Companies

Mills & Boon romances organised to turn best-seller

Sravanthi Challapalli Chennai | Updated on May 02, 2011

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They are now the stuff of textbooks; aspirational; the heroines are strong-willed individuals who run the gamut from CEOs to single mothers, and the hero has to connect emotionally to keep up with these women who conduct the romance on their own terms.

Mills & Boon romances, along with Harry Potter and Slumdog Millionaire, are now part of the new English MA syllabus at Bangalore University. Academics apart, its business plans for 2011 aim to capitalise on the growth of organised retail, says Mr Manish Singh, Country Manager, Harlequin Mills & Boon (India). It aims to increase sales from supermarkets, a key source of revenue worldwide, where its copies are placed at cash counters. They are already present in some cities at Spencer's, Spar, Star Bazar, D-Mart and some pharmacies in Delhi. During the recession, placing the books at Wal-Mart's cash counters contributed to a growth of 33 per cent, he said.

E-books

Apart from “selling books alongside vegetables”, it will give equal importance to e-books. Globally, 8 per cent of Harlequin's sales (not just M&B) are from digital books. The e-books will be priced the same as the physical ones, which cost Rs 99, Mr Singh said. It will also promote sales at travel outlets such as airport bookshops. The subscription channel contributes 10-15 per cent to annual sales. By August, HMBI will launch Nocturne, its sixth series which will feature paranormal elements, said Mr Singh. It now publishes 20 titles across five series — Modern, Romance, Desire, Special Moments, and Historical. Globally, 80 titles are launched across ten series every month.

HMBI is a Canadian$500-million business that operates in 110 countries and publishes 140 million books every year in 28 languages. India sales, which Mr Singh declined to reveal, have more than doubled since HMBI's launch in 2008. For the past two months, the Nielsen BookScan has shown M&B's Desire series has featured in the top 20 books sold in India, he added.

Author development

HMBI runs an author development programme through a contest in India, the only one outside North America and the UK. An Indian M&B called The Love Asana was launched in December 2010. Authors are given editorial mentorship. In both the contests held so far, the majority of the contestants, over 400 both times, have been from the South, especially from Chennai. “India has a lot of potential in terms of authors. We've found that readers are the best writers in the case of M&B,” said Mr Singh.

HMBI distributes its books such as magazines, introducing new titles every month, withdrawing the previous month's titles and marketing them in another country. Sixty to 70 per cent of the sales are made within 10-12 days of launch. It also publishes collections based on various themes.

Published on April 20, 2011

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