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DAW Books

Entry updated 7 August 2023. Tagged: Publisher.

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New York publishing imprint founded by Donald A Wollheim in 1971 with assistance from New American Library, after his departure from Ace Books; the first titles appeared in 1972. DAW Books – the name derives from Wollheim's initials, though Wollheim's wife, Elsie Wollheim (1910-1996), has been described as the effective co-founder of DAW Books – publishes only sf and Fantasy, producing four or five titles per month. The editorial policy was similar to that followed by Wollheim at Ace: mostly adventure fiction, with a sprinkling of serious works. There was much series fiction, particularly fantasy and Sword and Sorcery but also Planetary Romance and Space Opera, by such authors as Alan Burt Akers (Kenneth Bulmer) with his Dray Prescot tales, Marion Zimmer Bradley with Darkover, Lin Carter with multiple series, Michael Moorcock with various instances of his Eternal Champion, John Norman with Gor, Brian Stableford with the Grainger/Hooded Swan sextet and E C Tubb with Dumarest; several of these had followed Wollheim from Ace Books. The 1972 DAW launch year included titles from the above-cited series by Akers/Bulmer, Bradley and Stableford, and the first two in the "Book Of" series of single-author collections, The Book of Brian Aldiss (coll 1972) by Brian Aldiss and The Book of Van Vogt (coll 1972) by A E van Vogt. Major discoveries were C J Cherryh in 1976 and the (initially) fantasy writer Tad Williams in 1985, and DAW Books also did much to promote the career of Tanith Lee. Jo Clayton was another long-time DAW stalwart, prolific from the 1970s until her death in 1998. An anthology series of some note was Annual World's Best SF (see Wollheim for details), and many anthologies edited or co-edited by Martin H Greenberg also appeared from DAW.

Wollheim's daughter Betsy Wollheim became president in 1985, when her father was seriously ill; by the time of his death in 1990 the number of books published annually by DAW Books was rather lower than it had been early in the 1980s. Donald Wollheim had had no enthusiasm for hardback editions, except for the occasional DAW/Science Fiction Book Club co-edition such as Tanith Lee's Red as Blood, or Tales from the Sisters Grimmer (coll 1983); but DAW hardbacks for the retail trade began to appear in 1985 with C J Cherryh's Angel with the Sword (1985) and Tad Williams's Tailchaser's Song (1985). Authors who joined the DAW stable and made significant contributions from the 1980s onward include Cheryl J Franklin, Michael W Gear, Tanya Huff, Mickey Zucker Reichert, and Rhondi A Vilott Salsitz writing as Charles Ingrid. The 1990s intake included eluki bes shahar, Julie E Czerneda, Kate Elliott, Gayle Greeno, Marjorie Bradley Kellogg, Lisanne Norman, S Andrew Swann, Deborah Wheeler (see Deborah J Ross) and John Zakour.

Though E C Tubb's Dumarest series was cut short in 1985 and John Norman's Gor books ceased to appear from DAW after 1988, other established authors were treated as valuable resources by Betsy Wollheim: Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series was eked out with various "collaborations" by other hands from 1996 onward and repackaged in omnibus form in the new century, while C J Cherryh's long Foreigner sequence (from 1994) and Tad William's massive Otherland Virtual-Reality tetralogy (from 1996) were released as handsome hardbacks. The twenty-first century saw several more series authors join DAW, such as Gini Koch with the long Alien/Kitty Katt sequence from 2010, Seanan McGuire with October Daye from 2010, R M Meluch with Tour of the Merrimack from 2005, and Edward Willett with Helix War from 2008.

The company continues as a significant sf/fantasy publisher which is also a close-knit family firm, under the joint command of Betsy Wollheim and Sheila E Gilbert. [MJE/DRL/PN]

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