Historically, the name Harlequin has been so closely tied to romance publishing that it’s almost like “kleenex” or “coke”: the brand is virtually synonymous with the product in the minds of the public. Of course, in any kind of book circle, Harlequin also means a specific expectation within romance; it will be steamy, it will have a happy ending, and it might be the kind of book you hide inside a magazine while reading it in public.
But a new announcement from Harlequin has shown that they’re not only long-time game changers in publishing, they’re also able to adapt in a rapidly evolving publishing landscape. With the abundance of indie authors who are building huge fan bases and turning record-setting profits without the help of a publisher, Harlequin has once again developed a shift to stay relevant, this time with a foray into more mainstream literature.
With the launch of its Park Row Books imprint under its MIRA Books division, the publisher is looking to reach new markets that haven’t been associated with its famous name before. Even after Harlequin and its imprints were acquired by HarperCollins, the brand remained known for a certain genre of book. But Park Row is already breaking that mold wide open; its first release will be The Improbable Flight of Ginny Moon, by Benjamin Ludwig, which takes on the tale of an autistic girl’s search for her birth mother. Further titles already slated for release include thrillers and literary fiction.
This new venture may leave some book fans scratching their heads, if only because they’re still picturing a book cover with a shirtless pirate and a fainting woman whose corset is far too tight. But Harlequin hasn’t lasted this long by being stuck in a rut, or rather, allowing its authors or its books to be forced into a publishing mold.