ where social media influencers use TikTok to promote new works and writers.

As a result, total sales of the New York-born author’s books climbed by 161 per cent in the 12 months ending February.

This helped Bloomsbury’s overall turnover increase by 30 per cent to £342.7million and pre-tax profits jump by 63 per cent to £41.5million.

Other major recent sellers have included Impossible Creatures by Katherine Rundell, The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, and Tom Kerridge’s Pub Kitchen.

Harry Potter novels also remained highly sought after, with The Philosopher’s Stone becoming the biggest-selling children’s title for the first time in over two decades.

Commercial spell: Bloomsbury is best known for publishing the Harry Potter books

Commercial spell: Bloomsbury is best known for publishing the Harry Potter books

Demand for these titles offset declining sales of Bloomsbury’s non-consumer books, which were affected by the higher education sector returning to more normalised levels.

However, the London-based company said it is ‘well-placed to capitalise’ on the international growth in post-secondary education.

It pointed to estimates by the World Bank that the global number of higher education students will accelerate from 220 million in 2021 to 380 million by 2030.

For the current financial year, the group anticipates trading will be ‘slightly ahead’ of forecasts even though it does not expect another newly published title from Sarah J. Maas.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, compared this absence to ‘a famous band saying they’re going on a hiatus – disappointment now, but the potential to make even more money when they return’.

He added: ‘It’s the waiting period that will test investors’ patience, and not even news that current trading is ahead of expectations can stop the share price from going into reverse.’

Investors responded negatively to the potential absence of a new Maas novel, sending Bloomsbury Publishing shares diving 6.3 per cent to £5.62 just before midday.

Bloomsbury also announced that its chairman, Sir Richard Lambert, would stand down following its annual general meeting on 16 July.

Subject to shareholder approval, he will be replaced by John Bason, who was the finance director of Primark owner Associated British Foods for 24 years until April 2023.

Lambert was formerly editor of the Financial Times, a member of the Monetary Policy Committee, and director-general of the Confederation of the British Industry. 

Newton said Lambert had been an ‘exceptional chairman’ since joining seven years ago and had ‘helped Bloomsbury achieve so much during his tenure.’