Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Harlequin Sold!

This week it was announced that Torstar sold it's publishing arm, Harlequin, to HarperCollins.

It's about time something happened. Something needed to happen.

Harlequin sales have been in a steady decline for a handful years so it's about time. Harlequin has been quite controversial for several years now for varying reasons. Some of their authors have jumped ship or sued over paltry royalty rates. Of course, some authors understand that Harlequin is also about branding and distribution--something they've done well for a very long time. It's not always about the money, but when an author only makes 5 CENTS a book, there's something rotten in Denmark.

I believe one of Harlequin's major issues is that they didn't embrace the digital as quickly as it evolved. According to a trusted source of mine and a long-time Harlequin author, the top heads in the company are barely removed from the Victorian era and may be having a hard time themselves with the rapid changes in technology. Transitioning a huge company to the digital age? Quite the undertaking. Another friend of mine who writes for Harlequin Intrigue had to complete edits via hard copy (along with paying requisite postage to send it back) for the first two or three of her books before her editor switched to using track changes.

Another issue I think Harlequin failed to address was marketing to the correct demographic. They've continue to do whatever they've done for the last thirty years and the young hip digital/online/E generation -- i.e. their replacement consumers -- have been ignored. The average age of a Harlequin Intrigue reader is in her 60s. They've not tried to pull in new readers with fresh innovative and ONLINE marketing techniques.

You and I both know there's a lot more to it than just these two factors, but they've certainly played a part. It'll be interesting to see the positive changes that come about from the deal, both for Harlequin and its authors.


Regina Richards said...

Very interesting post, Jen. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I wondered about the demographics of Harlequin's readers. It's interesting that Harlequin doesn't seem to be reaching the younger reader the way they did years ago (when the now-60 year olds were in their late 20s and early 30s). Hoping for a positive outcome for Harlequin authors.