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We were all saddened to hear of the passing of Hillel Black, our executive editor here at Sourcebooks for nearly 10 years.

Hillel’s impact on the company that Sourcebooks became cannot be understated. It was Hill’s deep love for authors that helped form a cornerstone for the sort of publishing company we sought to create. As the former publisher of Macmillan and editor-in-chief at William Morrow, he joined what was then a small publishing house trafficking entirely in nonfiction. Simply put, Hillel Black put us on the map.

Hillel Black with Alfred Blumrosen

Indeed, Hillel is the reason we have both the Sourcebooks Landmark fiction imprint and a New York City office. Soon after he joined us in the year 2000, Hill was here in Naperville to visit and took Dominique out for dinner. I received a call at home that night from Dominique: “I think I just committed us to starting a fiction program,” she sheepishly told me. To be frank, it was a huge risk.

But Hillel would get it done, famously asking Dominique over sushi what kind of novels she’d like to publish. “Writers like Michael Malone,” she said. Hill being Hill located one of Michael’s old books, found the agent in the acknowledgments, and soon thereafter Sourcebooks Landmark was publishing Michael’s first new novel in more than a decade, placing it on the New York Times bestsellers list. As we’ve recently reported, Sourcebooks Landmark had its best year ever in 2015, and 2016 is off to a rollicking start. Hillel got it all off the ground and would be delighted.

Hillel’s care for books and authors was unparalleled, and his drive to find the next big book was never-ending. He was a mentor to me and to many others here. Several of us have been commiserating today about his phrases of wisdom that have become vocabulary around here – a “publishing prophet” is just one way of explaining his impact. Go for it, ask a long-timer, they’ll have a Hillel story to tell you.

Most importantly, though, Hillel was a dear, dear friend. His was a kind and genuine soul. He will be missed. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.

Todd Stocke

VP Editorial Director

 

Hillel with Todd and Deb  Hillel and Dominique

At left, Hillel celebrates his retirement with Todd Stocke, Tom Murphy, and Deb Werksman. At right, Hillel and Dominique cut the cake and drink champagne to commemorate his 10 wonderful years with Sourcebooks. Above, Hillel and Alfred Blumrosen, author of Slave Nation, enjoy a drink and lively conversation at Sourcebooks' 20th birthday party.

 

Comments  

 
+1 # deb.werksman 2016-02-10 17:48
I had the joy and privilege of traveling with Hill to and from Naperville many times. We dined regularly at Wolfgang Puck in O'Hare airport. Hill always traveled with a bag full of manuscripts, pages turned every which way. Hill was a brilliant editor, beloved by authors and literary agents, and I was incredibly lucky to have him as a colleague and mentor. He told me many times, "It's all about acquisitions, Cookie. Everything else is apocryphal."
Lyron Bennett and I went to lunch with Hill periodically after he retired, and we got to hear all about his trip to China and his editing work. He was always busy, always cheerful, always interested. I can still hear his deep chuckle as he told anecdotes about the early careers of now-famous editors and agents,and the world-famous author whose manuscript wasn't up to snuff. "Put it in the drawer," Hill told him, and the author did. The next one was a huge bestseller, of course.
Hillel Black was extraordinary and I will miss him terribly.
 

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