Ayear ago, Thomas Nelson announced a reorganization that eliminated all of its imprints and ordered its publishing functions around what it called “strategic publishing units” keyed to BISAC category codes. Some cheered the innovative move, but many in publishing wondered whether it could work. In an interview last week, Nelson CEO Michael Hyatt said that the strategy, put into effect April 1, has helped the company complete its best quarter ever.

Since Nelson is now privately held, Hyatt declined to release sales figures, but he provided PW with a host of statistics as proof of the effectiveness of the One Company initiative since its launch:

• Year-to-date publishing revenue for the period April 1—September 30 is up 12% with, Hyatt said, “good growth across the board,” but particularly for study Bibles (up 63%), gift books (53%), curriculum (39%) and business and culture titles (15%).

• Nelson's four largest sales channels are also “the biggest gainers”: ministries (up 35%), mass market (30%), general market stores (17%) and Christian bookstores (15%).

Hyatt added that sales at Nelson's top 50 retail accounts are up over last year by 16%, helped in part by five books that have hit PW's bestsellers lists and 10 that have made the New York Times lists, including Denise Jackson's It's All About Him, Max Lucado's 3:16 and Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz. “We had 19 titles hit the [Times] list in our last fiscal year, so we are slightly outpacing that this year,” said Hyatt.

“I believe this is all a direct result of our One Company initiative,” Hyatt said. “It has allowed us to create products that are more relevant to consumers and enabled us to do a better job reaching those consumers through our marketing efforts.” He noted that the company was looking forward to the release of major titles in the second half of the year, including new books from Bill Cosby, John Eldredge, John Maxwell, Chuck Swindoll and Ted Dekker.

With the resignation last week of David Dunham, v-p and group publisher of one of its nonfiction trade books units (General Interest and Lifestyle/Business and Culture), Nelson is tweaking the company's structure, combining the two units under a single group, the Non-Fiction Trade Book Group, under the leadership of Dunham's opposite number, David Moberg, who had been v-p and group publisher for Practical Living, Spiritual Growth and Christian Thought.

While three other executives have left Nelson since One Company was announced, only one (Jonathan Merkh, former publisher of Nelson Books) left as a direct result of the new strategy, according to Hyatt. Dunham resigned to launch his own company, as did Greg Stielstra, a former v-p of marketing, and Greg Daniel, who was associate publisher for the W Publishing imprint.

As part of the restructuring, Nelson has created three new positions in its Corporate Brands Group, including a v-p of brand management that has not yet been filled. David Schroeder, who had been marketing director for Business and Culture, has assumed the newly created position of director of marketing for Max Lucado, one of Nelson's top branded authors. Damon Goude, who had been director of marketing for General Interest and Lifestyle books, will also take on those duties for the business and culture titles in the new position of director of marketing for General Interest and Lifestyle/Business and Culture.

Nelson is positioning this change as an “intensification and maximization” of the One Company initiative. Asked whether the merger of the two units means Nelson will do fewer business and culture books, or would cut title output overall, Hyatt said, “Absolutely not. It's the same exact SKU plan, the same number of books. We're still planning about 275 books per year, with about 20 of those being fiction. And since Business and Culture has been one of our best-performing divisions, we may consider doing more of those books.”