Donald Weiser, owner for many years of the Samuel Weiser Bookstore and Samuel Weiser publishing company, died last Wednesday, Red Wheel/Weiser/Conari announced. He was 89 and was involved in other ventures, too, including the Nicolas-Hays line, Weiser Antiquarian Books and Ibis Press.
As a young man, Weiser worked with his father, Samuel Weiser, who in New York City in 1926 founded the bookstore. It quickly became a major esoteric bookstore that attracted people from around the world, including such customers as Harry Houdini, Karl Germer, Harry Smith, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Jimmy Page, Patti Smith, Barbara Somerfield and Madame de Saltzmann. The store moved four times and grew even more in the '60s and '70s as many people embraced Eastern religions, occult and New Age thought. Because of rising rents, the store closed in the early 1990s.
Samuel Weiser publishing grew out of the bookstore and was incorporated in 1957. It first published several reprints of pamphlets that the Weisers realized were too important to remain solely as rare books. Under Donald Weiser's leadership, Samuel Weiser, Inc. grew to publish more than 1,000 titles and become a highly regarded esoteric publishing house. In 2000, it was sold to Red Wheel/Weiser.
After moving to Maine in 1981, Weiser focused on his publishing and distribution efforts, including the Nicholas-Hays line, Weiser Antiquarian Books, and eventually Ibis Press, which has published some 150 esoteric literature titles. He was also involved in the 1990s with the Watkins bookstore in London.
A celebration of Donald Weiser's life will be held eventually in New York City.