Carolyn Reidy, CEO Of Simon And Schuster And Part-Time Southampton Resident, Dies at 71 - 27 East

Arts & Living

Arts & Living / 1699801

Carolyn Reidy, CEO Of Simon And Schuster And Part-Time Southampton Resident, Dies at 71

icon 1 Photo
Carol Reidy

Carol Reidy

Tom Clavin on May 14, 2020

Carolyn Reidy, the president and chief executive officer of Simon and Schuster, one of the “Big Five” book publishing houses in the U.S., died on Tuesday, May 12, at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital. The 71-year-old was a part-time resident of Southampton.

In a statement issued to employees later that day, Dennis Eulau, vice-president and chief financial officer of the company, wrote, “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.”

It has been a rough patch lately for Simon and Schuster. Earlier this year the longtime bestselling author Mary Higgins Clark passed away as did the editor Alice Mayhew, who lived nearby in Sag Harbor.

Carolyn Judith Kroll was born on May 2, 1949, in Washington D.C. to Henry and Mildred (Menckie) Kroll and grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland. Her father ran a commercial insurance agency. She attended Middlebury College in Vermont, where she met her future husband, Stephen Reidy, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1971. She earned a master’s degree in the subject from Indiana University and completed her Ph.D. while climbing the publishing ranks, writing her dissertation during vacations.

Ms. Reidy began her career at Random House in 1974, in the subsidiary rights department. She sat outside the office of future Nobel Prize-winner Toni Morrison, who was an editor in the trade book division at the time and who, by Ms. Reidy’s account, proved to be an inspiration. She later worked for William Morrow and Avon Books before landing at Simon and Schuster in 1992, first as president of the trade division and then as head of adult publishing.

She was known for her meticulous engagement with every aspect of the publishing process, from cover art and font type to publicity and marketing. Ms. Reidy became chief executive of Simon and Schuster, one of the few women to head a major book publisher, in 2008 and immediately faced a challenging economic climate with the onset of the Great Recession and a fast-changing digital landscape. Among her initiatives was the digitization of the house’s backlist.

According to the company’s statement, under her leadership, Simon and Schuster published a broad range of successful and influential writers, many of whom she championed, including the recent Pulitzer Prize-winner David W. Blight; bestselling novelists like Stephen King and Jennifer Weiner; nonfiction authors like Bob Woodward, Doris Kearns Goodwin, David McCullough, and Frank McCourt; public figures like Hillary Clinton and children’s and young-adult writers like Jason Reynolds.

In an interview with The New York Times, Mr. King recalled that after Ms. Reidy took the helm in 2008, the rise in e-books had prompted retailers like Walmart and Amazon to slash the price of physical books, and Mr. King was concerned about how his recently published novel “Under the Dome” would fare in that climate. Ms. Reidy, he said, invited him to her office, gave him tea and patiently explained what had happened and where she saw the publishing industry going. “She was clear and concise,” Mr. King said. “She was right about a lot of things and guided the company through some extremely stormy waters.”

Ms. Reidy once described herself as a “meddler,” because she enjoyed being involved in every aspect of the company. But Jonathan Karp, the president and publisher of Simon and Schuster’s adult publishing, said he had seen things differently: “By showing us that she cared about the smallest details, she wanted all of us to care about the smallest details, because she knew that those details can often be the reason a book succeeds.”

Three years ago, Ms. Reidy was named the publishing industry’s Person of the Year by the trade publication Publisher Weekly, which cited her leadership “through the Great Recession, publishing’s digital disruption, and a slow-growth sales environment all while keeping Simon and Schuster a commercial and critical success.”

She is survived by her husband, Stephen, and three siblings.

You May Also Like:

VIDEO: The Show Must Go On: The Arts in a Time of Lockdown

Much of art is meant to be a communal experience. But the COVID-19 pandemic has ... 5 Jun 2020 by Staff Writer

This Summer It’s ‘All For The Hall’

Guild Hall has reinvented its traditional season of events to announce a new, redesigned 2020 ... 2 Jun 2020 by Staff Writer

BCMF Concerts Postponed

Because of circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, this summer’s Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, Long ... by Staff Writer

Free Solo Is A True Cliffhanger

This week, Hamptons DocFest adds another “Fest Favorite” documentary to its website. This time, it’s ... by Staff Writer

‘Best Jams’ Virtual Concert Will ‘Feed the Need’ This Weekend

There are a lot of people in this neck of the woods who are missing ... by Annette Hinkle

When Life Imitiates Fiction: Merrell’s Novel ‘Shirley’ Makes It To The Movies

“Shirley,” a major new motion picture starring Elisabeth Moss and Michael Stuhlbarg, is set to ... by Annette Hinkle

Cooking With The Countess

The Southampton History Museum is hosting a live monthly Zoom cooking show that will take place in the kitchen of one of the Port of Missing Men, the last, private Gilded Age estate in Southampton. The home was built as a hunting retreat on North Sea’s Cow Neck in the 1920s by H.H. Rogers, Jr., whose father was the wealthiest man in the country in 1910. “Cooking with the Countess” features Mrs. Peter A. Salm, also known as The Countess von Salm-Hoogstraeten, and her private chef, Brian Hetrich, behind the stove in the vast kitchen at the Port of Missing ... by Staff Writer

Bloomsday Is Close At Hand

Attention all fans of great literature and superb acting – Bloomsday approaches! Join Guild Hall on Tuesday, June 16, from 8 to 10 p.m. to celebrate one of Ireland (and the world’s) finest writers, James Joyce, and his novel “Ulysses” as read and performed by a legend of the American stage, Austin Pendleton. This one-night-only virtual live reading by Pendleton is directed by Elizabeth Falk and is a one man play by Joe Beck. Joyce’s most famous work “Ulysses” (1922) is based on Homer’s “The Odyssey” and follows the movements of Leopold Bloom through a single day on June 16th, ... by Staff Writer

Bert Stern’s Marilyn Monroe Photos At Keyes Gallery

Keyes Gallery in Sag Harbor in collaboration with the Bert Stern Estate is releasing a series of new, limited edition prints from “The Last Sitting” with Marilyn Monroe that took place at the legendary Bel-Air Hotel in Beverly Hills in 1962. Called “The Red Show,” the exhibition opens at Keyes Gallery on Main Street Sag Harbor on Saturday and Sunday, June 13 and 14, 10 a.m., to 7 p.m. and remains on view through July 6. Sterns photographic artworks of Monroe are black and white, along with sepia toned, hauntingly beautiful prints with themes of red. These works are sourced ... by Staff Writer

Bartley’s Artistic Quarantine

Please Note: This event has been suspended as of June 3, 2020 — notification will be posted if it is rescheduled. - ed Artists don’t stop working just because they’re socially distancing. On Friday, June 5, at 5 p.m. Alicia G. Longwell, Ph.D., The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Chief Curator at the Parrish Art Museum, will lead a live-stream illustrated conversation with Sag Harbor-based photographer and Parrish collection artist Mary Ellen Bartley, who recently completed a 30-day photography project in quarantine. “Mary Ellen Bartley’s story unfolded during a socially-distanced conversation on a neighboring front porch and I immediately wanted ... by Staff Writer
logo

Welcome to our new website!

To see what’s new, click “Start the Tour” to take a tour.

We welcome your feedback. Please click the
“contact/advertise” link in the menu bar to email us.

Start the Tour
Landscape view not supported