More than 3 months ago I announced here the first Portuguese-language Mormon short story contest. Now the period for making submissions has closed, and already the contest has exceeded expectations.
This is the third year that I have prepared a bibliography of poetry by Mormons in print for National Poetry Month. Surprisingly, this year we only added titles to the list — nothing went out-of-print. But don’t think that is because all these books are easy to find.
In the wake of last week’s news about Deseret Book taking Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books, I started thinking again about what alternatives there might be to Deseret Book’s dominance of the LDS market. There seems to be little question that many more sophisticated books, although apparently some are books that make the most sensitive or religiously conservative uncomfortable, and as a result those books are mostly shut out of LDS bookstores.
That might be a simplistic explanation, and perhaps doesn’t cover all aspects of the problem. I’ve tried to discuss the problems with Deseret Book in the past (see The problem of Deseret Book Part 1: A Question of Size, The Problem of Deseret Book Part 2: A Question of Focus, The Problem of Deseret Book Part 3: Unresolvable? and Bad Move, Deseret Book). Let’s come up with some ideas for other ways to get LDS books to LDS consumers, especially those in areas not served by LDS stores.
I read a blog post by David Wooley the other day about his publisher’s insistance that he help promote his new book. I must admit that I identify with his reluctance to promote himself. My own tendency is a bit introverted, so promotion of any sort requires me to overcome a little embarassment.
But in thinking about David’s post, I can’t help but remember that promotion can also be used in the wrong way. In the Mormon context, publishers and authors face significant cultural and ethical dilemmas in promoting their work. Continue reading “Self-promotion and its Discontents”
When the LDS Church published its own edition of the King James version of the Bible in 1980, Church leaders claimed that it was a significant achievement. The edition included extensive and better organized footnotes than those in other editions of the Bible. It also featured a lengthy Bible Dictionary and a Topical Guide (originally published as a standalone volume). At least LDS Church members (and other, non-members, if my memory is correct) hailed its publication as a valuable study tool. [Obviously, its inclusion of citations to other LDS scriptural works and the LDS concepts included in the Bible Dictionary and Topical guide prevented others from adopting this edition or showing much interest.]
At the time, it seemed obvious, at least to me, that similar LDS editions of the Bible in other languages would eventually follow. But more than 25 years later, we still have yet to see an LDS edition of the Bible in any other language.
To the casual observer, an LDS edition of the Bible in Spanish and in Portuguese would seem like a no brainer. The Church uses old, well-known protestant translations simiar to the King James translation used in English. By their age, both should be in the public domain (the Reina Valera translation, used in Spanish, was completed in 1602, while the JoÃ£o Ferreira de Almeida translation, the Portuguese version used in the Church, was complete by 1711, but only published in 1748). Theoretically, the Church could take these translations, add its footnotes and translate the Bible Dictionary and Topical Guide.
Its a big project, but less complex than the original LDS edition in English because most of the footnotes and topical selections have been made already in English. And such an edition makes sense when you realize that the current number of LDS Church members in Spanish-speaking countries exceeds the number of English-speaking Church members on the rolls in 1980, when the LDS edition was released, by at least 35%, or more than 1 million members.
So why hasn’t the Church produced its own editions?