Thursday, October 6, 2005

BET Books Purchased by Harlequin

Target Market News

BET Books being sold to leading romance novel publisher Harlequin
Linda Gill joins company as general manager

(October 6, 2005) BET Books, the publishing arm of Black Entertainment Television, has announced the sale of its book publishing assets to Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. The new ownership deal, expected to close November 30, 2005, positions the imprints Arabesque, Sepia and New Spirit to take full advantage of the world’s largest publisher of women’s fiction; and strategically position itself for growth within the U.S. and around the world. 

Company officials say the acquisition will realize a positive gain for all parties, particularly the authors. “This acquisition will fast track a key strategic initiative for Harlequin by offering greater breadth in publishing niches which have the opportunity of creating future growth for the overall Harlequin franchise,” said Donna Hayes, Harlequin Publisher and CEO. “The BET editorial strategy dovetails perfectly with that of Harlequin – romance, women’s fiction and inspirational publishing.” 

Harlequin Enterprises Limited is the global leader in series romance and one of the world's leading publishers of women's fiction, with titles issued worldwide in 25 languages and sold in 94 international markets. The company produces over 115 titles monthly and publishes more than 1,300 authors from around the world.

“We are excited about the opportunities ahead,” said Linda Gill (above), BET Books Vice President and Publisher who will join Harlequin and retain the position of General Manager. “Merging the publishing programs of our highly acclaimed three imprints with the nascent African-American program at Harlequin is a wonderful challenge which I welcome along with the unparalleled contributions of our authors, outstanding editors and staff.” 

Publishing 86 titles in 2005, an increase of 25% since its first full production year in 1999, BET Books has garnered literary praise as the leading publisher of African-American romances with the strong brand Arabesque; and forays into new genres with Sepia, particularly the African-American inspirational fiction imprint New Spirit. 

BET Books was formed in 1998 with the acquisition of Arabesque, and the BET cable network developed 13 made-for-television movies based on Arabesque novels which are now available on DVD and VHS. “BET Books has consistently grown during its tenure at BET, and we’re proud of the new authors who have launched their literary careers with us, as well as the best-selling authors who were able to see their characters come to life on the small screen,” said Scott Mills, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of BET.  “We wish everyone well in this new opportunity with one of the publishing industry’s most strategic companies.”

Kensington Publishing, which has previously provided sales, distribution and management services will continue to solicit orders for BET Books through November 30, 2005.

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