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Web of Stories offers you the chance to listen to some of the greatest people of our time telling their life stories.

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Doris Lessing


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On being a 'great' publisher

Peter Mayer - Publisher

[Q] Tell me why you're a great publisher and what that means.

Well, I wouldn't say I was, but I've been around a long time and I love… I don't know what they mean by it if they say it.  They could mean one thing, that you've lasted a long time – although it occurs to me that people are often remembered, especially rock stars, if they die young so… But if you last a long time you may get some plaudits for that.

I think a lot comes to you based on not only what you do, but what you work for. So, I was blessed by being asked to work for Penguin, which was a great company before I came. I made it viable, I took it in new directions, or I and my staff made it viable and took it in new directions.

I think just lasting and working for the right company makes other people say something or other is great, but… I mean, I don't know… I don't know how to answer your question, it's embarrassing and… I mean, from time to time somebody comes up to me and says oh, you're Peter Mayer, you're a legend. I say that means I'm almost dead! You know, I don't want to be a legend, I just want to... And I've made a lot of mistakes, and everybody does. I think lasting a long time and running a great company gives you… but do you know, people who are the heads of things, they get too much credit. They get much too much credit, and when whatever they're running doesn't work out they get too much blame.

Oliver Sacks - Scientist
George Daniels - Master watchmaker
Michael Chapman - Film-maker