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Rationale for the reissuing of old titles


Books I read as a child
Peter Mayer Publisher
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Well, the books are very important, as I think I've mentioned, I was born in England, and we had relatives in England, my father's family, the Luxembourg side, and for reasons that I don't know and I've never bothered to look up, you could export from England during the war – England had very little to export and everything was necessary for the Home Front in Britain – but you could, for some reason which I have never looked up, export books, you could send books to America.  So my English relatives couldn't send anything to this boy in America and they sent English books.  So I grew up with AA Milne and Kenneth Grahame and scads of others, Nesbit, all of them, when American kids were reading completely different books.  So I grew up with English… I don't want to call it literature, but well, yes, English children's literature, before I finally, probably peer pressure, gravitated to American books which I probably did in sort of sub-teens, and I read The Hardy Boys and the Buddy books and... I think there may have been some Uncle Wiggily, which was an American children's book written by Howard Garis, I think.   I think that squeezed in among… in the midst of the British books.  Oh yes, Arthur Ransome was very important to me as a boy.

I've had the pleasure, in my old age now, kind of Gerontion, of republishing some… either at Overlook or Duckworth, some of the children's books of my youth, which, for the most part, have gone out of print.  For example, in the US, we published the Freddy the Pig books, which I loved very much, by… this is a senior moment, because there were 23 of them and I've published all 23 of them, just at the moment, it will come back either today or in the next session, if there is a next session.   But the Freddy the Pig books were all out of print and I had the great pleasure of not only republishing them, but finding a new readership for them.  We've just done that with Swallows and Amazons, and Swallowtail, and it's just a great pleasure to be older and find new readers for old books that one liked.

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: Freddy the Pig, Walter Brooks

Duration: 3 minutes, 18 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2014-January 2015

Date story went live: 12 November 2015