The Making of HarperCollins Christian Publishing



book publishing is a craft and similar in many ways to any other art form publisher must judiciously select materials carefully work them into a viable form and then artfully present the finished work to the public in a way that will be both understood and appreciated this process can take decades even centuries to refine this is certainly the story of Thomas Nelson and Zondervan publishers Thomas Nelson senior opened a secondhand bookshop with a dream of placing book by particularly Christian classics within the reach of every reader at the time books were luxury items only accessible to the wealthy but Thomas Nelson changed all that with Town Book Fairs and softcover bindings that were affordable to the average worker as the company grew Thomas Nelson brought his sons William and Thomas jr. into the business Thomas Jr an engineer by trade invented the rotary press which lowered printing costs and made books more accessible to the masses by 1854 the company had become the largest publisher and Scott pat Zondervan traveled by car to the east coast in search of the first Christian books that would fill his small business office in the upstairs bedroom of Moz and Evans quaint farmhouse when Pat returned with a large purchase of Harper and brothers remainder books his brother Bernie joined him in a new mail order books venture as business grew so did the number of books in Moz house soon books filled the upstairs bedroom flowed down the stairwell blocking the front door and eventually spilling into the living room with much pushing from Moz and Irvin the brothers decided to rent their first storefront and hold a two-week sale but two weeks quickly turned into 12 months and the brothers were forced to move into a bigger more accommodating space this time including a printing press toward the end of its first century as a publisher Thomas Nelson suffered a number of significant setbacks beginning in 1878 when the Edinburgh headquarters burned to the ground but as the century drew to a close a new and larger home office was built the company also published its first Bible tragedy again struck during World War one as Tommy Nelson the grandson of Thomas Nelson was killed on the front lines fighting the Germans after Thomas death company began to slide into decline due to a string of ineffective leaders and a dwindling presence in the marketplace even before the Nazis bombed the Thomas Nelson offices in London to rubble during World War two the company had already begun to wither to the point were only a ghostly reflection remained a house that had led the industry not so many years before Jean Devon's business continued to thrive in the midst of the Great Depression Pat and Bernie compiled a contact list from church yearbooks and their previous business trips to produce the 2000 mailing addresses for their first catalogue distribution after publishing the business's first catalogue Zondervan published its first book women of the Bible by Abraham Kuyper the brothers paid a Calvin College student to translate the book from Dutch to English adding questions to each chapter to enhance its study value the company grew quickly having to move three times into progressively larger buildings before settling at a facility on Lake Drive finally Zondervan had found its home for the next four decades the late 1960s and early 1970s were good years for Thomas Nelson as well under the new leadership of Sam Warren a Lebanese immigrant who founded the Royal Bible company in 1961 at the time Thomas Nelson was owned by the Thompson organization in Great Britain they approached young Sam Moore with an offer to take over operations of the struggling publishing house instead he surprised them by making an offer to buy the company which he did in 1969 Sam set out immediately to restore the company to its past level of distinction and quickly succeeded in doing so by publishing major Christian voices such as Billy Graham and Max Lucado and introducing the world to the New King James translation of the binary over the next four decades Thomas Nelson continued to gain influence as a leading publisher by giving a platform to writers and varied sectors of the book world like Donald Miller John Maxwell Dave Ramsey you Sarah young eventually capturing the attention of HarperCollins purchased the company in 2012 during the flourishing mid-century years Zondervan was establishing itself as a leading publisher of Christian books and music while the company had been publishing editions of the King James Bible for some time it became a Bible producer in its own right with the release of the Berkeley version of the Bible in modern English which would later be renamed the modern language Bible it was an instant bestseller Zondervan then acquired the Harper & row Bible department further increasing its position as a major Bible publisher and instantly making the company the largest proprietor of biblical language AIDS in the US Zondervan equally grew in strength as a book publisher culminating in 1970 with the release of how Lindsay's the late great planet Earth which sold nearly 35 million copies and was cited by Time magazine as being the best-selling book of the 1970s but Zondervan success didn't stop there Zondervan published the first full edition of the New International Version of the Bible fulfilling the company's promise to replace the King James Version as the most widely read Bible translation in the English language the company also continued to grow by publishing major offers like Philip Yancey Lee Strobel and Rick Warren Warren's The Purpose Driven Life is still the best-selling non-fiction hardback title of all time and Zondervan x' most popular title following the bible itself by the late 80s Zondervan success gained notice from many world leaders of book publishing including HarperCollins who purchased the company in 1988 today the combined strengths of Zondervan and Thomas Nelson have led to the rise of HarperCollins Christian publishing the undisputed world leader of inspirational books Bibles and Christian content and while this next chapter promises to be the most dramatic in the history of two great and long-standing publishing houses it is the values that have been passed down through the generations of these two organizations that continue to fuel the success of today and the promise of tomorrow we believe in high ethical and moral standards and speech as well as personal and moral conduct and we operate with the honesty trusting that God is ultimately in control of the results of our labor we hold our actions as well as our products to the highest standards and we encourage everyone across the organization to be personally responsible for maintaining them we empower and encourage each other to proactively contribute to the success of the company and reward innovation both individually and collaboratively because we want to create an environment that is positive for all employees as well as those who work outside the company we strive to hold the personal and professional dignity of others as highly as our own we serve our authors retailers readers and community to the best of our ability with products that inspire the world and in doing so we follow the example of humility set for us by Jesus Christ HarperCollins Christian publishing is now one story that's continuously being written and the opportunities that lie in the pages ahead are endless and exciting as a single organization unified under a single vision we are stronger more agile and more focused than ever before Thomas Nelson and Bernie and Pat Zondervan would likely never have imagined that the enterprises they began so long ago would eventually manifest into the organization that still proudly bears their marks today but together as one company we will strive to further their mission to inspire the world by meeting the needs of people with content that promotes biblical principles and honors Jesus Christ and uphold the values they established so long as God allows our story to be written may the next chapter be the best one yet you

2 thoughts on “The Making of HarperCollins Christian Publishing

  1. The company (HarperCollins) that owns the copy rights and publishes the satanic bible written by Anton LeVey owns the company (Zondervan) that owns the copy rights and publishes the NIV

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