Harlequin Case

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Harlequin is the world’s largest romance publisher, but its leading position in this market is being threatened as single-title novels continue to expand. Book publishers have attempted to enter Harlequin’s segment of industry, but have eventually failed to challenge their dominance. Brand loyalty has allowed Harlequin to sell books in more than 100 international markets and in more than 23 languages around the world. The company’s success can be attributed to its consistent quality product, standing orders, predictable retail traffic patterns, and ability to produce and deliver books at low costs. The standard size and format of Harlequin’s novels has allowed the company to take advantage of standing order distribution. Also since each series is distributed to a retail location in a predetermined configuration, Harlequin has been able to accurately predict monthly print quantities and achieve significant print cost effectiveness. As the demand for single-title women’s fiction continues to grow, the demand for series romance remains stable. After conducting market research, Harlequin was able to conclude that customers were reading as many single-title women’s fiction books as series romances, “customers are reading 20 Harlequin books and 20 single-title books from other publishers.” As the demand and popularity for single-title women’s books continues to grow, Harlequin could have an opportunity to take a greater share of the single-title market. Because Harlequin is faced with slow or no growth in series romance, re-entering into the single-title business would be beneficial to them. In 1986, Harlequin first attempted to enter the single-title market by launching World-Wide Library. However, this program was shut down in 1988 because it had not been as profitable as predicted. World-Wide Library failed because their editorial parameters were too broad (they could not decide on a specific program to focus on), their North American retail distribution was...
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