Harlequin Enterprises has dominated the series romance fiction novel market since the 1970’s. Harlequin has fought off every major competitor in this genre and maintained consistent performance for multiple decades. Brand loyalty, worldwide production capabilities, production efficiencies, creative control, and distribution are the strengths that Harlequin utilizes to dominate the series romance genre.
Having a consistent product has helped Harlequin establish a loyal customer base with over 70 million readers worldwide. Surveys indicate that four out of five readers continue to purchase Harlequin books the next year. To keep creativity at a high level Harlequin utilizes over 1,300 authors worldwide to develop the stories while the editors maintain strict control to ensure that the product remains consistent. This method allows Harlequin to maintain a high level of creativity and at the same time keep costs low since they do not have to pay up front the millions of dollars single title novel authors require. Legal fees for retaining authors are also low for Harlequin since they use standardized contracts vs. custom contracts typical to the single title genre.
Harlequin has a very strong distribution, selling and production system. Harlequin distributes and sells its products in two successful ways: direct retail sales and direct mail. Harlequin novels are available in over 250,000 retail outlets around the world. They do not solely rely on the typical “big box” book stores such as Barnes and Noble; instead Harlequin utilizes supermarkets, drug stores, kiosks, etc. The book dimensions are designed especially for the racks at the supermarkets. The other source of readership comes from Harlequin’s loyal “Reader Service” book club. Nearly 60% of all books sold in the U.S. were from the book club. Book club sales are sold at full cover price so Harlequin has healthy profit margins from this market.