Harlequin’s page-turner: In May, Toronto-based Harlequin proved its worth ($455 million) when owner Torstar sold the enterprise to News Corp., inspiring an unfortunate slew of “bodice-ripping” newspaper headlines. The surprise sale concluded a tough couple of years for the powerhouse romance publisher. The trendy revival of erotica – spawned by the 2012 success of E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey – did not translate to huge sales for Harlequin, which reported a decrease in 2013 revenue and operating income. Still, there is no denying Harlequin is a Canadian success story, having published some 1,300 authors and releasing more than 110 titles each month.
Wattpad’s winning year: It was a big year for Toronto self-publishing start-up Wattpad, which, thanks to a $46-million capital investment, expanded its team and relocated to a 15,000-square-foot office. The company negotiated a six-figure multi-book and film deal for Anna Todd’s One Direction fan-fiction series, After, which now boasts more than one billion views (and an online hate club: #SuspendAnnaTodd). Wattpad also improved its lit cred by partnering with IFOA to showcase excerpts of featured authors’ work, including Andrew Pyper’s forthcoming novel The Damned, which received an astounding 20,000 views on the platform in its first few days.