Sunday, 4 May 2014

Changes for the Romance Market?

The purchase of Harlequin (from Torstar Corporation) by News Corp slipped by without too much notice in the UK yesterday (Friday). Admittedly it still has to pass through regulatory processes before it is an irrevocable deal, but that's just a matter of time.

There were a couple of items on the Bookseller website, this one and then this item. And the BBC web pages announced the news by branding Harlequin as the 'bodice ripper' publisher...

Harlequin will then operate as a division of HarperCollins.

In the UK, there are 4 imprints, Mills and Boon, Mira, Mira Ink and the the digital Carina. They are a small unit among the 1,000 Harlequin staff worldwide.

Romance is still a strong area of publishing- especially in digital- so I don't think there's any worry that Mills and Boon or Harlequin will suddenly disappear.

Though I do wonder if all the category romances managed in Toronto and New York will survive when the new managers start looking at the ongoing costs...

In the UK when any business is taken over there's usually staff loses and reorganisation; but perhaps the size and reach of the existing UK operation will protect it to some degree...

For one, across the ocean, view you might find this item on forbes.com interesting.

I can certainly see the advantage for Harper Collins, as it must be tough competing against the diversity that the Penguin Random House merger brought.

But I do think that this will start the countdown to the other major publishers doing mergers.

First there was 6, then 5...how long before it's 4?

Writers and readers are understandably going to be concerned, because until someone tells them what is going to happen, they can only speculate, and that's not good for anyone.

Also the larger the publisher gets, the harder it seems to be for writers to get their attention.

I'm becoming more convinced that the smaller publishers are where new writers should be looking, or go the self-publish route.

The next two years certainly will be interesting...

Do you have any thoughts on this merger?


12 comments:

  1. I'm not keen on massive companies of any sort. If we don't want to dress like everyone else, eat the same as everyone else and read the same things as anyone else we'll soon have to knit clothes from our own hair, roast roadkill and become slushpile readers.

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    1. Hopefully it won't get to that stage, Patsy, :) but I understand what you're saying.

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  2. I think it's shocked a lot of authors, Carol, especially those who write for one of those imprints! This is when I'm very pleased to be with a smaller, but very good publisher.

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    1. I agree, Rosemary. I suspect it was kept very quiet with only a few aware of what was going on.

      You're a good example of what can be achieved by and with a small publisher. :)

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  3. It was on Yahoo Business, Carol. Let's face it - the big publishers are in it for the money. We at the bottom of the pile (the humble but oh so essential authors) are there to support the hierarchy above, not the other way round. There would be no take-over unless there was profit in it, not at $415m. Author Hugh Howey (at authorearnings.com) has been putting together figures that prove that self-publishing on Amazon or whoever is far more lucrative for the author than with a publishing house. If you're expected to do the publicity yourself, as well as write the thing, why not just go the whole hog. You'll have a far bigger vested interest in the outcome than they will.

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    1. Yes, Lorraine, you've got that right. Everything is about profit first nowadays. :(

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  4. Your posts keep me up to date with the UK news on the writing front, Carol - we don't buy an English newspaper over here.

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    1. You're welcome, Lizy. I'd certainly recommend the Bookseller website for a general over view of what's happening in the book world.

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  5. I think its a shame, and I'm not keen on the big boys swallowing up everything in their path. They'll soon start stripping anything away that doesn't fit with the accountant's plan.

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  6. That's my worry too, Maria. When it comes down to a book progressing to the publication stage it's the accountants that have the final say- not every book will fit in their square hole system.

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  7. I agree that the bigger publishing companies grow, the more difficult it is to get noticed. They seem to stick with established authors or celebrities, which I understand to a degree; after all, businesses prefer clients that make them money. But it does make you wonder where we aspiring authors stand.

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    1. That's what we have to remember, Ange, they are a business, so their priorities are very different to those of the reader/writer.

      All I can see this latest merger doing, is pushing more aspiring authors toward Amazon to self-publish, as there aren't enough small publisher's around to take on everyone.

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