In a move that signifies the importance of women readers and the romance genre in driving e-book sales, Harlequin is launching Carina Press, a digital-only publishing venture that will be run separately from Harlequin’s conventional publishing program. Angela James, formerly with Samhain Publishing which is primarily a digital publisher of genre fiction, has been named executive editor of the new press which will debut in summer 2010.

Harlequin CEO Donna Hayes called the new venture “a natural extension to our business,” and said she expects to attract new readers for Harlequin authors. “We expect to discover new authors and unique voices that may not be able to find homes in traditional publishing houses,” she said, “it definitely gives us greater flexibility in the type of editorial we can accept from authors and offer to readers. We hope to reach a new group of readers with niche editorial."

Carina Press will publish a wide variety of genre fiction aimed at women including romance, erotica, family sagas, science fiction and mysteries. The press will publish only e-books and sell them through he Carina Press Web site and third party e-tailers.

Brent Lewis, v-p Harlequin digital, praised James and said she, “has been a key player in growing the digital marketplace for romance. Her experience and insight is a tremendous benefit to the Carina Press team." James has been instrumental in crafting a digital publishing program at Samhain Publishing and was a featured speaker last year at the International Digital Publishing Forum’s Digital Book conference.

Carina Press plans to release titles on a weekly basis beginning next summer and is soliciting submissions of short stories, genre fiction (50,000 to 100,000 words) and longer works. The press is also looking to sign print works that have not been issued in digital format if the authors hold digital rights. More information on the press and submission procedures are available at the Carina Press blog.

“I have always thought of Harlequin as leaders in the digital arena, so I'm unbelievably excited to join the Carina Press team," said James. "I believe Harlequin can bring digital publishing to the next level for both authors and readers."