PRESS RELEASE: Toronto, (February 11, 2008)
eHarlequin.com (www.eHarlequin.com), the online site for Harlequin Enterprises Limited, is challenging its community members to read an astounding 100,000 books in one year in the 2008 eHarlequin.com 100,000 Book Challenge. When the reading challenge ends on December 31, 2008, Harlequin will make an unprecedented donation of an equivalent number of books to the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL). The estimated retail value of a 100,000 book donation to the NCFL by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. is $700,000 U.S.
The stated mission of NCFL is to create a literate nation by leveraging the power of the family. Family literacy helps parents and children form a learning partnership that ends the cycle of poverty and low literacy. NCFL works to find solutions to the literacy crises that build on the family by creating a new cycle of ongoing learning and mutual support. Since its inception in 1989, NCFL has provided leadership to solve the national literacy problem. Through groundbreaking initiatives, NCFL fuels life improvement for the nation’s most disadvantaged children and parents. More than one million families throughout the country have made positive educational and economic gains as a result of NCFL’s work, which includes training more than 150,000 teachers and thousands of volunteers.
“Recent studies show that people are reading literature less and less,” said Sharon Darling, president & founder of NCFL. “This reading challenge not only will provide an important incentive for everyone to read more, it also will greatly benefit the millions of adults who have low literacy – 34 million in the United States alone and 771 million globally.”
In addition to promoting literacy, the 2008 eHarlequin.com 100,000 Book Challenge encourages readers to discuss the titles they have read on the eHarlequin.com website in their own blogs. Those participating in the challenge share their thoughts, reviews, opinions, recommendations and progress. Another remarkable and unforeseen aspect to the challenge is that many people who were not bloggers—or who even knew what a blog was—are now passionate blog hosts and are spearheading online discussions in the forums.
“Our readers are very passionate,” says Jayne Hoogenberk, community manager for eHarlequin.com. “They read, talk, think and dream about books 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. The median number of paperbacks read in one year by Americans is 12. The median for Harlequin readers is 30. Since we’re always looking for ways to inspire and challenge our community members, we wondered if, as a group, they would be able to read 100,000 books in a single calendar year and through our donation of 100,000 books, share that love of reading with others who don’t have such easy access to entertaining and engaging literature for women.”
The original book challenge was laid down on eHarlequin.com in January 2006 and challenged community members to each read 100 books. Seventy-five community members took up the gauntlet. By the end of the year, 55 of those people had read or exceeded the goal. In 2007 eHarlequin.com challenged its members to read 10,000 books collectively. By year end they had read an astounding 24,440 books. To date 350+ participants have accepted the 2008 100,000 Book Challenge. In one week they have already read some 1,000+ books.
“The response of the past two years was so overwhelmingly positive that we had to keep going,” states Hoogenberk. “We also knew that we had to up the ante. And so the 2008 eHarlequin.com 100,000 Book Challenge for literacy was born. Last year we capped the number of participants and still easily surpassed our target. Since the event has generated such positive feedback, and in order to reach our goal of 100,000 books read, we’ve decided to leave registration open-ended this year.”
There are no hard and fast rules other than participants being asked to have at least 50% of their list be novels published by Harlequin. This allows readers to discover the outstanding breadth of editorial Harlequin has to offer. The other 50% of books can be any genre by any publisher. Likewise, all formats—print, eBooks, audiobooks, etc.—are acceptable, and readers are encouraged to seek them out and give them a try.
The range and diversity of Harlequin readers is not confined solely to the type of books they read or the medium in which they enjoy them. The online nature of the eHarlequin.com community illustrates the significant power of books to unite readers in a global way. Geographic boundaries have become meaningless in this venture as the challenge brings together readers from countries as varied as Germany, France and the Philippines, as well as Harlequin editors in Toronto, New York and London and Harlequin authors from around the world.
The 2008 eHarlequin.com 100,000 Book Challenge is taking place right now at eHarlequin.com. If you are interested in participating, please contact Jayne Hoogenberk at firstname.lastname@example.org