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Gaining experience in publishing


Don't ever sell out
Peter Mayer Publisher
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I went back to the Orion Press, and either my job ended or the company ended, I can't remember which, or the company was sold. The job disappeared. And I was very fortunate, I had some friends with whom I went swimming with, to a pool in the Village, I think it was called the Carmine Street Pool, and I said I'm going to be out of a job in two weeks or something like that, and someone said to me, you should call Frank Taylor, he is going to be appointed, or he has just been appointed, the head of Avon Books, and he's looking for some editors. And I did call him and he did hire me. And there are some long, complicated stories about how I came to be hired which are very funny, but they'd just take too long to tell.

[Q] How about one of them?

If there's some time at the end of this, and you want some additional stuff on tape, I will try to remember it all, but they were very complicated.  He had some androgynous aspects to him and he thought perhaps I did, but I didn't, or I was unaware of them.  I think I've just about told the story now, and he thought that if I could make a nexus with him in this androgynous area, maybe I would get the job.  Well… how does one put it? Nothing came of it because I didn't have the interest, but he did. But I got the job anyway.  So, I think this is actually part of many things in life: stick to your guns, you may actually get what you fear you may lose. Don't sell out, don't ever sell out!

Peter Mayer (1936-2018) was an American independent publisher who was president of The Overlook Press/Peter Mayer Publishers, Inc, a New York-based publishing company he founded with his father in 1971. At the time of Overlook's founding, Mayer was head of Avon Books, a large New York-based paperback publisher. There, he successfully launched the trade paperback as a viable alternative to mass market and hardcover formats. From 1978 to 1996 he was CEO of Penguin Books, where he introduced a flexible style in editorial, marketing, and production. More recently, Mayer had financially revived both Ardis, a publisher of Russian literature in English, and Duckworth, an independent publishing house in the UK.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Avon Books, Frank Taylor

Duration: 2 minutes, 30 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2014-January 2015

Date story went live: 12 November 2015