James Lorimer is the co-owner and president of James Lorimer & Company Ltd in Toronto, and the owner/publisher of Formac Publishing in Halifax. Lorimer & Co has published well over 1,500 books by 1,000-plus authors since it was established in 1970, including more than 500 childrens and teen books. Formac has published 750 books since 1982, by 600-plus authors.

He has always been active in industry associations and activities. He was one of the founders of the organization that became the Association of Canadian Publishers, the long-term treasurer of the Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association in the 1990s, and a member of the founding board of Booknet Canada 2003–08. He was also director and treasurer of Ebound Canada. He served two terms as a trustee of the Toronto Public Library and was chair in 1976. He has divided his time between Halifax and Toronto since the late 1970s.

He graduated in economics from the University of Manitoba, and received his PhD at the London School of Economics. He is the author of eight books, including a national bestseller The Developers (1978), and of the first study of reading in Canada, Book Reading in Canada 1978 (1983).