Jonathan Karp has been tapped to succeed Carolyn Reidy as president and CEO of Simon & Schuster. Reidy died from a heart attack on May 12, after leading the publisher since 2008. Karp joined S&S in June 2010 as publisher of Simon & Schuster’s flagship imprint, and was promoted to president and publisher of Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing in 2018.
In a memo to the staff announcing his promotion, Karp wrote about his relationship with Reidy over the past 10 years and how that will affect his leadership style. “Carolyn Reidy has shown me how an executive communicates and leads—candidly, firmly, warmly, attentively, and generously,” he 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. Together, we will honor and uphold our nearly hundred-year tradition of innovation and excellence, with laughter and learning along the way.”
Karp acknowledged that S&S has been through a lot over the past four months, including the coronavirus pandemic and the announcement that parent company Viacom/CBS was exploring the sale of the company, in addition to the loss of Reidy. Still, Karp wrote, “I cannot imagine a more exciting opportunity than to lead Simon & Schuster.” He wrote that while S&S’s mission remains the same—“to publish the most satisfying books we can find, with passion and purpose and profitability,” what has changed are “the times into which we will be discovering and publishing these books.”
“It is an especially crucial time to be publishing books, when so many readers are looking for direction and inspiration," Karp continued. "Our authors and their books are an essential part of this cultural conversation. We will continue to do all we can to make sure their voices are heard.”
Karp took the editorial route to the top spot at S&S. He entered publishing in 1989 at Random House, where he worked for 16 years, rising to editor-in-chief of the Random House division. He moved to Hachette Book Group in 2005, where he founded the Twelve imprint. At Twelve, Karp published such acclaimed bestselling works as True Compass by Edward M. Kennedy, God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens, and War by Sebastian Junger.
Since joining S&S, Karp has overseen the publication of many of the publisher’s most important adult books. Among them are Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, What Happened by Hillary Clinton, Fear by Bob Woodward, Frederick Douglass by David Blight (the winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in History), Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen, In One Person by John Irving, and The Library Book by Susan Orlean. New authors who have broken out under Karp include Jack Carr, Mary Beth Keane, Megan Miranda, Mike Rowe, and Rebecca Serle.
Bob Bakish, president and CEO of Viacom/CBS, said Karp is the right person to continue the values and culture of S&S instilled by Reidy. “Jon was a key member of the leadership team that consistently delivered strong results for Simon & Schuster, while expanding its readership across genres and formats,” Bakish said in a statement. “He is a highly skilled executive who is deeply committed to the collaborative process of publishing, and will no doubt build upon a storied legacy of success.”