Forty Years Ago

Forty years ago the editorial department at IVP consisted of Jim Sire and me with Linda Doll working half time. We put out about twenty-four books a year. Today the editorial department consists of seventeen people and we do about a hundred and ten books a year.

Forty years ago IVP had not published any LifeGuides and had not originated any major reference books. There was no IVP Academic and no Formatio. Since then we’ve sold 15 million LifeGuides, have produced over a dozen dictionaries and other major reference works as well as four commentary series, over a hundred Formatio titles and have a robust academic imprint.

Forty years ago IVP


was housed in a former Buick dealership in Downers Grove. Offices were upstairs with shipping and warehousing downstairs. Brown paper covered the dealership show windows to hide the steel racking of books and other supplies from public view. Today we work in an office three miles away built specifically for our operation, efficiently laid out. Two warehouses on the same site holding two million books.

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Forty years ago I had just previously been working with InterVarsity on campus in St. Louis for two years. I had brown hair, no beard and was twenty pounds lighter. OK, I was twenty-five pounds lighter. But forty years ago today I didn’t run five miles. Today I did.

Forty years ago Gerald Ford was president and the Vietnam War had just ended the month before with the fall of Saigon. There were no cell phones, no internet, no ebooks and no reality television (some things were better in those days).

Forty years ago John Alexander was president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and Jim Nyquist was head of IVP. We edited manuscripts with, yes, blue pencil, and used carbon paper to make copies of letters we sent.

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Forty years ago people actually went to bookstores to buy our books. IVP had no marketing department, just a sales team and a marketing consultant. We were perhaps best known for books of cultural analysis written by a knicker-wearing American living in Switzerland–Francis Schaeffer. Our bestseller that year was How to Give Away Your Faith by Paul Little. This year our bestseller is Called by Mark Labberton.

Forty years ago I did not expect to spend my career at IVP.

Forty years ago today was my first day on the job at IVP. Now I see the grace in it.

Author: Andy Le Peau

I've been an editor and writer for over forty years. I am passionate about ideas and how we can express them clearly, beautifully, and persuasively. I love reading good books, talking about them, and recommending them. I thoroughly enjoy my family who help me continue on the path of a lifelong learner.

11 thoughts on “Forty Years Ago”

  1. Andy, congrats on 40 years, which parallels my association with IVCF. what a wonderful run–and by that I am referring to your tenure, and the 5 miles you can now do.

  2. Congratulations on 40 years of making a difference by putting into the world decent books of value, insight, balance and depth.
    IVP books were always my favorite…(my first IVP book was The Dust of Death….(I always got a kick out of one of the chapter titles” The Striptease of Humanisim”!!!!)
    …..for a highschool
    kid that was heady stuff indeed!!!!
    IN 40 years your contribution to equipping disciples, encouraging the faith of thinking people and being a winsome provocateur to agnostics/atheists is simply awesome!!!!!
    You aced it bro!!!!!! Keep at it!!!!!!

  3. Congratulations! I hope my own denominational publishers don’t get wind of this, but IVP is my favorite publishing house, bar none.

  4. These comments speak so wisely to the reality of Episcopal ways and worship. The freedom to bring our souls and bodies into the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and be transformed again and again, in the presence of others, re-binds us (re-ligio) into the heart of our faith. The mystery of Christ’s presence in wine and bread is never fully resolved, but we know that immanent and transcendent meet at the altar, and we leave renewed.

  5. Congratulations, Andy! Fun to read your “then and now” post – and wonderful to get a sense of the scope of your career accomplishments. I’m wowed. 🙂 Editing the Lancer was the beginning, but don’t think either you or I imagined what that might lead to. Awesome work – clearly the expression of your faith and mission.

  6. Congratulations on your 40 years at IVP, Andy. You are incredibly insightful and have served the company and the kingdom so very well. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have worked with you for a few years along the way.

  7. Paul–you are absolutely right. It all started with the Lancer and Mr. Ryan’s English class. I still carry in my head (and hear myself repeat to others) many of his aphorisms. Andy

  8. Andy,
    40 years ago I was one of the college students buying those books by Francis Schaeffer and Paul Little. As a young Christian there were not many places my mind was being well fed. Public libraries were filled with books by scholars who did not believe God had anything to say but they did. Finding one of the many small Christian bookstores that carried IVP books was a breath of fresh air for me. So for 1975-me thank you to 1975-you. And for still looking to make good books in these digital times when all those little bookstores can no longer survive.

  9. And forty-(something) years ago I was a leader in the SIUE chapter of IV with you as a newbie staff member :-). Congratulations on your tenure at IVP! I stumbled on your blog while searching for a copy of Motyer’s Day of the Lion to help me prep for a series of SS lessons on Amos. Couldn’t find it on your site, so must be out of print?

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