Publishing Innovator of the Year: Harlequin
Both Spice Briefs and Nocturne Bites have spawned print products as well. “We have created an anthology that collects 10 to 15 of the stories,” says Vallik, who has authored six Harlequin novels under an alias.
So does Harlequin see short fiction as the future of e-content? Part of it, says Vallik. “We made … those short so that they would be distinctive in the marketplace. I think short content [comes into] play when you think of things such as mobile devices simply because of the reading experience.” However, Vallik notes that longer formats and serial books also will play a role in e-content’s future. “I think it is very much a reader choice, and … readers also have different moods. Sometimes you want something short and snappy … and other times you just like to throw yourself into an epic. Sometimes … a shorter thing will work on one kind of format or one kind of channel, but that’s not always the case,” she says.
E-books: ‘Just a Choice’
E-books—which still constitute a relatively small percentage of Harlequin’s sales (about 3.4, according to a recent New York Times article)—are important to Harlequin’s future, but not its entire future, says Vallik. “… They are simply another format choice.” Also, she notes, “E-books bring a number of benefits including backlist—being able to find titles that are harder to find. So, we don’t see e-books replacing print, but really it is just a choice.”
Lewis agrees. “We believe the printed book is not going away anytime soon; however, digital reading … is growing rapidly. Publishers must pay attention to what has happened to other media: newspapers, TV, music—massive numbers of people still enjoy all these forms of media. The product is still relevant, [but] the issue is that the historic business models of each are under threat,” he says. “As publishers, we must innovate and adjust to protect ourselves.”