Romance Awards Cross Over to the E Side

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

The Rita awards ceremony, climaxing the annual Romance Writers of America convention, is closer to the glitzy Academy Awards than to the bookish solemnities of the National Book Award. Conducted in vast auditoriums on a stage flanked by jumbo-trons, these events are almost as glamorous as their Hollywood counterparts, and the tension and drama leading up to the announcement of winners in Best Historical or Best Paranormal are every bit as excruciating as the wait for Best Leading Actor or Best Film.

Until now there was one thing you could always count on: the awards would be bestowed on printed books.

No longer.

In 2012 two Ritas – named after one of the founders of RWA – were awarded to original e-books, one for romance novella, the other for contemporary single title.

This is a very big deal. It’s as if a YouTube video won an Oscar for best feature film.

You would think that if any group of writers were early adapters to digital books it would be science fiction authors. In truth romance writers – and their fans and publishers – jumped into e-books from the moment the technology was unleashed. In particular Harlequin, the world’s leading romance publisher, launched an e-book program long before other publishers even remotely began to think digitally. So, it should not come as a surprise that RWA decided that e-originals were every bit as qualified as their print sisters to garner nominations and awards.

It’s hard to believe that the rest of the publishing industry will follow suit any time soon, but in this revolutionary era, wonders that we said would not come to pass for a decade seem to materialize in six months. So  – keep your eye on those National Book Award nominees.

Richard Curtis

6 thoughts on “Romance Awards Cross Over to the E Side

  1. Jen McAndrews

    Sadly, RWA decided \e-originals were every bit as qualified\ as long as they were submitted to the contest in print form. Carina Press had a very fine moment as a new publisher garnering a Rita, but the honor goes to the story, not its format.

    1. Carolyn Jewel

      To be honest, I think that has more to do with the logistics of getting eBooks to RWA and then to the judges. RWA is currently set up to distribute print books to judges. I would expect that to change in the future. I’m not privy to RWA’s thoughts and intentions on the matter, but with DRM and other issues imposed by publishers on their eBooks, there are hurdles to accepting eBooks and getting them distributed to judges.

      What I do know is that this year I bought ALL my RITA books in digital because I did not want to read them in print. So, yes, RWA sent me the print books. I bought them in digital at my expense. From what I hear, I’m not the only one who did that.

      1. Richard CurtisRichard Curtis Post author

        @Carolyn Jewel

        This too is a big deal. The fact that judges are reading nominated works as e-books brings the digital revolution one step closer to completion.

      2. Jen McAndrews

        Interesting, Carolyn. I hadn’t looked at it quite that way – with an eye to the DRM limitations.
        And yet, I still think until RWA accepts ebooks as entrants, celebrating the format as a winner is premature.

  2. Debbie

    The thing the publishing industry seems to forget is that ebooks came out years before RWA, HQ, etc recognized them. Sure they started out on disks, then with the help of eBookwise the ebook industry began to grow. Lets not forget the small press/publishers that were behing the ebook concept long before the big NY houses were. I’m just glad that the big NYpublishers, and RWA, finally realized that epublishing was the wave of the future…I wish they had been along at the beginning of the wave and not jumped on in the middle.

    1. Richard CurtisRichard Curtis Post author


      How well I know! I launched E-Reads in 1999 and it took several years before anyone knew what I was talking about!



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *