Richard E. Snyder, 93, Dies; Drove Simon & Schuster to New Heights

Richard E. Snyder, the dignified publishing executive who turned Simon & Schuster into the nation’s largest book publisher, died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles. he was 90 years old.

Heart failure was the cause, according to his son Matthew, who lives in California. Matthew said his father moved to California after his health worsened with sepsis and other problems.

With undiminished ambition, tenacity, and intuition, Mr. Snyder never became an avid reader himself, but instead turned a New York-based clubbing literature-lovers industry into a celebrity mogul-run conglomerate. Contributed to the transformation into a global company made up of companies.

He has acquired a number of companies, including Macmillan and a well-known educational publisher. He includes Watergate reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, former President Ronald Reagan, Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Graham Greene, Larry McMurtry, Joan Didion, Philip Roth, and Mary Higgins.・Clark, Joseph Heller, Mario Puzo, and David McCullough were recruited as authors. .

And he hired Alice Mayhew, Michael Korda, Jim Silverman and Nan Talese as top editors, and then generally left it to their professional judgment.

Entering the world of book publishing as a young college graduate, Snyder began working for Simon & Schuster in 1960. From 1975 to 1986 he served as president, from 1978 to 1994 as chief executive officer and from 1986 to 1994 as chairman.

Annual revenue soared from $40 million in 1975 to $2 billion by 1994. During his tenure, the company’s tradebook division won at least six Pulitzer Prizes.

Considered the dynamo of the publishing industry, Mr. Snyder is perhaps best known to the public for two high-profile episodes. The first was her bitter divorce in 1990 from Joni Evans, a publisher pioneer who hired her for Simon & Schuster. Women in a male-dominated publishing culture. And he was suddenly fired after Simon & Schuster was acquired by Viacom in 1994.

Acquisition-ridden Viacom has begun selling the subsidiary Snyder bought to make Simon & Schuster a success.

Mr. Snyder was distinguished by his distinctive colored aviator glasses, his barely legible handwriting, his Brooklyn accent, and his temper. While some former employees remembered Mr. Snyder as a valuable mentor, Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein described Mr. Snyder as “surly,” Mr. Snyder I never won a personality contest.

“There’s a tendency to see only the dark side of Dick,” Korda, a friend and colleague of decades, said in a telephone interview. He was a radical innovator who took book publishing from a private cottage industry into a real business where people could work and earn a living. ”

In his book Another Life: A Memoir of Other People (1999), Korda wrote of Snyder: An outburst of anger through sheer willpower. ”

“Some speculated that barking and biting would be equally offensive, especially if they were poorly prepared, did a sloppy job, or didn’t want to do the extra work,” Korda added.

Charles Hayward, who left Simon & Schuster to become president of Little Brown, wrote in The New York Times Magazine in 1995, “Using demeaning and humiliation to control people is a dick. It was part of the style of

But former Bantam Doubleday Dell CEO and former colleague Paul D. Neuthaler said in an interview that Mr. Snyder was “a publisher genius and my favorite tough guy and mentor.” Told. And Susan Kamil, who worked for Evans at Simon & Schuster and later joined Random House, told New York magazine in 1987 that Mr. Snyder “not just teaches business lessons or life lessons, but everything. taught me,” he is reported to have said. And I will always be grateful. ”

In a statement issued after Mr. Snyder’s death, Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein said that Mr. Snyder had written two landmark Watergate-era books, All About the President (1974) and The Last Days. (1976). ) said, “We chose to publish with Dick because of his unbridled devotion to truth and his promise to stand by us no matter what direction Watergate takes. .”

Richard Elliot Snyder, better known as Dick, was born on April 6, 1933 in Brooklyn to Jack and Molly (Rothman) Snyder. His father was a gentleman’s overcoat operator.

After attending Adelphi Academy in Brooklyn and graduating from Tufts University in 1955, he was drafted into the Army. He intended to join his father’s apparel company, but as he told Roger Rosenblatt in a Times magazine profile in 1995, when he showed up for work his father showed him the door and said, I would rather have a son than a partner,” he said.

When a friend went for an interview at Doubleday in Manhattan, Mr. Snyder accompanied him and was eventually hired as a trainee. After proving that he was one of the few people at Doubleday who knew the exact number of books published, ordered, sold and returned in a given period of time, in 1958 he became an assistant marketing He was appointed director. He likened that ability to his father’s senses. About the value of overcoat fabric.

“He could rub the fabric of the jacket with his thumb and forefinger,” Snyder said in his Times profile. Even a dime would be enough for him. I had a flair for that feeling when it came to books. ”

In a climate created by Mr. Snyder, he claimed to be a businessman rather than a literary man. Korda said: “There is no law that the publisher must read the book. The publisher must read the book.” Dick had a wonderful instinct to trust editors. ”

Snyder’s other three marriages to Ruth Freund, Laura York and Teresa Liu also ended in divorce. In addition to his son Matthew from his marriage to Ms. Freund, he has a daughter Jackie from that marriage. Two other sons born during the marriage to Ms. York, Richard Elliott Snyder Jr. and Coleman York. and two grandchildren.

Mr. Snyder prospered under Simon & Schuster’s ownership by Gulf & Western Industries, which purchased the company in 1975. But the owner’s founder and chairman, Charles G. Broodhorn, died in 1983 and was succeeded by Paramount Pictures executive Martin Davis. , Gulf and Western subsidiaries Mr. Snyder feuded with him. At one point, Mr. Davis rejected advice to invest in an educational publisher that was on sale at a fire sale price.

After being fired from Viacom, Mr. Snyder founded an investment group and in 1996 acquired Western Publishing and its children’s publishing arm, Golden Books. However, it turned out that there were problems in restructuring the company, and it was sold.

At the request of Norman Mailer, Mr. Snyder helped revive the International Pen to promote literature and freedom of expression, and helped found a foundation to award the National Book Award.

Snyder said he never denied being a tough taskmaster, but he never demanded more from others than he did himself.

“Ninety-nine percent of the people in this industry are highly intelligent, so quality doesn’t set anyone apart,” he told The Times in 1979. Maybe it’s the nervous obsession I’m looking for, someone who spends his last five minutes on a task. We want people who do the impossible and then worry that they won’t be able to repeat it the next day. ”

Mr. Snyder deepened his self-examination to reveal other aspects of his erratic behavior. He attributed it to his upbringing as a hyperactive only child and crude student, raised in a bookless home by his parents, whose main passion was playing Gin Rummy.

“I was quite rebellious and I think my parents felt I was on the wrong track,” he said. “They were so tolerant that I always wished they had more power. I remember going with Joni when ‘Annie Hall’ opened. increase. There was a great line when Woody Allen took a ticket from a cop, ripped it up and said, “It’s not your fault, I just can’t handle authority.”

“I poked Joni and said, ‘That’s me.'”

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