Tyndale House, the publisher of the bestselling Left Behind series of Christian apocalyptic thrillers, has partnered with Beijing-based ZDL Books for distribution of the series and other titles to the Chinese market.

A relative newcomer, ZDL Books published its first titles in early 2004, among them Coach Wooden One-on-One, originally published in the U.S. by Christian publishing house Gospel Light. The book received an endorsement from Chinese NBA star Yao Ming and became a bestseller in China.

Bill Schultz, who lived and worked in Beijing before joining Gospel Light as v-p of sales, was instrumental in raising $6 million from a group of U.S. investors to form a wholly foreign-owned enterprise to acquire the name and business license of ZDL. The company was originally founded as an Internet search engine, but foundered after the Internet bubble burst. ZDL was reorganized in 2003 as a book publisher and now employs about 20 people, all Chinese nationals, with the exception of American general manager Rob Tucker.

Tyndale discussed a deal with ZDL for more than a year before signing an agreement at the Beijing International Book Fair in September. The deal was spearheaded by Tyndale international director of rights and licensing Dan Balow, who formerly served as brand manager of the Left Behind series. "Part of what makes this such an attractive deal for us is the fact that ZDL manages the entire process of translating, editing, printing, marketing and distributing our books across the Chinese market," Balow said.

As a result of the partnership, the Left Behind series and subsequent products will be sold through multiple sales channels nationwide, not the least of which is China's state-run system of 5,000-plus Xinhua bookstores. The 12-volume Left Behind series will be available starting in the spring of 2005.