Rena Wolner, the only woman to be named president and publisher of three major mass market paperback publishing houses, died of lung cancer in Delray Beach, Fla, November 7. She was 70.
Over the course of her career, Wolner was the top executive at Berkley Books, Pocket Books and Avon Books. Her career began in 1968, when she started working as an assistant in the contracts department at Bantam Books. She was eventually promoted to associate publisher at Bantam, and worked under the leadership of Bantam publisher Oscar Dystel.
In 1978, Wolner was named v-p, publisher of Berkley Publishing, and was subsequently named president in 1984. During those years, Wolner, working in conjunction with Phyllis Grann, editor-in-chief of Berkley subsidiary G.P. Putnams Son, signed a host of major publishing deals with such authors as Tom Clancy, Dean Koontz, William Gibson and Nora Roberts.
Wolner was named president of Pocket Books in 1985 and shortly afterwards was named president at Avon Books. After leaving Avon, Wolner worked as a consultant with Putnam Berkley CEO Phyllis Grann, until she retired in 1994.