jk rowling
The backlash against JK Rowling's views on transgender law reform has failed to dent the popularity of the Harry Potter author's books, with publisher Bloomsbury saying they have proved a lockdown hit, pushing revenues at the group's children's division up more than a quarter.

The company, which publishes all of the author's Harry Potter books, said its consumer publishing arm grew sales by 28% to £31.4m. The children's division grew by 27% to £18.7m, with Bloomsbury highlighting Rowling's titles as a "bestseller".

Rowling has been criticised by the majority of LGBT campaign groups after expressing "deep concerns" about transgender rights in a lengthy essay in which she also described being a victim of domestic violence and sexual assault. Many of the younger actors who starred in her Harry Potter films have also issued statements distancing themselves from her views.

Nigel Newton, the Bloomsbury chief executive, said the books had remained bestsellers since Rowling published her views on her website last month. "Harry Potter has been very popular with families at home reading to each other and has been marvellous throughout this period," he said.

Newton said the publisher had also benefited from a surge in interest in books to do with racial issues - Bloomsbury publishes Reni Eddo-Lodge's bestsellers Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race and Carol Anderson's White Rage - which helped its adult division to report a 29% increase in revenues across the period.

"Bloomsbury have had a couple of books people have been particularly reading at the moment following the Black Lives Matter [movement]," he said.

Bloomsbury, whose share price jumped 13% as investors hailed the better than expected results, is proving to be a coronavirus success story, reporting a surge in total revenues of almost a fifth to £49.4m in the four months to the end of June.

However, Newton described the impact of the coronavirus outbreak as a "tale of two halves" with the company initially struggling, raising £8m to strengthen its balance sheet and asking most of its 750 employees to take a pay cut for three months to help avoid redundancies.

"It was very grim indeed to begin with from the middle of March when lockdowns became inevitable," said Newton. "All [book] retail outlets almost worldwide were shut down almost overnight ... [and] major internet retailers de-prioritised the supply of books in favour of essential services and goods. Our sales revenues plummeted."

As the pressure of early lockdown conditions eased, and book stores reopened last month, sales have "boomed" with ebook revenues up 53% and print sales up 9% year on year across the four month period.

"People seem to have read less at the beginning of the lockdown," he said. "Perhaps people had shorter attention spans and were generally overwhelmed by change in their lives, perhaps watching more movies online. [Since then] reading has picked up to extraordinary levels. It is not true to say we have had a great pandemic. We have had a terrible one followed by a good one."