No PW veteran was surprised last week when condolences began flooding in following the news that Daisy Maryles passed away. Daisy had worked at PW for 44 years, beginning in 1965, until leaving in 2009, the final, difficult year the magazine was owned by Reed Business. Even after her departure, Daisy continued on as a contributing editor and remained editor for BEA Show Dailies until only a few years ago. It will be difficult for anyone else to make as many friends in publishing as Daisy did during her time in the industry she loved. “Legend,” “one of a kind,” and “wonderful person” were some of the descriptions of Daisy we received in response to the touching tribute to Daisy written by Gayle Feldman.
Many publishing people have a Daisy story or memory. Below are some from colleagues and former coworkers.
In her 44 years at PW, Daisy served under several talented editors-in-chief, most notably John Baker, and she became responsible for countless features, the weekly bestseller lists, PW’s religion coverage, and much more. When I joined PW as managing editor in 1988, Daisy and John were most definitely in charge: my interview was with the two of them at a pub on Eighth Avenue. I hadn’t realized then that just the year before, Daisy had begun her own reign at the top of a masthead—for the convention issue known as Show Daily, which had its debut at the 1987 ABA show in Washington, D.C. She would remain in charge as editor-in-chief for 28 years.
I had the privilege of working closely with her on these issues—which means I stood back and squeaked low sounds about deadlines. It was my job. But Daisy’s job was almost unfathomable. For those who don’t know, the three issues of the publication, served up hot off local presses, began three months prior, when Daisy would post a Call for Information for publishers and booksellers to pitch stories related to their presence at the show. This drove much of the editorial and much of the ad sales, but only after Daisy had analyzed the pitches, found their essence, and assessed which day would be best to run it, how long it should be, who should write it, and what was the deadline she’d heard about (squeak). This was the masterful balancing act known to all trade magazines—how to meet your commercial needs while delivering valuable editorial content and satisfying your market. This high-wire act was further complicated by the fact that we had editors on the ground—whether in D.C., Anaheim, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New Orleans, or New York—vying to cover the show as it unfolded and looking for breaking news and appealing to Daisy for column space. And news there was: “Sonny Mehta Rescues American Psycho” or “Booksellers Walk Out on Ed Meese” or “Stanley Elkin Has Died.” Only a person of Daisy’s mettle, diplomacy, editing chops, and good nature could show us the way. Did I say she was indefatigable? I remember pouring myself into a plastic chair in the waiting area for a flight home from the Vegas show, when I saw Daisy perched on a stool playing the slots with glee. She was always winning. —Michael Coffey, author and former PW co-editorial director
In Daisy’s early PW years, as the amazing photo of her in the June 18, 1973, issue attests, she had long dark hair and a slightly sassy, knowing smile. The smile didn’t change, but the hair did. In her (late?) 40s she became a honey-blonde, but when I met her, in 1986, she was gray-white, having gone that way when still quite young. Some months before, I had relocated from London, where I’d mainly worked in educational publishing. After applying for about 70 publishing jobs, I’d received 69 rejections and one offer that I did not want. In desperation, I’d written to PW editor John Baker, enclosing an article about publishing in China (I’d had a stint there for the British PA from ’84 to ’85). PW didn’t need anything on China, but John thought I could write, and invited me to lunch. A couple of features later, I was invited to lunch again—this time to meet the person just below him on the masthead.
I’d never known a Daisy, and was not at all sure how to pronounce her last name. A pretty good judge of ethnicity-through-surname, for once I had no clue. I turned up at the Xerox offices on 42nd Street at a time when PW, LJ, SLJ, and Bowker were all under one corporate roof, and there was a PW library and a Bowker library that were Aladdin’s cave to a novice publishing history junkie. The woman with the unusual, un-Clairoled hair and name was only a couple years older than I. “Let’s go to East!” she said. The local sushi place, I soon realized, was perfect for the Orthodox Jew that she was. New York was new to me, sushi was new, and so was this kind of charm—or rather, charisma—in a woman. Her voice and laugh and warmth created a conspiratorial intimacy and ease from the start. She gave more work, and a sense that more would come (it did). In fact, what she and John gave was a direction, a job, a career. Her belief in me, the lessons learned, and the treasure of her friendship changed my life. —Gayle Feldman, author, U.S. correspondent for The Bookseller, and former PW trade news editor.
When I got word that Daisy Maryles had died, I sat up straight and gasped. In what has been a historically awful year, filled with melancholy and loss, the news broke something in me. My wife, Lynn Andriani, and I sat together and cried. After a few cathartic, heaving minutes, we tried to explain to our very puzzled children why we were so sad. We had lost our friend Daisy, and PW and the publishing world had lost a true giant.
Now, the stories of Daisy’s professional exploits are plentiful and real, and I’ve both witnessed Daisy in action and benefited from her quiet wisdom. Her career is the stuff of legends. Daisy was Lynn’s first boss ever, and over Lynn’s 10 years at PW they grew close. Lynn counted Daisy as a true mentor, champion, and friend.
Daisy’s true impact on me professionally would come later, in 2009, when I joined the PW staff full-time. But we had become friends years earlier, in 2001, when Lynn and I finally let slip that, yes, we were dating. An office romance. Daisy was thrilled. When Lynn and I were married in 2008, Daisy was there to celebrate with us. And you’d have thought she’d just become a grandparent when she met our firstborn baby, Josephine, in 2010. Daisy treated us like family, and over the years she felt like family to us. On learning of her passing, all I could think was that if we felt such love for and from Daisy—as so many reading this surely have—one can only imagine the stratospheric love her own family must have felt.
Whenever I’d see Daisy in the PW offices on 23rd Street, we’d talk publishing, sure. But we’d also talk about our families and share pictures and catch up with news of our kids and grandkids. I never wanted those talks to end.
In an exchange over social media after her death, Michael Coffey captured Daisy perfectly: “Daisy had an enormous capacity to sincerely enjoy other people’s joys. It lit her up and brought her great friendships.” Yes, exactly. And in her lovely obit for PW, Gayle Feldman referred to Daisy as “one of the finest human beings many of us have ever known.” That is certainly true for Lynn and me. Farewell, Daisy. We love you and we will miss you. —Andrew Albanese, PW senior writer
It was the summer before graduate school, and I wanted badly some journalism experience and a few extra dollars in my pocket. As a book fiend, I’d already devoured Publishers Weekly—the reviews, the category close-ups, the bestseller lists, the industry scuttlebutt. My family knew Daisy socially. I spent the better part of a week cajoling my father to call her on my behalf. Finally he did, and Daisy and I spoke. She invited me to come in.
“We don’t have much right now,” she said as I sat in her office at PW’s Chelsea headquarters. “But we’re putting together some features for the fall, and we could use someone who could work their way through the lists and write very quick synopses.”
My heart jumped. Go through books and book catalogs? For money? “That sounds great!” I said. “I can definitely read and then summarize.”
Then she held up a cautionary finger. “But it’s a trade magazine,” she said, sensing (not inaccurately) a Gen X-er looking to dazzle and flash. “You want to write it a little straighter.” Then she gave me a smiling expression, a look of both amusement and authority I would come to know well.
“Of course,” I said. “Straight as an arrow.” For a minute, I might have even meant it. “Okay,” she said, for a minute almost believing me. “You can start Monday.”
For the next six weeks I would faithfully come in, taking the books and catalogs she gave me, poring over them, writing up summaries, then seeking more. By the end I had learned more than I ever thought I could—about books, about media, about a magazine office’s rites and etiquettes. After graduate school, I would end up working at PW for the better part of seven years. There I would hone journalism skills and book knowledge; I would develop great contacts and some of my closest friends. I owed it all to Daisy.
In my many years there, she never once mentioned that she was the one who set me on that path, let alone asked for any thanks in return. For her, it was enough to harbor the small knowledge that she had enabled a young journalist and book lover. For me, it was everything. —Steven Zeitchik, Washington Post staff writer and former PW Daily editor
A sampling of reactions from industry friends:
I first knew Daisy as the gatekeeper—aka assistant—to the fearsome and very important PW editor Barbara A. Bannon, whose advance good review or notice for a book could immediately prompt booksellers and other media to PAY ATTENTION. I was at Bantam then, new to publishing, new to doing publicity and paperbacks, and I wasn’t deemed worthy of Barbara’s attention—but Daisy would talk to me even if Barbara wouldn’t. Always polite, good-spirited, and helpful, Daisy was the one who first initiated me into PW’s editorial practices. Little did I know for a long time that she had been just a teenager when she took that job in 1965. (I also learned years later why Barbara behaved as she did. She told me she made a point not to talk to publicists until they’d been in the job at least five years; that was a sign for her that they were serious about being in our business.) Daisy learned a lot from Barbara, but luckily for me, not that particular practice. She became a “publishing lifer,” as did I.
As our careers advanced, we became not just “contacts,” but great friends with many shared interests. For years she was a valued member of the Jerusalem International Book Fair Advisory Committee, which I chaired. She helped us establish procedures for a new editorial fellowship program, now named after the late charismatic JIBF director Zev Birger. Daisy’s colorful, informative coverage of the fair for PW helped solidify its presence on publishers’ calendars internationally. Her influence was global; her enthusiasm for books, authors, and publishing infectious; her legacy assured as a respected colleague and a true friend. May she be of blessed memory .—Esther Margolis, publisher, Newmarket Publishing Corp.
I, like so many others in the religious publishing world, became very close with her, and we always made time for a meal at the conventions. She was always going to take me on the bus to Atlantic City to gamble, but we never got around to that. (Though we did spend a fair amount of time gambling in New Orleans one year!) We both gave birth to daughters in the same year, and so we had lots to share and chat about. She was truly a person who enriched my life with her friendship. —Anita Eerdmans, president and publisher, Eerdmans Publishing
The shining face and great heart of PW, Daisy was a major force in its status as the Bible of the book trade. As a kid and then grown-up publicist, I counted myself lucky to be among her faithful followers. A careful, caring reporter and editor with Google-like knowledge of our world, she doted on her publishing mishpocha, and we adored her back. Irreplaceable when she retired, she now will be missed even more. —Stuart Applebaum, emeritus executive v-p, communications, Penguin Random House