Kiwi romance readers set to get hooked online

ROB STOCK
Last updated 05:00 13/05/2012
romance novel
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A GREAT BOON: Readers of romances will be able to celebrate now that Mills and Boon's back catalogue will be available on e-book.

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Love is in the air at Fishpond, the country's largest online bookstore, as Mills & Boon's back catalogue of romance novels is set to appear in ebook form.

Last week more than 600 Mills & Boon ebook titles became available, with another 3000 or so soon to be added, a surprising number of which are by New Zealand authors.

The avalanche of e-romance was welcome, Fishpond general manager Ben Powles said, because to date New Zealand had been slow to embrace ebooks despite the format being a hit around the world.

Last Wednesday, Fishpond had just over 11,000 ebooks available – a tiny proportion of the more than eight million titles it boasts.

The Mills & Boon release would swell that, Powles said, and the ebook was ideal for romance novels, because they were consumed quickly and often, and were not always kept. In the UK, Australia and US, romance ebooks have been flying off the online shelves, and in some instances making their authors rich.

Cristina Lee from Mills & Boon publisher Harlequin, said one in every 15 of the 130 million Mills & Boons sold every year was an ebook.

Mills & Boon author Soraya Nicholas from Christchurch (latest book Back in the Soldier's Arms) believes the marriage of ebook and romance was born of a voracious appetite for love. "Romance readers tend to read a huge number of books," she says. "Ebooks are very easy to access and it is a lot easier to carry your Kindle or iPad than a pile of books."

Lee said an average reader would buy four books at a time, and because many tended to have favourite writers from the stable of 1200 around the world, buying ebooks was easier.

She said there was comfort in knowing there was an upbeat climax on the way from page one, especially in tough times, but romance novels had not stood still and had diversified into "lines" for specific tastes.

Nicholas writes "sweet" romances, where "the bedroom door is shut before things go too far", while her friend Natalie Buchanan does "sexy".

Buchanan said Kiwi authors were well received overseas, in part because they sat somewhere between Americans and Brits, but their voice resonated with both.

There were a number on bestseller lists in America who went unrecognised here.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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