Bookcraft

Bookcraft

[book-kraft, -krahft]
Bookcraft is a major publisher of books and products for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).

History

In 1940, LDS Church President Heber J. Grant asked the church's Improvement Era magazine to compile his sermons into a book called Gospel Standards. Compiler G. Homer Durham published it in 1941 as "An Improvment Era Publication", rather than through Deseret Book, the church's official book publisher. During production, Grant suggested that the magazine's staff should start a new LDS publishing company, separate from Deseret Book. In 1942, the Era's business manager, John Kenneth Orton, started Bookcraft as a private publishing house in Salt Lake City, Utah.

When Durham presented a later manuscript to the Era, church leadership restricted book publishing to Deseret Book. John A. Widtsoe and Richard L. Evans, staff members of the Era and early supporters of Bookcraft, referred Durham to Orton's new publishing house. The Gospel Kingdom, Durham's compilation of John Taylor's teachings, was Bookcraft's first major venture in 1943.

Bookcraft remained an Orton family business. When John K. Orton retired to Arizona in 1946, Marvin Wallin became the company's general manager. When Orton died in 1959, ownership passed to his wife. When she died in 1980, the Ortons' son Russell took over with his sister-in-law, Diane Orton.

Growth

With growth, Bookcraft relocated to new facilities in 1947. In 1969, it moved again to a West Valley City location between Mountain States Bindery and Publisher's Press, the businesses that actually printed and produced Bookcraft's publications. Bookcraft expanded again into new facilities in 1977.

Though independent, Bookcraft established itself as a quasi-official publisher of conservative, faith-promoting works, and was very careful to follow church leadership. Bookcraft eventually became large enough to compete with Deseret Book's lower publishing costs, and become the second largest LDS publisher.

In 1968, Bookcraft hired George Bickerstaff as a full time publishing editor. Before then, it lacked in-house editing, which Bruce R. McConkie's son blames for the criticisms of the 1958 first edition of Mormon Doctrine.

Bookcraft also innovated and tried new approaches to LDS publishing. In the 1960s, the company experimented with developing LDS young-adult fiction. In the early 1970s, it began the Parliament Press imprint for authors who pay to have their books printed. In 1992, Bookcraft began work with The Beehive Shuppan to translate some titles into Japanese. In 1995, Bookcraft produced The Book of Mormon Studybase, a digital library CD-ROM of books about The Book of Mormon, and contributed to Infobases' LDS Collectors Library CD-ROM.

Because Deseret Book was the largest LDS publisher and bookseller, independents like Bookcraft also distributed to national retailers like B. Dalton, Media Play, and Barnes & Noble. For a time, Bookcraft even planned to create its own chain of retail bookstores.

Infobases acquisition

In 1997, Russell Orton sold Bookcraft to Infobases, makers of the popular LDS Collectors Library digital library since the early 1990s. Infobases president and CEO, Brad Pelo, assumed these same roles in the new Bookcraft, Inc., and WordPerfect founder Alan C. Ashton became chairman.

With Bookcraft's licenses, the company released the Infobases PocketLibrary for PalmPilot in 1997, an electronic 25-book collection. To counter Deseret Book's GospeLink CD-ROM and website, Bookcraft released an expanded Infobases Collectors Library in 1998 on CD-ROM and on the new LDSWorld.com. Bookcraft then created online stores for its network of resellers, to counter Deseret Book's web sales.

By 1999, Bookcraft was adding about 100 products annually to its catalog, including general authority titles, an important market shared only with Deseret Book. Bookcraft also had strong sales with titles by BYU professors, titles on church history and doctrine, and the best-selling The Work and the Glory series by Gerald N. Lund, which sold millions of copies.

Deseret Book merger

In early 1999, Bookcraft was acquired by Deseret Management Corporation (DMC), the parent company of the LDS Church's for-profit businesses. This allowed the church to expand in the larger "values-oriented" publishing market, and reduce translation costs of titles for international sale. The merger also brought more writings by general authorities under a church-owned company, and allowed for collaboration on future electronic and print products with other DMC entities (such as Deseret Book, Deseret News and Bonneville International Corporation) and church entities (such as Brigham Young University, the Church Educational System).

Bookcraft was to continue on as an imprint focusing on inspirational, self-help, youth and fiction. Deseret Book would focus on doctrinal, historical and biographical works. Shadow Mountain was the imprint for "values-oriented" books in the national market, and Eagle Gate Press was for specialty items such as library editions, art books and non-book products such as bookmarks and jewelry.

DMC then formed World Media Inc. to oversee Bookcraft's electronic projects, and decide fate of Infobase products and GospeLink. A new Infobases Library was released in 1999, before merging into GospeLink, to become GospeLink 2001. The expanded collection was also at LDSWorld.com, along with new General Conference audio streaming, and was hosted by Millennial Star (MStar.net), the church's new ISP.

The merger created a massive LDS publisher, but most independent players in the market didn't worry it would hurt their business. Over next few years, Deseret Book would also acquire Excel Entertainment Group (an LDS film and music company), Seagull Book & Tape (the next largest LDS bookstore chain), and Covenant Communications (the next largest LDS publisher).

Notable work

Books

Before becoming an imprint of Deseret Book, Bookcraft made many notable contributions to LDS literature, including:

  • Evidences and Reconciliations (1943)
  • No, Ma'am, That's Not History (1946)
  • Lehi in the Desert and the World of the Jaredites (1952)
  • Doctrines of Salvation (1954-56, 3 volumes)
  • Mormon Doctrine (1958)
  • Doctrinal New Testament Commentary (1965-73, 3 volumes)
  • Messages of the First Presidency (1965-75, 6 volumes)
  • The Miracle of Forgiveness (1969)
  • The Holy Temple (1980)
  • The Work and the Glory series (1990s)
  • Compilations of teachings of LDS Church Presidents, including The Gospel Kingdom: Selections from the Writings and Discourses of John Taylor, Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, Teachings of George Albert Smith, Teachings of Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, and Teachings of Howard W. Hunter.

Bookcraft also published some works for BYU Press, the BYU Religious Studies Center, and the LDS Church.

Authors

During its years as an independent company, Bookcraft published books by many notable LDS figures, including:

Films

Some Bookcraft books have been adapted into movies.

Trivia

  • After graduating from BYU without a husband to support her, Sheri L. Dew spent four years at Bookcraft as a low level editor, which initiated her interest in LDS publishing. She then edited the LDS magazine This People, and in 1988, began a series of editorial and managerial roles at Deseret Book, becoming its CEO in 2002.
  • Cory Maxwell, Bookcraft's editorial manager (and Deseret Book's director of publishing after the merger), is the son of LDS Church apostle Neal A. Maxwell.

See also

Notes

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