Harlequin launches digital-only imprint. Will other big houses feel the romance?

For a publisher celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, Harlequin has been thinking ahead. Much of the voluminous catalog from the romance publisher is available for digital download in multiple formats, so fans of steamy novels can access all they want on their Kindles, iPhones, and netbooks at the ready, without worrying that particular titles will disappear from bookstores when the next month's titles arrive.

Harlequin's longstanding policy of acquiring worldwide rights in all formats means it has the means to reach a global audience with whatever reading format they choose: print, digital, audio, or something that doesn't exist yet. So it seems like a no-brainer that Harlequin, a division of Toronto-based Torstar Corp. (TORSF), would launch an imprint devoted exclusively to digital books. But Carina Press, which will operate independently of Harlequin, might pave the way for major publishers to put their money where their e-book mouth is.