William (Bill) Eerdmans, Jr. has stepped down as president and publisher of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, the 103-year-old, family-owned Christian house based in Grand Rapids, Mich. Succeeding him in both positions is Anita Eerdmans, who was previously v-p of marketing and head of the company’s children’s book division, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. Bill Eerdmans is now chairman of the board; Anita Eerdmans becomes only the third president and publisher in the company’s history.
Bill Eerdmans has headed the house since 1963, when he succeeded his father, William B. Eerdmans, Sr., who founded the company in 1911. In a statement, Bill Eerdmans said, “I’m ever grateful for the lot that has fallen to me, that of following my father in steering this company to the prominence it has enjoyed. I am truly blessed in having as my successor my wife Anita, who has, throughout our nearly forty years of partnership, proven worthy of every confidence to further pursue our broad range of publishing interests.”
Anita Eerdmans began her career at the house in 1974, transitioning over the years from editorial to marketing, and has headed Eerdmans Books for Young Readers since 2006. She told PW, “While it’s quite daunting to step into a job that has only been filled by two others in the long history of the company, I am reassured by the presence of many wonderful colleagues of long standing, as well as many young, energetic co-workers that have joined us over the last few years. It is my goal that we will remain faithful to the core values that have allowed us to thrive and survive for 100-plus years, while adapting to the ever-changing publishing landscape.”
Highly regarded for its scholarly titles, Eerdmans Publishing has been named Publisher of the Year by the Association of Theological Booksellers multiple times. Its children’s books have won the American Library Association’s Caldecott Honor Award for illustration, Batchelder Award for translation, and Schneider Family Award for books about disability. Eerdmans also earned seven PW starred reviews in 2014-- two for adult books and five for children’s.
During his tenure, Bill Eerdmans broadened the company’s list beyond its Reformed Protestant roots to comprise books by authors from other faith traditions, including Roman Catholic, Orthodox Christian, and Jewish. Among the house’s authors are C. S. Lewis, Nicholas Wolterstorff, and Eugene Peterson. Eerdmans has published many books on ecumenical and interfaith dialogue, as well as anti-apartheid books during South Africa’s apartheid years and titles on race, gender, and other social issues. Bill Eerdmans recently commissioned a number of translations of important Russian writers and remains active in acquisitions for the company.
Another major change is on the horizon for Eerdmans Publishing: Spring 2015 brings the retirement of executive editor Jon Pott, who has been with the company for 47 years.
This article has been corrected. An earlier version incorrectly said Wm. B. Eerdmans had been named Publisher of the Year by the Society of Biblical Literature. It was so honored by the Association of Theological Booksellers.