Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Harlequin Launch Reader Panel

There is a dearth of valuable primary research in publishing and Harlequin has decided to take matters into their own hand by creating a reader panel to advise on product development and new ideas. From their press release:
Tell Harlequin is an online advisory panel designed to enhance Harlequin's relationship with its readers through an ongoing dialogue whose insights will help guide the evolution of the publisher's business and allow Harlequin to publish the best in women's fiction. Participants on the Tell Harlequin panel can make their voices heard on topics such as cover designs, new miniseries ideas, new series concepts, new promotional ideas and more. The staff at Harlequin will then consider Tell Harlequin suggestions along with the publisher's own plans as it develops editorial for the future. Contributors to Tell Harlequin receive free Harlequin novels and sneak peeks at upcoming books, participate in entertainingonline surveys and exchange opinions and ideas with other readers.
There are fundamental difficulties in managing programs like this. Harlequin will need to mitigate the natural 'need to please' of its participants who in the case of Harlequin love the brand so much they may not be cold hearted, critical or incisive enough for this to be valuable. On the other hand, assuming there is an awareness of the difficulties then this program could benefit the company as it is vital that direct communication with customers supports product development.

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