July 15-31, 2004 Edition

Breaking News

Harlequin Nixes

Three Lines in U.S.,

Beefs Up Others

NEW YORK, NY/07/14/2004—In a sweeping move to “change with the times” and respond to their readers, Harlequin will discontinue the distribution of three major lines in the U.S. market, but will continue to sell some of those lines overseas. The changes will become effective in July 2005, and authors have been assured that existing contracts will be honored.

Flipside, the romantic comedy line, will cease publication altogether. Two lines—Harlequin Temptation and Harlequin Historicals— will no longer be distributed to bookstores in the United States, but will be sold outside of America. Harlequin Historicals will still be available domestically only by direct mail. Harlequin American Romance will stop acquiring new titles for six to eight months while the line is repositioned for future growth.

News of the changes was sent to editors and agents this week, but not to news outlets. Isabel Swift, Vice President, editorial, said members of the editorial staff would be speaking personally with agents and authors who are direct affected by the changes and that the company would look forward to continuing to “publish stories that readers want to read.”

A huge emphasis will now be placed on bigger-than-life, intimate romance stories, according to a Harlequin editor in New York. The company will place a greater emphasis upon inspirational fiction and single titles.

By the end of 2004, Harlequin will have added four new lines, including LUNA, a single title romantic fantasy program (which launched in January); Bombshell, a four-title-per-month romance adventure series (July); HQN Books, a new single title romance program (August); and Steeple Hill Café, a single title inspirational hip-lit program (October).

These programs are bookended by the recent successful launch and growth of Harlequin’s industry-leading Red Dress Ink imprint of contemporary novels for the twenty-and-thirty-somethings and, in 2005, two new series. One of these series is already know as Next (aka Primetime), a four-book-per-month series that will focus on women who are entering a new stage of their life. The company is also increasing its popular Love Inspired program to six-books-per-month with the addition of two Love Inspired Suspense novels. Harlequin Blaze will increase by two titles per month, but Intimate Moments will be reduced from six to four titles per month.

“As a company, we are committed to the success of our series publishing business,” Swift said in the letter to agents and authors. “The addition of new series over the next few years will reinvigorate our series business as Harlequin continues to invest in the books and the authors we believe will resonate with women around the world. The changes we are making reflect changes in reader tastes, and we feel that the strongest publishing program we can have in the future will present more, not fewer, opportunities for all of us.”