LDS publisher Windriver Publishing has purchased another LDS publisher, Mapletree Publishing, according to a message posted on the websites of both companies. The merger consolidates two smaller publishers active in the LDS market, and borders on creating a new medium-sized publisher.
According to WindRiver Publisher, E. Keith “JB” Howick, Jr., Mapletree Publishing has 16 titles in print, and 5 under contract, while WindRiver has 30 titles in print and 3 under contract. He expects new titles published to stay the same or dip slightly, before rising in subsequent years.
Mapletree’s employees are not transferring from its Mesa, Arizona headquarters to WindRiver’s offices in Silverton, Idaho, but since Mapletree used mainly contractors, this means just the owner and one employee are leaving the industry.
Howick says that Mapletree has developed a name for books on home schooling, child development and family values, and that its future position, as an imprint (i.e., brand, the name on the spine of books) of WindRiver, will focus on those non-fiction areas. Fiction titles will eventually be transferred to WindRiver, and future fiction submissions should go there.
Howick, one of the more progressive and informed publishers in the LDS market (he has even commented here on occasion, unlike others in the industry), has done a credible job building WindRiver, and I think this acquisition improves its position in the market. Certainly adding 50% more titles makes it easier to get LDS bookstores to carry its titles.
But unlike at the top of the market, I don’t have the worry that combining these two companies will have a negative effect on the market. The number of titles involved is relatively small (perhaps 1% of the market), and because both companies are small, even if titles are eliminated, the effect isn’t very large.
Instead, this merger creates a single larger, and probably stronger, company from two smaller companies. Good strong companies are, I think, always a boon to the market.