Peter Mayer, publisher of Overlook Press, will be this year’s recipient of the New York Center for Independent Publishing’s (NYCIP) Poor Richard Award for outstanding contributions to independent book publishing. The award will be presented to Mr. Mayer by special guest presenter Ed Victor, the internationally renowned literary agent, at the NYCIP’s Winter Benefit. The Center is an educational program of the non-profit organization, The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen (GSMT).
The Benefit will be held on Thursday, December 13, 2007, at The General Society’s literary landmark building at 20 West 44th Street in Midtown Manhattan. The reception, which begins at 6:00 P.M. with cocktails and music by Judy Garland’s former accompanist, will be followed by an award ceremony at 6:45 P.M. Sara Nelson, Editor-in-Chief of the venerable publishing trade magazine Publishers Weekly, will co-host the benefit.
Formed in 1971 by Peter Mayer and his father, The Overlook Press (www.overlookpress.com) is a home for distinguished books that have sometimes been “overlooked” by larger houses, although the company’s name comes from Overlook Mountain in Woodstock, New York. At the time of Overlook’s founding, Mayer was head of Avon, a large New York-based paperback publisher. He later went on to head Penguin’s worldwide publishing from London. In 1997, after 19 years with the company, Mr. Mayer began his dream job, at age 61, as a full-time independent publisher. Milestone books by Overlook range from Industrial Design by Raymond Loewy and Milton Glaser’s Graphic Design to the 17th century Japanese martial arts treatise, A Book of Five Rings, which has now become a perennial business bestseller, and Charles McCarry’s legendary espionage novels. Joseph Roth’s The Radetsky March, Robert Littell’s The Company, Penny Vincenzi’s great British sagas, the fiction of Charles Portis and Paul Cartledge’s works on ancient history are further examples of Overlook’s independent spirit. In recent years, The Overlook Press has brought back to life Ardis, the spunky outlet for Russian literature, and Duckworth in England, perhaps the oldest independent publishing house in the UK.
“We feel privileged to be honoring an independent publisher of Peter’s stature,” said Karin Taylor, the NYCIP’s Executive Director. “The Poor Richard Award is a way of recognizing the importance of independent publishers to our society. Peter’s decision to leave the corporate publishing world and enter the field of independent publishing full-time is an inspiration to our publisher members. Most important, in this era of thinning mid-lists, Overlook is a refuge for meritorious books that might otherwise go unpublished.”
Past recipients of the Poor Richard Award include Peter Workman (Workman), Morgan Entrekin (Grove/Atlantic), George Plimpton (The Paris Review), Florence Howe (Feminist Press), Andre Schiffrin (The New Press), and NYCIP board member Barney Rosset (Grove Press).
Benefit tickets start at $75 and are available by calling the NYCIP (212.764.7021) or by emailing Christopher de la Torre (email@example.com). All proceeds will benefit the Center for Independent Publishing, a non-profit cultural and educational program of the GSMT, serving the independent publishing community. Tickets are fully tax-deductible.
Entertainment will be provided by cabaret performer and indie press author John Meyer, whose material has been performed by Eartha Kitt, Julie Wilson and Judy Garland.
About the NYCIP. The NYCIP (www.nycip.org), founded in 1984 as the Small Press Center, has been at the forefront of the independent press movement for over two decades. The mission of the NYCIP is to provide access to education and expertise in the field of independent publishing, by encouraging excellence and free expression in book publishing through workshops, lectures, book fairs, exhibits, and an extensive reference collection. The Center carries on the tradition of the historic General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen, itself founded in 1785 to provide cultural, educational, and social services to members and their families.
For sponsorship, tickets or more information about the December 13 fundraising Benefit at the Center for Independent Publishing, please call 212.764.7021.