Andrew Albanese“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” For HarperCollins, who announced the purchase this week of romance publisher Harlequin, the ways certainly add up. In the digital age, though, does $415 million buy HarperCollins publishing happiness?

“Most book publishing imprints operate as business-facing companies. Consumers generally don’t develop loyalty to imprints, with a few arguable exceptions,” says Andrew AlbanesePublishers Weekly senior writer. “But Harlequin does have strong brand recognition with consumers. It will be interesting to see what Harper does with the brand, and how it informs their business in the future.”

As the New York Times noted, 24 of the 100 best-selling fiction books in North America for the last week in April were Harlequin titles. However, only five days after announcing the sale, the publisher’s current owner, Torstar, reported slumping sales for the first quarter.

Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.

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