Chapman leads tributes to 'empowering' Reidy

Chapman leads tributes to 'empowering' Reidy

Ian Chapman, chief executive and publisher of Simon & Schuster UK and International, has spoken of his admiration for the "empowering, inspiring, approachable" Carolyn Reidy, following the shock death of the Simon & Schuster president and c.e.o. on Tuesday morning.

In a statement released shortly after her death was announced, Chapman said: "I was fortunate, nay privileged, to work directly for Carolyn for the past 12 years. Her support of Simon & Schuster in the UK, Australia and India was unwavering.  Carolyn was empowering, inspiring, approachable to every member of the company. All of us are stunned by the news, on a personal level as well as professional, our authors, too, whose careers she championed and took such pride in.

"I learned and was still learning from her every day and I know that I will continue to hear her voice in my ear, full of wisdom, candour, humour and determination. Carolyn was truly international in her outlook, too, and relished her visits to London, to Sydney and to New Delhi when we opened our office there. If there was one thing that bemused her, it was my love of cricket and Manchester United.   Even 3,500 miles away Carolyn was a constant and vital presence in our publishing lives. I speak for everyone in the companies that I oversee when I say that we all owe Carolyn a tremendous amount and will miss her beyond measure."

Responding to the news, David Shelley, c.e.o. of Hachette UK, said: "I was very shocked and saddened to hear of Carolyn’s passing. I had such respect for her, as a brilliant publisher, a laser-focused businessperson and as a truly decent human being. She was warm, approachable and generous with both her time and her considerable wisdom. She was one of the greats of our industry and will be missed hugely."

HarperCollins UK c.e.o. Charlie Redmayne called Reidy a "towering figure" in the publishing world. He said: "‘We were shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden death of Carolyn Reidy. Carolyn was a towering figure in the industry and an inspiring publisher and c.e.o. Our thoughts are with her family, and her friends and colleagues at Simon & Schuster, they will miss her greatly, as will we all."

Bonnier Books UK c.e.o. Perminder Mann said: "News of Carolyn’s passing came as a real shock. In the short time I was fortunate enough to know Carolyn, she became a close mentor and friend. Carolyn was incredibly generous with her time and her wisdom, and always thoughtful, considerate and welcoming. Her loss will be felt deeply by colleagues and friends across the industry – she will be hugely missed."

Pan Macmillan m.d. Anthony Forbes Watson added: "Carolyn was somebody I would have wanted to work for, and I can't say that about most people: hardboiled and humane, fierce and kind, she was the publisher in full, to aspire to.  Back in the day, she gave me a three month commission, a round-the-world ticket and the gift of her attention when my luck was running out, and I will always be grateful."  

Caroline Michel, c.e.o. of PFD, said: "It was such a shock to hear of Carolyn’s death. I’ve always felt that Carolyn was one of the fiercest, brightest shining lights of our industry. She was just such a force of good - such an incredibly kind, caring person, and so phenomenally good at what she did. Her loss will be felt immensely."

Penguin Random House c.e.o. Markus Dohle said: "Carolyn Reidy‘s passing is a huge loss for our global publishing community. I had the privilege of working closely with Carolyn on several industry boards in service to our beloved books, and in our meetings and conversations over the years I was always impressed by her sharp intelligence and signature clarity as well as her refreshing candor and sense of humor. We have lost one of the best publishing entrepreneurs of our generation and I am one of many who will miss her greatly."

Clare Alexander of Aitken Alexander Associates added: "For a chief executive, Carolyn had an usually human touch. Yes, she was a formidable leader who was fierce in defence of what she saw as fair or in her company’s best interests, as those British publishers who had to confront her about European exclusivity (in those happy early days of EU membership) can surely attest. She was downright ferocious when Amazon brought a price-fixing law suit against Apple and the Big Five US publishers. 

"But that warrior queen was also a woman who mastered the detail, who wanted to know everything that was going on. 

"Nothing was too small for her attention, and if she liked a book, not only would she fight the author’s corner forever, but – as I recently discovered when she loved my client Ariana Neumann’s book When Time Stopped – she would also send flights of encouraging hand-written notes of support and encouragement.  She never became too grand to champion the books and authors she loved. 

"But more than anything she will be remembered for her extraordinary leadership skills.  Famous for her town hall meetings with the staff, once the office closed because of the pandemic, Carolyn stepped up her contact with her staff and started to send out dailycorporate missives that were warm and personal, moving from how she saw global events unfolding to how the company was doing and what she was doing or reading at home.  A couple of them were shared with me, and I thought them pitch perfect, especially as staff faced times made even more uncertain by the news that Simon & Schuster was for sale.  In her last she talked about the fact that virtual author tours were here to stay, she announced excellent quarterly earnings for the company, and she mentioned the weather forecast for the weekend and what she planned to read.

"I have known Carolyn for a very long time and watched her grow in stature and strength as she strode ahead in her career. But we really became close over the last decade or so, when my husband and I would annually spend a week with our mutual friend, Steve Rubin, on Long Island. A feature of that vacation would always be dinner with the Reidys, either at Steve’s house or theirs.  If we went there, Carolyn’s beloved husband, Stephen, would cook something delicious.  In fact, I still dream about a lemon pie he baked one year. 

"In those small gatherings I got to know that behind the ferocious, effective, brilliant executive and the passionate advocate for the books and authors she loved lay a warm, funny woman who was full of the life force.  She was always clear about her own opinions and she told it to you straight, whether you agreed or not - but what was there not to love about someone so engaged, so smart and so authentic?

"It is a terrible shock to lose her leadership at a time when we need those skills so badly.  It is worse to have lost such a friend."

In the US, Maria Pallante, president and c.e.o. of the Association of American Publishers, said: "We join our friends and colleagues on the AAP Board, at Simon & Schuster, and across the global publishing community in mourning the loss of Carolyn Reidy.  A former chairman of AAP’s Board, she was a giant among industry giants, and her undeniable poise, grace and charm earned her the love and admiration of scores of people who had the privilege and pleasure to know her. Carolyn was a friend to me and I will miss her sorely."

Tributes were also paid across social media as the news was reported. Author Stephen King, published by S&S in the US, wrote: "Very sorry to hear that Carolyn Reidy, the c.e.o. of Simon & Schuster, has passed. I've known her--and respected her--for years. It's a great loss."

Unbound founder Dan Kieran wrote: "Awful news. Of all the major publishing people I have met over the years, she ‘got’ @unbounders quicker than anyone else. Had some amazing conversations with her. We were tiny but she was hugely supportive of what we were trying to do. Heart goes out to her family and friends."

Author Candice Carty-Williams tweeted: "When I went to NY and was so SCARED about Queenie, and public speaking, and basically everything, she hugged me and told me it was all going to be great. Not many c.e.o.’s do that, let me tell you."

Many staff members past and present also paid tribute to Reidy. Former S&S non-fiction publisher Iain MacGregor wrote: "Like everyone else, incredibly upset by the news. ALWAYS made time for her junior staff, especially if you came over from the UK. Steely and wise with classic one-liners when required."

Laura Hough, children's sales and brand director at S&S Children's, added: "In shock and totally devastated to have lost Carolyn today. In all my dealings with her she was so inspiring as a female leader, funny, sharp as a tack, sometimes scary, but mostly a really generous person who took time to say well done and to show you were valued and respected."