Harlequin romances Nintendo DS

Notes from the mediascape: Harlequin gives Japanese readers a chance to live out their fantasies in a new line of love stories for grown-ups.

Japanese Harlequin romance readers can use their own personal ‘concierge’ to guide them through a love story in a new Nintendo DS product from the Toronto-headquartered publisher.

Harlequin is the first non-Japanese publisher to take advantage of the tech-savvy demographic, accustomed to reading manga and anime comics on their mobile phones while commuting. The DS Harlequin Selection: Love Stories for Grown-Ups consist of 33 titles, five of which are brand new and three that were only previously available online.

A touch-screen operation allows readers to navigate stories by mood or type of heroine. They can guide their characters through plot developments or get sidetracked by narrative annotations including maps for locations, digital bookmarks and story recaps. Readers can also connect to other fans through WiFi, look at online hero rankings and choose their own background music.

‘All the interactivity is either a reader benefit, or to increase the entertainment value – write a note to the hero, see a map of the setting for the story,’ explains Stephen Miles, EVP overseas, Harlequin Enterprises.

DS usage skews much older in Japan, Harlequin’s third biggest market after the US and France, than it does in North America, says Miles. ‘This is really targeted to heavy readers of romance stories, not teens,’ he tells MiC.

The new line, which was arranged internally between Harlequin and Nintendo, will be promoted through OOH signage in major cities – in public transit, on streets and in bookshops, as well as around the point of sale.

Donna Hayes, publisher and CEO of Harlequin Enterprises, says in a release that the launch will appeal to a new generation of readers who ‘demand accessibility, portability and supplemental features that enhance their reading experience.’