In The Age of Acquisition

October 10th, 2005 · No Comments
by Booksquare

Rumors have been swirling for some time that Harlequin Enterprises was planning to move into the African American market. In-house development was reportedly proceeding and helpful observers sat on the sidelines, wondering if this was yet another boondoggle. Then the publishing giant (they are more than romance, you know) turned around and did something practical — they acquired an established imprint.

Hello? What sort of logical business notion is that? They’ve gone and purchased the assets of BET Books Popular imprints Arabesque, Sepia and New Spirit. For those who haven’t been paying attention, the Arabesque imprint was one of the first targeting black women. It was also the most ambitious, using its television connections to produce motion pictures based on its books. Since then, there have been many imitators and a hell of a lot more black men entering the popular fiction game (though we know one member of that particular target audience who keeps shaking his head and asking if Eric Jerome Dickey is really writing for men because it doesn’t seem like he is).

The full release:

Harlequin Enterprises Limited purchases the assets of BET Books Popular imprints Arabesque, Sepia and New Spirit added to Harlequin portfolio

Toronto, Ontario, Canada (October 6, 2005) – Harlequin Enterprises Limited today announced the purchase of the assets of BET BOOKS, the publishing arm of Black Entertainment Television. The new ownership deal is expected to close November 30, 2005.

This is a key acquisition for Harlequin, and represents a strengthening of the Company’s strategic position as one of the world’s leading publishers of women’s fiction. The addition of BET Books, a leading publisher of African American women’s fiction and the imprints Arabesque, Sepia and New Spirit, to the Harlequin portfolio will enhance the position of Harlequin within a strong growth segment in the US book market.

“This acquisition supports a key strategic initiative for Harlequin of offering greater breadth in publishing niches that can create future growth for the overall Harlequin franchise. The BET editorial strategy dovetails perfectly with that of Harlequin – romance, women’s fiction and inspirational publishing,” states Donna Hayes, Publisher and CEO.

“We are delighted that Linda Gill has agreed to join Harlequin and lead the growth of this new venture, which combines BET Books with Harlequin’s own African American program. We are also very pleased to associate ourselves with such an excellent group of authors and are confident that under Linda Gill’s strong leadership, we will continue to build a strong publishing program for these authors,” says Hayes.


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. Harlequin Enterprises Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Torstar Corporation, a broadly based media company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TS.nv.b). Harlequin’s Web site is located at Harlequin has offices in 18 countries including Toronto, New York and London. For more information please visit or


BET, a subsidiary of Viacom, Inc. (NYSE: VIA and VIA.B), is the nation’s leading television network providing quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs programming for the African-American audience. The BET Network reaches more than 79 million households according to Nielsen media research, and can be seen in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. BET is a dominant consumer brand in the urban marketplace with a diverse group of branded businesses:, the Number 1 Internet portal for African Americans; BET Digital Networks – BET Jazz, BET Gospel and BET Hip Hop, attractive alternatives for cutting-edge entertainment tastes; BET Event Productions, specializing in a full range of event production services, including event management, venue selection, talent recruitment, sound, lighting and stage production; and BET Books, the nation’s leading publisher of African-American themed romance novels under the Arabesque imprint which also publishes compelling fiction under the Sepia imprint and inspirational fiction and nonfiction under the New Spirit imprint.

File Under: Publishers and Editors