Image Books, the Catholic-interest imprint of Crown’s Christian Publishing Group, will cease acquiring new titles, the company announced March 9. In a statement, Tina Constable, senior v-p and publisher of Christian Publishing, said, “After careful review, we have decided to focus our resources and creative energies to continue to maintain and nurture the deep Image backlist…..we have made the difficult business decision to no longer acquire additional new titles for the Image Books publishing program, which we will discontinue as a frontlist imprint.”
The move makes at least short-term sense. While books by top evangelical Christian authors routinely have robust sales in frontlist, such out-of-the-gate blockbusters are rare for Catholic books. Yet books by beloved Catholic authors like Henri Nouwen, Ronald Rolheiser, and Scott Hahn, while they might perform modestly in their first few years on the market, often go on to sell millions of copies and remain reader favorites for decades.
The change is the latest ripple at Crown's religion group in the wake of the retirement in March of Steve Cobb, president and publisher of WaterBrook Multnomah, the Christian publishing division that includes WaterBrook Press and Multnomah Publishing, along with Image and the two-year-old Convergent Books imprint. When Cobb’s retirement was announced last November, Alex Field was appointed publisher of WaterBrook Multnomah, reporting to Constable. Dave Kopp became executive editor over Convergent Books, which publishes more progressive Christian titles and had been controversial among many evangelicals. Convergent moved editorial operations from Colorado Springs to Crown’s New York offices in January.
Constable also stated the company would “publish with full enthusiasm and support all Image books under contract, with senior editor Gary Jansen maintaining his existing editorial duties for all forthcoming Image titles, in addition to now acquiring titles for Convergent Books.” The changes result in the departure in April of Carie Freimuth, v-p, associate publisher, WaterBrook Multnomah, Convergent, and Image Books.
Field also announced a series of promotions and a new hire at WaterBrook Multnomah. Laura Barker has been promoted to v-p, editorial director of WaterBrook Multnomah, reporting to Field; she had been editorial director. Ginia Hairston joins the company on April 6 as v-p, director of marketing, also reporting to Field. Most recently at David C. Cook, Hairston had been with WaterBrook Multnomah from 1997 to 2008.