Virgin Books

Virgin Books is a United Kingdom book publisher 90% owned by the publishing group Random House, and 10% owned by Virgin Group, the company originally set up by Richard Branson as a record company.

Virgin Books
Virgin Books
FounderRichard Branson
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Headquarters locationLondon
DistributionThe Book Service
Publication typesBooks
Owner(s)Random House (90%)
Virgin Group (10%)


Virgin established its book publishing arm in the late 1970s; in the latter part of the 1980s Virgin purchased several existing companies, including WH Allen, well known among Doctor Who fans for their Target Books imprint; Virgin Books was incorporated into WH Allen in 1989, but in 1991 WH Allen was renamed Virgin Publishing Ltd.

Virgin Publishing's early success came with the Doctor Who New Adventures novels, officially licensed full-length novels carrying on the story of the popular science-fiction television series following its cancellation in 1989. Virgin published this series from 1991 to 1997, as well as a range of Doctor Who reference books from 1992 to 1998 under the Doctor Who Books imprint.

In recent times the company is best known for its commercial non-fiction list, which includes business, health and lifestyle, music, film, and celebrity biographies. Richard Branson's autobiography Losing My Virginity, released in 1998, was an international best-seller at the time, and continues to sell well. His follow-up title Business Stripped Bare was published in September 2008. Virgin Business Guides included titles by Robert Craven, Paul Barrow and Rachelle Thackray. More recently the company has enjoyed success with Robert H Frank's The Economic Naturalist, where the author had his economics students pose interesting questions from everyday life and explain them through economics.

Random House, through its United Kingdom division, acquired a 90% stake in the company in March 2007.[2] In November 2009, Virgin became an independent imprint within Ebury Publishing, a division of the Random House Group.[3]


Other popular ranges have included various erotic fiction lines:

  • Black Lace specializes in erotica and erotic romance written by female authors specifically for heterosexual female readers. The imprint does not publish novels written by men partly as a marketing scheme, partly to better appeal to their target demographic. The books explore women's sexuality as well as such themes as BDSM, group sex and bisexuality. The imprint began publishing in 1993, has published over 250 titles and sold over three million books. In 2006, Black Lace developed three specific lines within the imprint: contemporary, historical and paranormal. Black Lace also publishes short story anthologies, novella collections and in 2007 launched its first trilogy, a series of werewolf erotica by Mathilde Madden. The imprint marked its fifteen-year anniversary in 2008 with re-issues of several of its original novels. In 2009, Virgin announced that Black Lace would add no new titles in 2010.[4] The line was relaunched in 2012.[5]
  • Nexus Books, sado-masochistic pornography written mostly for men who have sex with women, and women who have sex with men or women. In 2009, Virgin announced that Nexus would add no new titles in 2010.[4]
  • Idol for gay men (defunct).
  • Sapphire for lesbians (defunct).


  1. ^ "Virgin Books - More about Virgin Books".
  2. ^ Joel Rickett, Random House UK buys Virgin Books Archived 26 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, The Bookseller, 5 March 2007 (via
  3. ^ Benedicte Page, "Virgin joins Ebury stable, Sadler leaving" Archived 7 December 2009 at the Wayback Machine, The Bookseller, 2 November 2009
  4. ^ a b Benedicte Page, Erotica on hold for Black Lace and Nexus at Virgin, The Bookseller, 6 July 2009
  5. ^ Benedicte Page, Ebury to revive Black Lace, The Bookseller, 26 April 2012

External links

All Time Top 1000 Albums

All Time Top 1000 Albums is a book by Colin Larkin, creator and editor of the Encyclopedia of Popular Music. The book was first published by Guinness Publishing in 1994. The list presented is the result of over 200,000 votes cast by informed music lovers and ranked in order. Each album is annotated with details of its creation and notes about the band or artist who recorded it.

The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album made the top spot in the first edition and the same band's Revolver consistently made the top five in each edition of the book.

Andy Lane

Andrew Lane (born 17 April 1963), as Andy Lane, is a British author and journalist.

He has written novels in the Virgin New Adventures range and audio dramas for Big Finish based on the BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who.

Colin Larkin (writer)

Colin Larkin (born 1949) is a British writer and entrepreneur. He founded, and was the editor in chief of, the Encyclopedia of Popular Music, described by The Times as "the standard against which all others must be judged".Along with the ten-volume encyclopedia, Larkin also wrote the book All Time Top 1000 Albums, and edited the Guinness Who's Who Of Jazz, the Guinness Who's Who Of Blues, and the Virgin Encyclopedia Of Heavy Rock The compiler of the most extensive database of popular music in Europe and the US, a writer and book designer by trade, Larkin has over 650,000 copies in print to date. As an authority on popular music, Larkin has often been interviewed on radio, and had a regular slot on BBC GLR for two years in the 1990s.

Ebury Publishing

Ebury Publishing is a division of Penguin Random House, and is a well-known publisher of general non-fiction books in the UK. Ebury was founded in 1961 as a division of Nat Mags. It was sold to Century Hutchinson in 1989; Century Hutchinson was acquired by Random House. Random House merged with Penguin Group to form Penguin Random House in 2015.

Under its umbrella are the imprints BBC Books, Ebury Press, Rider, Time Out, Virgin Books and Vermilion—each with their own, distinct identity and specialist areas of publishing.

Encyclopedia of Popular Music

The Encyclopedia of Popular Music was created in 1989 by Colin Larkin. It is the 'modern man's' equivalent of the Grove Dictionary of Music, which Larkin describes in less than flattering terms.

Keith Topping

Keith Andrew Topping (born (1963-10-26)26 October 1963 in Walker, Tyneside) is an author, journalist and broadcaster most closely associated with his work relating to the BBC Television series Doctor Who and for writing numerous official and unofficial guide books to a wide variety of television and film series, particularly Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

He is also the author of two books of rock music critique. To date, Topping has written more than 40 books.

Ringo Rama

Ringorama is the 13th studio album by Ringo Starr, released in 2003.

Ringo Starr discography

This article presents the discography of Ringo Starr, former drummer and occasional singer and songwriter of British rock band the Beatles. When the band broke up in the spring of 1970, Ringo Starr embarked on a solo career. Along with the other Beatles, he spent the first half of the seventies on Apple Records, the label created by the band for themselves. Starr moved to Atlantic Records after his contract with EMI expired and his career diminished in commercial impact, even though he continued to record and eventually tour with his All-Starr Band in 1989 and continues to do so today.

Sentimental Journey (Ringo Starr album)

Sentimental Journey is the debut studio album by English rock musician and former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, released in 1970, as the band was splintering apart. Although Starr was the third member of the group to issue solo work (after George Harrison and John Lennon), Sentimental Journey is the first non-avant-garde studio album by a member of the band, in light of the experimental, soundtrack or live releases his aforementioned bandmates had already released. Paul McCartney's debut, McCartney, would follow three weeks after Sentimental Journey's release. Recording of the album was completed in early March 1970, with Sentimental Journey being rushed out a few weeks later to avoid clashing in the shops with the Beatles' impending final album Let It Be in May.

Target Books

Target Books was a British publishing imprint, established in 1973 by Universal-Tandem Publishing Co Ltd, a paperback publishing company. The imprint was established as a children's imprint to complement the adult Tandem imprint, and became well known for their highly successful range of novelisations and other assorted books based on the popular science-fiction television series Doctor Who. Their first publications based on the serial were reprints in paperback of three novels which had been previously published as hardbacks: Doctor Who and the Daleks and Doctor Who and the Crusaders by David Whitaker, and Doctor Who and the Zarbi by Bill Strutton. As these sold well further novelisations of the show were commissioned. In 1975 Universal-Tandem was sold by its American owners, the Universal-Award group, to the British conglomerate Howard and Wyndham. The company was renamed Tandem Publishing Ltd before being merged with the paperback imprints of Howard and Wyndham's general publishing house W. H. Allen Ltd to become Wyndham Publications Ltd in 1976. However, during 1977 and 1978 the Wyndham identity was phased out and, until 1990, Target books were published by 'the paperback division of WH Allen & Co'.

The most prolific writer in the Doctor Who range was Terrance Dicks, while actor turned writer Ian Marter, Malcolm Hulke, Philip Hinchcliffe and Nigel Robinson (who was for a time the editor of the range) were also contributors.

Almost every story from the Doctor Who series was produced in novelisation form; the exceptions being three scripts by Douglas Adams (Shada, The Pirate Planet and City of Death) and two by Eric Saward (Resurrection of the Daleks and Revelation of the Daleks). Saward was reluctant to novelise these scripts himself due to the large percentage of the author's royalties demanded by the agents of the creator of the Daleks, Terry Nation, for the inclusion of the creatures, and other writers were dissuaded for the same reason. Adams, when interviewed on video about his involvement with Doctor Who, stated that he was unhappy with the standard one-off fee offered by Target Books for the novelisations saying "I do have this tendency to be a best-selling author". The estate of Douglas Adams eventually permitted a novelisation of Shada to be produced in 2011. It was written by Gareth Roberts and published by BBC Books in 2012.The company also produced novelisations of various other films and television series, again aimed mostly at the child and teenage markets. They also published a number of original children's and teenage novels. In 1973, the company produced a successful paperback edition of Tim Dinsdale's book, The Story of the Loch Ness Monster. In 1977, Target published the novelisation of the Ray Harryhausen film, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger.

WH Allen was acquired by Virgin Books in a process that spanned late 1986 to late 1987. In 1994 the Target imprint was closed down and the last three novelisation published by Virgin were under the Doctor Who Books imprint. They did, however, feature the Target logo inside and were numbered in Target's "Doctor Who Library" on inside pages.

Further novelisations of Doctor Who-related productions were published by Virgin under the New Adventures and Missing Adventures lines (including an adaptation of the BBC Radio play The Ghosts of N-Space and the independently produced spin-offs Downtime and Shakedown: Return of the Sontarans), while BBC Books would later adapt the 1996 TV-movie, the 2003 webcast, Scream of the Shalka and, in March 2012, the unbroadcast story, Shada.

Random House, through its United Kingdom division, acquired a 90% stake in Virgin Books (including Target) in March 2007. In November 2009, Virgin became an independent imprint within Ebury Publishing, a division of the Random House Group.In 2011 BBC Books published reprints of several of the Target Doctor Who novelisations.In 2018 BBC Books published four novelisations of post-2005 Doctor Who stories and a new abridged version of City of Death using the Target logo, Ebury Publishing having acquired a majority shareholding of BBC Books in 2006.

The Discontinuity Guide

The Discontinuity Guide is a 1995 guidebook to the serials of the original run (1963–1989) of the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who. The book was written by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping and was first published as Doctor Who - The Discontinuity Guide on 1 July 1995 by Virgin Books.

The Hundredfold Problem

The Hundredfold Problem is a science fiction novel written by John Grant. The original version, published by Virgin Books in 1994, was based on the long-running British science fiction comic strip Judge Dredd. A new edition was published in 2003 by BeWrite Books, in which all references to Judge Dredd had been removed, and the lead character was a police officer called Dave Knuckle.

The Virgin Book of British Hit Singles

The Virgin Book of British Hit Singles is a charts reference book published in October 2008. It replaces the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles & Albums, after the Guinness company withdrew interest in chart reference books at the same time their contract was due to expire. The last edition was published in 2006 covering all chart hits between 1952-2005. Two years later Virgin took over the contract from The Official Charts Company to publish the re-branded version of the book as The Virgin Book of British Hit Singles without the album charts information.

Time Takes Time

Time Takes Time is the 10th studio album by Ringo Starr, released in 1992, his critically acclaimed comeback album. His first studio album since 1983's Old Wave, it followed a successful 1989–90 world tour with his All-Starr Band. Time Takes Time features several celebrity guests including Brian Wilson, Harry Nilsson and Electric Light Orchestra frontman Jeff Lynne.

Vertical Man

Vertical Man is the 11th studio album by Ringo Starr, issued in 1998. The album served as Starr's attempt at a commercial comeback following the enormous success of The Beatles Anthology project. Starr enlisted the help of many of his musician friends in making Vertical Man, including Scott Weiland, Brian Wilson, Alanis Morissette, Ozzy Osbourne, Tom Petty, Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmit, Steven Tyler, and former Beatles Paul McCartney and George Harrison. Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick mixed the tracks, and Starr and Mark Hudson served as producers.

Virgin Decalog

The Virgin Decalog books were collections of short stories published by Virgin Publishing based on the television series Doctor Who: they gained their name from the fact that each volume contained ten stories (although the last collection contains eleven). Five volumes were published between 1994 and September 1997, although volumes 4 and 5 did not feature the Doctor or any other non-Virgin copyrighted characters. This is because the BBC decided not to renew Virgin's licence to produce original fiction featuring the Doctor or any characters featured in the TV series (Virgin transitioned to featuring characters created for literature over which the BBC had no rights). Following this, the BBC began producing their own Doctor Who fiction, including short stories under the name Short Trips.

Virgin Megastores

Virgin Megastores is an international entertainment retailing chain, founded in early 1976 by (Sir) Richard Branson as a record shop on London's Oxford Street.

In 1979 the company opened their first Megastore at the end of Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road. The company expanded to hundreds of stores worldwide in the 1990s, but has lost a large number of stores in recent years, largely with the sale and eventual closing of the UK, US, Irish, Canadian, Australian, Italian, Spanish, French, Greek and Japanese stores. By 2015, current operations are exclusively in the Middle East and in North Africa, consisting of approximately 40 stores.

Who Killed Kennedy

Who Killed Kennedy is an original novel written by David Bishop and based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who.

Although published by Virgin Books, it is considered a standalone, and not therefore part of then-ongoing Virgin New Adventures or Virgin Missing Adventures series of original Doctor Who novels.


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