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Word Alive Purchased by Anchor Distributors

Anchor Word Alive joint logoIn the past few weeks we saw two cases where an American owned Christian distributor was purchased by Canadians; David C. Cook Canada and Augsburg Fortress Canada. The new, combined company will doubtless be undergoing a name change over the next few weeks.

Today, we’re hearing of the reverse case, where a longstanding Winnipeg, MB distributor, Word Alive, has been purchased by Anchor Distributors of New Kensington, Pennyslvania. There are a number of reasons why this is significant.

First, in terms of independent distributor options available to Canadian stores, Anchor, Send the Light (STL) and Spring Arbor (Ingram) have been shipping to Canada to years, but Anchor never had a consolidated freight or pre-clearance system. Orders went out individually and stores had to pay hefty freight costs. Furthermore, Spring Arbor won’t export anything that isn’t a book, CD or DVD, which means that up until now, stores wishing to bring in ancillary items either got them from Send the Light or they didn’t at all. Importation of a variety of these items is a complicated process involving various harmonized codes and many countries of origin. Hopefully, that changes.

Second, the two companies have always been tied together doctrinally. They have carried similar publishers with a strong Charismatic and Pentecostal identity. While Charismatic books don’t drive the market as much as they did ten years ago, they are a necessity for stores selling to the Evangelical market.

Third, Anchor’s corporate association with Whitaker House hopefully means that Canadian stores will have frequent access to the Whitaker Bargain Books line without the aforementioned high shipping costs.

Fourth, the last point means that both companies have been involved in the publishing side of the business. Word Alive Press is home to many top Canadian Christian authors. Is it part of the sale? [See update below] Publishing is federally regulated and historically, in the name of cultural sovereignty, the Canadian government is loathe to let publishers here fall into American hands. It’s possible that division may need to spin-off in order to maintain a separate identity, but if Canadian authors are hearing about the deal, it sounds like a win with higher visibility of our authors. [See update below]

Finally, it’s an affirmation of our Canadian Christian market; showing that while two U.S. parent companies decided to divest themselves of holdings here, another U.S. business is saying that we’re worth the investment.

UPDATE 5/19 8:00 PM: Word Alive Press authors have been notified of the sale and the positive and an announcement has been posted on their blog. Here is portion of that announcement:

Word Alive Press itself is not part of the Anchor purchase. We remain a Canadian-owned publishing company, proudly serving the Christian book market in Canada and abroad. Our vision has always been to find and develop a base of Canadian authors who, through their stories and God-given talents, will teach, equip, entertain, influence, and ultimately extend the impact of the Kingdom of God in Canada. We are excited about this vision and now see an even brighter future for our authors to influence people beyond our borders.

This is a win-win for authors. The publishing stays Canadian owned and controlled but artists reap the full benefit of the enhanced U.S. distribution.

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  1. May 18, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    I appreciated this summary of the anchor/word Alive change. an accuarate perception of things, thanks.

    • May 18, 2016 at 4:01 pm

      I’ve tried not to go beyond what little we know. The biggest question is whether or not Anchor merchandise will now be available to us following the same importation model used by Ingram and STL as I’ve hinted. I hope this is the case. They have many independent publishers the other two do not, and a wide variety of exclusive non-book items. (They’ve already had to prepare the paperwork on these non-book items for shipping to Canada for decades, so it’s not something outside their experience.)

  2. May 19, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Hi Paul, thanks for the summary on Word Alive’s new partnership with Anchor! We’re excited for the opportunity this merger will afford our authors–better access to the US market and a wider reach for their audience! To answer your question, no, Word Alive Press is not part of the Anchor purchase. We remain a Canadian-owned publishing company, proudly serving the Christian book market in Canada and abroad. To learn more about what the Anchor merger means for Word Alive Press authors, check out our blog post: http://wordalivepress.ca/blog/Authors-Gain-Visibility-with-New-Merger

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