Future of Romance Ebooks

heart bookRomance is one of the categories that has seen very strong ebook adoption.
It makes sense when you think about it: Its readers often consume titles by the half-dozen and so want to get them cheaply and quickly; the works themselves are not bookshelf fodder; and, not to beat a dead cliché, but some readers might find it preferable to display the back of an e-reader when in public rather than what one usually finds on a romance book cover.
Just one problem: Harlequin, the largest and most prominent publisher of romance books in the world, might be getting left behind. It reported results yesterday and the net is that its ebook revenue growth failed to make up for print losses.
Other publishers are facing this at this juncture in the ebook revolution. However, in Harlequin’s case the gap is wider and there are other issues: The rise of self-published romance ebooks (they hit the DBW Ebook Best-Seller list nearly every week); it’s currently being sued over ebook royalties; and to compete with self-publishing it’s had to up the royalties it pays on ebooks, to name just three of Harlequin’s challenges.
But the company is also making moves to build its digital business. In Dec. it formed an ebook partnership with Cosmopolitan magazine and earlier this week it made its ebooks available for purchase by libraries through Ingram.


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The rest of the day’s top news:
Hyperion Back-List on the Block (WSJ)
The company is jettisoning its back-list so it can focus more on new titles, especially those with tie-ins to in-house television and movie projects. Related: Hyperion CEO Ellen Archer Says the Book Publishing Business Model is Broken.
SFWA Condemns Random House Imprint Hydra (DBW)
In Nov. 2012, Random House launched several new digital imprints, including Hydra, a science fiction shop. Yesterday, in a strongly worded letter to members, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America group condemned the imprint and called its contract terms “onerous and unconscionable.” The letter also informed members that being published by Hydra cannot qualify a potential member for membership.
Happy Birthday, Google Play Store (paidContent)
The Google Play store is now a year old. To celebrate, it ran some $5 ebook sales and other digital content specials. While the Play store has five million ebooks at this point, according to the company, it has as yet been unable to seriously challenge Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Apple, the dominant U.S. ebook players.
Is $8.00 Too Much for an Ebook? (Forbes)
What’s the going price for an ebook these days? If you’re like the median ebook buyer from last week, you spent $5.62 for a copy of Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks.
NewsCorp’s Tablet for Schools (NYT)
Everyone is getting into the device business these days. Count Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp in. The 10-inch Amplify Tablet will start at $299 a year along with a two-year $99 subscription to curriculum software and content.
New ‘Hybrid’ Literary Agency (DBW)
Foreword Literary in San Francisco bills itself as a “hybrid” agency, aiming toward traditional and self-publishing.
Comic Book Self-Publishing Platform (DBW)
Digital comic book platform ComiXology has launched Submit, a new digital comic self-publishing platform, likely in an effort to build a catalog of exclusive content a la Kindle Direct Publishing Select, iBooks Author and other efforts.
Isaacson Off the Hook in Antitrust Case (paidContent)
Walter Isaacson, the Steve Jobs biographer, will not have to testify against Apple at the upcoming ebook price-fixing trial. Amazon execs, however, are ready to go.
IPG President Suchomel Departs Suddently (Pub Lunch)
Independent Publishers Group president Mark Suchomel has left the company. The move was abrupt and no further explanation was offered outside of a short note from CEO Curt Matthews.
Ebook Gift Cards Taking Off in Germany (The Digital Reader)
eBookCards, a seven-month-old service, is now in 300 German stores and has about 150 titles from 40 publishers.
Another New Ebook Subscription Start-up (DBW)
This time the hook is that the subscriptions are curated. The only question is where can investors line up to pour money into this. Related: Three Digital Publishing Start-ups That Won’t Fail.

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