Alongside the National Book Foundation’s entire staff and its Board of Directors, we were stunned and deeply saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Carolyn Reidy, CEO of Simon & Schuster, who died on Tuesday at the age of 71.
In addition to her countless contributions to the publishing industry and tireless support of writers, Carolyn served on the Foundation’s Board of Directors for nearly two decades. Notably, she chaired the Program Committee, helping each year to select the lifetime achievement award recipients, and shaping the year-round public and education programs that serve tens of thousands of readers across the country.
Her clear thinking, keen eye for detail, and relentless candor helped us always put our best foot forward. The ways in which a committed Board member can influence an organization’s work is not always visible, but time and again Carolyn advocated for the Foundation, shepherded its work, and demonstrated her commitment to the Foundation’s mission of celebrating the best literature in America, widening its audience, and ensuring that books remain culturally relevant.
The outpouring of love and warm memories from the larger publishing and literary community only further demonstrates the unique and special role she played, and how so many others also felt deeply connected to her, supported by her, and inspired by her.
We knew Carolyn as a leader, a colleague, a moral force, an inspiration, and a straightforward voice of reason. At the National Book Foundation, we will aspire to continue flourishing, reaching more readers, and advocating for the importance of literature and the literary community at large—now with the added privilege of being able to do so in Carolyn’s memory and honor. We are better for her years of service to this organization and her lifelong devotion to literature, and we will miss her care, guidance, and support.
We mourn the loss of a true original, whose impact on the world of books is undeniable and whose legacy will live on in the industry she helped define, the books she made possible, and the literary organizations, like the National Book Foundation, where she left an indelible mark.
David Steinberger, Chairman of the Board
Lisa Lucas, Executive Director