Target Books

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Target Books
Target books.png
Parent companyUniversal-Tandem Publishing Co Ltd
SuccessorVirgin Books
Country of originUnited Kingdom

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.[1] 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.[citation needed] 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".[citation needed] 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.[2][3]

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.[4] In 1994 the Target imprint was closed down and the last three novelisation published by Virgin were under the Doctor Who Books imprint.[5] 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.[6] In November 2009, Virgin became an independent imprint within Ebury Publishing, a division of the Random House Group.[7]

In 2011 BBC Books published reprints of several of the Target Doctor Who novelisations.[8]

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,[9][10] Ebury Publishing having acquired a majority shareholding of BBC Books in 2006.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Terrance Dicks - Doctor Who Interview Archive".
  2. ^ Benedicte Page. "Shada, Douglas Adams's 'lost' Doctor Who story, to be novelised". the Guardian.
  3. ^ Ian Berriman. "Doctor Who: Shada by Gareth Roberts BOOK REVIEW". gamesradar.
  4. ^ Howe, David J. (2007). The Target Book. Surrey: Telos Publishing Ltd. p. 112.
  5. ^ Howe, David J. (2007). The Target Book. Surrey: Telos Publishing Ltd. pp. 131–134.
  6. ^ Joel Rickett, Random House UK buys Virgin Books, The Bookseller, 5 March 2007 (via
  7. ^ Benedicte Page, "Virgin joins Ebury stable, Sadler leaving", The Bookseller, 2 November 2009
  8. ^ "SFX - GamesRadar+". gamesradar.
  9. ^ "Steven Moffat and Russell T Davies are writing special Doctor Who novels". Radio Times. 15 November 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  10. ^ News, Doctor Who. "New Target Novalisations". Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  11. ^ The Random House Group acquires majority shareholding in BBC Books BBC Press Office. 22 June 2006

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