Sonny Mehta has paid tribute to former colleague Simon Master [pictured], who died suddenly last week, with Mehta telling The Bookseller he felt “extremely privileged to have known him”.
Master died on Friday (16th January) while on holiday, at the age of 70.
He was formerly deputy group chairman of Random House, and had also worked at Pan, where he was editorial director, publishing director and m.d. in the 1970s and 1980s.
Mehta worked with Master at Pan, joining in 1972 as editorial director of Pan and of Picador, which had just been set up. The pair worked together for 15 years before Mehta moved to New York, where he is now chairman and editor-in-chief Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group U.S.
Mehta said: “Simon was brilliant and was able to bring people together and encourage them to do things differently. I feel extremely privileged to have known him. He was just a lot of fun. He was involved, engaged and read a lot, as well as being a very good manager.”
Mehta said he still regarded his time at Pan as “extraordinary", and said working with Master was an “extremely satisfying partnership”.
“When I think back on it I think about the amount of fun we had,” he added.
Part of the pair’s job was to “maintain all that was good about the traditional Pan, as well as take it in an original direction”, said Mehta, which Master “had a key hand” in.
Mehta told The Bookseller that he and Master had offices next to each other while at Pan, and added: “We were in and out of each other’s offices, it was like having a friend next door.”
As well as his roles within publishing houses, Master was active in the wider industry. He served twice as president of the Publishers Association, from 1996-7 and from 2001-2, and was the inaugural chairman of the London Book Fair Advisory Board, a role he stepped down from in 2012.