May 26, 2015
Forty years ago the editorial department at IVP consisted of Jim Sire and me with Linda Doll working half time. We put out about twenty-four books a year. Today the editorial department consists of seventeen people and we do about a hundred and ten books a year.
Forty years ago IVP had not published any LifeGuides and had not originated any major reference books. There was no IVP Academic and no Formatio. Since then we've sold 15 million LifeGuides, have produced over a dozen dictionaries and other major reference works as well as four commentary series, over a hundred Formatio titles and have a robust academic imprint.
Forty years ago IVP was housed in a former Buick dealership in Downers Grove. Offices were upstairs with shipping and warehousing downstairs. Brown paper covered the dealership show windows to hide the steel racking of books and other supplies from public view. Today we work in an office three miles away built specifically for our operation, efficiently laid out. Two warehouses on the same site holding two million books.
Forty years ago I had just previously been working with InterVarsity on campus in St. Louis for two years. I had brown hair, no beard and was twenty pounds lighter. OK, I was twenty-five pounds lighter. But forty years ago today I didn't run five miles. Today I did.
Forty years ago Gerald Ford was president and the Vietnam War had just ended the month before with the fall of Saigon. There were no cell phones, no internet, no ebooks and no reality television (some things were better in those days).
Forty years ago John Alexander was president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and Jim Nyquist was head of IVP. We edited manuscripts with, yes, blue pencil, and used carbon paper to make copies of letters we sent.
Forty years ago people actually went to bookstores to buy our books. IVP had no marketing department, just a sales team and a marketing consultant. We were perhaps best known for books of cultural analysis written by a knicker-wearing American living in Switzerland--Francis Schaeffer. Our bestseller that year was How to Give Away Your Faith by Paul Little. This year our bestseller is Called by Mark Labberton.
Forty years ago I did not expect to spend my career at IVP.
Forty years ago today was my first day on the job at IVP. Now I see the grace in it.
May 15, 2015
William Zinsser, author of the classic book On Writing Well, died this week. I have recommended his book more often and sold more copies of it than any other of many excellent options. The first hundred pages are a must for anyone writing non-fiction of any kind.Continue reading "Ode to On Writing Well"
April 14, 2015
"The war tried to kill us in the spring." From the first sentence of The Yellow Birds, we know that we are in capable hands. Kevin Powers is the well-named author who uses his formidable talent with understated power.Continue reading "Understated Powers"
March 24, 2015
What to do with footnotes has been a problem since Gutenberg. To some they are an aggravation on par with elevator music and cable company service. To others they are the glory of the published word.
For those who want to be able to follow an author's sources, and for authors who want to make comments that don't interrupt the flow of the main text, notes are indispensible.Continue reading "Take Note"
March 10, 2015
As we come up on the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, a must read is April 1865: The Month That Saved America by Jay Winik. An historian and diplomat, Winik had the opportunity to see first-hand how civil wars around the world so often end so badly--either in the genocide of the losing side or an interminable guerrilla insurgency. Neither happened in the United States. This the remarkable story of why.
March 4, 2015
Troglodytes like myself have been slow to pick up on technology. You've heard of "early adopters" and "digital natives." I proudly consider myself to be a digital dinosaur. Years after the Kindle arrived, I got one. And just recently I went over to the dark side of a smart phone.
I do find my Kindle handy for carrying around a raft of proposed manuscripts IVP is considering for publication--as well as books we've already published. I generally am happier reading my Kindle when it is light reading. If the book is something I want to slowly study and digest, it's print for me.Continue reading "Is Print Better?"