Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Friday Midday Links: Harlequin and Penguin have good financial quarters

Funding has been eliminated for Reading is Fundamental.

On March 2, President Obama signed a bill that eliminated funding for Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) the nation's largest organization providing free books and literacy resources to prepare and motivate children to read.   RIF's ability to provide   4.4 million children with free books   and reading encouragement from RIF programs at nearly 17,000 locations throughout the United States is in jeopardy.

Unfortunately my guess is that this program will only survive with private donations.


According to Internet Retailing, UK customers expect lower prices for ebooks and will likely hold onto their print books in the near future:

The research also revealed a strong consumer expectation to pay less for e-books than their printed equivalent, with nearly half (48%) of consumers saying they expect to pay less, and just one in five (19%) saying they expect to pay the same. Some 7% of Brits say they expect to pay less than  £3, with 28% thinking it should be between  £3 and  £5.99. Younger readers were the most likely to expect to pay less-‘reflecting, according to Mintel, their general experience of being able to procure digital product for less or free on the internet.


Michael Oliver, senior leisure analyst at Mintel, said: "Our research shows that readers still have strong affection for print books and it seems that they are not going to be totally replaced any time soon. Instead, e-books are drawing a younger, more male audience into book reading, rather than cannibalising sales from older females who are the most regular readers.


David Duhr at Publishing Perspectives writes about Steve Almonds “DIY” publishing efforts. Almond is writing, giving seminars, and selling his self published print books at these seminars for $10 a piece.   Almond made $90,000 in 2010 and that, according to the article, is like Steve Jobs’ money in the literary fiction world.

His last three titles, though, have been self-published through the Harvard Bookstore's Espresso Book Machine in Cambridge, near to where he lives in Boston. He calls them his "D.I.Y." books, and he takes a backpack full of them to readings and events.


Long story short. Academic gets bad review from another academic.   Unhappy author files a criminal-libel charge in France against reviewing academic.   French court dismisses suit and awards damages to reviewing academic. Moral: even the French don’t like author shenanigans.


There is another review site on the internet aimed toward romance readers:   I asked whether this was affiliated with an authors and was assured it was not.


With thanks to my Australian readership, I bring you this somber news.   Over 300 people will be laid off as a result of the closing of the Borders stores in Australia further the group owes over $8 million to employees and there is no word whether those employees will be getting repaid.

The businesses were placed in voluntary administration last month by REDgroup, which has debts of more than $100 million.

Creditors were also told the owners owe almost $8 million in employee entitlements, and a REDGroup spokesman says it is not yet known if retrenched staff will be paid.


Digital sales are up at Harlequin but print sales are declining.

According to Torstar, excluding currency changes, sales and earnings in Harlequin's North American division both rose C$1 million. The increase was driven by digital sales which increased C$16.1 million, a gain that offset a decline in print books that led to a C$10.7 million decrease in retail revenue. Direct-to-consumer sales fell by C$4.1 million, due to lower volume.


Penguin (Berkley, Ace, Roc, NAL or Nora Roberts, JR Ward, Kathryn Stockett, Nalini Singh, Christine Feehan) had a record year.

Led by solid gains in its two biggest markets-‘the U.S. and U.K.–Penguin Group reported total revenue of 1.05 billion pounds ($1.71 billion) in 2010, a 6% sales increase with operating profits up 26% to 106 million pounds ($172 million).

In the U.S., strong gains were reported in the young adult group and in international sales, while digital sales tripled and represented about 8% of Penguin USA's total revenue. Worldwide, e-book sales accounted for 6% of sales and sales rose "six fold" in the U.K., Makinson said. Back in the U.S., Nora Roberts and Charlaine Harris each of sold more than 1 million e-books.

Penguin’s parent corporation, Pearson, also owns Financial Times. FT is not a fan of the new Apple subscription tax.

“It is unclear how their proposal is going to work, we are still talking to them,” said Scardino. “The important thing to remember is there are many, many tablets coming out and multiple devices … [from] Kindle to mobiles. If indeed Apple are not happy to give us customer data then maybe we will get it somewhere else.”

It will be interesting to see if Penguin pulls its titles from the iBookstore if Apple kicks of Kindle and other reading apps.


Finally, I received an email from a librarian in Chicago who is holding a workshop called “What’s New in Historical Romance” at the Chicago Public Library’s annual All Staff Institute Day.   She was looking for information on historical romance trends, new books, and authors and promotional materials to provide to the local librarians.   I figured there may be   authors who would be interested in sending ARCs to this librarian and if you email me jane at, I will hook you up with the librarian.



Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

One Comment

  1. becca
    Mar 04, 2011 @ 16:34:50

    I wish Penguin had broken down their revenue by ebooks v. traditional books, because they’re one of the Agency 6 with the worst ebook prices.

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