Collier, Peter Fenelon
COLLIER, PETER FENELON
Pioneer U.S. Catholic subscription book and magazine publisher; b. Myshall, Ireland, Dec. 12, 1849; d. New York City, April 24, 1909; son of Robert C. and Catherine (Fenelon) Collier. Coming to the United States in 1866, the family settled in Dayton, Ohio, where Peter worked in the railroad shops. In 1868 he entered the seminary of the Cincinnati archdiocese but soon left and moved to New York City. There he worked as a book salesman for the Catholic publishing firm of J. and D. Sadlier and later as a salesman for the firm of P. J. Kenedy. In 1875, with a capital of $300, he set up his own firm, which quickly achieved success in selling Catholic and Irish-national books for small monthly payments. He then branched out into general reference publishing.
Encouraged by the success of his book business and to promote it further, Collier began in 1888 a magazine, Once a Week, which had an initial sale of 50,000 copies and grew to 200,000 in two years. In 1895 the name was changed to Collier's Weekly, which at the time of its demise in December 1956 had more than four million subscribers. As the "father of the subscription book industry," Collier first brought the works of standard authors, encyclopedias, and reference books to the average family. After his death the business was continued by his son Robert, who died in 1918; the following year the controlling interest in the Collier company was taken over by the Crowell Publishing Company, and in 1939 the name was changed to the Crowell-Collier Publishing Company.
[j. f. carroll]