Further tributes paid to 'shining light' Carolyn Reidy

Further tributes paid to 'shining light' Carolyn Reidy

More tributes have been paid to Simon & Schuster president and c.e.o. Carolyn Reidy, “one of the fiercest, brightest shining lights of our industry”, following her shock death from a heart attack this week.

The 71-year-old passed away from a heart attack on 12th May. Her husband Stephen has requested that donations in her honour be made to Worldreader, a non-profit organisation she supported that provides people in the developing world with free access to digital books.

Paying tribute, 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."

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."

Clare Alexander of Aitken Alexander Associates, said Reidy had become a close friend in recent years. She said: "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 daily corporate 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."

Condolence cards can be sent  to Stephen K Reidy, c/o Simon & Schuster Corporate Communications, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.