First published on http://online.wsj.com/
News Corp agreed to buy romance publisher Harlequin Enterprises from Torstar Corp. of Canada for $415 million in cash, expanding in a book publishing genre that is strong both digitally and internationally.
Harlequin is one of the best known names in romance publishing, recognized by consumers for its low-price paperbacks and, more recently, e-books. If the deal is approved by Canadian regulators, Harlequin will become part of News Corp’s HarperCollins Publishers, which has a presence in romance through its four Avon imprints.
Romance novels have proved a particular hit in digital book form, whose low prices and ease of purchase holds particular appeal for readers who tend to buy book after book. The Romance Writers of America, citing Nielsen data, estimated 53% of romance novels purchased in the U.S. in the fourth quarter were in digital form, up from 37% in the fourth quarter of 2011. Overall e-books make up about 20% of total book sales, in comparison, as tracked by Nielsen.