Publishing Innovator of the Year: Harlequin
To encourage even more reader feedback, in August 2008 Harlequin created TellHarlequin.com, which invites readers to join a “reader panel”—essentially an editorial advisory board. The panel (which consists of about 8,000 readers) is asked monthly to provide feedback on Harlequin stories, book covers and new book ideas.
Reasons to Celebrate: Turning 60 and a Teen Launch
Harlequin is celebrating its 60th anniversary with an exhibition called “The Heart of a Woman: Harlequin Cover Art 1949—2009,” which opens this month at New York’s Openhouse Gallery and features 60 years of Harlequin cover art illustrating “the profound transformations that have occurred in women’s lives over the past six decades,” according to the company.
Harlequin also is tapping “one of its best marketing tools,” says Harlequin Publisher and CEO Donna Hayes, offering free content to reach new readers. “… We wanted to give a free book to every woman in America,” says Hayes. “We are sampling via free print editions and have also created a Web site, HarlequinCelebrates.com, where visitors can download up to 16 free books, one for every romance series we publish.”
Also, this summer, Harlequin will launch its new Harlequin Teen imprint.
This follows Harlequin’s launch of a nonfiction imprint in fall 2008—its first book was “Love Matters: Remarkable Stories That Touch the Heart and Nourish the Soul,” by radio host Delilah.
You could say it has been a good 60th year so far for Harlequin—its sales have remained strong, following a fourth quarter in 2008 that saw a 32-percent increase in earnings over fourth-quarter 2007, according to The New York Times.
As Easy as It Looks?
While Harlequin has made many of its pioneering efforts look easy, every innovation has its challenges, says Lewis. “… We’re creating something new, and [that’s] my favorite part of my job. Sometimes people look at you with eyes that say, ‘You want to do what?!’” he says.