From Family Christian Stores’ journey through bankruptcy to Ben Carson’s apology for plagiarizing, here are PW’s top religion stories of 2015.
Aviya Kushner had the startling realization that the Bible in English is almost always simpler and clearer than it is in Hebrew. After a decade of research, the author shared several new ways to understand the Bible in her book The Grammar of God.
Family Christian Stores owner Richard Jackson was blocked from selling the troubled Christian retail chain to FCS Acquisition, a company he founded, during a U.S. Bankruptcy Court ruling in June.
Citing the recession of 2008, the digital economy, and the rise of multichannel shopping, Family Christian Stores declared bankruptcy in February. The chain also announced a restructure that would involve selling its assets to a subsidiary formed by FCS owners.
Owed $40 million by FCS, unsecured creditors including Christian publishers such as Moody, Baker, and Crossway were represented in the first bankruptcy hearing in mid-February. Awaiting details on the restructure of the chain, one publishing exec told PW he was “disappointed” and reported “a huge loss in this process.”
Platt, author of Counter Culture, told PW that “Christian convictions are increasingly viewed as outdated or even offensive.” Nevertheless, the Alabama pastor urged Christians to stand up for their beliefs, no matter the cost.
The Catholic-interest imprint of Crown’s Christian Publishing Group discontinued as a frontlist imprint in March, relying solely on its backlist titles that include books by authors such as Henri Nouwen, Ronald Rolheiser, and Scott Hahn.
As coloring books continue to fly off the shelves, religion and spiritual publishing houses now have a stake in the profits. Known for their meditative qualities, coloring books in the religion market offer opportunities to study Scripture and pray.
By late March, the bankruptcy drama at FCS took its toll on those in the Christian publishing industry. Where houses tried to forestall their own financial strain, authors went without royalty checks, and even agents paid a price.
Father and son Alex and Kevin Malarkey had a bestseller in 2010 with The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, but after Alex admitting to lying about his near-death experience five years later, Tyndale House pulled the book and all ancillary products out of print.
Accused of plagiarizing sections of his book America the Beautiful, Carson as well as his publisher, Zondervan, issued statements that confirmed the allegations in January. Further, the Republican presidential candidate issued an apology for his “missed” attempt to credit sources in the book.