Byron C. Preiss
|Born||April 11, 1953|
Brooklyn, New York City
|Died||July 9, 2005 (aged 52)|
East Hampton, New York
|Occupation||Author, editor, publisher|
|Alma mater||University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University|
|Genre||Fantasy, illustrated novels, audiobooks, digital publishing|
|Notable works||The Words of Gandhi|
Byron Preiss (April 11, 1953 – July 9, 2005) was an American writer, editor, and publisher. He founded and served as president of Byron Preiss Visual Publications, and later of ibooks Inc.
Early life and career
In 1971, while Preiss was teaching at a Philadelphia elementary school, he conceived, and with Jim Steranko, produced an anti-drug comic book, The Block, designed for low-level reading skills. Published by Steranko's company, Supergraphics, it was distributed to schools nationwide.
He founded Byron Preiss Visual Publications in 1974 to publish original works, including Weird Heroes (1975). His 1976 Fiction Illustrated series of illustrated novels began with Schlomo Raven: Public Detective, a Preiss collaboration with Tom Sutton, followed by Starfawn, illustrated by Stephen Fabian, Steranko's Chandler: Red Tide and the 1977 Son of Sherlock Holmes, illustrated by Ralph Reese. Other publications included a 1978 adaptation of Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination as a two-volume graphic novel, illustrated by Howard Chaykin.
As a book packager, he developed titles for such publishers as HarperCollins and Random House. One such project, created in conjunction with the Bank Street College of Education, resulted in a series of educational comic books adapting well-known genre authors: The Bank Street Book of Creepy Tales, The Bank Street Book of Fantasy, The Bank Street Book of Mystery and The Bank Street Book of Science Fiction.
He published children's books by celebrities, including Billy Crystal, Jane Goodall, Jay Leno, LeAnn Rimes and Jerry Seinfeld, and worked closely with such established illustrators as Ralph Reese, William Stout and Tom Sutton.
Preiss was co-author, with Michael Reaves, of the children's novel Dragonworld (Doubleday, 1979), with 80 illustrations by Joseph Zucker. Dragonworld was originally planned to be the fifth "Fiction Illustrated" title.
In 1982, Preiss published The Secret, a puzzle book that combined 12 short verses and 12 elaborate fantasy paintings by John Jude Palencar. Readers were expected to pair each painting with a verse in a way that would provide clues to finding one of 12 plexiglass boxes buried in various parks around North America. Each box contained a ceramic box that contained a key that could be redeemed for a jewel worth $1,000. The book was inspired by the success of Masquerade, written and illustrated by Kit Williams and published in England in August 1979, but The Secret never led to the same level of treasure hunting frenzy. One of the ceramic boxes was found in Chicago in 1983, one in Cleveland in 2004, and one in Boston in October 2019. The remaining nine boxes have yet to be found, and reportedly Preiss was the only one who knew where they were when he died.
Beyond traditional printed books, Preiss frequently embraced emerging technologies, and was recognized as a pioneer in digital publishing and as among the first to publish in such formats as CD-ROM books and ebooks. He edited the recording of the audiobook The Words of Gandhi, released by Caedmon in 1984 and narrated by Ben Kingsley who won a Grammy Award in the category of Best Spoken Word or Non-Musical Recording for the work.
Later life and death
Preiss was married to Sandi Mendelson, with whom he had daughters Karah and Blaire. On July 9, 2005, he died in a traffic accident at East Hampton, New York, on Long Island. Both Byron Preiss Visual Publications and ibooks Inc. filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy on February 22, 2006, after his death.
List of Byron Preiss publications
Published by Preiss, or packaged by Preiss for other publishers
- The Electric Company Joke Book (1973) ISBN 0-307-64824-9
- The Silent e's from Outer Space (Western Pub., 1973; Goldencraft, 1974 ISBN 0-307-64821-4)
- One Year Affair (1976) ISBN 0-911104-86-0
- Weird Heroes (Pyramid Books, 1975–77)
- Fiction Illustrated #1 – Schlomo Raven: Public Detective (Pyramid Books, 1976; by Preiss and Tom Sutton)
- Fiction Illustrated #2 – Starfawn (Pyramid Books, 1976; by Preiss and Stephen Fabian)
- Fiction Illustrated #3 – Chandler: Red Tide (Pyramid Books, 1976 ISBN 0-515-04241-2; Dark Horse, 2001 ISBN 1-56971-438-X)
- Fiction Illustrated #4 – Son of Sherlock Holmes (Pyramid Books, 1977; by Preiss and Ralph Reese)
- Empire (1978) by Samuel R. Delany, illustrated by Howard Chaykin. ISBN 0-425-03900-5
- The Illustrated Roger Zelazny (Ace Books, 1979), illustrated by Gray Morrow ISBN 978-0441365258
- The Beach Boys (1979; revised ed. 1983 ISBN 0-312-07026-8)
- The Art of Leo and Diane Dillon (1981) ISBN 0-345-28449-6
- The Dinosaurs (1981; revised 2000 as The New Dinosaurs)
- The Secret (1982) ISBN 0-553-01408-0 – illustrated by John Jude Palencar
- The First Crazy Word Book: Verbs (1982) ISBN 0-531-04500-5
- The Little Blue Brontosaurus (1983) ISBN 0-89845-165-5
- Not the Webster's Dictionary (1983) ISBN 0-671-47418-9
- The Bat Family (1984) ISBN 0-89845-237-6
- Time Machine 1 — Secret of the Knights (Bantam Books, 1984; by Jim Gasperini, illustrated by Richard Hescox) ISBN 0-553-23601-6
- Nuts! (1985) ISBN 0-553-24725-5
- The Planets (1985) ISBN 0-553-05109-1
- The Universe (1987) ISBN 0-553-05227-6
- Time Machine 19 — The Death Mask of Pancho Villa (Bantam Books, 1987; by Carol Gaskin and George Guthridge, illustrated by Kenneth Huey, cover by Jim Steranko) ISBN 0-553-26674-8
- Dragonsword, 1st edition (1988) ISBN 1-55802-003-9
- The Microverse (1989) ISBN 0-553-05705-7
- First Contact: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (1990) ISBN 0-7472-3508-2
- Tales from the One-Eyed Crow: The Vulgmaster by Dennis L. McKiernan and Alex Nino (1991) ISBN 9780451450883
- The Ultimate Dracula (1991) ISBN 0-7472-0552-3
- The Ultimate Frankenstein (1991) ISBN 0-440-50352-3
- The Ultimate Werewolf (1991 reissue ISBN 0-440-50354-X)
- The Ultimate Dinosaur: Past, Present, and Future (1992) ISBN 0-553-07676-0
- The Vampire State Building (1992) ISBN 0-553-15998-4
- The Ultimate Zombie (1993) ISBN 0-440-50534-8
- The Ultimate Witch (1993) ISBN 0-440-50531-3
- The Ultimate Dragon (1995) ISBN 0-440-50630-1
- The Ultimate Alien (1995) ISBN 0-440-50631-X
- The Best Children's Books in the World (1996) ISBN 0-8109-1246-5
- The Rhino History of Rock 'n' Roll: The '70s (1997) ISBN 0-671-01175-8
- Are We Alone in the Cosmos? The Search for Alien Contact in the New Millennium (1999) ISBN 0-671-03892-3
- The New Dinosaurs (2000) ISBN 0-7434-0724-5
- The Roadkill of Middle Earth (2001) by John Carnell, illustrated by Tom Sutton, cover by Steve Fastner and Rich Larson. ISBN 0-7434-3467-6
- Battlestar Galactica: Resurrection (2001) by Richard Hatch and Stan Timmons; ibooks. ISBN 0-7434-1326-1
- Dying Inside (2002) ISBN 0-7434-3508-7
- The Ultimate Dragon (2003) ISBN 0-7434-5868-0
- The Best Bizarre But True Stories Ever! (2003) ISBN 978-0-7434-4557-3
- Exploring The Matrix: Visions of the Cyber Present (2004) ISBN 0-312-31359-4
- Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe (2005) ISBN 1-59687-847-9
- Year's Best Graphic Novels, Comics & Manga (2005) ISBN 0-312-34326-4
This illustrated children's novel by Byron Preiss and Michael Reaves was published in several editions from 1979 to 2005:
- Doubleday hardcover, 1979
- Bantam / Dell paperback, (1979) ISBN 0-553-01077-8
- Spectra paperback (July 1983) ISBN 0-553-25857-5
- Bantam / Dell paperback (Aug. 1983) ISBN 0-553-23426-9
- ibooks, Inc. paperback (2000) ISBN 0-671-03907-5
- ibooks, Inc. ebook (Microsoft Reader; 2001)
- ibooks, Inc. paperback (2002) ISBN 0-7434-5253-4
- ibooks, Inc. paperback (2005) ISBN 1-59687-233-0
- Williams, Paul. 2019. "The Strange Case of Byron Preiss Visual Publications." Journal of American Studies.
- Byron Preiss at the Social Security Death Index via Genealogybank.com. Retrieved on May 20, 2014. Archived from the original on May 20, 2014.
- "Byron Preiss, 52, Digital Publishing Pioneer, Dies". The New York Times. July 11, 2005. Archived from the original on February 21, 2011.
- Steranko, Jim (July 10, 2005). "Comics Loses One of its Major Visionaries: Byron Preiss". Comicon.com. Archived from the original on January 9, 2006. Additional , June 20, 2011.
- "Babylon Gardens to Battlestar Galactica: Armageddon". The Locus Index to Science Fiction: 1984–1998. Archived from the original on December 28, 2012. Retrieved 2014-05-20.
- Hidden treasure, a family's quest, and "The Secret"
- "The Secret". Retrieved February 22, 2019.
- The Words of Gandhi in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- "1984 Grammy Winners: 27th Annual GRAMMY Awards". Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- "Preiss Was Influential Publishing Figure". Publishers Weekly. July 11, 2005. Archived from the original on January 5, 2006.
- "ibooks & Byron Preiss Visual Publications File Chapter 7; Creditors Confab Set for Apr. 4". ICv2.com. February 24, 2006. Archived from the original on June 11, 2011.
- Frauenfelder, Mark (November 1993). "The Way of Comics". Wired. Archived from the original on May 20, 2014.
- Zeitchik, Steven (July 15, 2005). "Byron Preiss: 'He Saw Books Where Other People Didn't'". Publishers Weekly. 252 (29). Archived from the original on October 1, 2012.
- Fantastic Fiction: Byron Preiss
- Byron Preiss at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Works by or about Byron Preiss in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- "Preiss, Byron" at the Michigan State University Libraries Special Collections Division: Reading Room Index to the Comic Art Collection, "Prehistoric Adventure Comics" to "Pre-Raphaelites"
- Byron Preiss at Library of Congress Authorities, with 40 catalog records (previous page of browse report as 'Preiss, Byron' without ', 1953–2005')