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Friday, April 13, 2007

200 YEARS ON....

Thomas Jefferson was the US President the year publisher John Wiley was founded - circa 1807. While there have been 41 US Presidents since then, interestingly there have only been 10 Wiley Presidents.

Only a handful of surviving publishers predate Wiley. These include Longman (1744), Aubanel (1744), Editions Lemoine (1772), Encyclopedia Britannica (1768), United Methodist Publishing House (1789), Old Farmer's Almanac (1792), Taylor & Francis (1798) and Thomas Nelson (1802).

But the Wileys weren't born publishers. The first John Wiley (1720-1760), a sea captain who came to America from Scotland and made his living in New York as a distiller. His son, John (Jack) Wiley, was also a distiller. Jack's son, Charles, strayed from the family business and opened a print shop at 6 Reade Street in lower Manhattan in 1807.

The rest as we all know is history.

Soon after that print shop started, Charles and his son John started publishing authors as James Fenimore Cooper, Washington Irving, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe and many others. In all, they've published the work of 150 Nobel Laureates.

They have moved from literature to scientific, technical, engineering and several management books over the years. Even if you haven't noticed the imprint, if you are a book lover, there's bound to be a Wiley in your collection.

I have a couple. Though my favourite is Against The Gods which came out in 1998. I'm not usually drawn to anything that has even a bit of management in it but being a stay the course kind of person, a treatise on risk sounded fascinating even then. In this compelling study, Peter Bernstein takes you through the story of risk from the past to the present through an immensely readable narrative.

This got the nod from several experts, though this sums it up best:
"With his wonderful knowledge of history and current manifestaions of risk, Peter Bernstein brings us Against the Gods. Nothing like it will come out of the financial world this year or ever. I speak carefully: no one should miss it." - John Kenneth Galbraith, Professor of Economics Emeritus, Harvard University

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