Donald Weiser, founder of the spirituality bookstore-turned-publishing house Samuel Weiser, died on April 12. He was 89.
Weiser's first interactions with the book business came at a young age, when he began working at his father’s store, Samuel Weiser Bookstore, in New York City. First opened in 1928, the Samuel Weiser Bookstore specialized in mysticism, eastern religion, alternative spirituality, and other occult topics.
Under Donald’s leadership, the store grew into a publishing company; in 1957 Samuel Weiser Publishing was created. The company went on to become a major English language publisher of esoteric content. Although the bookstore closed its doors in 1991, Weiser continued selling rare esoteric books online through the store’s online entity, Weiser Antiquarian Books.
In 2000, Weiser sold the publishing company to Michael Kerber and Jan Johnson, who renamed it Red Wheel/Weiser. Today, Red Wheel/Weiser is comprised of three imprints: Red Wheel, Weiser Books, and Conari Books. The publisher is planning a 60th anniversary celebration for Weiser Books later this month.
Following the sale of his press, Weiser opened a new publishing house, Ibis Press/Nicholas Hays, with his wife, Yvonne Paglia-Weiser. The publisher has a catalog of over 150 esoteric titles. Weiser worked on Ibis/Nicholas Hays until his death, although his wife handled day-to-day operations.
Weiser is survived by his wife, four children, and six grandchildren. A celebration of his life is being planned in New York with details forthcoming.