MAY YOU LIVE IN INTERESTING TIMES: the words of an ancient curse; and we in the Christian book and retail trade are certainly living in interesting times today with the growing challenge of digitisation (or should that be digitization?), major realignments within both our own sector and the wider trade, and the ever-shifting sands of the global economy destabilising large and small concerns alike. And the Big News of the Moment is one of those realignments as Thomas Nelson, one the USA’s biggest Christian/Inspirational publishers, looks set to be swallowed up into the abyss of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp alongside HarperCollins and Zondervan:
- News breaks via Christian Retailing USA
- Eddie Olliffe tweets astonishment and concerns
- The Bookseller fails to note Murdoch connection
- Christian Marketplace speculates about possible job losses
- Eddie Olliffe asks tough questions: Is News Corp a ‘fit and proper’ entity to ‘own’ the Bible?
- Reports Elsewhere
News breaks via Christian Retailing USA
The news broke via the USA’s Christian Retailing:
HarperCollins to acquire Thomas Nelson
MONDAY, 31 OCTOBER 2011 04:26 PM EDT
HarperCollins Publishers today announced it is to take over Thomas Nelson.
A subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., HarperCollins said in a surprise statement that it had “entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Thomas Nelson Inc. for an undisclosed sum.” The acquisition, which is expected to close by the end of the calendar year, is “subject to regulatory clearances and other customary closing conditions,” the company said.
Eddie Olliffe tweets astonishment and concerns
The story was rapidly picked up by the ever-vigilant Eddie Olliffe, who tweeted his astonishment and concerns, kicked off a discussion in the Christian Authors, Booksellers and Publishers facebook group, and located the official HarperCollins Press Release:
The Bookseller fails to note Murdoch connection
Next came the Bookseller, with a brief summary of the official press release but, surprisingly, failing to note the Murdoch connection:
HC acquires Thomas Nelson
01.11.11 | Graeme Neill
HarperCollins has bought US religious publisher Thomas Nelson for an undisclosed sum.
The deal is expected to go through by the end of the year. Thomas Nelson currently publishes the US bestseller Heaven is for Real.
Brian Murray, c.e.o. and president of HarperCollins Worldwide, said: “Founded in 1798 in Edinburgh, Scotland, Thomas Nelson shares a long and rich heritage with both New York’s Harper Brothers and Scotland’s William Collins & Sons. It is thus with great pleasure that I look forward to welcoming Thomas Nelson to the HarperCollins family.”
Christian Marketplace speculates about possible job losses
Hot on the heels of the Bookseller’s report came a Christian Marketplace “Breaking News” ‘e-alert’ with speculation about possible job losses:
It was announced on 31st October that HarperCollins Publishers has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Thomas Nelson, Inc. for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition, which is expected to close by the end of 2011, is subject to regulatory clearances and other customary closing conditions.
The impact of this impending acquisition on the world of Christian publishing is not yet clear but with both Zondervan and Thomas Nelson part of the HarperCollins/News Corp. family it is likely that some job losses will be inevitable.
Clearly one impact is that Rupert Murdoch now becomes the leading Christian publisher in the world, something which might not sit comforatbly [sic] with some ;people [sic] given News Corp’s. [sic] recent troubles following the ‘phone hacking’ scandal at the now defunct News of the World.
Eddie Olliffe asks tough questions: Is News Corp a ‘fit and proper’ entity to ‘own’ the Bible?
For the tough questions, however, we return to Eddie Olliffe, who — describing the announcement as “a bombshell” — asks whether News Corp is a ‘Fit and Proper’ entity to ‘own’ the Bible:
Last evening, a bombshell exploded in the worldwide book trade with the announcement by HarperCollins in New York of their proposed purchase of Thomas Nelson USA (Publisher of Billy Graham, Max Lucado and the New King James Bible).
This is astonishing. News Corporation already owns Zondervan (the Publisher of the New International Version, on licence from Biblica USA) and HarperCollins (the Publisher of the Good News Bible).
I, for one, am not hugely keen on the news that an ethically discredited NewsCorp may shortly own two major USA Christian publishers; Zondervan & Thomas Nelson; thus – incredibly – making Rupert Murdoch the largest Christian publisher in the world, in control of many of the major English translations of the Bible!
I believe, in the light of the phone-hacking charges here in the UK, that NewsCorp is not a ‘fit and proper’ entity to control such a major percentage of English Bible translations. To me, this is extremely worrying.
As John Duncan said on Facebook today;
‘By my reckoning this now makes HC owners of the companies that produce the NKJV, a large percentage of the KJV (both Nelson and HC), the NCV, the NIV (US editions), the GNB, the ESV (UK editions), and some NRSV – rather a lot of bibles, really’.
Eddie makes a point of indicating his respect for the people he has worked with in the various companies concerned, but nonetheless the question and challenge remains: “this seems to be a really perilous and serious state of affairs.”
Reports Elsewhere (most recent first)
- HarperCollins Buys Thomas Nelson; Corners Religious Book Market: The Christian Post, 01/11/2011
- HarperCollins Acquires Religion-Book Publisher: Wall Street Journal, 01/11/2011
- Deal brings largest religion book publishers under one corporate umbrella: CNN Religion Blogs, 01/11/2011
- Harper Collins Will Acquire Thomas Nelson: Nashville Scene, 01/11/2011
- News Corp takes a bet on Christian literature: Financial Times, 31/10/2011
- HarperCollins Acquires Religious Book Publisher: New York Times, 31/10/2011
- HarperCollins buys out religious publisher, Nashville-based Thomas Nelson: Washington Post, 31/10/2011
- HarperCollins Buys Thomas Nelson, Will Control 50% of Christian Publishing Market: Christianity Today, 31/10/2011
- HarperCollins to Acquire Thomas Nelson: Publishers Weekly, 31/10/2011
- HarperCollins Publishers to Acquire Thomas Nelson: Nelson Newsroom copy of HarperCollins press release, 31/10/2011