Nigel Newton is an American-born British publisher who was raised in San Francisco and moved to England to do his degree in English from Selwyn College, Cambridge. Newton is the founder and chief executive of Bloomsbury Publishing, one of the world’s leading independent publishing companies.
Bloomsbury Publishing has brought the works of Michael Ondaatje, J.K. Rowling, Khaled Hosseini, Margaret Atwood, and other authors to a global audience.
The Ransom Center hosts a lecture on Thursday, November 15, at 4:30 p.m. in which Newton speaks about highlights in the company’s 32-year history. The event is free and open to the public.
Ahead of Newton’s lecture, he answered questions about himself and Bloomsbury Publishing.
Jared Neuharth: Did you always know you wanted to go into business or did you have other career ideas?
Nigel Newton: I applied for several different types of job in my final year at university but knew that publishing was the one for me if I could get in.
What led you in the direction of the publishing industry?
Publishing seemed so exciting. My degree was in English and books were my first love.
The thought of meeting the authors who wrote them seemed too good to be true.
Did the success of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone change how you ran your company in any way?
Yes in a number of ways. Firstly, it led us to start Bloomsbury in America so that we could publish any future bestseller like Harry Potter in all English language markets. Secondly, we invested our cash surplus in the new area (to us) of academic and specialist publishing.
What compelled you to let your daughter read the Harry Potter manuscript?
Alice was a voracious reader and I gave her many books to read. She liked this one the most.
What are your opinions on ebooks?
Ebooks are great. They make books available 24/7 almost everywhere. But I mainly read typescripts direct from authors myself before they become ebooks or print books.