Richard E. Snyder, the imperious publishing government who constructed Simon & Schuster into the nation’s largest e-book writer, died on Tuesday at his residence in Los Angeles. He was 90.
The trigger was coronary heart failure, stated his son Matthew, who lives in California and had moved his father there as his well being declined from sepsis and different issues.
Through unmitigated ambition, tenacity and intestine instinct, and with out ever changing into an engaged reader himself, Mr. Snyder helped remodel a New York-based trade of clubby literary connoisseurs into a world enterprise made up of conglomerates run by celeb moguls.
He acquired scores of corporations, together with Macmillan and outstanding instructional publishers. He recruited as authors the Watergate reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, former President Ronald Reagan, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Graham Greene, Larry McMurtry, Joan Didion, Philip Roth, Mary Higgins Clark, Joseph Heller, Mario Puzo and David McCullough.
And he enlisted Alice Mayhew, Michael Korda, Jim Silberman and Nan Talese as high editors after which usually deferred to their skilled judgment.
Mr. Snyder, who stumbled into e-book publishing as a younger school graduate, started working at Simon & Schuster in 1960. He was its president from 1975 to 1986, chief government from 1978 to 1994 and chairman from 1986 to 1994.
By 1994, annual income had soared to $2 billion from $40 million in 1975. During his tenure, the corporate’s commerce e-book division gained at the very least a half-dozen Pulitzer Prizes.
Regarded as a dynamo contained in the publishing trade, Mr. Snyder was in all probability greatest identified to the general public for 2 high-profile episodes: his bitter divorce in 1990 from Joni Evans, whom he had employed at Simon & Schuster and who had develop into a trailblazer for girls in a male-dominated publishing tradition; and his abrupt dismissal from Simon & Schuster in 1994 following the corporate’s buy by Viacom.
Saddled with debt from the acquisition, Viacom started divesting itself of the subsidiaries that Mr. Snyder had acquired in making Simon & Schuster successful.
Mr. Snyder was distinguished by his signature tinted aviator glasses, his barely readable handwriting, his Brooklyn accent and his mood. While some former staff remembered him as a precious mentor — Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein would characterize him as “avuncular” — Mr. Snyder by no means gained any persona contests.
“There’s a tendency to see only the dark side of Dick,” Mr. Korda, a good friend and colleague for many years, stated in a phone interview, “but he was genuinely a visionary who did to some degree revolutionize publishing. He was quite a radical innovator and led the way for book publishing from a privately owned cottage industry into a real business in which it was possible for people to work and make a living.”
In his e-book “Another Life: A Memoir of Other People” (1999), Mr. Korda wrote of Mr. Snyder, “He was like a tightly wound spring, and to those who knew him he seemed often to be holding himself back from an explosion of temper by sheer willpower.”
“One guessed, too, that his bark and his bite were likely to be equally unpleasant,” Mr. Korda added, “especially when it came to ill-prepared or sloppy work or a reluctance to go the extra mile.”
Charles Hayward, who left Simon & Schuster to develop into president of Little, Brown, was quoted in The New York Times Magazine in 1995 as saying that “it was part of Dick’s style to use degradation and humiliation to control people.”
But Paul D. Neuthaler, the previous chief government of Bantam Doubleday Dell and a former colleague, stated in an interview that Mr. Snyder “was a genius publisher and my favorite tough guy and mentor.” And Susan Kamil, who labored for Ms. Evans at Simon & Schuster and joined her later at Random House, was quoted by New York journal in 1987 as saying that Mr. Snyder had “taught me everything — not just business lessons, life lessons — and I’ll always be grateful.”
In an announcement issued after Mr. Snyder’s demise, Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein, whom Mr. Snyder had enlisted to put in writing their landmark Watergate-era books, “All the President’s Men” (1974) and “The Final Days” (1976), stated: “We chose to publish with Dick because of his commitment to the unfettered truth and his promise that he would back us no matter where the Watergate story led.”
Richard Elliot Snyder, who was generally known as Dick, was born on April 6, 1933, in Brooklyn to Jack and Molly (Rothman) Snyder. His father was an proprietor of a males’s overcoat enterprise.
After attending Adelphi Academy in Brooklyn and graduating from Tufts University in 1955, he was drafted into the Army. He anticipated to hitch his father’s attire firm, however, as he advised Roger Rosenblatt for The Times Magazine profile in 1995, when he confirmed up for work, his father confirmed him the door and stated, “Better a son than a partner.”
When a good friend went for an interview at Doubleday in Manhattan, Mr. Snyder tagged alongside, and earlier than lengthy was employed as a trainee. He was named assistant advertising director in 1958 after demonstrating that he was one of many few folks at Doubleday who knew the exact variety of books that had been revealed, ordered, bought and returned in a given interval — a capability he likened to his father’s really feel for the worth of cloth for overcoats.
“He could rub the material of a jacket between his thumb and forefinger,” Mr. Snyder stated in The Times Magazine profile, “and in no more than a second, proclaim, ‘$3.34 a yard.’ He would be right to the penny. I had that gift of feel when it came to books.”
In a local weather that Mr. Snyder helped create, he billed himself as a businessman moderately than as a person of letters. As Mr. Korda put it, “There’s no law that says that publishers have to read books; Dick had a wonderful instinct for relying on his editors.”
Mr. Snyder’s three different marriages, to Ruth Freund, Laura Yorke and Terresa Liu, additionally led to divorce. In addition to his son Matthew, from his marriage to Ms. Freund, he’s survived by a daughter from that marriage, Jackie; two different sons, Richard Elliott Snyder Jr. and Coleman Yorke, from his marriage to Ms. Yorke; and two grandchildren.
Mr. Snyder thrived beneath Simon & Schuster’s possession by Gulf and Western Industries, which purchased the corporate in 1975. But when the proprietor’s founder and chairman, Charles G. Bludhorn, died in 1983 and was succeeded by Martin Davis, an government at Paramount Pictures, a Gulf and Western subsidiary, Mr. Snyder feuded with him. At one level Mr. Davis rejected his recommendation to put money into an academic writer being supplied at a fireplace sale worth.
After he was fired by Viacom, Mr. Snyder shaped an funding group that, in 1996, acquired Western Publishing and its kids’s publishing division, Golden Books. But turning the corporate round proved problematic, and it was bought.
At the request of Norman Mailer, Mr. Snyder was instrumental in reviving International PEN, which promotes literature and free expression, and helped set up the muse that presents the National Book Awards.
Mr. Snyder by no means denied that he was a tricky taskmaster, however, he stated, he didn’t demand extra of others than he did of himself.
“Ninety‐nine percent of the people in this industry are highly intelligent, so that quality doesn’t distinguish anyone,” he advised The Times in 1979. “The people who succeed are those who have the greatest commitment. Maybe it’s a neurotic commitment I look for, the person who will spend the last five minutes doing a task. You want someone who does something that is impossible and then is worried the next day that he can’t duplicate it.”
Amplifying his self-analysis, Mr. Snyder revealed one other facet of his balky conduct, which he attributed to his upbringing as a hyperactive solely youngster and sketchy pupil raised in a house devoid of books by dad and mom whose main ardour was taking part in gin rummy.
“I was quite rebellious, and think my parents felt I was going on the wrong track,” he stated. “They were very permissive, and guess I kept wishing they had exercised more authority. I can remember going to ‘Annie Hall’ with Joni when it opened. There was that great line when Woody Allen gets a ticket from a cop, rips it up and says, ‘It’s not your fault, I just can’t deal with authority.’
“I poked Joni and said, ‘That was me.’”
Source web site: www.nytimes.com