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Simon & Schuster names Jonathan Karp as new CEO

Jonathan Karp is the newly named CEO of Simon & Schuster, replacing Carolyn Reidy, who died on May 12.
Jonathan Karp is the newly named CEO of Simon & Schuster.
(Michael Benabib / Simon & Schuster)

Jonathan Karp, who has worked with authors ranging from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy to Susan Orlean, has been named the new chief executive of Simon & Schuster. He replaces Carolyn Reidy, who died two weeks ago.

Karp, who joined the company in 2010, most recently served as president and publisher of Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing.

“Jon embodies the values that Carolyn instilled at Simon & Schuster, and he is well suited to guide the continued growth and evolution of this incredible global brand,” ViacomCBS President and Chief Executive Bob Bakish said in a statement Thursday.

Reidy died Tuesday of a heart attack at age 71. She joined Simon & Schuster in 1992 as president of the trade division.

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The 56-year-old Karp has a long history of critical and commercial success at Random House, at Twelve and at Simon & Schuster. Notable books he has worked on include Kennedy’s “True Compass,” Orlean’s “The Library Book,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” and Laura Hillenbrand‘s “Seabiscuit.”

Karp takes over Simon & Schuster at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the economy and when the publisher’s future ownership is uncertain. In early March, Bakish told investors that Viacom was looking to sell Simon & Schuster, saying “It is not a core asset. It is not video-based. It does not have significant connection for our broader business.”

ViacomCBS puts Simon & Schuster up for sale. The publishing house is not a core asset, and the newly merged ViacomCBS is looking to shed properties.

In a companywide memo shared with the Associated Press, Karp said he hoped to build upon the work and approach of Reidy, one of the industry’s most widely liked and respected executives. She was credited with guiding Simon & Schuster through numerous changes and disruptions in the industry, from the rise of e-books to the economic crisis of a decade ago.

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“Over the past 10 years, Carolyn Reidy has shown me how an executive communicates and leads — candidly, firmly, warmly, attentively, and generously,” Karp wrote. “I owe Carolyn a debt I will never be able to repay to her, but I will do everything I can to pay it forward by sustaining her standards and humanity through my work with you. We will maintain our culture of straightforward and creative collaboration, in which anyone from every corner of our organization can suggest any idea.”


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