What Does the DAW Books Acquisition Mean for SFF?

Anne Marble
5 min readJul 16, 2022

Science fiction and fantasy fans were stunned to hear that DAW Books, one of the oldest independent publishers of science fiction and fantasy, had been acquired by Astra Publishing House.

DAW Books independent no more? Owned by Astra Publishing House, which is owned by a company based out of Beijing, China?

What are the ramifications? Fans and authors alike are still trying to figure this out…

An overhead view of a large bookstore or library. The white shelves curve throughout the foreground. In the background are higher shelves, and a ladder leans against one section. Standing on the hardwood floor, a woman in a light-colored dress appears to be navigating the location.
Publishing Is a Maze. (Photo by Arif Riyanto on Unsplash)

A Very Brief History of DAW Books.

DAW Books was founded in 1971 by Donald A. Wollheim (fan, author, editor, and publisher) with his wife Elsie B. Wollheim. He died in 1990. DAW is now run by the award-winning Betsy Wollheim (she talks about her father in a Locus interview) and Sheila E. Gilbert.

Their authors have included C. J. Cherryh, Fritz Leiber, Sean Russell, Jennifer Roberson, Margaret Weis, Roger Zelazny, C. S. Friedman, Nnedi Okorafor, Seanan McGuire, Kate Elliott, Jim C. Hines, and Julie Czerneda. And more!

DAW Books remained independent though the books were distributed by Penguin Group. But as mentioned by The Wertzone, in recent years, Random Penguins (I mean Penguin Random House) gained more control.

Reactions Around the Web

I first learned about this acquisition from trusty SFF news site, File 770, with the no-nonsense title Astra Publishing House Acquires DAW Books.

Tor Books covered the acquisition in a post. So did The Wertzone, which I discovered while writing this. (You can support The Wertzone on Patreon.)

Shelf Awareness and Locus Magazine posted about the news. As did Amazing Stories.

Much of the discussion came from social media. On Twitter, people responded to the tweeted announcements from Astra Publishing House. Or to the Tweet from DAW Books itself. Fantasy fans on Reddit also put in a word.

Many of the current DAW authors seemed happy and hopeful. As did their newly promoted editor.

Other insiders were concerned, such as Victoria Strauss of the beloved Writer Beware site, who admitted she wasn’t sure what to make of this news.

Anne Marble

I’m a writer and a copy editor with experience in editing science and engineering articles. Click Lists to find my most popular articles. And hidden gems.