Harlequin passionately embraces Scribd's e-book subscription service


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Harlequin, the world's most famous English-language romance fiction publisher, is joining the "Netflixication" of e-books. For the next year, Scribd will be the exclusive subscription partner for Harlequin and its various imprints. The deal will bring 15,000 titles from the Harlequin backlist to Scribd monthly subcribers in the U.S.

Harlequin says it will be offering books from a number of its various imprints for the subscription service, such as Harlequin Series Romance, HQN Books, MIRA Books, and Carina Press.

Scribd will also sell the full Harlequin catalog of e-books for readers that prefer to buy their books. Scribd's $9 per month "all you can read" e-book subscription service debuted in late 2013 and is available on Android, iOS, and Kindle devices. 

The story behind the story: Harlequin and its pulp fiction bodice rippers are a major player in a billion dollar industry: romance novel publishing. But the rise of e-books has also made it easier for independent authors and non-traditional distribution channels to start eating away at Harlequin sales. In 2013, Harlequin reported declining earnings for the year before being acquired by News Corp. in May. Harlequin's experimentation with subscription services shows that even genre fiction publishers with loyal niche followings must figure out how to adapt to the publishing industry's new market realities.

A leg up for Scribd

For Scribd, the Harlequin deal allows the company to offer more of what its readers want while keeping a popular catalog out of subscription offerings from competitors like Amazon and Oyster—a key move when many of the major e-book publishers that are embracing subscription services are doing so indiscriminately.

"The subscription model is unlocking powerful changes in reading habits and this is most prominent within the romance genre," Scribd CEO Trip Adler said in a statement. "With this many Harlequin titles, available only on Scribd, we know our romance fans will read their hearts out.”

E-book subscription services are becoming the next big trend in digital reading and more publishers are getting onboard to follow their readers. In addition to Scribd, Amazon introduced its Kindle Unlimited service in July. Oyster, the first company to roll an e-book subscription service debuting in September 2013, recently rolled out an Android app and a web app to extend its reach. Scribd, meanwhile, is trying to recreate the small bookstore feel in the digital era.

This story, "Harlequin passionately embraces Scribd's e-book subscription service" was originally published by TechHive.

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