John Stott’s Peace Offering

“Fie upon you, IVP.”

I’m still shocked, fifteen years later, that John Stott uttered these words at our office gathering during an event in which we honored him in 1998 for fifty years of publishing with us. We had at that point sold over five million copies of over forty of his books, booklets and Bible study guides. Many present had said what his books had meant to them. He voiced his appreciation. Then toward the end, even with a slight tinge of humor, self-consciously overstating his sentiments, he clearly expressed that, nonetheless, he was upset with us.

What had we done? Published heresy? Wandered far from our publishing mission? Perhaps we had altered some of his writing without his consent? Insulted the Queen? No, none of these.
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My Conversation with Jeff Bezos

It was over a dozen years ago that I spoke with Jeff Bezos at a conference in Washington, D.C. In the early years of Amazon, the company was losing money hand over fist (losing $125 million in 1998 alone) in its all-out effort to gain market share. I told him I understood the strategy, but realistically, how long could they keep it up? With his famous Jeff Bezos smile he told me, “I appreciate your concern. But there’s no need to worry about Amazon.”
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The Obvious Solution for Publishers

Publishing faces unprecedented challenges these days, with the decline of bookstores and the rise of the Internet and ebooks. The ultimate difficulty may, in fact, be the digital dilemma.

Music, videos and news have been digitized, and which has sent those industries into chaos. And all sorts of other information have been digitized and liberated on the Internet for the greater good of the planet–at the ability of content providers to make a living, which ultimately has a negative effect on new content produced and so a negative effect on the planet. But I digress.

What is a publisher to do?
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IVP Acquires Biblica Books

InterVarsity Press has announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Biblica Books, the book-publishing arm of Biblica Worldwide. In the acquisition, which is expected to close by the end of the calendar year, IVP will obtain 170 current Biblica Books titles, as well as nearly 30 forthcoming books. This includes Operation World, the definitive global prayer guide that’s now in its seventh edition.
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Where Are Your Printing Presses?

When people visit InterVarsity Press, they often ask where the printing presses are. I show them our copiers—the closest thing we’ve got. Our books are printed all over the country and sometimes around the world—all on printing presses owned by others. Even the biggest publishers do not own printing presses. Why?
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A Footprint Bigger Than Its Foot

Sometimes a publisher has a footprint bigger than its foot. That certainly has to be the case with Copper Canyon Press. Respected if not revered by poetry patrons and literature lovers everywhere, Copper Canyon, since its founding in 1972, has developed an international reputation for doing (and doing well) what virtually all other publishers studiously avoid–publishing poetry. And we’re not talking sentimental rhymes here. We’re talking Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners.
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Stott’s Farewell

John Stott, one of the most influential Christians in the world, retired recently from public ministry. Now he has issued his last book, The Radical Disciple.

In the postscript (titled “Farewell!”) Stott offers a last bit of encouragement and exhortation, one that I resonate with myself after a lifetime of loving books:

As I lay down my pen for the last time (literally, since I confess I am not computerized) at the age of eighty-eight, I venture to send this valedictory message to my readers. I am grateful for your encouragement, for many of you have written to me.

Looking ahead, none of us of course knows what the future of printing and publishing may be. But I myself am confident that the future of books is assured and that, though they will be complemented, they will never be altogether replaced. For there is something unique about books. Our favorite books become very precious to us and we even develop with them an almost living and affectionate relationship. Is it an altogether fanciful fact that we handle, stroke and even smell them as tokens of our esteem and affection? I am not referring only to an author’s feeling for what he has written, but to all readers and their library. I have made it a rule not to quote from any book unless I have first handled it. So let me urge you to keep reading, and encourage your relatives and friends to do the same. For this is a much neglected means of grace. . . .

Once again, farewell!

What Publishers Don’t Know

Many people seem to have a notion that publishers somehow are (or should be) a superior form of human being. It’s nice to be so highly thought of–until you find out what they mean. Like the question many of us have heard. “I thought you guys were smart. Why don’t you just publish bestsellers?”

So, true confessions, we’re not omniscient. And I’m here to dish. What don’t publishers know?
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