Beginning Through Aquisitions
Warner Books was, for a time, 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, which had a vast collection of pulps, westerns, biographies, television adaptations, and Gothics.
In 1972, after a financial scandal, the entertainment portion of KNC was rebranded as Warner Communications and its publishing house would be run under the name Warner Books. In 1982 Warner would add to their library again with their purchase of 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, they were ready. In 1976, gothic author Thomas E. Huff–yes, a man–would release Love’s Tender Fury, under the pen name Jennifer Wilde. The unapologetic bodice ripper about Marietta Danvers, an indentured servant in the American colonies, would go on to sell 3 million copies and be reprinted 41 times in its first 5 years.
A year later, in 1977, gothic author Jeanne Hines would release This Loving Torment under the name of Valerie Sherwood. Both Huff and Hines would be enormously successful for Warner Books, releasing several books with them. Janet Louise Roberts, yet another Gothic author, would also write historical and contemporary romances under Warner.
In 1980, Rebecca Brandewyne‘s No Gentle Love, would be released. At the time, she was 23 and the youngest historical romance author ever published. Brandewyne would be their biggest name for about 15 years, selling over 10 million books.
Through their Popular Library imprint, Warner Books would release romances under the Lovestruck line in the 1980s, which included both the contemporary and historical genres.
Bad Times and a New Era
By the late 1980s, however, Warner Communications was undergoing financial difficulties and merged with Time, Inc. to become Time-Warner, Inc. They would spend the 1990s focusing more on cable television and, later, the internet divisions of their media empire, giving their publishing house the short shrift. Dubious mergers, acquisitions, and bad planning, in general, would lead to Time-Warner wracking up lots of debt.
Time-Warner would eventually overhaul their company and do a major housecleaning. In 2003 they announced they would sell off Warner Music Group. In 2006 Warner Books was purchased by Hachette Livre of France, which is part of the giant French media conglomerate, Lagardère, as Hachette Book Group USA. AT&T would eventually buy Time-Warner, and the name of the company is now WarnerMedia, which has nothing to do with publishing.
In 2007, as part of their contractual sale agreement, Warner Books’ name was officially changed, to distance itself from its former parent company, into Grand Central Publishing. GCP now publishes romance through its Forever and Forever Yours imprints.
Reviews of Romance Books Published by Warner