Digital Expands the Playing Field for Harlequin, Sourcebooks

Digital Book WorldTwo new publishing initiatives are generating a lot of positive (dare I say, optimistic?) buzz right now, one for its innovative approach, the other for its sheer audacity.

Harlequin’s new division, Carina Press, is a digital-only imprint that will forgo both author advances and DRM, sell direct-to-consumers, and is surprisingly horizontal, promising “a broad range of fiction” including “romance… mystery, suspense and thrillers, science fiction, fantasy, erotica, gay/lesbian, and more!”

Malle Vallik, Director Digital Content & Social Media at Harlequin Enterprises Ltd, expressed her excitement about the new press by putting the print side of the business in perspective:

In the olden days when I used to edit print books, I would have been intrigued by this idea but I would also have been trying to fit it into an existing category. After all, I couldn’t just make up a category. Instead I would most likely have asked Jane to increase the romance, make the mystery more thriller-like or women-in-jeopardy type storyline and possibly move the story to Regency times.

But now I’m free. I can ask Jane to write the book she envisions and if I love it as much as she does then we’ll publish it. Our brilliant marketers will create a plan on how to sell it as a historical military mystery. Boo Yah!

Meanwhile, Sourcebooks publisher Dominique Raccah has launched a new digital initiative in perhaps the most unlikely of niches, at least from a financial perspective: poetry!

People definitely seem surprised that anyone would take on such an endeavor. We see PoetrySpeaks.com as a new business and marketing model for poets and poetry publishers, who very much need a better way of reaching their audiences…

Poetry Speaks (the book) sold 190,000 copies because it’s a GREAT book. You could watch people use the book and see how they were discovering new poets. They were hearing new things in the poets they already thought they knew. It was an incredibly useful tool for the discovery of poetry. We hope to make PoetrySpeaks.com that kind of a tool.

Raccah will be speaking about PoetrySpeaks.com at Digital Book World in January, offering an analysis of its first 90 days, and Don Linn – a publishing veteran who recently founded and quickly disbanded his epublishing initiative, Quartet Press – will be moderating a provocative panel discussion, “New Business Models: Changing the Commercial Rules of Publishing“, with Diane Naughton, HarperCollins; Richard Nash, Cursor; Eoin Purcell, Green Lamp Media; and Chris Morrow, Northshire Bookstore.

Contrary to what some believe, it’s an exciting time for the publishing industry.

What other new publishing initiatives are you excited about?

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