Avon (publisher)

Avon Publications
Parent company HarperCollins
Founded 1941 (1941)
Founder Joseph Meyers and Edna Meyers Williams
Country of origin United States
Headquarters location New York City
Fiction genres Romance
Imprints Avon Inspire, Avon Red, Avon Romance
Official website avonromance.com

Avon Publications was an American paperback book and comic book publisher. As of 2010, it is an imprint of HarperCollins, publishing primarily romance novels.


Avon Books was founded in 1941 by the American News Corporation (ANC) to create a rival to Pocket Books. They hired brother and sister Joseph Meyers and Edna Meyers Williams to establish the company. ANC bought out J.S. Ogilvie Publications, a dime novel publisher partly owned by both the Meyers, and renamed it "Avon Publications". They also got into comic books. "The early Avons were somewhat similar in appearance to the existing paperbacks of Pocket Books, resulting in an immediate and largely ineffective lawsuit by that company. Despite this superficial similarity, though, from early on Meyers differentiated Avon by placing an emphasis on popular appeal rather than loftier concepts of literary merit."[1] The first 40 titles were not numbered. First editions of the first dozen or so have front and rear endpapers with an illustration of a globe. The emphasis on "popular appeal" led Avon to publish ghost stories, sexually-suggestive love stories, fantasy novels and science fiction in its early years, which were far removed in audience appeal from the somewhat more literary Pocket competition.

Avon Fantasy Reader is one of several digest-format paperbacks that were once published by Avon.

As well as normal-sized paperbacks, Avon published digest-format paperbacks (the size and shape of the present-day Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine) in series. These included Murder Mystery Monthly, Modern Short Story Monthly and Avon Fantasy Readers. Many authors highly prized by present-day collectors were published in these editions, including A. Merritt, James M. Cain, H. P. Lovecraft, Raymond Chandler and Robert E. Howard.

In 1953, Avon Books sold books in the price range of 25¢ to 50¢ (for the Avon "G" series, the "G" standing for "Giant") and were selling more than 20 million copies a year. Their books were characterized by Time Magazine as "westerns, whodunits and the kind of boy-meets-girl story that can be illustrated by a ripe cheesecake jacket."[2] At around this time, Avon also began to publish under other imprints, including Eton (1951–1953), Novel Library, Broadway and Diversey. Avon's 35-cent "T" series, introduced in 1953, also had strong mass-market appeal and contains many outstanding examples of the then-popular juvenile delinquent story. The T series also contained many movie tie-in editions and the stand-bys of mysteries and science fiction.

Avon was bought by the Hearst Corporation in 1959.[3]

In 1972, Avon entered the modern romance genre with the publication of Kathleen Woodiwiss' The Flame and the Flower. The novel went on to sell 2.35 million copies.[4] Avon followed its release with the 1974 publication of Woodiwiss's second novel, The Wolf and the Dove and two sexy novels by newcomer Rosemary Rogers, Sweet Savage Love and Dark Fires. The latter sold two million copies in its first three months of release.

In 1999, the News Corporation bought out Hearst's book division. Avon's hardcover and non-romance paperback lines were moved to sister company Morrow, leaving Avon as solely a romance publisher.

Avon Comics

Slave Girl Comics, one of the titles published by Avon
Avon published five issues of White Princess of the Jungle.
Avon revived the 1947 one-shot title Eerie in 1951 and gave it a 17-issue run.

From at least 1945 through the mid-1950s, Avon published comic books. Its titles included horror fiction, science fiction, Westerns, romance comics, war comics and funny-animal comics. Most titles lasted only a few issues, with the six longest-running detailed in the complete list below:

  • All True Detective
  • Atomic Spy Cases
  • Attack On Planet Mars
  • Avon Fantasy - An Earth Man On Venus
  • Bachelor's Diary
  • Badmen of the West
  • Badmen of Tombstone
  • Behind Prison Bars
  • Betty and Her Steady
  • The Blackhawk Indian Tomahawk War
  • Blazing Six Guns
  • Boy Detective
  • Buddies in the U.S. Army
  • Butch Cassidy
  • Campus Romance
  • Captain Silver's Log of the Sea Hound
  • Captain Steve Savage (1950 and 1954 series)
  • Chief Crazy Horse
  • Chief Victorio's Apache Massacre
  • City of the Living Dead
  • Complete Romance
  • Cow Puncher
  • Custer's Last Fight
  • The Dalton Boys
  • Davy Crockett
  • Diary of Horror
  • Eerie
  • Escape from Devil's Island
  • Famous Gangsters
  • Fighting Daniel Boone
  • Fighting Davy Crockett
  • Fighting Indians of the Wild West! (plus 1952 annual)
  • Fighting Undersea Commandos
  • Flying Saucers (1950 and 1952 series)
  • For a Night of Love
  • Frontier Romances
  • Funnies Annual
  • Funny Tunes
  • Gangsters and Gun Molls
  • Geronimo
  • Going Steady with Betty
  • Jesse James (24 issues plus 1952 annual, 1950–56; no issues #10–14 published)
  • King of the Bad Men of Deadwood
  • King Solomon's Mines
  • Kit Carson
  • Last of The Comanches
  • Little Jack Frost
  • The Mask of Dr. Fu Manchu
  • The Masked Bandit
  • Merry Mouse
  • Molly O'Day
  • Murderous Gangsters
  • Night of Mystery
  • Out of This World
  • Out of This World Adventures
  • Outlaws of the Wild West
  • Pancho Villa
  • Parole Breakers
  • Penny
  • Peter Rabbit Comics (#1–6, 1947–1949) and Peter Rabbit (#7–34, 1950–56)
  • Peter Rabbit Easter Parade (one-shot)
  • Peter Rabbit Jumbo Book (one-shot)
  • Phantom Witch Doctor
  • Pixie Puzzle Rocket To Adventureland (one-shot)
  • Police Line-Up
  • Prison Break!
  • Prison Riot
  • Realistic Romances
  • Red Mountain featuring Quantrell's Raiders
  • Robotmen of the Lost Planet
  • Rocket to the Moon"
  • Romantic Love (1949 and 1954 series)
  • The Saint (12 issues, 1947–1952)
  • The Savage Raids of Chief Geronimo
  • Sea Hound
  • Secret Diary of Eerie Adventures
  • Sensational Police Cases
  • Sheriff Bob Dixon's Chuck Wagon
  • Sideshow
  • Slave Girl Comics
  • Space Comics
  • Space Detective
  • Space Mouse
  • Space Thrillers
  • Sparkling Love
  • Spotty the Pup
  • Strange Worlds (22 issues, 1950–1952, 1954–1955)
  • Super Pup
  • Teddy Roosevelt and His Rough Riders
  • Television Puppet Show
  • U.S. Marines in Action
  • U.S. Paratroops
  • U.S. Tank Commandos
  • Undersea Fighting Commandos
  • The Underworld Story'
  • The Unknown Man
  • War Dogs of the U.S. Army
  • Western Bandits
  • White Chief of the Pawnee Indians
  • White Princess of the Jungle
  • Wild Bill Hickock (28 issues, 1949–1956)
  • Witchcraft
  • With the U.S. Paratroops Behind Enemy Lines
  • Zinco


  1. Canja, Jeff. (2002) Collectable Paperback Books, Second Edition, East Lansing, MI: Glenmoor Publishing. ISBN 0-9673639-5-0
  2. "Highbrow Smorgasbord," Time Magazine, August 10, 1953.
  3. "Quiet Deal," Time Magazine, August 31, 1959.
  4. Darrach, Brad (January 17, 1977). "Rosemary's Babies". Time. Retrieved 2007-07-17.

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