Harlequin moves further into the digital marketplace

Harlequin announces an e-book-only imprint, in addition to planning for many e-book originals through other imprints.

Harlequin has several imprints such as Harlequin Teen, which releases titles such as 'Soul Screamers' (l.) for younger readers, and Harlequin HQN, which focuses on romance novels such as 'Three Little Words' (r.).

Are you a romance novel reader in love with your e-reader? If so, you’re in luck.

Harlequin, the publisher with a name that is almost synonymous with romance novels, is releasing a host of new e-book originals through several of its imprints over the next several months, with plans to further increase this initiative. No date is set yet for the books to appear in print.

“We’re thrilled to further expand our reach in the digital space,” Loriana Sacilotto, executive vice president of global editorial at Harlequin, told Publishers Weekly. “In a retail environment that’s increasingly challenging for new and emerging authors, digital publication and promotion allows us to continue to encourage author discovery and growth, bring books to market more quickly, [and] leverage popular digital trends.”

The new program will include the launch of Harlequin-E, an imprint that will be devoted solely to works that are released first in digital format. The first title is scheduled for launch sometime this fall. Starting in 2014,  the imprint plans to begin releasing two to six titles per month. Harlequin-E will focus on “out-of-the-box ideas that don’t fit into existing series romance lines,” according to the publisher.

As for Harlequin’s already-established imprints, Harlequin Teen, the publisher’s imprint for younger readers, is up first with an e-book titled “Stir Me Up” by Sabrina Elkins, which is scheduled for an October release. HT will then release a new digital-only title every other month, according to the publisher.

Harlequin HQN, which focuses on love stories only, and Harlequin MIRA, which publishes general fiction, will be next, both releasing original stories this coming January. The plan is for them to each release 12 digital titles every year.

It’s no secret that digital publishing is big business when it comes to romance novels. Part of the success of E.L. James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy has been attributed to e-books, which allow readers to peruse them covertly. This March, it was estimated that 50 percent of the sales of the series were in digital format, compared with the 20 percent figure more typical for a single title from the “Grey” publisher Random House.

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