The Harlequin Audio titles will be available through all major library distributors in digital and physical formats,” says Sean McManus, “Our partners, Midwest Tape and Blackstone Audio, will handle the distribution for physical CDs into libraries and Harlequin Audio works directly with all digital distributors.” McManus adds that the audiobooks will also be available via streaming services such as Overdrive and the majority of digital library distributors.
This is good news for libraries, but whats the deal with Harlequin even getting involved in audiobook production? For that information, we have to look back in recent history. News Corp announced the purchase of Canadian based Harlequin from Torstar on May 2nd, 2014. The entire deal was a cash purchase of $455 million dollars and the romance publisher has become a division of HarperCollins. One of the ways to make the romance publisher profitable was to expand their offerings and to get involved in the billion dollar audiobook industry. In 2015 Harlquin audio launched and the current plan is to have 200 audio editions by the end of the year.
Since Audio is so new to Harlequin, they are going to have to change the way author contracts work. In the past, authors negotiated their audio rights separately, allowing audio versions of their books to be released by different publishers. Harlequin is going to start pushing for audio rights, since they can now has a solid distribution agreement for libraries.