Avon (publishers)

Avon (publishers)

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Avon Publications was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 paperback book and comic book
Comic book
A comic book or comicbook is a magazine made up of comics, narrative artwork in the form of separate panels that represent individual scenes, often accompanied by dialog as well as including...

 publisher. As of 2010, it is an imprint
Imprint
In the publishing industry, an imprint can mean several different things:* As a piece of bibliographic information about a book, it refers to the name and address of the book's publisher and its date of publication as given at the foot or on the verso of its title page.* It can mean a trade name...

 of HarperCollins
HarperCollins
HarperCollins is a publishing company owned by News Corporation. It is the combination of the publishers William Collins, Sons and Co Ltd, a British company, and Harper & Row, an American company, itself the result of an earlier merger of Harper & Brothers and Row, Peterson & Company. The worldwide...

, publishing primarily romance novels.

History


Avon Books was founded in 1941 by the American News Corporation (ANC) to create a rival to Pocket Books
Pocket Books
Pocket Books is a division of Simon & Schuster that primarily publishes paperback books.- History :Pocket produced the first mass-market, pocket-sized paperback books in America in early 1939 and revolutionized the publishing industry...

. They hired brother and sister Joseph Myers and Edna Myers Williams to establish the company. ANC bought out J.S. Ogilvie Publications, a pulp magazine
Pulp magazine
Pulp magazines , also collectively known as pulp fiction, refers to inexpensive fiction magazines published from 1896 through the 1950s. The typical pulp magazine was seven inches wide by ten inches high, half an inch thick, and 128 pages long...

 publisher partly owned by both the Myers, and renamed it "Avon Publications". They also got into comic books. "The early Avons were somewhat similar in appearance to the existing paperbacks of Pocket Books, resulting in an immediate and largely ineffective lawsuit by that company. Despite this superficial similarity, though, from early on Myers differentiated Avon by placing an emphasis on popular appeal rather than loftier concepts of literary merit." The first 40 titles were not numbered. First editions of the first dozen or so have front and rear endpapers with an illustration of a globe. The emphasis on "popular appeal" led Avon to publish ghost stories, sexually-suggestive love stories, fantasy novels and science fiction in its early years, which were far removed in audience appeal from the somewhat more literary Pocket competition.

As well as normal-sized paperbacks, Avon published digest-format
Digest size
Digest size is a magazine size, smaller than a conventional or "journal size" magazine but larger than a standard paperback book, approximately 5½ x 8¼ inches, but can also be 5⅜ x 8⅜ inches and 5½ x 7½ inches. These sizes have evolved from the printing press operation end...

 paperback
Paperback
Paperback, softback or softcover describe and refer to a book by the nature of its binding. The covers of such books are usually made of paper or paperboard, and are usually held together with glue rather than stitches or staples...

s (the size and shape of the present-day Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine is an American monthly digest size fiction magazine specializing in crime fiction, particularly detective fiction...

) in series. These included Murder Mystery Monthly, Modern Short Story Monthly and Avon Fantasy Readers. Many authors highly prized by present-day collectors were published in these editions, including A. Merritt
A. Merritt
Abraham Grace Merritt — known by his byline, A. Merritt — was an American editor and author of works of fantastic fiction.-Life:...

, James M. Cain
James M. Cain
James Mallahan Cain was an American author and journalist. Although Cain himself vehemently opposed labeling, he is usually associated with the hardboiled school of American crime fiction and seen as one of the creators of the roman noir...

, H. P. Lovecraft
H. P. Lovecraft
Howard Phillips Lovecraft --often credited as H.P. Lovecraft — was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction, especially the subgenre known as weird fiction....

, Raymond Chandler
Raymond Chandler
Raymond Thornton Chandler was an American novelist and screenwriter.In 1932, at age forty-five, Raymond Chandler decided to become a detective fiction writer after losing his job as an oil company executive during the Depression. His first short story, "Blackmailers Don't Shoot", was published in...

 and Robert E. Howard
Robert E. Howard
Robert Ervin Howard was an American author who wrote pulp fiction in a diverse range of genres. Best known for his character Conan the Barbarian, he is regarded as the father of the sword and sorcery subgenre....

.

In 1953, Avon Books sold books in the price range of 25¢ to 50¢ (for the Avon "G" series, the "G" standing for "Giant") and were selling more than 20 million copies a year. Their books were characterized by Time Magazine as "westerns, whodunits and the kind of boy-meets-girl story that can be illustrated by a ripe cheesecake jacket." At around this time, Avon also began to publish under other imprints, including Eton (1951–1953), Novel Library, Broadway and Diversey. Avon's 35-cent "T" series, introduced in 1953, also had strong mass-market appeal and contains many outstanding examples of the then-popular juvenile delinquent story. The T series also contained many movie tie-in editions and the stand-bys of mysteries and science fiction.

Avon was bought by the Hearst Corporation
Hearst Corporation
The Hearst Corporation is an American media conglomerate based in the Hearst Tower, Manhattan in New York City, New York, United States. Founded by William Randolph Hearst as an owner of newspapers, the company's holdings now include a wide variety of media...

 in 1959.

In 1972, Avon launched the modern romance
Romance novel
The romance novel is a literary genre developed in Western culture, mainly in English-speaking countries. Novels in this genre place their primary focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people, and must have an "emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending." Through the late...

 genre with the publication of Kathleen Woodiwiss
Kathleen Woodiwiss
Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, née Kathleen Erin Hogg , was a U.S. writer, pioneered the historical romance genre with the 1972 publication of her novel The Flame and the Flower.-Early years:...

' The Flame and the Flower
The Flame and the Flower
The Flame and the Flower is the debut work of romance novelist Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. The first romance novel to detail physical intimacy between the protagonists, the book revolutionized the historical romance genre. It was also the first full-length romance novel to be published first in...

, the first single-title romance novel to be published as an original paperback
Paperback
Paperback, softback or softcover describe and refer to a book by the nature of its binding. The covers of such books are usually made of paper or paperboard, and are usually held together with glue rather than stitches or staples...

. The novel went on to sell 2.35 million copies. Avon followed its release with the 1974 publication of Woodiwiss's second novel, The Wolf and the Dove and two sexy novels by newcomer Rosemary Rogers
Rosemary Rogers
Rosemary Rogers, née Rosemary Janz is a best-selling author of historical romance novels. Her first book, Sweet Savage Love, was published in 1974. She was the second romance author, after Kathleen Woodiwiss, to have her novels published in trade paperback format...

, Sweet Savage Love and Dark Fires. The latter sold two million copies in its first three months of release. By 1975, Publishers Weekly had reported that the "Avon originals" had sold a combined .

In 1999, the News Corporation
News Corporation
News Corporation or News Corp. is an American multinational media conglomerate. It is the world's second-largest media conglomerate as of 2011 in terms of revenue, and the world's third largest in entertainment as of 2009, although the BBC remains the world's largest broadcaster...

 bought out Hearst's book division, and merged Avon with HarperCollins. Avon's hardcover and non-romance paperback lines were moved to sister company Morrow
William Morrow and Company
William Morrow and Company is an American publishing company founded by William Morrow in 1926. The company was acquired by Scott Foresman in 1967, and sold to Hearst Corporation in 1981. It was sold along to the News Corporation in 1999...

, leaving Avon as solely a romance publisher.

Avon Comics


From at least 1945 through the mid-1950s, Avon published comic books. Its titles included horror fiction
Horror fiction
Horror fiction also Horror fantasy is a philosophy of literature, which is intended to, or has the capacity to frighten its readers, inducing feelings of horror and terror. It creates an eerie atmosphere. Horror can be either supernatural or non-supernatural...

, science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

, Westerns
Western fiction
Western fiction is a genre of literature set in the American Old West frontier and typically set from the late eighteenth to the late nineteenth century. Well-known writers of Western fiction include Zane Grey from the early 1900s and Louis L'Amour from the mid 20th century...

, romance comics, war comics
War comics
War comics is a genre of comic books that gained popularity in English-speaking countries following World War II.-American war comics:Shortly after the birth of the modern comic book in the mid- to late 1930s, comics publishers began including stories of wartime adventures in the multi-genre...

 and funny-animal comics. Most titles lasted only a few issues, with the six longest-running detailed in the complete list below:
  • All True Detective
  • Atomic Spy Cases
  • Attack On Planet Mars
  • Avon Fantasy - An Earth Man On Venus
  • Bachelor's Diary
  • Badmen of the West
  • Badmen of Tombstone
  • Behind Prison Bars
  • Betty and Her Steady
  • The Blackhawk Indian Tomahawk War
  • Blazing Six Guns
  • Boy Detective
  • Buddies in the U.S. Army
  • Butch Cassidy
  • Campus Romance
  • Captain Silver's Log of the Sea Hound
  • Captain Steve Savage (1950 and 1954 series)
  • Chief Crazy Horse
  • Chief Victorio's Apache Massacre
  • City of the Living Dead
  • Complete Romance
  • Cow Puncher
  • Custer's Last Fight
  • The Dalton Boys
  • Davy Crockett
  • Diary of Horror
  • Eerie (1947 series) and Eerie (17 issues, 1951–53)
  • Escape from Devil's Island
  • Famous Gangsters
  • Fighting Daniel Boone
  • Fighting Davy Crockett
  • Fighting Indians of the Wild West! (plus 1952 annual)
  • Fighting Undersea Commandos
  • Flying Saucers (1950 and 1952 series)
  • For a Night of Love
  • Frontier Romances
  • Funnies Annual
  • Funny Tunes
  • Gangsters and Gun Molls
  • Geronimo
  • Going Steady with Betty
  • Jesse James (24 issues plus 1952 annual, 1950–56; no issues #10-14 published)
  • King of the Bad Men of Deadwood
  • King Solomon's Mines
  • Kit Carson
  • Last of The Comanches
  • Little Jack Frost
  • The Mask of Dr. Fu Manchu
  • The Masked Bandit
  • Merry Mouse
  • Molly O'Day
  • Murderous Gangsters
  • Night of Mystery
  • Out of This World
  • Out of This World Adventures
  • Outlaws of the Wild West
  • Pancho Villa
  • Parole Breakers
  • Penny
  • Peter Rabbit Comics (#1-6, 1947–1949) and Peter Rabbit (#7-34, 1950–56)
  • Peter Rabbit Easter Parade (one-shot)
  • Peter Rabbit Jumbo Book (one-shot)
  • Phantom Witch Doctor
  • Pixie Puzzle Rocket To Adventureland (one-shot)
  • Police Line-Up
  • Prison Break!
  • Prison Riot
  • Realistic Romances
  • Red Mountain featuring Quantrell's Raiders
  • Robotmen of the Lost Planet
  • Rocket to the Moon"
  • Romantic Love (1949 and 1954 series)
  • The Saint (12 issues, 1947–1952)
  • The Savage Raids of Chief Geronimo
  • Sea Hound
  • Secret Diary of Eerie Adventures
  • Sensational Police Cases
  • Sheriff Bob Dixon's Chuck Wagon
  • Sideshow
  • Slave Girl Comics
  • Space Comics
  • Space Detective
  • Space Mouse
  • Space Thrillers
  • Sparkling Love
  • Spotty the Pup
  • Strange Worlds
    Strange Worlds
    Strange Worlds was the name of two American, science-fiction anthology comic book series of the 1950s, the first published by Avon Comics, the second by a Marvel Comics predecessor, Atlas Comics...

    (22 issues, 1950–1952, 1954–1955)
  • Super Pup
  • Teddy Roosevelt and His Rough Riders
  • Television Puppet Show
  • U.S. Marines in Action
  • U.S. Paratroops
  • U.S. Tank Commandos
  • Undersea Fighting Commandos
  • The Underworld Story
  • The Unknown Man
  • War Dogs of the U.S. Army
  • Western Bandits
  • White Chief of the Pawnee Indians
  • White Princess of the Jungle
  • Wild Bill Hickock (28 issues, 1949–1956)
  • Witchcraft
  • With the U.S. Paratroops Behind Enemy Lines

External links