A cartoon of his face, showing him looking off into the distance like a superhero, hangs on a gallery wall in Scholastic headquarters, near portraits of Harry Potter and Clifford. Ms. Lucchese said that when the office was redesigned a few years ago, Mr. Robinson hadn’t wanted any pictures of himself displayed but Ms. Lucchese said she sneaked that one in.
Mr. Robinson made it no secret that he wished Scholastic to remain an independent company, even as consolidation within the publishing business sped up around him. Penguin Random House, itself the product of a 2013 merger, is in the process of trying to buy Simon & Schuster. If approved by federal regulators, that deal would create a colossus far larger than any other publisher in the country.
But the remaining large houses will want to bulk up to compete, especially by acquiring rich “backlists,” catalogs of older titles that are reliable, long-term money makers — which is sure to make Scholastic an attractive target.
The company’s new leadership team appears to share what was perhaps Mr. Robinson’s most precious goal: Ms. Lucchese and Mr. Warwick expressed no interest in selling.
“We’ve got the resources ourselves to go forward at the pace that we want to go,” Mr. Warwick said.
Given Mr. Robinson’s devotion to Scholastic, it was fitting that his memorial service was held there last month. A virtual event with just a few people in attendance, it included a video eulogy delivered by his son Reece. “We will cherish the memories of the holidays and weekends we spent with him during Covid when he wasn’t working 12-hour days,” Reece Robinson said of his family’s relationship with his father.
The service had all the star power of a Hollywood collaboration, with video messages from Goldie Hawn, Bill Clinton and J.K. 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, the Scholastic community and Ms. Lucchese. He was the only speaker who mentioned her name.
Mr. Wallack, the portfolio manager for 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 hopeful to have been invited to that,” he said, or at least sent a link. (In response, a company spokeswoman said the event was publicized on social media and the company’s website.)