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Realignment at Westminster Press
Kimberly Winston -- 1/31/00

Westminster John Knox Press, the publishing arm of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., has announced restructuring plans company officials hope will streamline operations and further boost rising sales figures.

Richard Brown, director of WJKP and v-p of its parent company, the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation, said the changes are an attempt to bolster growth experienced in 1999. At a time when many publishers associated with mainline denominations are watching sales slide, WJKP's sales rose 9% over 1998. This year, the house plans 68 new titles, and plans to increase that number 5% to 7% in the coming years.

The changes will focus on e-commerce and the American Academy of Religion/Society for Biblical Literature (AAR/ SBL), two areas Marc Lewis, WJKP's general manager, noted as crucial to the company's health. "There is no doubt that to be effective in any business you have to be on the Internet," Lewis said. "And we look at the academic market as one place where we need to have deeper penetration." WJKP recently took steps to expand its academic market overseas with the opening of a one-person office in England.

There have been no layoffs or firings, Lewis said, but "about a half-dozen employees have left and we plan to add that many, plus two or three more." Lewis is new to WJKP, arriving there last November after 26 years with Abingdon and Cokesbury.

Under the restructuring, WJKP will hire one e-commerce employee to create two new Web sites, one for trade customers and one for denominational customers. Both sites could be up by May. WJKP's current site was created by an outside source, and bringing it in-house should allow for more frequent changes and updates, Lewis said. Another new hire will work in publicity and author relations.

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