Warner: A Multi-Media Corporation
Beginning Through Acquisitions
For a time Warner Books was a huge player in the commercial publishing industry. Like many publishers, its origins were hewn from other companies. In 1970 the corporate conglomerate Kinney National Company purchased Paperback Library. Paperback Library had a vast collection of pulps, westerns, biographies, television adaptations, and Gothics.
Then in 1972, after a financial scandal, KNC rebranded the entertainment portion as Warner Communications. The publishing house’s name was Warner Books. Again in 1982 Warner added to their library by purchasing Popular Library from CBS Publications.
Warner Books: Romance Players
From the 1970s to the mid-1990s, Warner Books made quite a mark in the romance genre. They had already published many Romantic Gothics, notably the Dark Shadows novelizations. So when the historical romance revolution hit, Warner was ready for the market changes.
In 1976, gothic author Thomas E. Huff wrote Love’s Tender Fury. He used the pen name Jennifer Wilde. The book was an unapologetic bodice ripper about Marietta Danvers. Marietta was an indentured servant in the American colonies. The bodice ripper was a phenomenal blockbuster. It sold 3 million copies and was reprinted 41 times in its first 5 years.
A year later in 1977, Gothic author Jeanne Hines wrote This Loving Torment under the name Valerie Sherwood. Both Huff and Hines became enormously successful for Warner Books.
Janet Louise Roberts, yet another Gothic author, would also write historical and contemporary romances for Warner.
The 1980s and Beyond
Then in 1980, Rebecca Brandewyne‘s epic No Gentle Love was released. At the time, she was 23 and the youngest historical romance author ever to publish a romance. Brandewyne would be Warner’s biggest name for about 15 years. She sold over 10 million books with them.
Through their Popular Library imprint, Warner Books released a new line, the Lovestruck series in the 1980s. Lovestruck consisted of both contemporary and historical genres.
Bad Times and a New Era
Unfortunately, by the late 1980s, Warner Communications was undergoing financial difficulties. They merged with Time, Inc. to become Time-Warner, Inc. The company spent the 1990s focusing more on cable television. Afterward, they would focus on the internet divisions of their media empire. This meant their publishing house got the short shrift. Dubious mergers, acquisitions, and bad planning, in general, would lead to Time-Warner wracking up lots of debt.
Eventually, Time-Warner had to overhaul its company and engage in major housecleaning. It was a shock to many when in 2003 they announced they would sell off Warner Music Group.
The End of Warner Books
In 2006 Warner Books was bought by Hachette Livre of France. HL is part of the giant French media conglomerate, Lagardère, also known as Hachette Book Group USA. AT&T would then buy Time-Warner. The name of the company is now WarnerMedia, which has nothing to do with publishing.
Finally, as part of their contractual sale agreement, Warner Books’ name was officially changed in 2007. This was done to distance itself from its former parent company. What was once Warner Books is now Grand Central Publishing. GCP publishes romance through its Forever and Forever Yours imprints.
- Hachette Books Wikipedia
- Warner Media on Wikipedia
- Popular Library on Wikipedia
- Publisher Warner Books on Goodreads
- Hachette Books Company History