Harlequin Digital Innovations
Business Week covers eBooks in their current issue with an article by Spencer Ante, Averting a Digital Horror Story.
Harlequin’s CEO Donna Hayes is quoted: “Harlequin CEO Donna Hayes says electronic books account for about 6% of total sales now, but she expects that to double in a few years. She says digital sales appear to be adding to the company’s revenue, rather than cannibalizing traditional sales. Harlequin’s revenues rose 7% over the first nine months of the year, while U.S. book sales were up 3.6%. ‘It has grown our business so far,’ says Hayes.”
The article covers a few of the key issues facing publishers (pricing, eBook release dates) and some innovations. They mention the prequels we have been publishing for authors like Gena Showalter, Susan Mallery and Rachel Vincent to name just a few, and which have had a definite success factor on the author’s print sales.
I thought I would highlight some more of our digital innovations:
- We have launched 3 digital-only programs Spice Briefs, Silhouette Nocturne Bites and Harlequin Historical Undone. In each program we have published new authors, authors new to Harlequin as well as established writers
- Both Briefs and Bites have had stories published in print
- The success of these programns led to the launch of Carina Press, a digital-only publishing house
- We have published a dozen enriched eBooks like Deanna Raybourn’s Silent in the Grave. Each title has had different unique content: behind the scenes, photos, deleted scenes, recipes, etc. We’ve learned that while readers like this extra content, we are a little ahead of the times. Readers are more interested in figuring out eBooks rather than advanced eBooks. You have to walk before you run
- We gave away almost 3 million book downloads in 2009 to celebrate our 60th anniversary. A book from each of our 16 series. There are new books you can download throughout 2010 at www.TryHarlequin.com
- We have a book widget (browse the book) available for every single title and some of our series titles. Authors and readers can grab the code and paste the widget to their own sites and blogs.
- We publish our entire frontlist in all eBook formats. Our mission is to offer women great stories in whatever form they want to consume it. Our stories are available anytime anywhere.
- We create bundles of stories, whether it is an entire series like the One-Click-Buy Presents or a miniseries like Maureen Child’s Kings of California.
- We listen to our customers and have created several bundles from customer requests.
- We value the various bloggers who review romance novels and reached out to them to create Blogger Bundles. I’ll write more about them in an upcoming post, but you can check out Dear Author’s Unsual Heroines, We Write Romance Selects Presents, and Super Librarian’s The Harvey Girls.
- We publish our eBooks simultaneously with our print books (or more specifically on the 1st of the month) and they are priced lower than the print version.
- I mentioned prequels above. These generally connect to an upcoming miniseries and offer a quick taste of original content that matches the miniseries. In 2010 we will also be publishing brequels (I’m not convinced I like the word) which is, again, a short story that is part of a miniseries, but in between. Check out what Courtney Milan and Julie Kagawa have to offer.
- Often, we give these stories away for free for a period of time. They are a great way for a reader to sample a new author with no commitment. We know the editorial will win the reader.
- We are also sampling our novels on Facebook through Living Social and their book sampling app.
That’s just a few of our digital initiatives. Naturally we’re working on mobile, more sampling and lots more. And we’re always keen to hear from authors and readers and those in the industry. What are we missing?