After 30 years of publishing evangelical Protestant and Roman Catholic books, Ann Arbor, Mich.—based Servant Publications is closing its doors as of October 31. The not-for-profit company had annual sales of about $4 million and published about 50 titles per year, evenly split between two imprints.
Servant v-p and editorial director Bert Ghezzi told PW that the state of the economy was a key factor in the publisher's decision to sell its assets. "We were struggling to make our sales goals lately," Ghezzi said.
The two-step process started with Servant selling its Catholic imprint, Charis Books, to St. Anthony Messenger Press. That deal closed September 30. St. Anthony will handle the combined operations from its Cincinnati, Ohio, offices and warehouse.
The acquisition boosts SAMP's overall list to about 370 titles, an increase of 50%. St. Anthony is one of America's largest publishers of Roman Catholic spirituality resources, with about $12 million in annual sales, according to publisher Jeremy Harrington. As part of the terms of the acquisition, St. Anthony will change the Charis imprint's name to Servant. "We feel the Servant name has stronger recognition in the marketplace, so we are planning to capitalize on that, especially in the institutional market," Harrington said. He is also hoping that Servant's stronger position in the general trade market will boost sales for all of St. Anthony's list.
The sale of Servant's evangelical imprint, Vine Books, to Ventura, Calif.—based Gospel Light is expected to be finalized by October 31. The sale includes publishing rights, future contracts and inventory of more than 100 titles. All editorial, marketing and sales functions for Vine Books will be conducted from Gospel Light's Ventura headquarters, while warehousing and fulfillment will be relocated to the publisher's warehouse in Cincinnati.
Gospel Light plans to combine Vine Books with its Regal Books imprint, according to Regal Books editorial director Barbara Scott. "There is strong synergy between the two lines, with several of our authors having also published with Vine Books," she said. Citing titles by such bestselling authors as Elmer Towns, Norman Wright and Neil Anderson, Scott said the house is poised to capitalize on the joint strengths resulting from the acquisition
"This is the first acquisition of this type for Gospel Light, so we are currently exploring what's in the pipeline and how best to integrate our resources," Scott added.