The succession at Scholastic seemed like a shock, even to the new president
A caricature of his face, showing him in the distance as a superhero, hangs on the wall of a gallery at Scholastic headquarters, near the portraits of Harry Potter and Clifford. Ms Lucchese said when the office was remodeled a few years ago Mr Robinson did not want to post pictures of himself, but Ms Lucchese said she slipped one.
Mr Robinson has made no secret of his desire for Scholastic to remain an independent company, even as consolidation within the publishing industry accelerates around him. Penguin Random House, itself a merger in 2013, is trying to buy Simon & Schuster. If approved by federal regulators, this deal would create a colossus far bigger than any other publisher in the country.
But the remaining big houses will want to band together to compete, especially by acquiring rich “backlists”, catalogs of older titles that are reliable, long-term money generators – which will certainly make Scholastic an attractive target.
The company’s new management team appears to share what was perhaps Mr. Robinson’s most valuable goal: Ms. Lucchese and Mr. Warwick expressed no interest in selling.
“We ourselves have the resources to move forward at the pace we want,” said Mr. Warwick.
Given Mr. Robinson’s devotion to Scholastic, it was fitting that his memorial service took place there last month. A virtual event with only a few people in attendance, it included a video eulogy delivered by his son Reece. “We will cherish the memories of the vacations and weekends we spent with him during Covid when he was not working 12 hours a day,” Reece Robinson said of his family’s relationship with his father.
The service had all the power of a Hollywood collaboration, with video messages from Goldie Hawn, Bill Clinton and JK Rowling punctuating remarks from former employees and board members. The final speaker, Alec Baldwin, described the friendship he had developed with Mr Robinson as neighbors in a downtown apartment building and expressed his condolences to Mr Robinson’s family at the scholastic community and to Mrs. Lucchese. He was the only speaker who mentioned his name.
Mr Wallack, the portfolio manager of the company’s second-largest shareholder, had twice contacted investor relations at Scholastic to request information about Mr Robinson’s funeral, he said. But no one alerted him to the memorial service, he said. “I was hoping I was invited to this,” he said, or at least sent a link. (In response, a spokesperson for the company said the event was made public on social media and on the company’s website.)