In the 80s, Mason held several traditional publishing jobs at Little Brown and then at Salem House Publishers, helping to build this start-up publisher. When it was acquired by Murdoch and folded into HarperCollins, Mason was “mergered out of a job.” At that point, he decided to leave the industry behind. “With a young family, I decided to do something different, so I crossed over into technology, which I’m glad I did. I caught the heyday of software publishing in the 90s. It’s similar to book publishing, but different.”
He learned many lessons from his years at Konica Minolta and DeLorme, lessons that are now informing his publishing decisions, and he experienced the era of disruption in the photography industry. “I understand what it’s like to be within an industry and looking around wondering what’s going to happen.” Mason comments on how this disruption can often come from unexpected sources: “It wasn’t the digital camera that had the biggest impact on traditional photography—it was the [mobile] phone.”
It was the arrival of yet another new piece of technology, the iPad, that spurred Mason’s decision to come back to book publishing. “I saw my first iPad a few years ago and read a book on it, and thought this is going to be amazing for books. I gotta to figure out how to do something with this.”
Throughout his career in the photography and the mapping software industries, his passion for good fiction never waned. “I love fiction. I’m an English major! It’s really what I’m most passionate about.” This passion is what ultimately brought him to the point where he decided he was ready to jump back into the book business. That and what he saw going on in the book publishing world, with its mergers and decreasing traditional options for authors. Often, he says, “consolidation is a sign of rapid decline coming soon.” In this case, he hopes it’s a time of openness to change and new business models.