Peter Workman: Trying to Do Something Very Good

October 2002
by Steve O’Keefe

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In 1968, Peter Workman published Yoga 28-Day Exercise Plan and the publishing company he founded has been stretching ever since. This year, he received PMA’s Special Achievement Award for Excellence in Independent Publishing. Workman Publishing is a role model for smaller presses: fiercely independent, relentlessly creative, and phenomenally successful. How successful? One in three Workman titles sells more than 100,000 copies; 28 have sold more than one million copies each. This is a company whose books succeed through passion, packaging, and persistence.

Recently I interviewed the publicity-shy Peter Workman about his life in publishing. He is not an easy interview. He ducks questions not only about his personal life but even about his company’s business model. “It’s all about the books,” he said, and that’s where the conversation stayed anchored.

 

Clues from the Catalog

Throughout the interview, Workman flipped through his company’s catalog as though it were a family photo album–stopping, telling stories, remembering, laughing. You can learn an awful lot about publishing just by taking a tour of the Workman Publishing catalog yourself. For example, it lists more gift sales reps than bookstore reps. And you’ll see books that were turned into brands, enlivening display boxes, calendars, notecards, and journals.

It’s no surprise that Peter Workman began his publishing…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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