Posts Tagged ‘HarperCollins’

GTA Author’s Work on Hope is Two Books in One

Greater Toronto Area author Danielle Strickland has put together a combination of teaching (or her term, theory) and anecdotes (her term, stories) to offer both hope and a guide to how to find it. Using the flip book concept, readers can choose which part to read first, or can combine the two, devising their own reading plan. Unlike other flip books, there aren’t two covers as distinct as booksellers have seen with works by John Hagee or Stan Campbell, but the concept evidences itself as soon as readers pick up a copy.

Danielle is known in the greater Toronto area most recently for her work as teaching pastor at The Meeting House, a detail omitted from the biography printed, and known to people across Canada and the United States for her social activism and conference speaking, all of which stem from her Salvation Army roots.

Adapted from the publisher blurb:

Part guidebook and part storytelling, The Other Side of Hope by GTA author Danielle Strickland is a uniquely designed flip-book with two entry points to the message of finding hope in a desperately harsh world. One part of the book focuses on theory and biblical philosophy; flip the book over to the other part and read a collection of stories about people from around the world who overcame impossible situations, showing that nothing is impossible through Christ. You choose where to start. 256 page paperback from Thomas Nelson.

from material gathered from and the publisher; a review copy was not supplied.

HarperCollins Christian Publishing: Is Logistical Chaos God’s Judgement?


This is an opinion piece and should not be treated as a news item.


It’s easy to fall into the dichotomy that church is church and business is business, and that, while the content of the books Christians publish is definitely related to understanding and applying the ways of God, the business practices should not be over-spiritualized.

But lately, I’ve listened to a couple of podcasts from journalist Julie Roys and wondered if I can connect some dots. First, let’s look at the problems that we, as Canadian stores are facing getting resources from HarperCollins Christian Publishing.

  • A single order can result in four different types of shipments with each one having a separate invoice generated and mailed separately, resulting in
    • an onslaught of mail, each invoice bearing a $1.30 US cost, plus printing; creating another statement line item
    • individual shipping costs and packaging costs; this in an age where “green” consciousness is constantly rising
  • long delays getting books back on press, sometimes six months
  • useless, one-time corrugated shipping cartons, which need to be recycled immediately after opening and thereby can’t be used to re-ship/deliver larger product orders to customers; again, strange in a world where “green” awareness is so important
  • insistence that “monitored” or “golden” bestseller product be released manually, sometimes resulting in a delay of an extra week; incongruous considering that these are bestsellers
  • insistence that orders as small as one or two copies of “monitored” stock not be released with small orders
  • invoices bearing what are sometimes retail prices, and sometimes are net prices
  • a website option which promises “invoices and statements” but is incapable of showing account statements
  • statements which cut off early in the month, only to re-classify invoices from the 27th to 31st of the month as overdue in subsequent statements
  • website product listings which do not immediately indicate the difference between a key product and its study guide, or a key product and its Spanish equivalent
  • invoices and packing slips sent with shipments which are for other stores in Canada and the U.S.; or there is simply no paperwork

So is all this simply, as they would have you believe, a result of staff-shortages, bad weather and a worldwide pandemic?

This is where it gets spiritual. Is God withholding his hand of blessing from Zondervan and Thomas Nelson? I’m sure they would disagree and would have us know that everything is moving up and to the right. Which of course, with the recent tidal wave of price increases, it would be.

This morning I looked again at the Tower of Babel narrative in Genesis 11:

NIV.Gen.11.5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” 8a So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth…

Maybe that’s an unusual case in terms of God’s dealings with us. Perhaps a better analogy is God simply allowing Israel to wander for 40 years for what, as Deuteronomy 1:2 tells us, could have been an eleven-day journey.

What might call God to withhold his blessing, or, as above, do more? This is where the Julie Roys podcast fits in. I want to suggest you listen two specifically,

These are but two of many examples of situations where HCCP stands “weighed in the balances and found wanting.” In the case of Carey Scott whose content was plagiarized by Christine Caine, there was a settlement of a lawsuit in 2018, but there has never been a formal apology from Caine or the publisher. Dennis Swanson’s print acknowledgement of writing/editing material for John MacArthur was removed and for over a year, the publisher simply keeps saying “we’re still looking into it.”

Consider also the HCCP authors whose brand was damaged in 2020. We listed many of them in this article. Ravi Zacharias, Eric Metaxas, Dave Ramsay, John Ortberg, Franklin Graham, MacArthur, etc. were all high-profile authors with Nelson or Zondervan.

It’s important that we not think that because bookstore staff are “in the ministry” that our publishing partners, as with every human endeavour, are not free from corruption. If you’ve been associated with Christian publishing for any length of time, you probably have stories, too; some of which perhaps even I am not aware of.

But when problems are systemic over a prolonged period of time, you have to wonder if God is “confusing the movement” as he did at Babel; or simply withholding blessings which we normally experience everyday without realizing the degree to which God is orchestrating events to make “things work together for good;” and the times God “makes your paths straight.”


HarperCollins to Re-issue Thompson Chain Reference Bible

HarperCollins Christian Publishing seems to think there is some life yet still for the Thompson Chain Reference Bible. That surprises me. I never did get into the concept of having to flip pages back and forth to follow the word study chain of references. I had very rare requests for them at our store and I felt it was the study system of a passing generation of readers.

Study Bibles, with their notes on the bottom of the page, had already spoiled me for how I got thematic information. Not to mention the online world of hyperlinks and drop-down menus; You Version, Blue Letter Bible, Bible Gateway, etc.

Then there’s the tension in some churches over whether teaching and study should be thematic in nature, drawing from a variety of selected texts, or expository (verse-by-verse) examination of a single text. Expository preaching has its advantages, but in the extreme, it can draw away from word study.

Harper bought the product line from Kirkbride and plan to release new versions in 2021, adding their Comfort Print® editions in 2022. The official announcement is here. There are currently editions available in five popular translations.

When an Author Changes Publishers

It’s that moment that, just when you’ve got a number of customers hooked on a new author, they jump ship and land with a publisher who only releases first editions in hardcover across North America.

U.S. industry people simply won’t get what I’m writing here, but Canadians are a frugal people. They’ll wait the year for the trade paperback conversion and by then they will have forgotten they meant to buy the title. Momentum lost.

This time it was John Mark Comer, a keep-your-eye-on young pastor from Portland. I’m a fan. His new title is with Waterbrook, and it’s hardcover only on both sides of the 49th Parallel, and at $23.99 US (for only 224 pages), it’s just too rich for my customers even if I discount it.

Furthermore, Waterbrook-Multnomah is simply not forthcoming with review copies. I have these three blogs. One reports new releases. One reviews the book. One prints a short excerpt. The posts link to each other. It’s a triple win for publisher who will work with me. But after three distinct attempts, I could land neither an advance manuscript copy, and Advance Reader Copy, or a peek at the finished book.

Waterbrook (Penguin Random House), Howard (Simon and Schuster) and FaithWords (Hachette) don’t get it. I once spent nearly an hour on the phone with a Hachette sales manager (or VP of sales, I don’t remember) suggesting he take just one, single, Joyce Meyer title and release it here as an ITPE and then compare the numbers.

Couldn’t do it. Or wouldn’t do it. When will they learn we’re not the 51st state?

I’m not asking for these giant publishing houses to change their overall policies. I’m suggesting they see the Christian market differently; reconsider where faith-focused titles are concerned; or at least be willing to experiment.

The ITPEs do exist. Check out Eden books in the UK or Koorong and you see them. But literary agents (who are basically lawyers at heart) see Canada and the U.S. as a single market, except where it suits their purposes not to.

Fortunately Thomas Nelson (HarperCollins) and Zondervan (HarperCollins) don’t see it that way. Thank goodness.

But I’ve written all this before.

I hope they offered John Mark Comer a great deal. And I hope they are able to make good on their promises.

Rachel Held Evans Titles in High Demand

You’ve got to wish that Rachel could see this. Perhaps she can.

With the announcement of her passing on the weekend, this is the overnight report from Monday morning at Ingram, showing demand specifically among CBA stores, or what it calls Spring Arbor demand, as posted Tuesday morning.

Removing the two children’s general market crossover titles from the equation (because of the way Ingram compiles the data), Rachel had the top three adult Christian books. A fourth title, Faith Unraveled, which is the re-issue of Evolving in Monkey Town ranked 79th for the day. Ingram is sold out of #4 and #5. CBD is sold out of Searching for Sunday and Faith Unraveled. HarperCollins is currently out of stock of Inspired.

Rank Product Name Contributor Product Code Supplier Pub Date US SRP
1 To Kill a Mockingbird (Harperperennial Modern Classics) (English) Lee, Harper 9780060935467
Harper Perennial 07/05/05 $14.99
2 Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church (English) Evans, Rachel Held 9780718022129
Thomas Nelson 04/14/15 $16.99
3 Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (Classic Seuss) (English) Dr Seuss 9780679805274
Random House Books for Young Readers 01/22/90 $18.99
4 A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband ‘master’ (English) Evans, Rachel Held 9781595553676
Thomas Nelson 10/29/12 $16.99
5 Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again (English) Evans, Rachel Held 9780718022310
Thomas Nelson 06/12/18 $16.99

HarperCollins Christian Publishing Buys Olive Tree

There are a lot of Christians who have the Olive Tree Bible app on their smart phones. Now, just days after their parent company HarperCollins announced its purchase of Harlequin, which includes the Love Inspired line of Christian fiction; HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc. has announced the purchase of Olive Tree.  The company, created at as separate entity after Zondervan’s owner purchase of Thomas Nelson, also owns which is a favorite of both PC and mobile users, whereas Olive Tree is a favorite of Mac iPad and iPhone users. The company also operates, an online community.


Steeple Hill Purchased by HarperCollins

Steeple Hill - Love Inspired

Steeple Hill, which publishes a line of mass-market inspirational fiction titles under the Love Inspired imprint is part of today’s announced sale of the entire Harlequin Group to HarperCollins for $455 million. The company, currently owned by TorStar, the parent company of The Toronto Star newspaper will remain headquartered in Toronto.

Harlequin publishes a wide variety of promotional-priced fiction under different imprints, with an emphasis on romance and suspense. Steeple Hill, seen as the Christian imprint of the company has done exceptionally well with the Amish fiction craze, and has also been home to a number of authors who have also written for the regular trade market including Delia Parr, Colleen Coble, Deborah Raney and Gilbert Morris. The company also purchased the budget line Heartsong Presents from Barbour a few years ago. While bookstores carry Harlequin products, many are also sold at newsstands in the same paradigm as magazines, where copies are displayed for a short-term and then covers are stripped and returned for credit and books are recycled and pulped.

For that reason, it’s unlikely that Steeple Hill will be folded into HarperCollins Christian Publishing, aligning better with the rest of Harlequin, though Christian stores might expect to see some Steeple Hill titles included alongside Zondervan and Thomas Nelson sales presentations.

More info is available at CTV News, TorStar and Publisher’s Weekly. The deal is expected to close mid-summer and requires both U.S. and Canadian regulatory approval. If the merger with Thomas Nelson is any indication, it could be a long time after that before Harlequin product is integrated into the HarperCollins Canada distribution system.

Thomas Nelson: Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing?

January 30, 2014 2 comments

WND Faith

A writer at WND, (World Net Daily) holds nothing back in an full-blown attack levied at Thomas Nelson, an imprint of HarperCollins Christian Publishing. In an article titled Beware the Bookseller Pretending To Be Christian — more about that headline later — Jim Fletcher writes:

Back in the day, with its marketing angle that touted the company’s roots (the company began in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1798), one got the feeling that its books were trustworthy.

Guess not.

He continues,

Thomas Nelson has seemingly not cared about being too rigidly biblical in its offerings for some time, and the current list of authors/books is disturbing to anyone who would identify as a conservative Christian…

He then systematically works his way through Shane Claiborne, Tony Campolo, Rachel Held Evans, Brad Lomenick, Richard Stearns, Ron Sider, Donald Miller, Judah Smith, Leonard Sweet, and Bob Roberts, Jr.  It’s hard to imagine that there was anyone left to attack

As the article builds to a crescendo he concludes:

…They remind me of those thoroughbred running backs in college and the NFL, the ones who feint this way and that, stopping defensive backs in their tracks.

But feinting can also mean one who intentionally deceives.


Read the full article here.

It should be noted that whether you agree or disagree with the doctrinal state of Christian publishers in general, or Thomas Nelson in particular, WND editors committed a major blunder in creating the article’s headline. (Generally, writers do not choose their header.) The article is about the actions of a publisher, but the headline implies that booksellers like you and me are deliberately engaging in deception.  That’s just not fair.

Historically, book sellers have trusted their publishers. Is that still the case?

Recommended Classics

November 19, 2011 1 comment

I love books that actually help booksellers sell other books.This list is from Renovaré.

“In 25 Books Every Christian Should Read, Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Phyllis Tickle, Chris Webb, and a diverse editorial board of leaders have identified the most helpful and historic books for Christian discipleship and created a resource that helps us make the most of them.  With sizable excerpts from each book, 25 Books helps individual readers and small groups get a taste of and work through the most important books for formation in Christlikeness.  It is a reader’s guide for the devotional history of the Church.  From On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius to Pensées by Blaise Pascal to The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen, this list and this resource will lead you on a journey of discipleship that few in the history of the Church have experienced and help you become like Jesus.   HarperOne, softcover, 416 pages.” 

And what are those books you ask?

HarperCollins to Acquire Thomas Nelson

November 2, 2011 5 comments

Blissfully unaware that the Christian publishing story of the year was breaking, I shut my computer off early Monday night, and aside from a 5-minute stretch the next morning, was continuing to enjoy a peaceful 20-hour offline existence until 6:00 PM yesterday, when I returned to emails asking me what I thought of the latest news.

The idea of Thomas Nelson being part of HarperCollins is major to those of us in the business, but at 11:00 PM a quick check of aggregator pages Alltop Church and Alltop Christian revealed a total of zero Christian bloggers — including Michael Hyatt — concerned about this story; it just doesn’t grab bloggers the way a revelation that the Pope is not Catholic might.  A 24-hour Google blogs sweep revealed either seven or twenty-five links last night depending on the search, most of them parroting a story from CT.

But yes, the story does matter to us.  Here’s how:

The acquirer has been acquired — The story of the NCV Bible begins with the purchase of Sweet Publishing by either Nelson or Word (which was acquired by Nelson) and is typical of the recent history of Thomas Nelson where authors, products lines, brands and entire imprints have been swallowed up by the giant from Nashville.  But suddenly, the company that acquires is acquired itself; though really, that story goes back to 2006 and continued in 2010. Maybe this one is simply highlighted because of NewsCorp’s own newsworthiness.

The acquisition was unforeseen — While some of my contacts will tell me that they knew this was coming, for those of us in the trenches, this comes as a complete surprise.  TNI is currently experiencing a healthy run of bestsellers and didn’t appear to be a company needing the underwriting resources of a giant like HarperCollins in the way that Zondervan has been able to undertake ambitious projects knowing the working capital is available.   So was this an amicable transaction? Perhaps its current investment-group owner didn’t have deep enough pockets for expansion, or to ride out the slower quarters when the bright yellow book about heaven is in remainder bins; or conversely, if more A-list Christian authors flee to Howard (Simon & Schuster) or Faithwords (Hachette).

The two companies represent a clash of corporate cultures — Every company has a corporate culture, even your six-employee, small-market Christian bookstore.  Nelson has its tentacles into the business book market and the health market and the children’s entertainment market; but Zondervan doesn’t even have so much as a general market imprint, in the manner that Baker has Brazos or NavPress has Think.  The Zondervan name assures a certain degree of Christian spirituality, while you have to look twice at a TNI title to make sure it’s not one of their broader market releases.  You can probably think of other dis-similarities to list.  Clearly, each company marches to the beat of a different drummer.

The companies are each too big to merge — While Harper itself represents the merger of Harper & Row and Collins; we shouldn’t expect to see Nelson-Zondervan stamped on book spines anytime soon.  These companies have been competitors, and keeping the competitive edge is probably in the best interests of both. Harmonized book binding, distribution, and sales representation might be another matter.

The issue of ‘secular’ ownership is somewhat irrelevant — Invoking Rupert Murdoch’s name in this discussion is no different than what happened when Zondervan itself was purchased; but today the company enjoys complete autonomy.  True, this is the company that also publishes Marcus Borg (and worse), but a quick look at the artist roster at EMI Music reveals musicians that are no doubt offensive to many Christians, but it doesn’t stop most bookstores from carrying EMI-CMG (Christian Music Group) artists such as Steven Curtis Chapman, Switchfoot, or Chris Tomlin.

The ownership of Bible copyrights is significant, but not alarming — NewsCorp doesn’t actually own the NIV, that honor belongs to Biblica, aka The International Bible Society.  But it would, in fact, take ownership of the NKJV, which Thomas Nelson developed.  Is that a problem?  We just celebrated 400 years of the KJV, but for the first 100 years, the copyright was held exclusively and vigorously by the Crown Printer of the UK.  I don’t foresee changes to The Sermon on the Mount coming anytime soon.  Even the Roman Catholic Church, which teaches a modified version of The Ten Commandments in its Catechism doesn’t dare tamper with the text as found in Exodus 20 of the NAB, or NJB. 

Stores should focus on the product — If Christian retailers can be compared to worship leaders, then the titles we carry are the individual songs.  The rules of discernment and good judgment we’ve used heretofore to make product selections in our stores should continue to apply.  Zondervan has one of the best catalogs available anywhere, and I would hate the think that any booksellers bases inventory decisions on ownership issues (or hearsay), especially when many of those same stores are currently, for all intents and purposes, owned by their bank.

So then, is this truly the Christian publishing story of the year; or non-story of the year?  As long as TNI and ZDV operate autonomously, it should be business-as-usual for both brick-and-mortar and online sellers.  But it will be interesting how the puzzle pieces fit together a year from now.

Top Selling Christian Book Not for Sale at Christian Retail

At the popular Christian blog Internet Monk, Adam Palmer decides to support his local Christian bookstore by buying his wife the current top selling Christian title, Love Wins by Rob Bell, only to find the stores refusing to carry it.

As much as I don’t care for Rob Bell, I liked his book enough (after checking it out from my local library) to buy it for my wife as a Mother’s Day present. Back in my teens and early twenties, I worked for a local Christian bookstore for six years and still have a sense of loyalty to them, so I hopped in and asked for the book.

“We don’t have it,” they said.

“You don’t have it in stock or you don’t carry it?” I said.

“We don’t carry it.”

Wondering if this was a phenomenon to this particular bookstore, and living in the midwest where we have more than one Christian bookstore, I phoned two other stores to find out if they carried it. They don’t.

So I bought it at the hulking, secular Barnes & Noble. Where it was a best-seller.

Which is why I say I’m in the uncomfortable position of defending Rob Bell. What are we so afraid of that we can’t expose people to ideologies that may not hew closely to our tightly held evangelical beliefs? I’m no Biblical scholar, and I know so little about church history you wouldn’t be able to examine it under an electron microscope, but I didn’t spy any heresy in Love Wins. Unconventional thinking, sure, but the main points are all there. Jesus is still the savior, the cross and resurrection still the ultimate in redemption and the only way back to the Father.

Bell asks questions that he doesn’t answer, hems and haws, plays a bit of a shell game with Greek translations, but the overall message of the book is this: don’t base your faith on pocketing a “Get Out of Hell Free” card and instead join the redemptive work God is doing in the world right now.

So why does the Christian subculture refuse to let Rob Bell make this point to Christians? Why are they shying away from this particular controversial figure while prominently displaying material from authors that non-evangelical Christians find controversial?

I tried to contact the corporate offices of these three stores to put these very questions to them. Of the three, two of them gave me a “No comment” while the third one emailed me a prepared statement saying they “have thoroughly reviewed and discussed the title… and have decided that this book does not align with [their] beliefs.”

These stores are free to sell whatever they want, but I wish I could know the rationale that went into the Love Wins ban. One store even went so far as to pull all of Rob Bell’s previous works (but you can still buy seven different books by or about that other evangelical self-styled and media-savvy iconoclast, Sarah Palin). What was their thinking? They won’t tell me. Feel free to speculate in the comments section below.

Ouch! Read the full story and 140+ comments at Internet Monk by clicking here.

Zondervan Eliminates Warehousing: Another Step Toward Digitization?

While we don’t usually reiterate stories from Christian Retailing here, the online trade magazine is reporting that Zondervan plans to shut down its large distribution warehouse on the southeast side of Grand Rapids, MI; in favor of having its product ship direct to distributors and dealers from its book and Bible printer, R.R.Donnelley.  The change, affecting 75 jobs, takes place at the beginning of next summer.

At first, it seems a move to greater efficiency.  But in the context of other industry changes, it may signal a continual shift of emphasis from print text to digital text.  Zondervan’s warehouse is an imposing, expansive high-security facility that would no doubt be sold after the change.  The move was initiated to coordinate with similar changes at parent HarperCollins Publisher.  Read the Christian Retailing story here.