Publisher profile: Harlequin

Publisher profile: Harlequin

This is a profile of a publisher that does not block text-to-speech for the Kindle at time of writing.  I want to recognize these publishers, and give you a bit of background on them.

“So tell me who…who wrote e-books of love?”

Well, this isn’t exactly who wrote them, but I can tell you who published a lot of them…Harlequin.

Paper history

 Harlequin dominated romance publishing (especially series romances) in the 1970s, and bought their major challenger, Silhouette in the mid-1980s.

Almost like people call any facial tissue a Kleenex, a lot of people think of Harlequin and “romance” as synonymous.

However, when the company began in 1949, it sold paperback reprints of classics (I’ll be you didn’t think of Somerset Maugham as a Harlequin author, did you?) 😉 . 

In the late 1950s, Harlequin began publishing romance novels…primarily reprints of British novels.  In fact, I remember the controversy when they began to publish American-set books…and even more so when they began a line with…um…more explicit romantic interludes.

Its success has been incredible: they claim to have sold 5.8 billion books…billion with a B.  That’s more than twice the entire world population at the time the company was founded! 

They say they publish more than 100 novels a month and sell in 28 languages and in 114 “international markets”. 

I thought this was an interesting statistic: Harlequin books had 252 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list in 2008…about a ten percent increase from the previous year.

They’ve also established a number of clearcut lines, including a line for teens, one for fantasy (Luna), and even one for mystery (Worldwide Mystery).

They have always dynamically sought non-traditional markets and been reader-friendly.  It isn’t that easy for a bookstore to stock 100 titles that change a month…that’s a lot of shelving and returns!   You may have seen them in grocery stores, bought them by mail, and now, of course, in e-books.  Giving material away has been part of their strategy for a long time, and they continue that today.  Generally, it’s been more of their plan to commit people to regularly buying a line than to worry about the sales for a single title.

When I was a bookstore manager, we’d have some regular customers who would come in every month and leave with a huge pile of Harlequins…and they weren’t choosing particular ones, necessarily, but they wanted to read them all. 

One reason for that was familiarity.  Harlequin is open to new writers, and they give them guidelines.   That’s why there is such controversy whenever they make a change.

Overall, while you may not see them nominated for a Booker prize, Harlequin is one of the most successful, diverse, and reader-connected publishers out there.

Family ties


  • Harlequin American Romance
  • Harlequin Blaze
  • Harlequin Historical
  • Harlequin Intrigue
  • Harlequin Medical Romance
  • Harlequin NASCAR
  • Harlequin Medical Romance
  • Harlequin Special Releases
  • Harlequin Superromance
  • Harlequin Bianca
  • Harlequin Deseo
  • Harlequin Jazmin
  • Harlequin Julia
  • Harlequin Nonfiction
  • Harlequin Teen
  • Harlequin Historical Undone


  • Silhouette Desire
  • Silhouette Romantic Suspense
  • Silhouette Special Releases
  • Silhouette Nocturne
  • Silhouette Nocturne Bites

Spice (more explicit)

Mira (stand-alone novels rather than series)


Kimani Press (African American)

  • Kimani Press Kimani Romance
  • Kimani Press Arabesque
  • Kimani Press New Spirit
  • Kimani Press Sepia
  • Kimani Press Special Releases
  • Kimani Press TRU

Steeple Hill

  • Steeple Hill (for women of faith)
  • Steeple Hill Cafe
  • Steeple Hill Love Inspired
  • Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense
  • Steeple Hill Women’s Fiction
  • Steeple Hill Love Inspired HIstorical

Red Dress Ink (“with style”)

Luna (fantasy)

Worldwide Library

  • Wordlwide Rogue Angel
  • Worldwide Mystery


 Donna Hayes became the Publisher and CEO of Harlequin in 2003.  She had previously been President and COO.  Previous publishing experience included working at Doubleday Canada.  Under her leadership, the company has expanded their offerings into less genre areas of fiction.

Special note

Harlequin has also been involved in community projects, as well as making a commitment to environmental issues. 

They have a special program, called More Than Words. 

Women can be nominated for the award.

This is an excerpt from the  More Than Words website:

Somewhere right now, a woman’s compassion is improving the quality of life in her community — not only for herself but for those she cares about most.

With each act of kindness, each word of support, she is proving that real-life heroines do exist. And at Harlequin we believe her story should be told!

We solicit nominations of ordinary women who have made extraordinary contributions to their communities. With your support, we hope to turn awareness into action, and mobilize others to become engaged and make a difference.

Company contact information

General questions e-mail:

Questions about orders:

Phone: 1-888-432-4879

Canadian Headquarters:

Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. is located at:
225 Duncan Mill Rd.
Don Mills, Ontario
M3B 3K9

Harlequin also has 14 other locations around the world.


In the e-book world

 Harlequin has strongly embraced e-books.  They sell them directly through their website, and have a special website for e-books:

e-Books at eHarlequin 

They commonly have free e-books available, and have them in a number of formats.  That includes EPUB, PDF, Microsoft eBook, and Mobi.

Note: the Mobi books will not work with your Kindle, because these are “protected” Mobi files.

Harlequin e-books in the Kindle store

Fortunately, Harlequin also makes books available in the Kindle store, and generally has free ones as well:

Harlequin books in the Kindle store (freebies first) 

Some of these books have been free for a long time, which is nice.  Some promotional titles tend to only be available for a short while.

Note: the search above (3,189 results at time of writing) were just the ones that had the Harlequin name for the publisher.  Ones that were published under other imprints will not show up in that search.  For example, there are 246 Kimani titles that would not have been found by that search.

I generally use to limit by publisher.

They are also following a strategy of putting bundles in the Kindle store.  For example, you can get all eight February 2010 Harlequin Presents titles in one download for $14.99.   For those of you who don’t want to pay more than $9.99 for an e-book, this is actually only a $1.87 per book.   It was released on February 1.

One-Click Buy: February 2010 Harlequin Presents


With a broad variety of e-books available (including paranormal romance, non-fiction, and faith-based fiction), Harlequin is a major source for e-book readers.  They do not block text-to-speech, and do make books available for free.   While they may not release every book as an e-book (the bundles make that a bit hard to confirm), they do not appear to be “windowing” books (delaying e-book releases significantly after paper releases).

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

4 Responses to “Publisher profile: Harlequin”

  1. Keren Says:

    FYI, I just bought yesterday a couple of ebooks from Harlequin website – non of the formats is available for Kindle. Even the PDF files are protected, so the only way to buy Harlequin ebooks is through Amazon (which is sometimes more expensive).


    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Keren!

      Hmmmm….didn’t realize that about the formats at the website. They didn’t have unprotected mobis? I’ll take another look at the website.


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