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Making friends in the world of publishing


Gaining experience in publishing
Peter Mayer Publisher
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[Q] What was great about Orion was you did everything and learned so much. 

Well, I did bits of it, I never did everything in my life, anywhere, but I got some experience at everything, and I learned all this from my colleagues, and I was lucky to have these experiences. And this was very useful. I never imagined that I would be in charge of anything in my life, and I was in charge of three different publishing companies in the course of my life and… jobs I'd never asked for, but people offered them to me, and in three cases I accepted them.  It's a very great help to be the head of something, and know something about every department under you and every task that has to be accomplished in the making of a book.  Dealing with authors, writing contracts, dealing with agents, editing, copy-editing, proofreading, producing books, picking paper, picking prices, marketing.  If you've done all of those things, people can't bullshit you very much because you know something about it, and you can also, if you have any ideas, I sometimes did, you can also help people and suggest things that they might do, that you've had some connection with, or done yourself elsewhere.  So I think learning is all what it's about for people, especially if they're under 30. You learn things so quickly when you are under 30.

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: Orion

Duration: 1 minute, 51 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2014-January 2015

Date story went live: 12 November 2015