Just as Yankee star Mariano Rivera enjoyed a farewell tour last year as he prepared to retire from baseball, Michael Coffey, our co-editorial director, has been on a farewell tour of his own, in anticipation of his retirement from PW at the beginning of June. We’ve known since late 2013 that Michael will be leaving next month and have watched him oversee his last Announcements issue, edit his last Facts & Figures feature, and even direct the production of three editions of the PW Show Daily for BookExpo America at the end of May with his familiar commitment to getting those projects done right and on time.
Those of us who have known Michael during his 26-year career with PW are not surprised by the myriad tasks he is handling as he gets ready to retire. He’s truly been a PW Renaissance man. Michael joined the magazine in 1988 as managing editor, and, while on his way to becoming co-editorial director in 2010, took on a number of roles, in addition to directing the day-to-day operations of the magazine. Michael has overseen reviews, bestsellers lists, and features, and has been a staunch advocate for coverage of small, independent presses (see Soapbox, p. 64) and quality literature. Along the way, Michael has written three poetry collections and 27 Men Out—a book about pitchers who tossed perfect games—and has rooted hard for a number of New York sports teams.
Having worked alongside Michael for the 21 years I’ve been at PW, I could not have asked for a better colleague. His dedication to PW has been unmatched. He is respectful of fellow staff members, and is always willing to share his experience. He is also cool in a crisis (“An ad fell out? Okay, no problem”), with just enough of an Irish temper to keep us all on our toes (“What do you mean a #%^*ing ad fell out!?”).
As a leader of PW for over a quarter of a century, Michael has seen both the industry and the magazine itself undergo tremendous changes. PW is now much more than a print magazine. The PW franchise boasts 500,000 Twitter followers and publishes eight e-newsletters, PW Select (a monthly supplement), two blogs, and a robust website viewed by 8.5 million unique visitors in the last year. Add in webcasts, podcasts, a radio show, and events, and PW now reaches far more readers—including those in the book trade and consumers—than at any other time in its 140-plus-year history. That growth is a testament to the quality and integrity of the content published by PW, which will serve as one of Michael’s lasting legacies.
Michael isn’t cutting his ties with PW completely—he will stay on as a contributing editor, though we likely won’t see him for the rest of the summer after BEA, as he’ll be spending time in upstate New York. But when the leaves start to turn, publishers release their fall lists, the Yankees make their playoff run, and the office football pool kicks off, we do expect to hear from Michael again. Till then, I know I speak for the entire PW family in thanking him for his service, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for him.