BroadLit, a new transmedia company from the founders of boutique branding and business development firm Broadthink, is launching TruLOVEstories.com, an online romance hub featuring e-books, casual digital games, customized avatars, licensed merchandise, and other features. The site will offer both vintage and original romance content.
"We can now deliver romance to women in a direct way," says Nancy Cushing-Jones, BroadLit’s chief publishing and transmedia officer. "We’ve seen the technological shift in publishing and the advance of mobile games. We also know that women control the pocketbook in this country, directly or indirectly. They’re the biggest shoppers online, the biggest readers of e-books, and the biggest readers of romance books."
According to the Romance Writers of America and Simba Information, print and digital romance fiction holds the largest share (more than 13%) of the U.S. publishing market, with annual sales of more than $1.3 billion. In December 2011 an estimated 40% of romance book purchases were electronic.
At the end of last year, BroadLit purchased the subscriber databases and content of True Romance and True Love magazines—the brands have published more than 12,000 stories, photos, and illustrations from the 1920s to 2011—from bankrupt Dorchester Publishing. Starting this month, with When Love Goes Bad, BroadLit is publishing e-book compilations of stories from the magazines, grouped by themes, under the TruLOVE Collection umbrella, priced at $3.99.
The company is also selling original romance novels under the Second Acts banner, a concept created by BroadLit founders Cushing-Jones, chief executive officer Cynthia Cleveland, and chief marketing and creative officer Barbara Weller. The first title in this series is Second Acts: Sleeping with Dogs and Other Lovers priced at $7.99. In addition, Broadlit is in the process of signing outside authors for original romances to be released as ebooks.
All titles will be distributed on TruLOVEstories.com as well as through other ebook channels via Perseus Books Group’s Constellation division. The plan is to publish 20 collections and four original novels the first year, eventually settling into a schedule of at least one new book per month. The company also expects to offer free novellas to fans who sign up for the site.
Aside from e-books, TruLOVEstories.com will distribute original casual online/mobile games. First up is Angry Grrrlfriends in June; two more game titles are in development. (Adult women represent 37% of the interactive game-playing population, according to the Electronic Software Association and the NPD Group, which estimate that 47% of the online gaming market is attributable to casual games.)
TruLOVEstories.com, which will offer opportunities for romance-centric social networking, features free content as well as e-books and games. For example, “A Century of Love” is a decade-by-decade look at romance, with each essay accompanied by two vintage stories from True Love and True Romance, annotated with modern commentary. "It’s interesting to see how contemporary and timeless these stories really are," Cushing-Jones says of the Dorchester content.
BroadLit has retained a licensing agent to oversee a merchandise program featuring vintage images from the magazines and is in active conversations with marketers of everything from greeting cards to wedding gowns. Merchandise and entertainment vehicles based on the Second Acts brand are a possibility as well.
Broadthink has been in business since 2002, consulting with publishers, authors, licensing companies, and other organizations on new business, product and property development, strategic planning, and branding. Its clients include Dean Koontz and John Lithgow.