NEW YORK (AP) -- Richard Snyder, a visionary and imperious executive at Simon & Schuster who in bold-faced style presided over the publisher's exponential rise during the second half of the 20th century and helped define an era of consolidation and growing corporate power, has died. He was 90.
Snyder died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles, according to his son Matthew Snyder, who said he had been in failing health.
"Dick Snyder led Simon & Schuster through some of its most storied and eventful years," the company said Wednesday in a statement. "He built Simon & Schuster into one of the largest and most influential publishing companies in the world, known for headline-making nonfiction, bestselling fiction and timeless classics."
Snyder was among those who helped transform the industry. When he joined Simon & Schuster as a sales assistant in the early 1960s, publishing houses were mostly privately owned, some still run by their founders. By the time he was forced out by Viacom in 1994, Simon & Schuster and such rivals as Random House and HarperCollins were under corporate ownership and had bought out numerous former competitors.
President of Simon & Schuster Inc. starting in 1975, and CEO from 1978-94, Snyder built a modern company in ways at times too modern for the world of books. Simon & Schuster's revenues multiplied from around $40 million annually in the 1970s to more than $2 billion by the mid-1990s, making it at the time the country's largest publisher, a position now held by Penguin Random House.
Bestsellers during Snyder's reign included Mary Higgins Clark's crime thrillers and such Pulitzer Prize winners as David McCullough's "Truman" and Larry McMurtry's "Lonesome Dove." Snyder also was an early advocate for electronic publishing and computerizing business operations, and he vastly expanded Simon & Schuster by purchasing such educational companies as Prentice Hall and Esquire Inc., spending more than $1 billion overall on acquisitions.