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Kensington Adds And Subtracts
-- 6/29/98
Over the last few weeks, Kensington Publishing Corp. has announced the extension of an exclusive publishing program with Wal-Mart, the sale of its Arabesque line, and its intention to publish Spanish-language books.
In the most significant transaction, Kensington sold its Arabesque line of African American romance novels to BET Holdings. The sale, for an undisclosed amount, will include the ongoing Arabesque publishing program of four novels per month, a 150-title backlist and the Arabesque Book Club, as well as the rights to the titles for possible television and film development.BET president and COO Debra Lee, said the company "has a unique opportunity to expand the Arabesque book line through BET media properties which target black female consumers." Among its holdings are the Black Entertainment Television cable network, as well as several magazines.

During a transition period, Kensington will continue to acquire titles for the line and work with BET on other issues such as marketing. According to a Kensington spokesperson, BET will take over different functions "when they feel they are ready." Kensington, however, is expected to continue to sell and service the Arabesque line.

The company will use some of the proceeds from the sale to launch Encanto Romances, an English-Spanish line that the company will debut in September 1999 with the release of four books. The imprint will feature all original novels written by Hispanic authors, and the text of each book will be in both English and Spanish. Diane Stockwell has joined Kensington from Warner Books as editor of the new line.

Having done "extremely well" with a line of inexpensive contemporary romances sold exclusively to Wal-Mart on a nonreturnable basis, Kensington Publishing's Zebra Books division is expanding the line. Beginning at the end of 1998, Zebra will publish four historical romances per month that will be sold under the Precious Gem Romance imprint, the same line through which Zebra now publishes eight contemporary romances every month.

The new historical romances will be priced at $2.50 and will be 256 pages long. The contemporary paperbacks, originally priced at $1.78, now sell for $1.96. While the Wal-Mart paperback series has been a success for Kensington, the company has discontinued a similar program that offered $5.96 hardcovers on a nonreturnable basis to Wal-Mart as well as Books-A-Million.
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