Simon & Schuster, Inc., a division of CBS Corporation, is a publisher founded in New York City in 1924 by Richard L. Simon and M. Lincoln (“Max”) Schuster. It is one of the four largest English-language publishers and publishing houses, alongside Random House, Penguin, and HarperCollins. It publishes over two thousand titles annually under 35 different imprints.
Crossword puzzles first appeared in the New York World in 1913, and became a popular feature in newspapers. In 1924, Simon’s aunt, a crossword puzzle devotee, asked Simon whether there was a book of these puzzles that she could give to a friend. Simon discovered that none had been published, and, with Schuster, launched a company to exploit the opportunity.
To attract attention, the book came with a pencil attached. The advertising campaign implied that it was about to become a new fad:
1922: Mah Jong
1924: The first crossword-puzzle book
The ad proved prophetic, and crossword puzzles were indeed the craze of 1924. Simon & Schuster continues to be the preeminent U.S. publisher of crossword puzzle books.
In 1939, with Robert Fair de Graff, Simon & Schuster founded Pocket Books, America’s first paperback publisher.
In 1942, Simon & Schuster, or “Essandess” as it is called in the initial announcement, launched the Little Golden Books series in cooperation with the Artists and Writers Guild. Simon & Schuster’s partner in the venture was the Western Printing and Lithographing Company which handled the actual printing. Western Printing bought out Simon & Schuster’s interest in 1958.
In 1944, Marshall Field III, owner of the Chicago Sun newspaper, purchased Simon & Schuster and Pocket Books. Following Field’s death, in 1957 his heirs sold the company back to Richard L. Simon and M. Lincoln Schuster, while Leon Shimkin and James M. Jacobson acquired Pocket Books.
In 1975, Gulf+Western acquired the company, and nine years later, Prentice Hall was brought into the company fold, followed by mapmaker Gousha in 1987. G+W would change its name to Paramount Communications in 1989.
In 1994, Paramount was sold to the original Viacom, allowing S&S to launch several new imprints in conjunction with channels owned by Viacom’s MTV Networks. Simon & Schuster’s first move under Viacom was the acquisition of Macmillan USA.
In 1998, Viacom sold Simon & Schuster’s educational operations, including Prentice Hall and Macmillan, to Pearson PLC, the global publisher and owner of Penguin and Financial Times.
Viacom would split into two companies at the end of 2005: one called CBS Corporation (which inherited S&S), and the other retaining the Viacom name. Despite the split, National Amusements retains majority control of both firms.
As part of CBS, Simon & Schuster is the primary publisher for books related to various media franchises owned by CBS, such as How I Met Your Mother, Star Trek, and CSI.
In April 2012, the United States Department of Justice filed United States v. Apple Inc., naming Apple, Simon & Schuster, and four other major publishers as defendants. The suit alleged that they conspired to fix prices for e-books, and weaken Amazon.com’s position in the market, in violation of antitrust law.
In December 2013, a federal judge approved a settlement of the antitrust claims, in which Simon & Schuster and the other publishers paid into a fund that provided credits to customers who had overpaid for books due to the price-fixing.
In October 2014, Simon & Schuster signed a multi-year partnership deal with Amazon.com in negotiations concerning the price of e-books.