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Lancer Books Lancer Books i(A52953 works by) (Organisation) assertion
Born: Established: 1961 New York (City), New York (State),
United States of America (USA),
; Died: Ceased: 1973 New York (City), New York (State),
United States of America (USA),

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A subsidiary of Magnum Communications Corporation, Lancer Books was founded by Irwin Stein and Walter Zacharius, with Jack Hoffman being the founding executive editor. Irwin Stein's background was in magazines. He and his wife had established Royal Publications which began with Our Life and Celebrity, and from 1955 with Infinity and Suspect Detective Stories (which became Science Fiction Adventures with its fifth issue). Over the period 1958-1959 Stein published two monster magazines, Monster Parade and Monsters and Things. When the market for genre magazines slowed, he went into partnership with Zacharius, a Jewish-American World War II veteran, in the new publishing house (launched in June of 1961).

With its distinctive black knight chess-piece logo, Lancer specialised in genre fiction, especially science fiction and detective fiction. The former works were published either through its Science Fiction Library or Limited Edition series. From 1963, under editorship of Bernard Faber, Lancer began to focus its attention towards the steamier private-eye and adventure fiction of authors such as Henry Kane. His Peter Chambers novels were later sold as "x"-rated. In 1964, the company began promoting its Lancer Suspense Library series, and by the end of the decade was publishing gothic romances such as Shadows (1970) by Jan Alexander and works by lesbian fiction authors - notably Rea Michaels, Sylvia Sharon (a pseudonym used by Paul Little) and Florence Stonebraker. Lancer Books also published paperback editions of classic novels. Lancer also established the Domino imprint, an adults-only label, and later set up a second soft-porn imprint (Oracle Books) in addition to a milder romance line called Valentine Books.

One of the company's innovations was to reprint public domain works through its Magnum Easy Eye Classics (with a larger typography for avoiding eye strain). Among the authors represented in this series were H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Jane Austen, Samuel Clemens, Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, Helen Keller and Bram Stoker. In addition to the complete and unabridged text, each book included a brief biographical article on the author. Lancer also published books of social commentary such as The Angry Black; and pop culture - notably The Beatle Book. The late 1960s also saw the company publish paperbacks based on earlier issues of Marvel Comics. Lancer was responsible, too, for publishing the early works of Dean R. Koontz (several under pseudonyms) and a line of Robert E. Howard Conan the Barbarian books. One of the Australian authors to be published by Lancer Books was Bertram A. Chandler.

In 1973 Lancer sued Curtis Circulation Company and its parent group, Cadence Industries, for US$7.5 million, accusing both companies of violating its book distribution contract and of engaging in improper business procedures - including charging for expenses not incurred. Martha Bartter notes that while Walter Zacharius denied that Lancer was at the time bankrupt, and the firm was eventually awarded damages, Lancer did not resume publishing' (210). According to the BookScans website Stein and Zacharius briefly resurrected the company as Magnum Books, reprinting many of their original titles, including some Magnum Easy-Eye volumes. Irwin Stein remained in the publishing industry until the 1980s, primarily in the packaging field, while Zacharius went on to found Kensington Books in 1974.

Most Referenced Works


  • Further Reference:

    • Bartter, Martha A. 'Lancer Books.' In Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 46 - American Literary Publishing Houses, 1900-1980: Trade and Paperback.' Ed. Peter Dzwonkoski. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1986, pp. 209-210.
    • 'Both Lancer and Putnam Injunctions Enjoined." Publishers' Weekly 187 (22 Feb. 1965), pp.132-133.
    • 'Lancer' BookScans - online (sighted 8/02/2011)
    • 'Lancer Books.' Wikipedia - online (sighted 7/02/2011)
    • 'Lancer Edition Starts Candy Paperback Scramble.' Publishers' Weekly 187 (18 Jan. 1965), pp.103-104.
    • 'Lancer Suspends Operations and Files $7.5 Million Suit.' Publishers' Weekly 204 (1 Oct. 1973), pp.39-40.

Last amended 8 Feb 2011 11:48:13
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