Saturday, 29 May 2010

Happy Anniversary Harlequin

Sixty-one years ago in May 1949 Harlequin published its first book, The Manatee by Nancy Bruff. Today Harlequin has become an adjective as in "Harlequin Romance". There is no "xx Crime" or "xx Horror" or "xx Fantasy" genre category. Whatever one thinks of the product this is an achievement. Harlequin publishes over 50 series under 10 imprints. The books are short, inexpensive and come and go out of the bookstores, drug stores and supermarkets with the regularity of magazines. In my community there at least three used bookstores with thousands of Harlequins for sale.

According to the Harlequin website through 2008 Harlequin has shipped 5.8 billion books since The Manatee. Here are three Harlequins from October 1951 when cumulative sales were in the 4 million range.

Originally published in 1950 (New York: Phoenix Press) Boot Hill was one of 17 westerns published that year. Weston Clay was a pseudonym for Thomas W. Ford. Emma Hart (London: Museum Press, 1949 as Our Dearest Emma) was one of three historicals from 1951 and Berlin at Midnight (New York: Greenberg, 1948) one of 34 crime/thrillers. Berlin and Emma were reprinted the next month.

Harlequin 136

Harlequin 136 back

Harlequin 137

Harlequin 137 back

Harlequin 138

Harlequin 138 back

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