Peter Usborne to receive LBF Lifetime Achievement award

Usborne Publishing founder Peter Usborne will receive the 12th annual Lifetime Achievement Award in International Publishing at this year’s London Book Fair.

After beginning his publishing career as chairman’s assistant at BCP Publishing in 1968, where he ultimately rose to publishing director, he set up Usborne Publishing in 1973, and the company has now published more than 6,000 titles across six languages – English, French, Italian, Dutch, Brazilian, Portuguese and German – with a seventh imprint, Usborne Korea, launching later in 2015.

In 2013, Usborne was named Children’s Publisher of the Year at the Bookseller Industry Awards, while in 2014 it won IPG Children’s Publisher and IPG Publisher of the Year awards.

As well as publishing, Usborne is a patron for Read International which delivers books to schools in Tanzania, and is founder of the Usborne Foundation which supports early literacy. In 2011, he was awarded an MBE for services to the publishing industry.

“I’m thrilled and astonished about this award, particularly since this is I believe the first time it’s been given to a children’s publisher,” Usborne said. “Not surprisingly, I find this an appropriate reflection of the extraordinary growth of the children’s book industry, both in quality and importance, in the 40 years since I came into it. Being a children’s book publisher is enormous fun, endlessly interesting, extremely, though not unpleasantly, competitive, and a wholly satisfying extension of the outrageous privilege of becoming a parent.”

He added: “Though this award is being given to me, it should really be awarded to my amazing staff, on whom I have been completely dependent all my life, and most of whom, I am very glad to say, stay and stay and stay with us. Children’s books have given me a life that I don’t think could have been bettered. Thanks to everyone who’s helped us along the way.”

Colleagues in children’s publishing praised Usborne’s career. Hilary Murray-Hill, c.e.o. of Hachette Children’s Group, said: “Peter is a loyal and principled man of outstanding commercial ability who has never lost his personal enthusiasm for publishing fantastic books for children. He has made a unique contribution to the industry.”

Dick Robinson, c.e.o. of Scholastic Inc, said: “He has been an enormously successful business leader, has elevated the craft of publishing for children and achieved significant growth and profitability for Usborne. In all these ways, he deserves to be Publisher of the Year this year and for each year since he founded Usborne Publishing more than 40 years ago.”

David Roche, non-executive chair of the London Book Fair, added: “Peter Usborne is a one-off. He has long been a leading figure in children’s publishing. As founder of Usborne he has created a much-loved brand which has introduced the joys of reading to millions of children worldwide. His pioneering methods have created a fantastic children’s publisher which continues to grow and grow. We are proud to be awarding to him The London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award for 2015.”

The annual award is given to a person who has made a significant mark in the sphere of global publishing. Last year, the award was presented to Deborah Rogers of Rogers, Coleridge & White, and previous winners include Alfred A Knopf, Lord Weidenfeld and Christopher MacLehose.

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