More Than Naked Women
Playboy was more than a magazine featuring naked women that–depending on your age–your father, grandfather, or great-grandfather looked at and uh, read the articles. As the company called Playboy Press, they also published tawdry pulp fiction. Playboy published some genuinely good westerns, horror, science fiction, fantasy, and romances from the 1960s to the 1980s.
After Avon‘s overwhelming success in releasing sexually explicit historical romances, like Sweet Savage Love, Playboy was quick to cash in on the market as well. While Avon was selective in choosing which author to publish, Playboy Press couldn’t churn the books out fast enough, regardless of quality.
Author Barbara Bonham’s first book, Proud Passion, sold well over half a million copies in its first six months when it was published in 1976. It was a major triumph for Playboy.
Playboy, A Player in Romance
Playboy Press upped the ante in raunchy content and bosomy clinch covers.
While many of their writers soared high only to fall long and hard, they introduced authors like Susan Johnson, Sheila Holland (aka Mills and Boon/Harlequin superstar Charlotte Lamb) Stephanie Blake, Barbara Riefe, and most notably, Roberta Gellis who were quite successful. Gellis’s medieval romances, including her Roselynde Chronicles series, are seriously fine works of historical fiction.
The End of Romance
Playboy Press was sold to Berkley-Jove in 1982. Then they ultimately folded in 1984.
- Berkley Wikipedia
- Playboy Romance Part 1
- Playboy Romance Part 2
- My Playboy Press Pinterest
- NY Times: Paperback Talk
- NY Times: Playboy to Sell Book Division