The big news in the publishing industry on Monday was the announcement that HarperCollins will acquire Nashville publisher Thomas Nelson, probably by the end of the year.
Nashville Scene reports:
This makes a lot of sense. HarperCollins already owns Zondervan and has the HarperOne imprint. Speaking in very, very broad terms, Zondervan’s focus is on religious books that go into Christian bookstores or are used as church curricula. HarperOne is aimed more at the secular bookstore market. And Thomas Nelson really hits that sweet spot right down the middle — doing some very successful titles that appeal to the secular bookstore model and being a mainstay of the Christian bookstore.
The other thing that Thomas Nelson has a reputation for is its engagement with the electronic realm — its embrace of blogging and digital communication as well as its ability to produce ebooks, without the whole press getting sucked into a vortex of painful ridiculousness where various staffers run around having increasingly public breakdowns where they give maudlin recitations of the good old days when a book was a book (which is how most other publishers are handling the arrival of the digital age). Just having that expertise is probably worth whatever the cost of acquiring them is.
Thomas Nelson, meanwhile, gets a little shelter during this very stormy period in publishing history, not to mention a marketing and publicity arm they previously could only dream of. After all, who owns HarperCollins? NewsCorp. Yes, the parent of Fox News, but more than that, it’s one of the largest multinational media conglomerates. Not only can Thomas Nelson now publish a book anywhere in the world, but actually launch a book anywhere in the world, getting media attention and bookstore buy-in they didn’t have before.
Only one thing nags at me. Christian readers, if you open your Bibles, you will probably find that they were published either by Zondervan or Thomas Nelson. Does this mean that HarperCollins will have effectively cornered the Bible market? Ha, makes you wonder if they acquired Thomas Nelson for that reason. There are a lot of Bibles sold every year. It’s a perennial best seller. Most presses would love to have a back-list performer like that, and now HarperCollins owns two of the most trusted names in Bible publishing.