Avon Launches Avon Impulse Digital-First Imprint

Avon/HarperCollins announced today a digital first imprint, Avon Impulse, which will launch with a digital short from author .

From the extremely brief ABC news article:

Avon Books announced Monday that it has set up a digital romance imprint, Avon Impulse, where books by new and established authors will be released electronically, with paper editions available on demand. The imprint begins next week with an e-novella by Katherine Ashe, “A Lady’s Wish,” and “multiple titles” are planned each month. Avon Books is an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

The digital market has been especially strong for romance fiction, in part because fans can read e-editions in public without fear of embarrassment. Avon also cited decreased shelf space in physical stores as a reason for starting Avon Impulse.

Following “A Lady’s Wish” will be “Royal Wedding, “a historical romance short fiction anthology by Stephanie Laurens, Gaelen Foley and Loretta Chase, which will be timed to release alongside that other royal wedding.

The press release also says,

Later in the season bring four releases from Lavinia Kent and a prelude to Karina Cooper’s Avon debut, Blood of the Wicked. Jaime Rush launches a brand new series with a digital short; and a full-length paranormal romance novel by author Kristin Miller will be released in the summer…. 

The new imprint is looking to publish multiple titles each month, eventually releasing new content on a weekly basis.  The Avon Impulse brand has grown organically from Avon’s existing publishing program and offers authors all the strengths of Avon’s widely respected team.  Books will be acquired by Avon editors, and will benefit by targeted marketing and publicity plans, as well as powerful sales platforms.

The imprint’s site will be at AvonRomance.com/Impulse though a quick search of registry data revealed that on 7 Feb 2011, Harper Collins also registered AvonImpulse.com. That URL resolves to AvonRomance, though I presume a site is forthcoming. ETA: The submission form is online at http://www.avonromance.com/impulse/.

ETA: from the FAQ at the bottom of the submission form:

Where will Avon Impulse titles be sold?

Our Avon Impulse e-books will be available at every e-tailer, and readers will be able to download them onto every portable reading device sold today…and tomorrow, too. Readers who seek a hard copy of individual Avon Impulse titles will be able to lay their hands on physical books, thanks to a print-to-order option available through major online book retailers.

Do Avon Impulse authors get an advance? What is the royalty rate?

Avon Impulse will not pay an advance, but authors receive 25% royalties from the first book sold. After an e-book sells 10,000 copies, the author’s royalty rate rises to 50%. (Contracts will provide royalties for both e-book and print-to-order copies.)

ETA: Pam Jaffee confirms royalty is based on net.

Will Avon Impulse e-books be distributed globally?

Every Avon Impulse contract will include World English language distribution, so we can deliver these e-books everywhere around the world where English-language novels are sold.

Will Avon Impulse titles be DRM protected?

Yes. Our retail partners will place DRM protection on Avon Impulse titles, following the standard procedure for all Avon books.

Word allegedly leaked earlier today from agent Jenny Bent, who tweeted about it, but seems to have deleted the tweet itself. Those who copied and pasted with lightning-quick fingers report Bent as saying, “Avon launches Avon Impulse, original e-book publishing. Agented or unagented, Contemporary, Fantasy, Futuristic, Ghost, Gothic, Historical, Magical, Time Travel, Western, Shifter, Small Town, Steampunk, Suspense, Vampire (and others)”.

No word on whether the digital books produced by this new imprint will be available for more than 26 checkouts at your local public library,

or whether they will have DRM

(Aw, darn, they will), but it is telling that another major publisher has recognized the validity and possibility of the digital business model. I wish HarperCollins’ other digital policies were as forward thinking, but I also think that this is a step in a possibly positive direction for digital book readers.

In other news, Publisher’s Weekly is reporting that HarperCollins is also launching a Groupon-like service to offer exclusive deals on books at a new site called BookPerk.com. Offerings already include special editions of To Kill a Mockingbird and a signed first edition of Joyce Carol Oates’ memoir A Widow’s Story. You can also enter to win various prizes, including items from one Justin Bieber. (Cue squeeing somewhere). The site says, in a box in the lower right corner, “Bookperk is a HarperCollins site,” which leads me to think the merchandise will be HC-exclusive. But I’m still digging to find out if that’s definitely true.

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Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Pam says:

    I have already used Bookperk. Still awaiting the first shipment from them but I do adore the service.

  2. 2
    Scraps says:

    The digital market has been especially strong for romance fiction, in part because fans can read e-editions in public without fear of embarrassment.

    I’m sorry but they are creating a digital imprint because I’m embarrassed to read my romance in public?  WTF!

    I may NEVER buy because of that stupid statement alone.

  3. 3
    SB Sarah says:

    @scraps: I’m not seeing any mention of embarrassment in the press release. That may have been the AP article authors comment, not Avon’s.

    You can read the complete press release here.

  4. 4
    Ros says:

    Great name for a digital imprint – impulse buying is so easy with ebooks!  The submission guidelines aren’t up yet and the website looks like it’s still a work in progress.

  5. 5

    @scraps, the Avon press release doesn’t indicate anything like that. As Sarah said, that came from the ABC journalist, who also spelled my name incorrectly. :}

  6. 6

    HarperCollins has always been very progressive with the digital market, and I’m glad to see this happening, and especially glad to see the royalty rate increase to 50% after the first 10K books.  Now THAT’s what we authors need to see.  Gives me hope.

  7. 7

    Does anyone know if the royalty rate is on net or on cover price? More specifically: Are they beating e-only publishers on their royalty rates, or just barely matching them?

  8. 8
    William says:

    Cool blog you have!

  9. 9
    Cara says:

    I’ll be really curious to see more feedback here on the royalty rates they’re offering. Since it’s a bigger name, I guess the 25%/50% thing is probably generous? But how many new authors even reach 10,000 copies sold? Is that really a good deal, all things considered, compared to rates of other smaller, indie pubs, and, in the changing/growing market, is that really going to be better in the long run than going with a smaller publisher / better royalties or even self-publishing? A year ago, self-publishing was a huge black mark. Now it’s becoming more accepted. Where will we be another year from now, especially with the big publishers pissing off both readers and writers in the digital market? Thoughts?

  10. 10
    Carin says:

    and a prelude to Karina Cooper’s Avon debut, Blood of the Wicked. Jaime Rush launches a brand new series with a digital short;

    Funny how we can all read the same press release, but different things jump out at us.  Besides ABC thinking I’m embarrassed to read romance in public, this ^ is what caught my eye. 

    Now, I love short stories, but PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, could they be stand alone stories?  And could they be stories that have their own HEA?  Because if I ever paid for a “prelude” or “digital short” and it wasn’t a story on it’s own, I’d be upset.

  11. 11
    carly m. says:

    Hmmm, I wonder how well Julia Quinn’s 1.99 second epilogues to the Bridgerton books sold and whether that had an impact on this imprint getting started. Also, I’m skeptical of the all e-tailers statement. Avon and other big imprints still aren’t on my favorite indie sellers.
    @ Carin : I think this can be done well a la Tessa Dare’s Legend of the Werestag.

  12. 12

    @Carin, I feel the same way about shorts being stand-alone and having HEAs. Mine most definitely does. I couldn’t write any other way, honestly!

  13. 13
    Kerry Allen says:

    @Cara “But how many new authors even reach 10,000 copies sold?”

    I’ve sold 10,000 copies even without a name like Avon behind me, so it’s entirely doable.

    I wonder about pricing. Since no old-school print publisher will agree that the materials, shipping, and storage costs of print books should be factored out of the price of ebooks, and since POD usually means $15-ish trade paperback (a steep price for a genre that’s traditionally mass market), I don’t foresee this being a source of great deals for the consumer.

  14. 14
    Cara says:

    @Kerry Allen – it’s good to hear, then! I honestly don’t know how easy it is or isn’t to make 10,000 sales on a book, and I realize now that my question(s) probably sounded a lot more rhetorical than I intended. I really am curious about the reality of all this, especially from the author’s viewpoint in today’s changing market.

  15. 15
    Brian says:

    Will Avon Impulse titles be DRM protected?

    Yes. Our retail partners will place DRM protection on Avon Impulse titles, following the standard procedure for all Avon books.

    That’s unfortunate.  When I first saw this post I was hoping they wouldn’t be infected with DRM.

  16. 16

    I’m waiting on clarification for the 25%/50% thing, too.  If it’s on the cover price, it’s at least competitive with digital publishers.  (I only have one epublisher that pays me more than 25% cover price on 3rd party sales. The rest are substantially lower.)

    Until I know which one they’re talking about, it doesn’t really mean anything to me.

  17. 17
    SB Sarah says:

    Pam Jaffee confirmed to me that the royalty is on the net.

  18. 18
    Bree says:

    Thanks for finding out, Sarah.

  19. 19
  20. 20

    The 25% of net is low, depending on what you’re comparing it to. Most of the independent digital publishers pay more on net, but only one royalty rate. 25% is standard from traditional publishers on e-books, according to what I’ve read. But the increase to 50% at 10k is significantly better than anything I’ve ever seen elsewhere.

  21. 21
    Jody W. says:

    On net is disappointing. I wonder if they’ve been considering all submissions they’ve gotten so far this year for the Impulse line since they’ve already signed some books for it? Hm.

  22. 22
    Laura says:

    This is exciting! Especially that Katharine Ashe’s short will be first—I hope they have a lot of the bigger authors writing in short form for the imprint.  That way we won’t have to wait so long between their full lengths. 

    I was a little startled by the cover embarrassment comment, but it doesn’t seem like Avon said that.  Maybe AP got it from that NYT article from a few mont
    hs ago?http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/09/books/09romance.html

  23. 23

    I have to say, I would not recommend Avon Impulse to any author if the royalties are indeed being paid on net and not list price. I get 25% of list on my traditionally published book from Kensington, and with the current rate of ebook adoption, I wouldn’t accept anything less than at least 35% from a digital only publisher that wanted to pay me on net (and I would much prefer 40-50%).

  24. 24
    HollyY says:

    Okay – HC limits their books to libraries and then they launch a new e-press? Does this make any sense at all?

    And folks regarding finding HC/Avon books through your library, think again. Check out this article from Library Journal:

    http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/home/889582-264/library_consortia_begin_to_vote.html.csp

    Many library consortia are boycotting HC books altogether in eBook format.

    And @JulianneMacLean if the new plans from HC to screw libraries and library users are “progressive with the digital market” then I’d hate to see conservative.

  25. 25
    Scraps says:

    I am so glad it wasn’t the publisher who made the snarky comment about me being afraid to read my smut…er…..romance in public! 

    Though I have to say I am in agreement with the previous commenters who wonder why HC puts limits on the loans of their ebooks and then whips out a new digital imprint.

  26. 26
    Ridley says:

    DRM = not interested

    If they’re competing with Samhain and Carina, they should realize that DRM is a huge handicap in that fight. If they’re agency as well, forget about it.

  27. 27
    DS says:

    The Bookperks site is interesting. This is the sort of thing that Mike Masnick and the other bloggers on Techdirt have been talking about when discussing sustainability of a business model for any business with an infinite good.  His example is music, but it applies to any similar business—Connect with Fans (CwF) and give them a Reason to Buy (RtB). CwF+RtB=$$$ 

    I don’t think autographed first editions is going to be able to support Harpercollins, but considering that authors rarely seem to merchandize themselves—Janet Evanovich is one exception.  Her web site offers everything from hats to lapel pins to t-shirts—someone might as well cash in on the popularity of various books and series.  Of course this has to mean that Harpercollins has bought merchandizing rights so authors may have already sold that right.

    As a side note, while looking around on Google I found a referent to a 11/1995 disagreement between Grisham and Crichton—no merchandizing, it cheapens a book and overexposes the character—on one side and Anne Rice who evidently had some tote bags to sell and Tom Clancy who favored interactive games. on the other.  The title was ghastly—“. Anne Rice and Tom Clancy aspire to be Bugs Bunnies”.  However, I guess we know who was right.

    Spamword let53:  Let me have 53 different author mugs.

  28. 28
    brooksse says:

    I wonder if they will be agency-priced.  Since they’ve stated the imprint will have DRM, it wouldn’t surprise me if they were agency priced as well.

  29. 29
    Emily says:

    As Print only reader, well first of all what is a first imprint. second If I want physical copies I can order them from the publisher. I guess its kinda like ordering a book from bookstore or on-line. But it sounds and expensive.
    Also If I am ordering the book to be printed individually….
    can I pick a cover?
    Paper or hardback?

  30. 30

    Emily, I’m not sure what Avon’s plans are, but usually print on demand copies of ebooks are trade paperbacks and run in the trade paperback price range. ($11-14 maybe?)

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