Racy Partnership Helps Harlequin Remain Competitive: A Q&A with Vice President of Public Relations Katherine Orr
Extra: What is the typical process for developing ideas for new partnerships?
Orr: There is no cookie-cutter formula for winning partnerships—each one is unique and comes with its own benefits to both parties. Harlequin understands women readers, which makes us an appealing partner for a variety of products and services.
Extra: Why has Harlequin put such an above-average emphasis on distributing content through new digital options in recent years?
Orr: We decided to go to 100-percent [digital with our] front list for a couple of key reasons. First, our readers are buying e-books and have been asking for a wider selection of titles. Also, we strongly believe that digital is a growth area for all publishers, and the more titles offered by all publishers, the more the e-book market as a whole will grow. As a result, we are releasing more than 120 titles a month. The 120 is our front list, and then we publish some exclusive products—Spice Briefs and the Harlequin Mini—and put together bundles of backlist. That frequently adds up to 140 titles a month.
Extra: How have readers responded?
Orr: Women don’t select technology because they think it is cool; they embrace technology when they understand the benefits. The Harlequin customer is a woman; the fact that we are the first publisher to offer our complete front list as e-books really shows that women are keen for this format because they understand the benefits—convenience, immediacy, portability and no need for more book shelves.
… But I don’t think the book itself will go out of fashion. That’s the keepsake. That’s the impulse buy. There’s a lot of personality in a book.
Extra: The new, interactive www.HarlequinRomanceReport.com site, where readers confess their ultimate sins, emphasizes reader feedback and interaction. How is this interaction intended to ultimately grow readership?
Orr: … The Web site is a complement to the traditional Romance Report—a present we give the media on Valentine’s Day—and gives Harlequin the interactive and social media presence necessary to drive coverage and increase media and consumer awareness to push sales. Since Harlequin has always been at the forefront of people’s romantic wants and needs, who better than Harlequin to dissect the newest stage in the evolution of romance? The interactive, online component of the report will aggressively promote The Romance Report and the Harlequin brand. Even before this technology, we’ve always interacted with readers. We’re flooded with mail, snail mail or by the phone. Our constituents are tremendous communicators. …