by Jenny Bullough, Manager, Digital Content
Ever read a book you loved so much you wanted to run out and buy 10 more just like it? Ever discover a new author and want to read everything she’s ever written? Ever pick up a book, get halfway through and find out it’s part of an ongoing miniseries and want to read all of them, in the right order, immediately?
These reading emergencies have happened to all of us on the digital team – which is why we launched our backlist ebook program! (For those who don’t know, “backlist” is a publishing term used to refer to anything published in the past; “frontlist” is the current year’s new books.)
Sure we’ve published a lot of ebooks since we started doing things digitally in 2005 (around 6,000 – not that we’re counting!) – but as we all know, Harlequin has been around for a lot longer than that (over 60 years – again, not that we’re counting!) and has published more books than anyone can count (and yes, we’ve tried counting)! We want to take that backlist and turn it into ebooks, so that readers can find whatever they need – whether it’s backlist from a beloved author, or a newly discovered series, or a complete miniseries.
That’s our backlist-into-ebook strategy in a nutshell. With potentially tens of thousands of books to turn into ebooks, it can be hard to know where to start! In 2010, we’re focusing on:
— Great series like Harlequin Presents with lots of older books not yet in digital formats
— Authors with lots of older titles
— Miniseries ahead of their time like Tales of the Sea from Silhouette Romance
Of course, our goal is to eventually have every Harlequin (or Silhouette, or MIRA, or HQN, or Steeple Hill…) book available in all ebook formats – but nothing is ever that easy! As with any big undertaking, there are major challenges – mostly to do with legal rights and digital files. For anything published pre-2000 it’s a challenge to find the digital files, if there are any, for the text and cover. Sometimes they’re in arcane formats and have to be converted to PDF before they can be converted into ebook formats. For anything published pre-1995, the electronic rights are not usually spelled out in the contract, and unless the right to publish electronically clearly belongs to Harlequin, we don’t publish it in ebooks.
We want you to know that if there’s a book you love or need that you haven’t found in ebooks, or an older book that you’ve suggested that hasn’t made it into the program, it’s probably because we’re still sorting out the rights situation, or trying to find the electronic files for the text or the cover in the archives of one of our 3 Editorial offices.
That said, there are a TON of books that we have the rights to and the files for and we just don’t know about them yet! We are always open to suggestions from readers, and we are always happy to hear from authors who want to see their books in digital! So if you have a recommendation for a book or series of books you’d like to see available in ebooks, let us know in the comments!
Check out the eHarlequin eBook store monthly for all new releases in both our frontlist and backlist. Now’s a great time to stop by—you can get 20% off all selected titles in our eBooks Backlist Bookshelf. And come back to the Harlequin Blog in June for an inside scoop on new backlist releases from Amy.