Canongate Books turns fortunes around

Life of Pi, published by Canongate Canongate's sales were helped by a boost in sales of Life of Pi

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Edinburgh publisher Canongate Books turned around its fortunes last year, lifted by a clutch of bestsellers and soaring digital sales.

The firm, which made an operating loss of about £406,000 in 2011, turned that into a profit of £976,000 in 2012.

Group turnover from continuing operations increased by 22% to £9.6m.

In accounts filed with Companies House last week, Canongate described it as "one of the most successful years" in its history.

Its full-year pre-tax profits trebled in 2012 to just under £1m.

Canongate, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, published five Sunday Times bestsellers in 2012.

They included Yann Martel's Man Booker-winning novel, Life of Pi, which reached number one in the paperback fiction bestseller list - 11 years after it was first published by Canongate. Its resurgent sales were put down to interest fuelled by Ang Lee's film version of the novel.

Other Canongate bestsellers last year were Richard Holloway's memoir, Leaving Alexandria, Imagine by Jonah Lehrer, and An Idiot Abroad and The Further Adventures of an Idiot Abroad by Karl Pilkington.

Significant growth was recorded in digital sales, which grew by 233% to almost £2.5m.

International sales climbed 34% to £1.37m, lifted by a particularly strong performance in Australia and New Zealand.

Managing director Jamie Byng said 2013 started "very strongly", with Life of Pi continuing to sell well.

He added: "Canongate has had an excellent past 12 months and has invested a great deal in new authors and books as well as its publishing team.

"We feel well positioned to make the most of the many opportunities currently being afforded and we will continue to try and publish the strongest books we can in innovative and successful ways."

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