BET Books Celebrates 10 Years of Romantic Success

07/19/04

BET Books Celebrates 10 Years of Romantic Success
Arabesque, the Leading Imprint of African American-Themed Romance Novels
Celebrates This Milestone Honoring Authors and Loyal Readers

Darren DeWitt Henson, Star of SOUL FOOD, Hosts This Celebration!

On July 29th at New York's swanky PM Lounge, BET Books celebrates a decade of love, passion and heart-throbbing soulful romance by honoring the founding authors, editors and millions of loyal readers of the Arabesque imprint launched in July 1994.

BET Books celebrates the 10th anniversary of the birth of Arabesque, its popular line of African American-themed romance novels. This extension of the BET cable network family of brands has amassed a growing stable of authors who have become household names among a legion of readers who prefer their romance hot, and their heroes and heroines Black.

"To say it has been a wonderful ride so far is only a mild descriptor at best," proclaims Linda Gill, Vice President and Publisher of BET Books. "The success of the Arabesque imprint has been nothing short of amazing. When BET Books purchased the imprint in 1998 from Kensington Publishing, we knew we had the opportunity to continue building something special. From the beginning, we have provided a voice for talented African-American authors to weave stories of sizzling kisses, hot embraces and lasting love," Gill added. "Let there be no doubt that 'Black Love' is vibrant and alive and we are committed to one audience. The African American reader."

Hosting the invitation-only milestone celebration will be renowned actor, choreographer and producer Darren DeWitt Henson, star of the critically- acclaimed dramatic series SOUL FOOD which comes to BET this fall after five successful seasons on the premium cable channel Showtime. Among the special honorees will be Walter Zacharius, founder and chairman of Kensington Publishing, and Monica Harris, the exceptional editor that launched the imprint.

The evening will showcase a host of original and current Arabesque authors, including two whose work first appeared in the imprint in 1994, Sandra Kitt and Eboni Snoe. Their novels were reissued in a special 10th anniversary "Collector's Edition" titled "First Touch." Guests will also hear from national bestselling author Donna Hill whose debut Arabesque novel appeared in 1994, and whose next novel "Dare To Dream" will be released to great acclaim in September 2004, against the backdrop of Sag Harbor beach on Long Island.

William Cox, founder and publisher of Black Issues Book Review, and industry insiders will also be in attendance. A special presentation will be made to the 10th Anniversary "Great Romance" contest winner Denise Hayes DeLapp, by extraordinary jewelry designer Sylver. Sylver exclusively crafted an amethyst, crystal and silver necklace/earring set from her firm SylverWear. Award-winning illustrator Ty Wilson, who designed the 10th Anniversary logo, will also be part of the festivities. Special Guests, the debonair Arabesque Men, chosen as models for the Arabesque book covers, Quinn Brodie and Charles Horton, Jr. will be in attendance.

The numerous successes that both BET Books and Arabesque have enjoyed are impressive. The many highlights include:

*  More than 450 titles published since the original July 1994 launch;

*  Wide distribution to independent African-American bookstores, along
with major book sellers, including Walden Books, Barnes & Noble, and
Wal-Mart and Target stores;

*  Production of 13 Arabesque Book titles as made-for-TV movies for the
BET network, including 10 in 1999 -- the largest single slate of
African-American films ever produced.  These movies are now available
on VHS and DVD;

*  Launch of a ground-breaking "At Your Service" Military Series of
romance novels in 2003 featuring -- Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines
-- and supported by a marketing tour to military bases across the U.S.;
and distribution support by AAFES to feature them in base exchange
stores;

*  Expansion beyond the romance genre to inspirational fiction (New
Spirit) and mainstream fiction (Sepia); such as the hardcover title,
Soul Journey by Jacquelin Thomas (New Spirit/ May 2004) and Through
Thick and Thin by Earl Sewell (Sepia/August 2004); and

*  First ever inspirational non-fiction from BET Books featuring Journey
To Empowerment by Maria D. Dowd (New Spirit/August 2004) and Single &
Waiting by Dr. Jacqueline Lawrence (New Spirit/September 2004).

MEDIA COVERAGE OF BET BOOKS 10TH ANNIVERSARY -- Media members are invited to cover the celebration of the 10th anniversary of BET Books on Thursday, July 29 from 6-9 p.m. ET at PM Lounge, 50 Gansevoort Street in New York. Space, photo opportunities and interview access are limited. All interested media must submit coverage requests by no later than July 27 to Kicheko Driggins, BET Books, at (202) 608-2160 or via e-mail at [email protected]

ABOUT BET BOOKS

BET Books was formed in 1998, with the purchase of the Arabesque romance line. Arabesque remains the first line of original African-American romance novels from a major publishing house. BET Books has published over 250 titles, including novels from such veteran romance authors as Francis Ray, Donna Hill, Rochelle Alers, and Gwynne Forster. Thirteen of these captivating romance novels have been brought to the screen, as made-for-television movies airing on BET. Sepia and New Spirit are new imprints featuring exceptional authors targeting the growing African American fiction marketplace. All imprints from BET Books are represented to the Trade by Kensington Publishing Corp.

ABOUT BET

BET, a subsidiary of Viacom, Inc. (NYSE: VIA)(NYSE: VIA.B), is the nation's leading television network providing quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs programming for the African-American audience. The BET Network reaches more than 78 million households according to Nielsen media research, and can be seen in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. BET is a dominant consumer brand in the urban marketplace with a diverse group of branded businesses: BET.com, the Number 1 Internet portal for African Americans; BET Digital Networks -- BET Jazz, BET Gospel and BET Hip Hop, attractive alternatives for cutting-edge entertainment tastes; BET Event Productions, specializing in a full range of event production services, including event management, venue selection, talent recruitment, sound, lighting and stage production; and BET Books, the nation's leading publisher of African-American themed romance novels under the Arabesque Books label, and publisher of new imprints Sepia and New Spirit.

Visit us at http://www.bet.com/books

CONTACT: Kicheko Driggins, +1-202-608-2160, [email protected], or Michael Lewellen, +1-202-608-2003, [email protected], both of BET.

Web site: http://www.bet.com/books
http://www.bet.com/


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