f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Please Keep All Hands Inside the Car: Day 1 of Our CBA Publishing Tour

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Monday, April 12, 2004

Please Keep All Hands Inside the Car: Day 1 of Our CBA Publishing Tour

This week I’m doing a lot of reading and preparing for the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin so rather than anything too intensive I thought we’d take a tour around the CBA industry. Today we’ll start with a handful of the major CBA publishers.

Thomas Nelson - The largest CBA publisher, Nelson is also the only publicly-traded Christian publisher that isn’t a subsidiary of a large company. That being the case, their books are open to the public. In Christian publishing, you stand at the top if you publish a Bible. Nelson publishes the New Revised Standard, the New King James, and the New American Bible. Their bestselling nonfiction authors include a who’s-who of Christian living authors including Charles Swindoll, Max Lucado, John McArthur, and John Eldridge. They have a few imprints and gift lines including W Publishing Group, J. Countryman, Tommy Nelson, Rutledge Hill, Nelson Reference, and WestBow Press.

WestBow, as far as I can tell, is going to be fiction wing formerly under W publishing. The big names at WestBow are Ted Dekker, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Robert Whitlow.

Historically, Nelson has been all over the map in terms of its commitment to fiction. WestBow represents a rededication to the form, but only time will tell. Nelson is based in Nashville, TN.

Zondervan - The second largest CBA publisher, Z is owned by HarperCollins which in turn is owned by News Corp, the megalithic company owned by Rupert Murdoch. So the same company reaps benefits from the Narnia and the Fox Television show The Swan which may be the most hateful thing ever televised. Such are the times.

Zondervan has publishing rights for the NIV, the New American Standard, and about four or five other Bibles. They publish Rick Warren and his Purpose-Drive empire as well as Lee Strobel, Jim Cymbala, and Philip Yancey. HarperCollins owns the copyright for C. S. Lewis’ work and you’ll now see Zondervan’s logo on the spine as well. They operate out of Grand Rapids, MI. They have a gift line called Inspirio, but the only imprint of which I know is Emergent YS, which is doing some interesting books on the emergent church topic.

Their fiction hasn’t yet matched their non-fiction but asking it to is almost an impossible task. They publish Terri Blackstock and Karen Kingsbury. Stephen Lawhead and Walter Wangerin both publish with Zondervan as does British novelist Adrian Plass whose work is worth your time.

Tyndale - Independent and privately-held, Tyndale is an interesting model for ministry and faith. They’re based outside Chicago, IL, and hold the rights to the New Living Translation.

They also, if you’re unaware, publish Left Behind. At this point, those books pretty much exist outside the scope of fiction in general so I’ll list them apart. Tyndale also made waves with Lisa Beamer’s Let’s Roll and is doing a book licensed from The Passion.

On the fiction front they have a pretty strong list. They work with Francine Rivers, Randy Alcorn, Frank Peretti, Karen Kingsbury, and Lori Copeland. They tend to have a few more titles for men including some books by Sigmund Brouwer. For the women they have a romance imprint called Heartquest.

Multnomah - Also privately held, Multnomah operates out of Sisters, Oregon, which apparently isn’t real close to anything else.

Multnomah begins the mid-size publishers who don’t have the income from Bible sales added to their bottom-line. They do have The Prayer of Jabez though which was the #1 NYTimes non-fiction bestseller for 2002. They also publish Max Lucado and Joshua Harris, who tries to teach teens to court.

Their fiction program is pretty strong. They publish Francine Rivers, Liz Curtis Higgs, Sharon Foster, Randy Alcorn, Karen Kingsbury, and have a tent-pole in romantic-suspense with Dee Henderson. They’re also creating a few waves with Robin Jones Gunn at the moment, riding the wave of chick lit.

Baker Books - The best Christian publishing company ever! Especially since in 2003, they bought Bethany House saving us from a wide variety of disastrous possibilities. Baker is privately held and runs from Grand Rapids, MI. They have a number of imprints including Revell, Baker Academic, Chosen, Brazos (a cool little group with some pretty nifty postmodern titles), and now Bethany House.

Among their non-fiction they publish Elisabeth Eliot, R.C. Sproul, and Corrie ten Boom. Bethany House adds Tommy Tenney, Donna Partow, and the Jesus Freaks books by dcTalk to that list.

Fiction wasn’t a strength until Baker acquired Bethany. Revell found success with Ray Blackston’s Flabbergasted and do some interesting books with James Calvin Schaap. Bethany brings a concentration of fiction authors including Janette Oke, Beverly Lewis, Tracie Peterson, Lauraine Snelling, Gilbert Morris and many more CBA favorites. Bethany also publishes critically acclaimed Jamie Turner, Ann Tatlock, Dale Cramer, Lynn Austin, and others. Plus, they have me who is trying to broaden that list of authors even more. Perhaps by adding you.

So that’s day 1. Tomorrow we’ll look at Waterbrook and Harvest House and the rest. Stay tuned.

By the way, to get in the spirit of the Festival of Faith and Writing, next week we’ll be talking about Godric by Frederick Buechner. I’m hoping to figure out a way to post from the festival on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday but am running into some technical difficulties. We shall see.