Charles W. Dorsey, the retired book publishing executive, died on May 16 in Peabody, Mass., after a short illness. He was 83.

Dorsey began his publishing career in 1960 as a salesman with Little, Brown and Company in Boston. Over 30 years, he went on to hold a number of managerial and executive positions in the trade book industry. He served as a v-p and member of the board of directors at W. W. Norton and, in the late 1960s, created the library promotion department at Atheneum, now owned by S&S. In 1983, as president of the Merrimack Publisher's Circle, he founded Salem House, both of which specialized in importing books from Great Britain and Ireland. Both were acquired by Rupert Murdoch's Angus & Robertson Publishing, the Australian publishing house, in 1986. In 1989, Angus & Robertson was included in the merger of William Collins and Harper & Row, which resulted in the creation of HarperCollins.

Dorsey was involved, at one time or another, in nearly ever sector in the book world: he owned a bookstore in his hometown of Hammond, Ind., reviewed books for the New York Times, lectured on publishing at universities including Yale and Stanford, and served as a trustee of the Boxford Town Library in Massachusetts during the 1990s. Before his retirement, Dorsey was a grassroots lobbyist for the National Federation of Independent Business for eight years.

Dorsey is survived by his wife of 53 years, Margaret, whom he met at Little, Brown. He is also survived by his daughter, Lytta, and her husband and two granddaughters. Contributions in Dorsey’s memory may be made to the American Civil Liberties Union.