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Milton Glaser: an artist, a genius and my best friend


Being the centre of things
Peter Mayer Publisher
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[Q] You explained very clearly in our first session what happened at Orion and what you learned and so that was very good, yes. So it was the right decision.

It was the right decision.

[Q] Yes. I find it quite surprising that you were able to make that decision. I mean you said that you...

I'm surprised at myself today also but I can, you know, when someone like you – there is nobody like you – but when someone asks you a question you have to think to answer it, and I can think back on the process of 40, 50 years ago and I may not have been very articulate even to myself why I did what I did, but I'm sure the process was percolating in me that it is better to be in the centre of small things than to be on the periphery of big things. And that may be an ego issue so that may have been an issue, too. I can be more important maybe in a small company than I can be at Knopf where, well, what would they need young Peter Mayer for? Who knows why, you know, there's an interplay always between what is reasonable, logical, objective and one's personality and one's ego, and one never knows exactly how decisions are made. I at least don't.

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 Books

Duration: 1 minute, 53 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2014-January 2015

Date story went live: 12 November 2015