Grove Press (New York, US)
Series dates: 1969-1972
Size: 4.5″ x 6.25″
Grove Press was founded in 1947 in Greenwich Village in New York City, but after publishing only three books in three years was sold to Barney Rossett in 1951. Rossett focused the press on European avant-garde literature and theatre, the American beat poets, the Evergreen Review, and numerous political titles. Grove Press was involved in numerous anti-censorship fights, particularly over Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover and Miller’s The Tropic of Cancer.
The Venus Library was born in the late 1960s out of Grove Press’s need for cash and demands from Kabel News, paperback book distributor for Grove Press. Kable was distributing two Grove imprints, Black Cat and Zebra, both consisting of paperback erotica and wanted more titles (and threatened to drop Grove if more titles were not forthcoming). The original plan for the Venus Library was to reissue vintage and often clandestine erotic literature from the 1920s and 1930s. The books were decently designed and of reasonable quality, and evoked the spirit of earlier literary book reprint series. Titles were published in both hard and softcovers. Hardcover series numbers were prefaced with an X, softcover with a V. The six initial titles included:
#1001: M. Fontaine’s Establishment, by Anonymous
#1002: La Tarantula, by Don Luis De V****
#1003: Five Men, by Tiffany Boots
#1004: The Altar of Venus, by Anonymous
#1005: John Krugge, by Anonymous
#1006: Two Flappers in Paris, by A. Cantab
Alas, the demand for literary but relatively tame erotic classics was eclipsed by that for more raunchy titles. The series was, in look and content, just too conservative. By the 20th title, the series began its transformation into a soft porn, paperback series, selling better but not enough for Grove to maintain it. In 1972 Grove handed the series over to Kabel News to pay off some of the debt owed to Kabel by Grove Press. Kabel News continued to publish the series, briefly as the Venus Library then as Venus Books. The series continued to consist of reprints of mostly low-grade pornographic novels with soft-porn photographic covers.
History of the Venus Library with cover scans 1969-1973:
One Touch of Venus (Library): Odyssey of an Imprint, Part I (March 5, 2009)
One Touch of Venus (Library): Odyssey of an Imprint, Part II (March 10, 2009)
Venus Library (an imprint of Grove Press) – Front Covers of Titles (1969-1973)
This copy of La Tarantula by Don Luis De V**** was the second title published in the Venus Library in its first year (1969). Jackets are common to the series, with a simple, stylish design. The Venus Library name is included along with a stylized venus logo on the top center of the front of the jacket. The price is $4. Paperbacks (with the same cover design) were $1.25 to $1.75 (price was based on the book length). An overview of the title is included on the front jacket flap, as is the series number (X-1002).
The description of the book continues from the front jacket flap to the rear. The series logo is reproduced on the back of the jacket.
The book is bound in brick cloth with silver type on the spine only. The series name is not on the book cover.
The half title page:
The title page with the Venus Library imprint (instead of Grove Press):
Copyright and LOC data, along with a First Printing indication is included on the copyright page.