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Publishing Philip Roth in paperback
Peter Mayer Publisher
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[Q] Is he someone you would like to have published, Philip Roth?

I did publish quite a few of his books at Penguin because we had bought the paperback rights and someone peculiarly, although not without some context… Philip, I'm pretty sure was introduced by me to my best friend who's my neighbour in Woodstock, a designed, the designer, Milton Glaser, and I believe Milton has done virtually every one of Philip's jackets and covers ever since then.

So, a) I was publishing him in paperback, but then also I had this second relationship with him through Milton Glaser on Philip's jackets and covers, and I think this was in both countries, the US and the UK. As you know the rights are territorially, generally speaking, divided. So although we were not his original publisher, we were his paperback publisher at that time. More recently I think the industry has become what is known as a 'vertically-based' industry and if you publish an author in hardback you generally speaking publish him in paperback as well and, as technology marches on, also in e-Book, but at that time the rights were split.

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: Philip Roth, Milton Glaser

Duration: 2 minutes, 7 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2014-January 2015

Date story went live: 12 November 2015