Publishing Talks: David Wilk Interviews Lena Tabori
In this series of interviews, called Publishing Talks, I have been talking to book industry professionals about the future of publishing, books, and culture. This is a period of disruption and change for all media businesses. How will publishing evolve as our culture is affected by technology, climate change, population density, and the ebb and flow of civilization and its economics? Publishing Talks interviews help us understand the outlines of what is happening, and how we might ourselves interact with and influence the future of publishing as it unfolds.
These interviews give people in the book business a chance to talk openly about ideas and concerns that are often only talked about “around the water cooler,” at industry conventions and events, and in emails between friends. I believe these interviews give people inside and outside the book industry a chance to hear first hand some of the most interesting and challenging thoughts, ideas and concepts being discussed within the industry.
Lena is the founder of Welcome Enterprises and is currently Welcome’s director and publisher of Welcome Books, the imprint under which the company publishes illustrated books. In addition to overseeing the development, production, operation, and promotion of Welcome’s publishing program, Lena continues to conceive, edit, and produce book projects, as she has done throughout her long career as a publishing professional.
She began her career in 1967 with Harry N. Abrams, where she rose to the position of vice president of Marketing and Special Sales. In 1980, Lena left Abrams to create Welcome Enterprises as well as to co-found Stewart, Tabori & Chang, the illustrated book publisher. Lena also found time to produce Ziggy’s Gift, an animated special for ABC television based on the Tom Wilson cartoon character and directed by Richard Williams. For her role as producer and executive producer of Ziggy’s Gift, she was awarded an Emmy in 1983.
In 1991, Lena moved to San Francisco to become president and publisher of CollinsPublishersSanFrancisco. In 1993, she returned to Stewart, Tabori & Chang as their president and publisher. In 1997, Lena returned to Welcome full-time.
Most noted for her work in illustrated books and highly original publishing projects Lena Tabori is one of the most successful figures in contemporary American publishing. In this interview, Lena talked to me mostly about the earliest stages of her long and very successful career. During that time she has never stopped innovating, being highly creative, and producing both artistically and commercially successful books, working with many great writers and artists, as well as talented people in publishing. She has published, conceived, created, or caused to exist an incredible number of exceptional books in many categories, shapes and sizes. Anyone interested in modern publishing and the principles that will endure during its current period of disruption will find this discussion interesting and valuable.