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What's in store for chick-lit lovers? Authors

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Fiction is in fashion at DKNY -- and at Chanel, Saks and other high-end stores that are hosting signings by chick-lit novelists.

More and more, publishers are finding retail store partners where authors -- particularly novelists who write about fashion-conscious young women -- can mingle with the kinds of people who publishers think will buy their books.

"For me, it's great exposure, because the kind of woman who wears DKNY clothes is the kind of woman who's going to like my book," says author Deborah Schoeneman, whose novel, 4% Famous (Shaye Areheart, $21.95), is about the world of gossip columnists in New York. She has been appearing at DKNY stores across the country.

DKNY spokesperson Aliza Licht says Schoeneman was a perfect partner for DKNY because of the book's content and because "people love a happening. It's nice for customers already there, and it's a vehicle to get new customers."

It's happening elsewhere:

*Saks stores across the country hosted book signings for authors Jill Kargman and Carrie Karasyov for their novel, Wolves in Chic Clothing.

*Ellyn Spragins did events at Eileen Fisher stores in New York and New Jersey for her book, What I Know Now.

*Bergdorf Blondes author Plum Sykes appeared at Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Frederic Fekkai, Ferragamo, Neiman Marcus and Oscar de la Renta stores for The Debutante Divorcee.

It's paying off.

Cheryl McDowell was shopping for a black party dress at DKNY at the Beverly Center in Los Angeles where Schoeneman was signing books. "I came in to shop," says McDowell, "but I'm buying the book. I belong to a book club, and we're always looking for good books to read."

For publishers, McDowell is a dream come true. "It's tough these days, especially in the major markets, to get a big turnout for bookstore events," says Joanna Pinsker of Broadway Books, which published Wolves in Chic Clothing. "There are so many competing events," she says. "At these parties, there's a built-in list of people."

Many of these events send invitations to VIP customers.

"It hits our target market," says Marleah Stout of Harlequin. "They like hip clothes, cosmetics and shoes, and they may not go to bookstores."

Harlequin has had success with such events and plans to do more. Last fall, Leeanne Banks, author of Feet First and Underfoot, did an event at the DSW shoe store in New York. This fall, Harlequin plans to hold an event for her new book, Footloose, during Fashion Week.

Contributing: Sharon Knolle

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© Copyright 2006 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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