in the hotel lobby to relay the news to your office. Now, viral
marketing on social networking sites has become an essential
part of the mix. Meanwhile libraries serve a vital role as technology hubs for their community. But at the end of the day, there’s
still nothing that replaces a good story well told, no matter what
What will you miss most about no longer being in the
I hope to stay involved in various ways, and keep up the wonderful friendships I’ve formed over the years. You’ll see me around
from time to time. What I won’t miss is commuting five days
Are there any anecdotes about authors or illustrators
that really stand out in your memory?
I once picked up Magic School Bus illustrator Bruce Degen from
his home in Brooklyn to drive to the New Jersey Library Association. On our way across Staten Island we passed some small
hills, and he explained with great enthusiasm how they were
terminal moraines left over from the ice age. I was like a kid in
Ms. Frizzle’s class! Also, going bowling with Freak the Mighty
author Rodman Philbrick was a highlight. Another time, a
group of us took Rosemary Wells to Balthazar Restaurant to
discuss the marketing plans for her book Read to Your Bunny,
and the waiter announced that the special that day was braised
Do you have any specific plans yet for retirement?
There is a long list of projects that I’ve always said I’ll get to
“when I retire.” Reading, music, travel, and visits to grandchildren are on the list. And I’ll have more time to volunteer at my
local Unitarian Church. But I will still be involved in the United States Board on Books for Young People. In fact, I am on the
planning committee of the International Board on Books for
Young People regional conference, which will be in New York
in October 2015.
PW Talks with
THE EXIT INTERVIEW
John Mason, the esteemed director of library and educational marketing at Scholastic, will officially
hang up his tote bag on July 3. We caught up with Mason as he was preparing for the transition.
Congratulations on a great career. Was there anything
in particular that made the time feels right for your
I’ve worked in children’s book publishing for 43 years, 28 of
which have been at Scholastic. When I started at Scholastic in
1986, our trade publishing was in its very early stages. I’ve been
privileged to participate in its tremendous growth, from The
Magic School Bus, The Baby-sitters Club, Goosebumps, to Harry
Potter and the Hunger Games. One of the things I’m most
proud of is the relationship I was able to build with the children’s booksellers. When I served on the board of ABC, I booked
the Field Museum in Chicago for their dinner at the 1995 ABA
Convention and had all the waitresses dress as Ms. Frizzle. Much
as I love everyone I work with and everything I do in my job,
there comes a time when it feels right to cut back from working
full time. Although knowing me, I’ll still keep pretty busy—
but my time will be more my own.
What’s the best piece of career advice a mentor or
someone else has given you?
The great marketing director Doris Bass once advised me to
think of my job as a set of goals, not a series of tasks. That stuck
with me. I’m a detail person and that’s a strength, but one also
has to keep thinking toward one’s long-term goals and develop
the strategies to achieve them. Learn new things—keep challenging yourself.
You’ve seen many, but what are some of the biggest
changes in the library and educational marketing world
that you’ve seen over the years?
I think the biggest change is technology. We once worked in a
world with no Internet, no email, no cell phones. When we got
a starred review, our method of spreading the news was to go
screaming down the corridor. The next step was literally to cut
and paste the clipping and file it. The press conference announcing the Newbery and Caldecott awards was a smaller affair—no
Jumbotron, and no Twitter—you had to stake out a pay phone
BY SHANNON MAUGHAN