Bill Loverd, director of publicity at Knopf Publishers for nearly 40 years, died yesterday at his home in New Jersey after battling cancer. He was 78.

Loverd joined Knopf in 1965, hired by Alfred Knopf, the founder of the noted publishing house. Over the course of 37 years working for Knopf, Loverd served as v-p and director of publishing, in addition to director of corporate affairs for Random House Inc.

During his long career, Loverd oversaw the promotion of some of the most distinguished authors of the era, including Toni Morrison, John Cheever, Robert Caro, V.S. Naipaul, John Updike, Maxine Hong Kingston and Alice Munro.

Loverd also embodied the personal and professional qualities of a bygone era in New York trade book publishing. A regular at the Four Seasons restaurant, where he had his own table, he also oversaw glamorous book parties and events at venues like the Plaza Hotel, the Russian Tea Room, the 21 Club and the Rainbow Room. Loverd, the public face of Knopf and its authors, had demanding professional standards for himself and his staff, while maintaining a genial and engaging social manner. (He was known for sending handwritten notes to book reviewers all over the country.)

Knopf v-p director of publicity Nicholas Latimer, a protege of Loverd's, said despite the glamour and star-studded parties, Loverd "was just as notable for working to stay behind the scenes, always insisting that the books he promoted were great because of the writers and their editors."

There will be a private memorial service in the fall. Donations in his memory may be made to Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice, 99 Sparta Avenue, Newton, NJ 07860. Online condolences can be posted at