John Adams, longtime sales representative and national accounts manager for Penguin Random House, died August 3 of an apparent heart attack. He was 64.
A native of upstate New York, Adams began his publishing career in 1979 as a sales rep for Little, Brown, based in Washington, D.C. In 1986, he joined Crown/Outlet as a rep overing the South. In January 1995, he was promoted to national accounts manager, and continued in at that role at Penguin Random House until his passing. In total, Adams spent 34 years working for PRH and its predecessor companies.
"There is so much that was impressive about John: he was a brilliant and dedicated reader, especially of our history books, even when there was no chance his accounts would carry them," said Jaci Updike, president of U.S. sales at PRH US. "At sales conferences, when a publisher presented an 800+ page book on an obscure historical subject, it was not unusual to see John lean into the microphone with brilliant words of appreciation and support, positioning the book for the rest of us. Sometimes it seemed that he read every book that Knopf’s Ash Green and Random House’s Bob Loomis signed up."
Citing his perennial optimism, his mentorship of younger colleagues, and her own grief at the loss, Updike noted: "Like the best team players, John helped pick you up when you stumbled, and convinced you that you would absolutely nail it the next time you tried.... I will miss John so much."
Adams is survived by his wife of 42 years, Holly, three children, and five grandchildren. News of funeral arrangements has yet to be announced.
This story has been updated for clarity.