Peter Beren, a native New Yorker and Tufts University graduate who became one of the best-known West Coast publishing personalities of the latter half of the 20th century, died on June 28. He was 75.
Beren began his career in 1976 as an editor with the San Francisco indie publisher And/Or Books, but was best known for his work at Sierra Club Books, which he joined in 1988 as marketing director, and where he rose to the position of publisher, which he held until his departure in 1997. During his time at Sierra, Beren expanded the organization’s book publishing and calendar business and moved Sierra into the licensing area, signing an agreement with LucasFilm to develop branded products.
Following Sierra Club, Beren became the founding publisher of VIA Books, a division of the California State Automobile Association. He then joined Palace Press International as v-p of publishing from 2004 to 2008. After leaving Palace, Beren formed his own literary and consulting agency.
During his “retirement career,” which he wrote about for PW in 2014, Beren continued to champion Bay Area figures, working with such talent as photographers Art Wolfe, Frans Lanting, Galen Rowell, and Baron Wolman, as well as scholars Ralph Metzner, Colin Wilson, and Robert Anton Wilson (no relation). He published illustrators Brian Froud and Jack Katz, Grateful Dead guitarist and singer Jerry Garcia, and California state senator and countercultural icon Tom Hayden.
Beren also authored or co-authored The Writers Legal Companion, The Golden Gate, and California the Beautiful.
A celebration of Beren's life is planned for later this summer in the Bay Area. For more information or to send condolences, email his friend and partner, Susan McConnell, at email@example.com.