Celebrating Stuart Applebaum’s 40 Years In Publishing

Stuart Applebaum

My high school friend, Stuart Applebaum, is celebrating his 40th Anniversary working for Random House Bertelsmann, where he is currently Executive Vice President, Communications. He has held that title for many years. Stuart is one of the most prominent spokespeople in the publishing business. While he has gone from promoting hard cover, printed books to eBooks, Stuart believes that the core essential skills necessary for being a book publicist haven’t changed all that much since he started. He explained, “Yes, there presently are a lot fewer newspapers, magazines, and local talk shows than there are Facebook pages, YouTube uploads, Twitter Feeds, and blog posts for us to work with. Now, we’re into search and discovery. The basic challenges however, remain the same — to motivate the consumer to buy our book, not the competitor’s and to craft and deliver our most compelling messages and persuasions to convince everyone of our point of view.”

Stuart was always pragmatic. I first met him when he was the editor of the sports page for Jamaica High School’s newspaper called “The Hilltopper.” I was a columnist covering girl’s sports. He had to edit my copy, poor thing. After we graduated, I am sure I wasn’t on his radar screen, but he was on mine. When I saw him quoted in the New York Times the first few times, I think I stared at his name for hours. I couldn’t believe that I knew someone of that stature. I finally got the nerve to call him and he was as gracious as gracious could be. He probably had no idea who I was, but invited me to lunch in the Random House executive dining room. We continued to meet for lunch a few times a year for over two decades.

We gossiped at each lunch about my clients. He loved hearing about some of the corporate suits with big egos or the entrepreneurs with even bigger ones. When I complained that I couldn’t get ink for a client, his suggestion was that I fire the company. He said, “You have to know when to say goodbye and move on to a better opportunity.” I freaked. Give up a client? Say no to a check? That just wasn’t in my realm of thinking. Many years later, I know just what he meant and have taken his advice more than once.

One year we got lucky because of the connection to Stuart and got to work for a new division that was being created to explore “New Media” in the world of printed books. Our assignment was to help identify content that would be suitable for digital distribution. No one at the time thought that one day we would be carrying around one single gadget that housed hundreds of books in it. Years ago when I visited Random House, I would go back to my office with bags of books. Today I get recommendations to download.

Time marches on, but Stuart has pretty much remained the same. He is married to his job. No wife, no kids, no vacations. You can catch him every morning on the streets of Manhattan walking from his apartment across the street from the 92nd St Y to his office on Broadway and 55th Street and back again after work. In a recent speech he gave to his cohorts celebrating his anniversary he said, “I never found anyone or anything as satisfying as my job. When I do, I will make this change. Till then you will find me at my desk.”

Stuart, don’t change a thing. You are a true gift to everyone who knows you well. Happy Anniversary!

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