eHarlequin.com Issues 100,000 Book Reading Challenge



    National Center for Family Literacy to receive up to 100,000 books with
    estimated valued of $700,000

    TORONTO, Feb. 11 /CNW/ -- 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.

    (Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080211/NYM136LOGO)

    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.

    About Harlequin Enterprises Limited

    Harlequin Enterprises Limited is the global leader in series romance and
one of the world's leading publishers of women's fiction, with titles issued
worldwide in 25 languages and sold in 94 international markets. The company
releases over 115 titles monthly and publishes more than 1,300 authors from
around the world. Harlequin Enterprises Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary
of Torstar Corporation, a broadly based media company listed on the Toronto
Stock Exchange (TS.nv.b). Harlequin's website is located at
www.eHarlequin.com. Harlequin has offices in 18 countries, including offices
in Toronto, New York and London. For more information please visit
www.eHarlequin.com or press.eHarlequin.com.

    About National Center for Family Literacy

    The National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) is the worldwide leader in
family literacy, an intergenerational approach to help families escape poverty
through education.  More than 1 million families 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.  Educators,
policymakers and philanthropists rely on NCFL to mobilize family literacy
efforts, conduct research and develop new, effective tools to leverage the
learning relationship between parents and children.  Family literacy,
pioneered by NCFL, is a powerful community strategy for raising educational
levels, improving workforce skills and breaking the cycle of poverty.  Visit
www.famlit.org to learn more, make a donation, locate a literacy program in
your area or find out how to become a volunteer.





For further information:

For further information: Don Lucey, Asst. Mgr., Public Relations 
Communications of Harlequin Enterprises Limited, +1-416-391-7094, 
don_lucey@harlequin.ca; or Carla Blanton of National Center for Family 
Literacy, +1-859-608-4850, cblanton@famlit.org Web Site:
http://www.eharlequin.com                  http://www.famlit.org

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NATIONAL CENTER FOR FAMILY LITERACY

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