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Thursday, 28 September, 2000, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
Men's books offer thrills not swoons
Stony Man books
The Stony Man series will be published monthly
Blood, sweat and guns and not a fainting damsel in sight - Mills & Boon stories for men are about to hit the bookstands.

Publishers Harlequin want to mirror the success of their hugely popular romantic novels with thrillers aimed at the men's market.

Not for the Nineties' 'new man', the Stony Man action adventures are testosterone-fuelled tales of daring covert agents and undercover missions.


We wanted to encourage men to buy books by giving them more choice

Joanna Oliver, Harlequin

Harlequin marketing manager Joanne Oliver said the books will be a far cry from the pounding bosoms and moonlit beaches of the women's novels.

"This is action adventure, the opposite end of the scale from Mills & Boon," she said.

"It's easy reading and they're fairly short."

Ghost writers

Only 31% of book purchases in the UK are by men, she added.

Mrs Oliver said the publishers and high street chain WHSmith - the exclusive retailer of the books - wanted a product that would get men reading.
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"We wanted to encourage men to buy books by giving them more choice," she said.

"We think they have wide appeal, with story lines like action adventure films."

A team of ghost writers under the pen name Don Pendleton devise the international intrigues of the series' heroes.

Arnie fans

Gold Eagle, the imprint for Harlequin Mills & Boon, have sold 50 million copies of 250 titles published in the United States and are hoping for a similar success in Britain.

WHSmith fiction buyer Toby Bourne said there was a gap in the market for adventure stories for men.

"The type of reader may be people who are not traditional book readers," he said.

"They are for the Arnie fans certainly, and people who like a good thriller."

The first four in the Stony Man series, Strike Point, Secret Arsenal, Target America and Blind Eagle, will be on sale from 6 October.

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