After a 46-year career at Chronicle Books, Jack Jensen will step down as president of Chronicle parent company the McEvoy Group this month. Jensen will assume chair of the McEvoy Group advisory board, and he will continue to serve on the board of Chronicle’s U.K.-based joint venture with Abrams, Abrams & Chronicle Books.
Jensen joined Chronicle in 1977 as Western States sales representative when the company had six employees and published 12 titles per year. He was later promoted to sales and marketing director and in 1991 was named president and publisher of Chronicle. Jensen was the chief architect in transforming Chronicle from a small regional press to one of the country’s largest independent publishers, which today publishes more than 300 titles annually in categories including children’s books, cookbooks, art, photography, lifestyle, pop culture, humor, wellness, stationery, gift, and games.
As it grew under Jensen, Chronicle developed its own distinctive style and its list features a large selection of gift and stationery offerings. Jensen also pushed to have Chronicle’s books sold not only in bookstores (which were initially reluctant to stock Chronicle titles), but in other channels as well, including gift stores; the company’s titles are now sold through 10,000 accounts. Chronicle augmented its own list by adding a distribution division, which handles sales for such companies as Hardie Grant, Quadrille, Laurence King Publishing, and Levine Querido.
When Tyrrell Mahoney was named president of Chronicle in 2017, Jensen continued as president of the McEvoy Group, where he expanded Chronicle’s international business, acquired companies that augmented Chronicle’s strengths, and built what became the Galison/Mudpuppy/Brass Monkey imprint. He also oversaw Princeton Architectural Press, which Chronicle bought in 2011 and which recently became a new Chronicle division.
Jensen was also a leader in giving western publishers a higher national profile, and in 2011 PubWest presented him with its Jack D. Rittenhouse Award in recognition of his achievements.
“Few publishing folks stay put with one company for 46 years, but my days have been blessed with great opportunities and highly esteemed colleagues,” Jensen said in a statement. ”I have never thought of my endeavors here as a job, but rather a day-to-day life filled with fun and interesting work.”
In her remarks, Mahoney promised that Chronicle will stay true to the independent spirit created by Jensen. “We will carry forward Jack’s inimitable vision to create and distribute books, gifts, toys, and games that are instantly recognizable for their spirit and creativity and that thrive in the most varied and unexpected retail environments throughout the world,” Mahoney said. “We will miss Jack dearly but are grateful that he will continue on as McEvoy Group advisory board chair, most especially to ensure that Chronicle always sees things differently!”