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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Peter Workman has died

Founder of Workman Publishing passes away

As an occasional Algonquin author (Island of the Lost, In the Wake of Madness), I was saddened to see that the founder of the publishing company that includes Algonquin of Chapel Hill in its portfolio has died. Under his leadership, Algonquin was one of the most author-friendly publishers on record.

Peter Workman was the founder, president and CEO of Workman Publishing Company, one of the largest independent publishers of nonfiction trade books and calendars. In addition to the Workman imprint, the company consists of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Artisan, Storey Books, Timber Press, and HighBridge Audio.

Born in Great Neck, Long Island, on October 19, 1938, to Jeanette and Bernard Workman, Peter graduated from Deerfield Academy and Yale University. After a stint in the sales department of Dell Publishing, he founded Workman Publishing Company as a book packager in 1967, and within two years published its inaugural list leading with Richard Hittleman’s Yoga 28-Day Exercise Plan, a title that is still in print.

His vision and drive grew Workman into a wholly unique and fiercely independent book publisher. Among its iconic bestsellers are B. Kliban’s Cat, The Official Preppy Handbook, The Silver Palate Cookbook, What to Expect® When You’re Expecting, Brain Quest®, Sandra Boynton’s children’s books, and 1,000 Places To See Before You Die®. Also a trendsetter in the calendar business, Workman invented the groundbreaking boxed Page-A-Day® Calendar.

In 1989, Workman Publishing acquired the southern literary publisher Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. Other Workman companies include Storey Publishing, based in North Adams, MA, which was acquired in 2001 and has been publishing books for the “backyard homesteader” before that was a phrase or trend; Timber Press, a leader in the gardening field; and HighBridge Audio, the Minneapolis audiobook publisher of bestselling fiction and nonfiction titles. Workman also handles distribution for Black Dog & Leventhal, Greenwich Workshop Press, and The Experiment.

Obviously, his passing leaves a big gap in the American publishing world.

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