In a deal that adds to its religion publishing program, Rowman & Littlefield has acquired the book operations of the Alban Institute. Founded in 1974, the Alban Institute is one of the country’s leading experts on congregational life and leadership issues for North American Protestants. The purchase involves about 270 active titles mostly in the areas of church governance, leadership, and development. Among Alban’s authors are Peter L. Steinke, Roy M. Oswald, Diana Butler Bass, N. Graham Standish, and the Institute’s founder, Loren B. Mead.

R&L CEO Jed Lyons said R&L will up the output from 10 to 12 books a year to 25 to 30; titles will be released “As an Alban Book” on the title page. Alban’s longtime director of publishing, Richard Bass, will join Rowman & Littlefield as a consulting editor. Sales of the Alban line are under $1 million with a strong presence in online sales, sales to congregations, ministers and lay church leaders, seminaries, schools, and libraries. The purchase “is a perfect fit for us,” Lyons said, pointing to other acquisitions in the religion field including the purchase of the Catholic imprint, Sheed & Ward; the purchase of the publisher of books on Episcopalian subjects, Cowley Publishing; and the acquisition of Jason Aronson, a publisher of books on Judaica among other subjects.

Orders for Alban books will be handled by Rowman & Littlefield’s Blue Ridge Summit, Penn. distribution center effective February 1. Until then, orders and returns should continue to be directed to Alban’s distributor, PBD, located in Alpharetta, Ga.