Monday, October 18, 2010

Bon Voyage Silhouette!

News broke on Twitter a week or so ago that Harlequin is going through another round of re-branding mojo. This go around? They're dumping the Silhouette name and will "rebrand" those lines as Harlequin. So instead of Silhouette Desire, you'll now have Harlequin Desire. This bit of memo leakage came from a reliable source, but I had been waiting to see it posted somewhere else online before discussing my opinion on the matter and now? Yeah, here it is. Along with the memo that went out to Harlequin authors.

What does this mean? Honestly? Not a whole helluva lot. It's simply a matter of time marching on.

For those of you who aren't up on your category romance history, let me give you a (very) quick and dirty lesson. Back in the olden days, Harlequin published one American writer (Janet Dailey). However, the American market place was a big buyer for category romance, and in response to that demand, Simon & Schuster launched Silhouette (founding editor was the late Kate Duffy) - which gave us American authors writing in American settings. Yes, this would be why Nora Roberts was originally published under the Silhouette banner. Eventually Harlequin caught a clue and bought Silhouette in 1984 - giving us the company we know today. But over the years these two names have blended. American authors are no longer "corralled" under just the Silhouette name and vice versa.

From a nostalgia standpoint - I get it. Even though I missed out on what many consider the "golden age" of category romance, I totally "get" how some readers feel about those early Silhouette offerings. It was a bit...well...revolutionary. The stories were different, the heroines were different, the sex For the first time ever you, as the reader, were no longer limited to just the "traditional" model of romance storytelling. But from the standpoint of a reader today? Right now? Yeah, I'm honestly surprised Harlequin hadn't made this move sooner.

Harlequin is a global brand. It's huge. People who don't know a damn thing about books or publishing know Harlequin (even if it is only to make fun of those trashy, cookie-cutter books ::big sigh::). Silhouette? Yeah, some name recognition, but not nearly on the global scale of Harlequin. And before you argue with me, I contend that it's really only hard core romance readers living overseas who have any inkling of the Silhouette name. But yeah, everybody knows Harlequin. So from an author/book/line marketing standpoint? This is nothing but good news in my opinion.

And really, that's what we're talking about here - a name. Harlequin has said nothing about reworking the lines, other than a name change. So if you like Silhouette Desire now? Yeah, you're still going to like them as Harlequin Desire. Karen Templeton is still going to write good, solid, enjoyable Harlequin Special Editions, as she did Silhouette Special Editions. If anything, this name switcheroo might actually help sales, especially overseas. That's my hunch anyway.

What I'm not so sure about is if this will result in any kind of internal shake-up at the HQN offices. I'm not sure why it would - but I never try to pretend to understand business decisions, especially these days. However from a reader standpoint? I'm not seeing this as giant, massive news. Well, yet anyway. We'll have to wait and see how it shakes out of course.

ETA: More press release lingo via RT. In another bit of news, the Love Inspired Historical line is going from 2 releases a month, to 4. A move that does not shock me at all.


Hilcia said...

Wow, that is big news, Wendy. I've always been a big fan of Silhouette Special Editions going way back, so I'll miss looking for those. But yes, I know it will be the same product and of course will continue to look for them. I've always thought of them as Harlequin's Silhouette Special Editions anyway. ;D

PJ said...

As a reader, I don't see it as earth-shattering news. I've been a Silhouette reader for many years but I've also been a Harlequin reader for the same number of years. Over time, I've come to think of Special Edition and Desire books as Harlequin/Silhouette; different lines under the same umbrella.
I'll still buy the books of my favorite authors and try new authors, whether the name on the cover is Silhouette or Harlequin.

Try taking those lines away from me and we'll have something to talk about!

Donna Alward said...

Hey Wendy- this is how I see it too. They've already done it with Nocturne and most people didn't even notice! It has gotten to the point now where whether it's Harlequin or Silhouette is a matter of semantics.

I think it makes a whole lot of sense, personally.

Kristie (J) said...

When I first heard the news I thought YIKES!!! But then when I realized it was just a name change, I felt much better about it.

BevBB said...

Back in the olden days, Harlequin published one American writer (Janet Dailey).

I had to read that twice before it sunk it what you were saying and then it was, like, good god, she's probably right. I'm also old enough to remember "seeing" books before that era, too.


I definitely remember when they lauched the Silhouette lines because I was ever so happy to see them. But I'm kinda with you too, Wendy, in wondering why this hasn't happened sooner.

I mean, they've already been it - the Americanization thing - for years with the Harlequin Superomances and Intrigues, haven't they? I never really knew what the point of having the Silhouette brand on the other lines were. Especially when I realized just how popular the Harlequin label was worldwide.

And I'm not simply talking about books either.

Wendy said...

Hilcia: I think it will make life easier for librarians. When I do presentations on category romance, I do spend some time explaining that Harlequin and Silhouette are part of the same company.

PJ: I think ultimately it cuts down on confusion. Hard core readers understand Harlequin is Silhouette and Sihouette is Harlequin - but now it makes it easier for everybody.

Donna: I was one of those people who didn't notice they had done it to the Nocturne line until like 3 months after the fact! LOL

KristieJ: YOU'RE HERE!!!!! Yippeeeee! I was starting to worry.

BevBB: Nora Roberts tells a story about her first rejection letter from Harlequin, "Sorry we already have our American writer." Not plural. And talk about irony that it was Janet Dailey!

Yeah, really surpised it's just now happening. Especially since blending of the lines has really been going great guns for years now. The biggest example of this (in recent memory) I can think of is when Silhouette Romance folded and some of those authors went to Harlequin Romance. Hence, a lot more American settings in the HR line these days.....

One interesting thing I discovered recently, the SuperRomance line was launched in 1980 partly because of the popularity of Silhouette. Who knew?

BevBB said...

Nora Roberts tells a story about her first rejection letter from Harlequin, "Sorry we already have our American writer." Not plural. And talk about irony that it was Janet Dailey!

Yeah, that one is definitely snort-worthy if nothing else. o.O

Oh, the whole, though, I think the more significant observation about the current thing is that they've decided to bring "US" (meaning both US as in America and us as in the American readers) into their larger world market fold instead of continuing to keep up even the "illusion" of things being separate and distinct.

As a publisher, Harlequin is nothing if not a survivor. Possibly one of the best out there.

MaryK said...

It means my book database isn't going to sort correctly! (Silh. Desire 1019, Harl. Desire 1020) :sob:

SarahT said...

From what I can gather from author forums and elsewhere, this really is just a name change. As you said in your post, I'm surprised they didn't do this years ago.

I'm a reader living in Europe and the Silhouette name has no particular meaning for me, but Harlequin Mills & Boon definitely does. As such, I'm more drawn to the Harlequin lines than I am to the Silhouette ones, even though this makes no sense. Given that eHarlequin offer their ebooks without geographical restrictions, they might well be responding to digital sales. Just a hunch.

BevBB said...

Given that eHarlequin offer their ebooks without geographical restrictions, they might well be responding to digital sales. Just a hunch.

Very good point. And if anyone would recognize the impact first, it would be them.

Kwana said...

Great post. Thanks for spelling it all out.

Wendy said...

MaryK: I had a similar problem when they changed Silhouette Intimate Moments to Silhouette Romantic Suspense a few years back. Luckily, I don't have a ton of those lines in my TBR - so it wasn't too bad. I've since moved my TBR cataloging to LibraryThing, and using a "tag" system helps with the sorting thing....

Sarah: That's an excellent point about the no geo-restrictions. I really think, ultimately, that Harlequin made this move to "streamline" things for their global readers. Publishing doesn't start and end with just the USA.

Kwana: I'm glad I was finally able to blog about this. I was DYING too, but wanted to wait and actually "see" this stuff spelled-out online instead of just going by Twitter chatter :)

Samanthadelayed said...

I have often wondered what is the difference between Silhouette Romantic Suspense and Harlequin Intrigue?I wonder if they will move to merge their romantic suspense titles under one line.

Wendy said...

Samantha: This is purely from my own personal reading experience. Not sure if Harlequin has ever come out and said this - but for me? SRS tends to be more romance first, suspense second while HI tends to be more suspense first, romance second.

Like I said, this is purely based on my own personal experiences with the lines - but it's what I've noticed at any rate.