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Paul Von Drasek Retires as Capstone Trade Sales Manager

Minneapolis, Minn. – Feb. 27, 2015 – Capstone, a leading publisher of children’s books and digital products and services, announces the retirement of Trade Sales Manager, Paul Von Drasek. Von Drasek joined Capstone in 2009, managing the network of independent book store sales representatives and national book trade retail and wholesale accounts.

During his tenure at Capstone, Von Drasek led Capstone’s expansion into the book trade, nurturing Capstone’s relationship with booksellers across the nation and supporting the company’s trade publishing program.

“Capstone could not have asked for a finer champion of our trade publishing efforts. Paul is the genuine article. He has a deep love for books, their creators, their supporters and the people who curate and sell them. His dedication to the ideal of connecting the right book with the right reader shows in every relationship he’s nurtured in the industry,” said Ashley Andersen Zantop, Capstone Chief Content Officer. “We reached out to invite Paul’s friends and colleagues to send well wishes for his retirement and received a tsunami of love and fondness from authors, illustrators, booksellers, sales teams and business leaders, alike. His warmth and commitment have left and indelible mark on Capstone and the lives of people throughout the publishing community.”

Von Drasek has more than 30 years of sales experience in publishing. Prior to joining Capstone, Von Drasek served as Director of Field Sales at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade, where he worked on the integration of the Houghton Mifflin and Harcourt’s field sales forces selling both adult and children’s trade books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of Sales at Harcourt and in sales management positions at Little Brown, Houghton Mifflin, and Penguin.

“I am most proud of being part of a team that built a strong and growing trade program by developing and refining Capstone’s content for this market. And I am grateful that we had the corporate support and resources to enable our rapid growth -quadrupling trade bookstore sales in five years. Capstone listens more closely to its customers than my previous employers could. Because of its private ownership and great ambition, Capstone has the capacity to respond quickly to marketplace needs in a very entrepreneurial fashion. I owe a great debt of gratitude to the booksellers who taught me how to be a rep. No one goes to school for this. And of course I thank the many reps I’ve worked with who have shared their success with me, and whose focus and creativity made my work life challenging and exciting,” said Von Drasek.

Von Drasek plans to spend his time continuing to serve on the board at the Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute, a nonprofit organization supporting students ages 6-18 with their writing skills and homework, emphasizing cross-curriculum creativity.

Von Drasek’s official last day is Feb. 27, however he will continue to consult with Capstone on a part-time basis through April. He can be reached at or

A surprise retirement party for Von Drasek was held at Micawber’s Books in St. Paul, Minn., on February 25. Messages of well wishes from many publishing friends and former colleagues were shared, including:

  • Gary L. Gentel, President, HMH Trade Publishing:

“Paul is a true gentleman of the old school. During difficult times, he was a person of character and integrity, often doing what was best for the company at his own personal expense. Our paths had crossed early in his career and I only regret that I didn’t have the privilege of working with Paul over a longer period of time. This industry needs people like Paul and we’re all better human beings and publishers because of his service.”  

  • Laurie Brown, SVP, Sales & Marketing, HMH Trade Publishing:

“I first met Paul at lunch just before we were going to begin working together. He arrived with a stuffed three-ring binder, while I didn't even have a pen. I thought, ‘Oh no, this will never work!’ And because he is the kindest, nicest, most thoughtful (and thorough!) person imaginable, that turned out to be one of my very luckiest days followed by years of working side-by-side and then the richest pleasure of all, abiding friendship with a man without peer.”

  • Geoffrey L. Hughes, Senior National Accounts Manager, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Retired):

“Let me say a few words about my friend, Paul. Since the 1980s we have at various times been rep and buyer, sales conference roommates, sales manager and managee, and merger and acquisition survivors. Through it all we have been best buddies. Paul personifies all the reasons people love the book business. He cares deeply about the values that are the underpinning of what we do. His heart still lies in that essential exchange between author and reader and between bookseller and customer. He loves getting the right book into the right hands. I know he will carry those principles into retirement, and continue to make a contribution, all the while reminding us to ‘enjoy the ride.’”

  • John Hughes, Reading Interventionist, Denver Public Schools and ex-Norton, ex-Random House, ex-Basic Books:

“I met Paul in the very early 80s, and I remember the occasion clearly. I was working a book fair in Rochester, NY, staffing the Random House table, when Paul walked up and introduced himself as the new Viking/Penguin rep in town. I don’t think I ever bonded so quickly, and with such a kindred spirit, in my 28 years in the book business. . . .Paul has once or twice credited me for teaching him how to be a sales rep. Whether or not that's true, I’m proud to have this opportunity to thank him for showing us all how to be a mensch!”

  • David Wilk, Owner, Booktrix:

“I’ve known Paul since he was a buyer -and a very good one -at the UWM Bookstore in Milwaukee. I’ve treasured him as a customer, a friend, and a confidant ever since then. My father would have used the term “mensch” for Paul. He’s simply one of the very good guys I have gotten to know in the book business. He cares about books, and that matters. But I think it is safe to say that he cares about people even more, and that’s what really makes him who he is, and why he is someone we trust, honor and respect. Selling is all about relationships. So anyone who is good at selling, and Paul is very good at what he does, has to be good at relating to people. And that’s why we think so highly of Paul. I’m sure the numbers mattered in his work; they had to matter for him to be as successful as he has been. But I don’t believe anyone will think about sales numbers when thinking about Paul today. We’ll think about him as a person, a friend, a colleague we have cared about for whatever amount of time we’ve known him. So I’m very proud to have had the opportunity to know Paul through the book business, and to count him as a friend, and I’m looking forward to many more years of continued friendship with him, as I hope others who could be at his party will also be doing.”  

  • Kate DiCamillo, author, ambassador:

“Paul has believed in me for fifteen years now. I have never taken that belief for granted. I feel so lucky to be his friend.”


Paul believes in books

But more: Paul believes in the 

people who make books.

  • Jon Scieszka, author, ambassador:


There once was a kick-ass bookseller

Sold Bibles, Lolita, Old Yeller...

Please toast this guy Paul,

The best of them all.

For he's one jolly good feller.

  • Mem Fox, author:

“Paul is the kind of kind person whom everyone loves, and no one forgets. I loved him from the moment we met. His sweetness to me when we were both at Harcourt Brace (hah! those were the days!) was unforgettable. It’s been divine to have kept in touch all these years. I wish I could be at this famous retirement party of his, but sadly Australia is Down Under and he is clearly Up Over! I also wish I could invite you to my own retirement party one day but I have discovered to my horror that writers can’t retire. Have fun for the rest of your life, but don’t slow down!” 

  • Adam Rex, author and illustrator:

“In lieu of a specific story, I just want to say that when I remember Paul showing me around conferences in strange cities I think of him as my worldly uncle who showed me the seedy underbelly of life. Except instead of the red-light district we went to Celebration Disney.”

  • Bruce Coville, author:

“Paul is the consummate professional, and it was a great comfort to know he was in my corner. All authors should be as lucky as I was to have an advocate like Paul.”

  • John Coy, author:

“Paul Von Drasek knows more people in publishing than anybody I know. I cannot count the times I’ve mentioned somebody and Paul has either worked with them, sold to them, or given them their first job. He’s got an incredible memory for people and an unsurpassed ability to connect with all kinds of individuals. Congratulations, Paul, on your retirement and beginning this next chapter."


About Capstone

Capstone is a leading publisher of children’s books, digital solutions and services, literacy programs, and K–12 professional development resources. Capstone creates content in a variety of print, digital and media formats for school libraries, classrooms, and at home reading. Capstone’s business units include Capstone Library, Capstone Classroom, Capstone Young Readers, myON, and Capstone International. For more information, visit