Bodice Ripper

A Closer Look At: Pocket Books

I hope that SweetSavageFlame.com is seen more than just a blog; it’s a site dedicated to the history of contemporary and historical romance in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Although we’re just a couple of weeks old, I’d like to be able to build a substantial catalogue of books sorted by my personal reviews, authors, publishers, imprints, and/or cover artists. In addition, I’d like to take look at the history behind the people–authors and readers–and the companies that helped form the romance novel industry.

By doing so, I also wanted to spend time taking a look at institutions or people I’ve archived. This week, we’ll talk about the ones who began the paperback movement (in America anyway), Pocket Books.

Started in 1939, Pocket Books was the first mass-market paperback distributor in the United States. Their initial run of books were reprints of classic works, but overtime they developed their own stable of writers.

Like almost all paperback publishers, they were quick to tap into the success of the revitalized romance genre that came about with Avon’s 1972’s The Flame and the Flower, and later their one-two punch of 1974’s The Wolf and the Dove and Sweet Savage Love.

They released the Purity trilogy in the late 1970’s, which was a series that followed the eponymous Purity Jarsy as quite literally, “the heroine is separated from her true love, and must f— her way back to him.” Over two millions books were sold.

In October 1982, Pocket Books launched the Tapestry line, releasing two historical romances a month for four years, which consisted of 97 books total. Two authors who would be launched through the Tapestry line would include juggernaut writers Jude Deveraux and Julie Garwood. Other authors included Ena Halliday (aka Sylvia Halliday and Louisa Rawlings), Maura Seger, Linda Lael Miller, Patricia Pellicane, and Ruth Ryan Langan.

Tapestry Backlist at FictionDB

In 1985 Harlequin writer, Judith McNaught would release the historical romance Whitney My Love which revitalized the Regency genre by making it more sensual. McNaught’s later books would be packaged as “more serious; less bodice-rippy” and would sell over 30 million copies.

What’s your favorite book released by Pocket Books? Or your favorite author? Drop a comment and let’s talk romance!

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Please drop a comment and let's talk romance!