Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Temptation Tuesday - The Digital Age For Category Romance Reading

This week at The Pink Heart Society our very own Trish Wylie follows up on her post about Hi-Tech Romance Writing to tempt readers with The Digital Age for Category Romance Reading...

So a couple of weeks ago I waxed lyrical in my own special way about all the technology available to the romance writer these days in my Hi-Tech Romance Writing Blog and now, here I am again, to see if I can get you all to come out of hiding to chat about the future of our Category Romance *reading* experiences...

Why is reading in '*'? Well... 'cos we might not even be reading at all... this picture could be a thing of the past one day. Give it enough time and we might be able to literally *walk in the heroine's shoes* in a 3-D virtual world!!! Hmmm... I have a book or two I've read recently I'd give that a shot with you know...

Harlequin and Harlequin Mills & Boon have always been keen to try new things and with Mills & Boon approaching their centenery year in 2008 it's safe to say they've proved they have the ability to roll with the changes from one decade to another! And this year has seen Harlequin take steps to make sure that trend continues into the digital age. Take this latest press announcement for example:

"Harlequin Enterprises Limited, one of the world's leading publishers of women's fiction, announced today that they will hold an author reading event in the online virtual world Second Life to promote THE REINCARNATIONIST, a new novel by critically acclaimed author M. J. Rose. On Tuesday, September 25, 2007, at 5:00 p.m. EST, M.J. Rose will host a reading through live audio-streaming, and will participate in a live real-time chat with attendees at a virtual location being custom-built for the occasion (in Second Life, search in groups for “MIRA Books”).

Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its members, known as Residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, Second Life has grown explosively and today is inhabited by more than nine million Residents from around the globe. Second Life abounds with people, entertainment, experiences and opportunity. Businesses, including publishers, are increasingly looking for new ways to connect with tech-savvy individuals in relevant and effective ways. By hosting this event in Second Life, Harlequin continues to seek innovative means to reach out to readers. “Bringing an author and readers together in Second Life is a first for Harlequin, but connecting readers and authors is what Harlequin has done for decades,” said Jenny Bullough, Harlequin’s Manager of Digital Content and Interactivity. “Second Life offers an opportunity for M.J. Rose to connect in real time with readers who may not have the chance to meet her in real life. And because THE REINCARNATIONIST is a novel about a modern-day man experiencing a second life—as a priest in ancient Rome—through a series of intense and comprehensive visions, we felt that Second Life was the perfect venue to share M.J.’s story with readers.”

Harlequin has engaged Purple Stripe Productions to create a custom built location featuring elements from the novel. Purple Stripe will provide audio streaming for the 15-minute reading portion of the event before the 45-minute question-and-answer session with the author. A sample chapter from THE REINCARNATIONIST will also be available in-world at the location one week before and three weeks after the event. "

How cool is that??? So maybe one of the ways we'll be able to enjoy our books is with the author reading their own work aloud? Dunno that that'll work with MY accent... mind you, I did used to have friends who *critiqued* for me a coupla years ago and we would have reading nights where I read the stories aloud to them and they used to love that apparently my facial features changed as I read. After all we authors all know how our characters sound in our heads - we know how they're feeling when they say what they say - we know how to deliver a punchline... in theory... But I did tend to mumble through some of the hotter stuff ;)

So how about it authors? Would you read your own work aloud?

And is that something you guys might enjoy listening to? How about the chance to have somewhere you could actually hear your favourite authors answering questions about the book you enjoyed? I guess the former would be another version of audio books really, right? And certainly, although we're not flooded by audio books, they have been around for quite some time and I know plenty of people who use them. IPods are a part of daily life after all - how many times have you been on a train or the tube or the subway or at an airport and seen a couple of dozen people plugged into them? How many of them might be able to listen to some of those little books we love so much??? Maybe we'll end up with downloads for them online the same way you can download music these days??? Certainly some genres are already doing it...

Would you listen to them? And authors who would you have read yours if you could pick anyone on the planet??? Also kinda begs the question of whether we'd prefer a male or a female narrator mind you...hmmm...

Of course one of the biggest explosions we've seen this last few years is in e-books. A cornucopia of websites have appeared offering romance and erotica and even though some of those sites have fallen by the wayside there's no doubting that e-books are here to stay. Even Harlequin followed suit this year and in another press release this month told us:

"...they have become the first major publisher to make their complete front-list catalog available in the eBook format. Harlequin releases more 120 titles per month, and their complete list can be found at www.harlequinebooks.com.

Harlequin entered the eBook marketplace in October 2005 and has experienced unqualified success since that time. Romance novels have proven to be one of the most popular categories of digital publishing, and Harlequin titles regularly top eBook bestseller lists.

Harlequin has further embraced the digital revolution by expanding its catalog to include original editorial by New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling authors offered exclusively in the eBook format—Harlequin Mini and Spice Briefs eBooks—as well as releasing digital eBook bundles not available in print.

“Women have embraced eBooks,” says Malle Vallik, Director Digital Content & Interactivity. “They demand portability, immediacy, availability, depth, breadth and convenience and, by making our entire front list and exclusive digital editorial available to them, we are meeting that challenge. We are meeting the needs of our current audience and reaching a new and diverse base of readers. Seeking innovative new ways to serve our audience continues to be a Harlequin tradition.”

And with a variety of packages available to download for free online to read these gorgeous e-books it makes everything mighty easy, doesn't it? Not only that, but I know for a fact it has proved a god-send to some readers because the size of the type face can be adjusted and the pages opened full screen on a computer for ease of reading. And think of all the storage space you can save!!! You don't even have to carry your home computer or laptop around with you anymore either - cos now we have hand held readers... (And can I just point out that both IPods and Ereaders BOTH pass the Trish Wylie *fits in a handbag* test?!)

So are you a fan of ebooks? Have you tried them off eharlequin yet? Do you prefer to turn the page the old fashioned way? Or are hand held readers still too expensive for some??? Would you add pictures or a soundtrack or author interviews or background info on the story??? Do you see the *old fashioned* book as something that one day won't exist anymore? Are we *greener* by buying them in e-book format??? And what about ratings for younger readers - should we have them, not have them?

Hmmm.... so many questions... so many choices!

What it does mean is that the first picture on this blog could one day be completely replaced with a picture more like this one though - doesn't it??? And how do we feel about that one gang??? You see - for me, who spends so much of her time in front of a screen already - there's a certain escapism in having that book actually in my hands. I like to bend the cover back, I like to turn the page, I like to curl up in bed with it and read until I can't keep my eyes open. And although I am an ebook reader as of this year, I'm not sure I would want to lose the option.

Mind you - a light, portable, (maybe fleecy for the curling up in bed option) headset of some kind where I could walk in those heroines shoes in a 3-D virtual world... hmmm... tempting....

So what's next gang? Have you been tempted by the Digital Age Of Romance Reading yet???
H's & K's


Trish's next release is a little bit of a hidden surprise...

As part of Sexy Sensation's first birthday next month her Modern Extra The Return Of The Rebel is a bonus read inside Susan Napier's book Accidental Mistress ~ but as it's not flagged you'll have to go hunting for it!

You can pre-order the book here if you want to make sure not to miss the follow up story to Trish's book Breathless!

For more info you can check out Trish's Website (where you can look for some of her e-books!) or Her Blog...

Are you in to try and win tonnes of goodies with The PINK HEART SOCIETY TREASURE HUNT???

Today's Birthday Present for the Lil Pink Dancing Guy can be found at Kate Walker's Blog...



  1. I recently had an email from a reader. He loves ebooks because it means he can read again. He is waiting for a cataract operation and large print books are very expensive. With ebooks, he can make the type the size he needs.
    I had never really considered that application until I got the letter.
    And as people get older, the size of type does make a difference.

  2. I'm a Luddite, Trish. Because I think books are already perfect technology: they're portable and accessible.

    And although I've found Google Books really useful for a) getting hold of 100+-year-old books I might not have been able to access and b) skimming them quickly to see if they have the references I need, in the end it doesn't replace the sheer physical pleasure of reading a book. The feel of the paper. The scent of the paper. The weight of the book.

    So although I embrace the usefulness of the new, I'm not going to renounce the pleasure of the old!

  3. And I see my spiritual twin is up at the same time - though for once we're diverging. If technology is helping people overcome a disability, that's great. But then look at Ipods. I want one. But it'd be completely useless to me because it relies on using headphones, which don't work for me because I'm partially deaf.

    And if you put an Ipod in a dock with speakers... well... I might just as well stick to my very good stereo, no?

    Kate the Luddite :o)

  4. Actually for the most part I agree with you. I personally prefer a paper book, but I also understand why ebooks might become popular for readers with eye problems.
    Or perhaps storage space.

    Mostly I am a luddite. I prefer paper and pen to PDAs. I love looking things up in a book.I love the feel of paper against my fingers, or discovering other little interesting facts as I flip though a book or a newspaper.

    But I do know that technology is transforming people's lives.

    My latest techno indulgence is grocery shopping online. Pure bliss.

  5. I'm quite happy to read my books outloud... and anyone elses! But that just is my two passions colliding.

  6. I LOVE reading/seeing words on a page, BUT, I have many times when it's impossible - either ebook or paper. For the first time EVER this year, I've been turning to audio books for these health/visual blips - and in the main I LOVE THEM! Very frustrating that M&B don't offer this service :-(.

  7. But you can't read an ebook in the bath can you?????

    And I'd much prefer to read someone else's book than mine. In fact, very happy to do so and my fee is reasonable. :) But my own? I think that might feel a bit like running naked down Oxford Street.

  8. Michelle - oh yes, online grocery shopping. NO TANTRUMS. Would be worth paying a double delivery fee for that.

    Biddy - audio books are something else. I have Richard Burton reading Donne's love poems (wonderful) and TS Eliot reading The Wasteland (also wonderful). And your voice is gorgeous.

    Sue - M&B did do some trials - our Michelle's first book was on CD, if I remember rightly.

    Natasha - you're not going to make me dare you, are you? *g*

    Kate the Luddite (also Kate the Bad Influence...)

  9. Tempted? Not really. I don't mind ebooks--even published one--but I read them on my computer, not a special device.

    Audiobooks? Not persuaded. Depends a lot on the voice, which can be engaging or hugely distracting.

    Second Life? I have my hands full with the first one.

  10. I'm not crazy about any of the existing book technologies. I haven't tried ebooks, though I love the concept as it seems like it would solve the problem of books piling up all around me like the walls of an igloo. I'm just not up for an expensive device, or spending more hours staring at a screen.

    I'm not crazy about audio books. I like to read at my own pace and I've had several bad experiences where the reader's voice ruined it for me. Sean Bean reading Sharpe's Tiger though... :::shudding sigh::: I wouldn't want to read my own as I have a funny accent so everyone would sound odd :-))

    How about a tiny device that scrolls the words in front of your eyes at a speed determined by the movement of the pupil???


  11. I enjoy my print books, but a portable eReader is something I've been thinking about for a while, too. Great idea for people who need to raise the size of the text.

    Online grocery shopping is a dream of mine. Sigh. The only place that does it here has a TINY selection of goods, otherwise I'd be using it.