On Tuesday, May 12, Simon & Schuster President and CEO Carolyn Reidy died after experiencing a heart attack. She was 71.
“We lost one of the best in the business yesterday,” said American Booksellers Association CEO Allison Hill. “Carolyn Reidy will be missed for both her fierce intelligence and her kindness. I only met her once during my bookselling career but I admired her from afar and I appreciated how gracious she was to send me a congratulatory note when I became the CEO of ABA. We were lucky enough to meet with Carolyn just last week for ABA’s annual meetings with publishers. She was direct, engaged, smart, and clearly committed to her authors and the indies. Notably, she was also funny and calm, despite the challenges of leading her company through Simon’s future sale and the pandemic. In that moment, I adopted her as a role model, as I’m sure many in the industry have done before me. Our hearts go out to Carolyn’s husband, Stephen, to her family, her nieces and nephews, and to our friends at Simon & Schuster who we know grieve this loss. We will honor Carolyn’s memory by continuing her commitment to great books and the discussion and debate of ideas.”
Simon & Schuster shared the following from Executive Vice President, Operations & Chief Financial Officer Dennis Eulau:
Carolyn was both an exemplary leader and a supremely talented and visionary publishing executive. Since joining Simon & Schuster in 1992 as president of the trade division, she has been a vital and energetic force within our company, leading us to unprecedented growth on both the domestic and international fronts, and steering us through the transition to publishing in the digital era.
As a publisher and a leader, Carolyn pushed us to stretch to do just that little bit more; to do our best and then some for our authors, in whose service she came to work each day with an unbridled and infectious enthusiasm and great humor. Her fierce intelligence and curiosity, and her determination to know everything about a given subject if it could help us to be better, were matched by her complete and total accessibility: she wrote congratulatory notes to employees when they were promoted, and colleagues in every corner of our company always felt that they had a first-person relationship with her, and that they could reach out to her to discuss any subject and receive a thoughtful response in return.
She was equally attentive, on a personal level, to our authors, to whom she sent handwritten notes when they received awards, made the bestseller list, or simply to let them know when she finished reading their books. The list of authors whom she championed to acclaim and success is legion and includes books by Pulitzer Prize winners David W. Blight, Anthony Doerr, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Frank McCourt, David McCullough and Siddhartha Mukherjee; world figures, celebrities, newsmakers and journalists including Hillary Rodham Clinton, Dick Cheney, Jaycee Dugard, Walter Isaacson, Phil Knight and Bob Woodward; bestselling novelists Mary Higgins Clark, Vince Flynn, Stephen King, Ruth Ware and Jennifer Weiner; works of practical advice from authorities including Ray Dalio, Angela Duckworth, Dr. Michael F. Roizen and Dr. Mehmet C. Oz, and Rhonda Byrne’s worldwide multi-million copy bestseller The Secret; and bestselling children’s and teen authors including Cassandra Clare, Shannon Messenger, Jason Reynolds, Rachel Renée Russell and Neal Shusterman.
Before joining Simon & Schuster, Carolyn was president and publisher of Avon Books, after having worked at William Morrow and Random House, where she was publisher of Vintage Books and associate publisher of the Random House imprint. She began her publishing career in 1974 in the subsidiary rights department of Random House.
I have had the privilege of being a partner to Carolyn for 25 years. A fierce leader, loyal friend and passionate supporter, Carolyn inspired me and challenged me every day that we worked together. She had the rare combination of business acumen and creative genius that made her a once-in-a-lifetime publishing executive. She walked through life with an abundance of joy, and loved to celebrate the accomplishments and milestones of her colleagues and friends with great generosity and fanfare. That so many of us at Simon & Schuster have been friends and colleagues with her for many, many years says everything about the kind of person and leader she was, and we will all miss her terribly.
While this news is undoubtedly as much of a shock to you as it was to me, our thoughts and prayers in this time of grief are with Carolyn’s beloved husband Stephen, and her sisters and brothers and nieces and nephews whom she held dear.
Information about where donations may be sent will be announced at a later date.