P>To enter the world of Harlequin is to travel the globe. In just over 50 years this company evolved from a small Canadian reprint house into the largest publisher of romance fiction in the world. Now an international concern, Harlequin is known throughout North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Australia, Japan and China for its unique brand of romance fiction, currently translated into 23 languages and sold in various formats in over 100 international markets.
Harlequin Books was founded by Richard Bonnycastle in 1949. Specialising in reprints of British and American books, the first 400 titles under the Harlequin imprint were a varied collection of westerns, thrillers, craft books and classics. It was the inclusion of romance titles which formed the foundations of Harlequin's development into a leading publisher of romance fiction.
In 1957 Harlequin began buying the rights to romance novels from the English firm Mills & Boon Ltd. So successful were these Doctor Nurse romances that the Canadian Company began to concentrate on selling them and by 1964 romance fiction comprised the entire Harlequin list.
In the late 1960s Harlequin began a period of extraordinary expansion that propelled it into the international stage following the 1971 acquisition of Mills & Boon Ltd, then the largest romance publisher in the English speaking world. By the end of the decade, Harlequin's overseas acquisitions and partnerships were taking the company's brand of love stories to bookshelves around the world. In 1975 Harlequin Holland was opened, followed by a joint venture in Germany. Harlequin France, Sweden, Japan and Greece soon followed as well as another joint venture in Italy. In 1981, Canadian communications giant Torstar Corporation completed its purchase of the dynamic Harlequin operation. Expansion into the overseas market continued with the 1990s seeing the opening of offices in Eastern Europe. Harlequin Hungary was soon followed by Poland in 1991 and the Czech Republic in 1992. Books are now also sold under license in Russia, Latin America, and under a co-operative publishing agreement in China.
Having shipped more than 3 billion books since 1949, Harlequin continues to write its own remarkable publishing story.
Harlequin Mills & Boon Ltd
When Gerald Mills and Charles Boon joined forces in 1908 to create Mills & Boon Ltd, the company was not founded as a romance fiction publishing house although its first book was, prophetically, a romance. Since those early days, Harlequin Mills & Boon Ltd has developed from a general fiction publisher to become the UK's undisputed market leader in romance fiction publishing.
From the very beginning, Mills & Boon published in a form and at a price that was within the reach of a wide readership. In the 1930s the company noted the rapid rise of commercial libraries and the growing appetite for escapism during the Depression years. The favourite genre was romance and the company decided to concentrate on hardback romances, a policy which became increasingly successful. Mills & Boon books were initially sold through weekly two-penny libraries and their distinctive brown binding led them to become known as "the books in brown".
With the decline of lending libraries in the late 1950s, the company's most successful move was to realise that there would remain a strong market for romance novels, but that sales would depend on readers having easy access to reasonably priced books. As a result Mills & Boon romance became widely available from newsagents across the country.
Harlequin Mills & Boon Ltd continues to provide series romance editorial not only for the UK and English language export markets but also for Harlequin's growing international market.
Romantic fiction constitutes the largest section of the adult paperback fiction market and Mills & Boon is the undisputed brand leader in the UK. Harlequin Mills & Boon publishes series fiction, promotional titles, gift packs and single titles under different brands and imprints: Mills & Boon, and Mira.
Core product in the Mills and Boon brand portfolio are the eleven series which are published every month.
Modern : One romance you'll never want to end! Glamorous and sophisticated, passionate romance. Titles feature intense relationships, often very sensual, reflecting shared feelings, desires and dreams
Romance: Dare to dream... Warm and emotionally fulfilling novels that capture the magic of falling in love. Sparkling, fresh and tender love stories
Blaze: Hot and Sexy. Couples in contemporary romantic relationships embark on sexual adventures and fantasy journeys. There is a promise of intimate experiences and total satisfaction.
By Request: Relive the romance with the best of the best. Bestselling themed novels from Modern or Tender Romance brought back to relive the magic. One volume is available each month.
Medical: The best medicine of all. Delightful contemporary romances set against the background of the medical profession
Historical: Love and passion bring the past to life! From medieval sagas to the roaring twenties, rich and vivid
Desire 2-in-1: Daring and provocative, sensual love stories.
Special Edition: Compelling romances packed with emotion. These books tackle sensitive issues while embracing the romantic ideal that love can conquer all.
Superromance: Realistic, passionate, contemporary novels that are longer and more involved - a bigger, action-packed read for you to enjoy!
Intrigue: Romance suspense at its best: Danger, deception and desire.
Spotlight: Two bestselling novels in one volume by favourite authors, back by popular demand! Featuring novels from Silhouette series favourites, Special Edition, Sensation and Desire.
In 1994 Harlequin Enterprises announced the launch of MIRA books, an author led publishing program designed to satisfy the broader reading demands of consumers in the women's fiction category. The name defines the new imprint: Mira means wonderful in Latin and Mira is also one of the brightest stars in the southern constellation.
The MIRA program consists mainly of books commissioned from hugely successful British authors like Penny Jordan and from high profile American authors. Unlike series romance, these books are over 100,000 words in length and editorial includes all mainstream fiction categories from crime thrillers to historical fiction.