'Gifted' French publisher Jean-Manuel Bourgois dies

'Gifted' French publisher Jean-Manuel Bourgois dies

French publisher Jean-Manuel Bourgois has died aged 78.

Bourgois passed away on 19th February at his home in Paris. 

Bourgois' oldest and best friend, Geoff Staines, said: "Jean Manuel Bourgois was gifted with a fiercely analytical mind abetted by a prodigious memory, and was also a master storyteller with a wicked sense of humour. He was devoted to his family, loved nothing better than to cook for a large gathering, and was a talented photographer. He will be deeply missed by friends and colleagues alike."

In the late 1960s, Bourgois graduated in physics from the Sorbonne and obtained a Fulbright scholarship in postgraduate physics at Columbia, followed by a year at its School of Journalism. He entered the world of French publishing in his mid-thirties when he was headhunted from Ediscience, the scientific publishing company he founded aged 29 and later sold to McGrawHill, to become the c.e.o. of Bordas/Dunod, a major educational publisher.

At just over 40 years of age, he was elected president of the French Publishers Association, the youngest person ever to hold that position. Two years later he was asked to head up the Groupe de la Cité publishing group, with imprints such as Larousse, Plon, Nathan, Bordas, Dalloz.

Later in Bourgois' career when he left the Groupe de la Cité to head up a series of mid-sized indies, he played pro bono roles in actively supporting Bibliothèques sans Frontières, a non-profit engaged with providing books in the developing world. He was also involved in promoting the efforts of the Khan Academy, and taught part of the Publishing Masters curriculum in Paris. Bourgois also chaired the European Publishers Association, and also chaired a working committee on new technology at the International Publishers Association.

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Hélène, and their children, Eve, Karel and Joséphine.