Romance Readers Falling in Love With E-Books
Steve Potash, CEO of Overdrive and a board member of IDPF, has stated in the past that romance is one of the most popular e-book genres. At the Book Industry Study Group’s Making Information Pay event in May, Malle Vallik, director of digital content and interactivity for Harlequin, confirmed this, revealing that by 2007 the romance publisher had published its entire front list in e-book format. Vallik attributes much of the success of e-books in the romance market to the fact that it is easy for women to download such titles and, since they are at the computer, it’s easy for them to get some “me” time by appearing to their kids that “Mommy’s working.”
The key to the future of e-books, pointed out Vallik at Digital Book 2008, is connecting readers to the format for the first time.
“Introduce the consumer to digital formats,” Vallik suggests. Once they consume a book digitally, they’re often hooked. So her team has placed extra emphasis on luring first-time users to digital products with free content. For example, Harlequin released the “12 Downloads of Christmas,” making available 12 e-book titles over the course of 12 days—for free. The results, reported Vallik, included new membership to eHarlequin.com doubling, and January sales being “strong.”
Vallik also points to Harlequin’s popular “Spice Briefs” series, short-form erotic fiction of 5,000-15,000 words, released at the rate of two to three e-titles per month. The publisher is currently selling each “Brief” for $2.99, both on its own site and through intermediary retailer channels. Harlequin has found the series to be an enormous success, Vallik says, without cannibalizing its existing list.
In fact, “Spice Briefs” has been such a hit that Harlequin in May began publishing “Nocturne Bites”—an e-extension of its paranormal brand Silhouette/Nocturne. Both products are “short reads,” and Vallik says Harlequin was surprised to find that many readers were consuming the titles on their lunch hours.
Laura Dawson is CEO of Numerical Gurus, LLC, consulting company providing services to the information, librarym and book industries. Dawson has consulted to numerous organizations in these verticals, primarily focusing on solving problems related to metadata, identifiers, Linked Data, semantic web applications, and structured content.