Perhaps no publisher taps into amorous fantasies as thoroughly as Harlequin, which over more than six decades has become synonymous with romance. The Toronto-based company, founded in 1949, publishes about 110 fiction and non-fiction titles per month in 31 languages and is one of the leading publishers of books for women. The content of these romance novels can be as fantastic as their covers, which feature a fair share of windswept heroes (yes, Fabio) and heated embraces. As society’s views on gender and sex have evolved, so has Harlequin’s cover art, going from vaguely suggestive to unabashedly erotic over the decades. “Love may be essential to the narratives inside these books but it is lust that is imaged on the covers,” states a company history. Margie Miller, Harlequin’s creative art director, says readers “want to feel uplifted, lifted and carried out of their own lives. Not that their lives are bad, but it’s a happiness hit.” The covers are designed to help transport them.
Miller takes Bloomberg Businessweek through some of the publisher’s most memorable covers.
Images Courtesy of Harlequin