NEW YORK — Jonathan Karp, who has worked with authors ranging from Sen. Edward Kennedy to Susan Orlean, has been named the new CEO 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 CEO Bob Bakish said in a statement Thursday.
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 coronavirus 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."
In a telephone interview with The Associated Press, Karp confirmed the publisher was up for sale and said there was “significant interest” from potential buyers, although any changes were unlikely until the market had “stabilized.” He declined to offer specifics on how well Simon & Schuster was doing during the pandemic but said its financial position was “strong” and that there had been no coronavirus-related layoffs or other cutbacks. He expressed optimism about upcoming books from Bob Woodward, Jerry Seinfeld, Brian Stelter and other authors.
In a companywide memo shared with the AP, 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.
"Over the past ten 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.”
Hillel Italie, The Associated Press