People | May 13, 2020

Remembering Carolyn Reidy


carolyn reidy worldreader
Source: ActuaLitté on flickr


Update – 26 May 2020
Worldreader has received an outpouring of support and kind messages from Carolyn’s friends, including over 50 donations made in her memory. We are extremely grateful for these gifts and will be sure the money continues advancing Carolyn’s vision of sharing books with millions of readers across the globe.


Worldreader is deeply saddened by the loss of a global family member, Simon & Schuster’s CEO, Carolyn Reidy. Carolyn passed away on May 12, 2020.

For years, Carolyn – a mogul in the publishing industry – was ahead of her time with digital reading. An early adopter and advocate of e-books, Carolyn saw beyond the fear of disruption to her sector. Instead, she embraced a visionary future where technology could share books more widely than ever before.

To our delight, Carolyn first reached out to us in 2013, eager to learn more and get involved. From there, it didn’t take long for Carolyn to become Worldreader’s champion in New York. Our staff was always honored—even star-struck—to have someone so respected and influential taking interviews and attending events on our behalf. Just last winter, Carolyn and her husband Stephen brought together dozens of her staff and publishing peers in her own living room, coaxing them with cocktails, undeniable charm, and a steely tone to become Worldreader supporters. “We believe in the power of the word,” she said. And on the spot, so did we all.

Carolyn’s most visible contribution to Worldreader reflects her passion for readers. At Simon & Schuster, Carolyn led the charge to donate 175 titles for Worldreader’s distribution. 


We are so proud to report that, as of today, we’ve distributed 85,087 digital copies of these books to children across the Global South, completely for free, as a result of Carolyn’s leadership and generosity.  

worldreader digital reading

But what always struck me in our conversations was how generous she was with her most precious resource – her time.  When I’d visit New York, Carolyn would always find time to get together and share stories. Stories of her observations about India, of her confidence in the long-term value of reading, of how she tried to lead her staff with grace and style. A single example: when I asked her about attending the London Book Fair, she told me: “If I go, my UK staff spend time and energy worrying about me instead of focusing on the work they are at the Fair to accomplish. So I’ll go the week after.”

And always, always we’d discuss what we were reading. Carolyn would invariably send me away with her current favorite – All The Light We Cannot See, When Time Stopped, a galley of The Institute (she knew I’d been a Stephen King fan forever). I never left empty-handed, but even more, I never left without feeling genuinely heard, our work appreciated.  

We will feel Carolyn’s absence for years to come. We are incredibly honored that Worldreader’s impact is even a small part of Carolyn’s enormous legacy.  And I’ll forever treasure every minute we spent together as friends.

David Risher,
CEO and Co-Founder,