Peter Workman, who founded Workman Publishing in 1967 as a book packager and turned it into one of the country’s most successful independent publishers, died April 7 after a battle with cancer. He was 74. His death comes a few weeks after the company announced that his ill health would prevent Peter, who had been suffering from cancer since last fall, from returning to work at the publishing house.
Under his guidance, Workman Publishing carved a large niche for itself as one of the country’s most unique publishers. Among the publisher’s 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®. The company also has had great success with the boxed Page-A-Day® Calendar line.
To diversify the publisher, Peter made a series of acquisitions over the years; the Workman Publishing group now includes Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Artisan, Storey Books, Timber Press, and HighBridge Audio, and it also handles distribution for Black Dog & Leventhal, Greenwich Workshop Press, and The Experiment.
In addition to serving as president and CEO of the publishing company, Peter served on the board of the Goddard-Riverside Community Center and the board of Prep-for-Prep as well as being a member of the Publishing Committee of UJA-Federation of New York and chairman of the board of governors of Yale University Press.
Peter is survived by his wife of 51 years, Carolan Raskin Workman; their two daughters, Katie and Elizabeth; their sons-in-law, Gary Freilich and Mark Williams; and four grandchildren: Jack, Charlie, Madeline, and Charlotte. Carolan and Katie, along with a management team, will oversee the Workman Publishing operations, a decision that led to the departure of Bob Miller earlier this month.