Fresh off its fast start in the past year with its current affairs imprint WND Books, Thomas Nelson is launching a new business imprint and has re-signed bestselling author John Maxwell to head the list. Nelson wooed Maxwell back from Warner with, according to Nelson Books publisher Jonathon Merkh, a "solid seven-figure" exclusive four-book deal. Nelson Business's first list will debut in March 2004, and Maxwell's first book for the imprint is scheduled for winter 2005 release.

Maxwell's books have consistently held spots on various national bestseller lists. He published 12 books and a plethora of spinoff products with Nelson before moving to Warner when it launched its Christian line three years ago. Maxwell's The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, which Nelson published in 1998, has exceeded one million in sales. The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork (2001) is at 800,000 in sales, Merkh said. Just out from Warner Business is Maxwell's There's No Such Thing As Business Ethics; his last book in the Warner contract will be Today Matters (Warner Faith), an inspirational title due out next spring.

WND Books and Nelson Business reflect Nelson's current strategy for expansion. "We're well established in the Christian market, and that will continue to be our core," Merkh noted. "But the general market is much larger, and we feel we can compete in that arena, too." He added, "Maxwell has been our beachhead for business books, a consistent brand for us. Because of the way his books perform, it was very important for us to have him as an anchor for this new imprint." Also in the works are titles by Don Soderquist (former CEO and senior vice-chairman of Wal-Mart) and Laurie Beth Jones (Jesus CEO), due out in March 2004. Merkh expects to publish seven to 10 titles per year, "but we can do more if good stuff comes along."

In other news from Nelson, the company's Tommy Nelson children's imprint has assumed the marketing of Max Lucado's Wemmicks product line from Crossway Books & Bibles, announced Dan Lynch, senior v-p and publisher of Tommy Nelson. Under the agreement, Tommy Nelson will produce Wemmicks videos, board books, audio products, ancillary books and licensed products. It will also market selected backlist products; Crossway will continue to develop core Wemmicks picture books. The Wemmicks series of picture books and videos has sold more than 2.3 million units since 1997.