Simon & Schuster Turns 100 With a New Owner and a Sense of Optimism – The New York Times

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The milestone comes after a particularly turbulent period, when the publisher was put up for sale and bought by a private equity firm. Since then, investments have boosted morale and helped it grow.

More than 1,000 people came out on Tuesday night in Manhattan to nibble on steak, dance to Britney Spears and play pingpong in celebration of the 100th anniversary of one of largest book publishers in the United States, Simon & Schuster.

The company’s milestone, reached this week, comes amid a growth spurt and new sense of optimism after one of the most tumultuous periods in its history.

“We are going to have to sell a lot of books to pay for this party,” Jonathan Karp, the company’s chief executive, joked in a speech on Tuesday night. “But that’s OK!”

Last fall, the publisher was acquired by KKR, a private equity firm, for $1.62 billion. The deal marked the company’s seventh change in ownership in a century, and some in the industry were wary of a private equity firm taking the reins of one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious publishing houses. But KKR has invested in the company, starting new imprints and hiring editors, which has boosted morale and set Simon & Schuster apart at a moment when most publishers are looking for ways to cut costs.

To mark its centennial, Simon & Schuster also held a town hall in Midtown Manhattan on Monday night, with appearances by 35 of its most notable authors. The lineup included award-winning novelists like Jennifer Egan, John Irving and Anthony Doerr; best-selling nonfiction authors, among them Walter Isaacson, Bob Woodward, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Susan Orlean; and a sprinkling of public figures that included Jerry Seinfeld, Charlamagne Tha God and Hillary Clinton, who was briefly heckled by a protester who called her a war criminal before being escorted out.

Before the event, dozens of literary luminaries mingled in an upstairs lounge.

“I lost my mind when John Irving walked in,” said Lauren Billings, who writes best-selling romances with Christina Hobbs under the pen name Christina Lauren.

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