Thursday, July 10, 2008

Harlequin Makes An Announcement

Harlequin distributed a press release yesterday to announce the launch of their "Enriched Edition eBooks." The enriched edition refers to e-books that are enriched by the addition of interactive buttons that provide hyperlinks to web sites that contact more information about the material in the e-book.
The launch title, UNMASKED . . . by Nicola Cornick . . . a Regency-set historical available from, has been enriched with interactive buttons that hyperlink to Web sites containing photos, historical commentaries, illustrations, sound effects, maps, articles and more, bringing the world of the novel to life without the reader having to leave the computer or the current screen page. The interactive buttons have been designed to be unobtrusive, so if one prefers not to access the bonus material, the reading experience remains uninterrupted.
I've talked before about the Sophie project, also called "The Future of the Book." My first post on Sophie was on April 6, 2006 here. I wrote a second post here. One of Sophie's goals is to permit the reader to interact with other readers and even with the author while inside the book.

While Harlequin's "enhanced" books do not permit readers to interact with each other, they do permit a convenient, interactive experience for the reader.

I have been critical of Harlequin in the past for being slow to respond to the challenges the Internet presented publishing. Back on August 16, 2006 here, I said:
Harlequin . . . built its fortune on two things: formulaic romances and the convenience of its massive book clubs. The romance industry is moving away from both those things. Women (and increasingly men) are interested in off-beat, heroines/heroes with attitude and quirks. In addition, electronic publishing now gives readers the convenience and immediacy that the book clubs once did PLUS the additional benefit of more choice.
Two weeks after that post, Harlequin issued a press release announcing they were going digital in a big way:
Harlequin announced the launch of "four digital entertainment ventures": Harlequin Mini eBooks, Harlequin Mini Round Robin eBooks, the eBook Boutique on, and, "a platform for gathering reader-generated content."
Harlequin has continued to commit additional resources to online (downloadable) sales. They provided e-books for their British readers of Mills & Boon. In the U.S., they set up a means to download books to library patrons. And last September, they announced they had become the first major publisher to make their complete front-list catalog available in the eBook format.

But the thing in Harlequin's press announcement yesterday that really struck me was this:
Enriched Edition eBooks are available at and are being sold at the same price as regular eBooks.
This is a very smart move by Harlequin.

Way to go, Harlequin!

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