Jack Covert, founder of Porchlight Book Company, died August 13. He was 77.
The Milwaukee—based company, originally called 800-CEO-READ and renamed Porchlight in 2019, is known as a retailer for business books, though it has expanded its selection of titles in recent years. The company is also known for its annual Business Book Awards Program and Jack Covert Award for Contribution to the Business Book Industry. Earlier this year, the seventh annual Covert Award went to Harriet Rubin, founder of Doubleday’s Currency business imprint; in a 1995 profile in Inc. Magazine, Rubin said that Covert is “not simply a bookseller—he's a tracker and a prophet.”
Covert first planted the seeds of Porchlight in 1984, while working at Milwaukee's Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops, where he was hired by David Schwartz to grow the store's business book sales. Soon he developed mail order, over-the-phone, and, eventually, online systems to ship books to corporate libraries and author events throughout the state and the country. Under Covert, Porchlight grew from a bookstore telephone sales operation into a highly influential B2B company for business books.
In 2009 Covert authored The 100 Best Business Books of All Time, and his “Jack Covert Selects” monthly review series ran in business journals and newspapers throughout the country for many years. He continued to contribute to the column until his retirement in 2014.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations be made to Ridges Sanctuary or Ding Darling Nature Preserve.