2010 Mormon Literature Year in Review
By Andrew Hall
Part 2: The Mormon Market
Link to Part 1: The National Market
Wm notes: portions of this bibliographic review rely on comments from sources who have chosen to remain anonymous. As I said with his report on independent Mormon publishers posted here at AMV last July: I’m personally confident that Andrew has used his anonymous sources judiciously and within standard journalistic practices. But also keep in mind that the comments here represent particular points of view.
(Note: I am now posting at Dawning of a Brighter Day, the blog of the Association for Mormon Letters, a weekly column covering the world of Mormon literature. The focus is on published fiction, but I also cover theater and film. I also link to recently published literary works, news, and reviews. I hope to make the brief column a convenient gathering place for authors and readers to announce and follow news about the field each week.)
In this section, I will look at the Mormon fiction market by analysing recent trends, introducing each publisher, noting books that have received especially strong reviews, and noting the passing of a beloved author.
Despite the troubled economy, the number of literary works published by Mormon market publishers rose considerably in 2010. This was despite the fact that the publishers owned by the Church’s Deseret Media Companies, Deseret Book Publishing and Covenant Communications, stood pat on their annual output. The rise was due largely to an increase in the number of fiction works published by independent publishers Cedar Fort, Leatherwood, and Valor. Publishers report, however, that the book-selling economy remained stagnant in 2010, which means that more authors and more books crowded into the market, increasing the competition for market share. Continue reading “Andrew Hall’s 2010 Mormon Literature Year in Review: Mormon Market”
Wm writes: Andrew Hall, who does a yearly report on Mormon publishing, approached me with the idea for a story on the struggles that some of the small, independent LDS publishers are having in the current economic environment. I told him that if he pursued the story that I’d be happy to post it here. It’s always tough doing something like this — to be honest my first reaction was to shy away from the idea. No one wants to report “bad” news. Or at least I don’t. Even when I’m critical, it’s because I want things to improve and get better. And I do think it’s also important for authors and fans in the world of Mormon letters (which is what the AMV crowd represents) to be aware of what’s going on.
For what it’s worth: in my opinion (that is as someone who works in higher education public relations and has worked with the local and national media) this is a well-sourced, multiple-sourced story that brings in the major needed points of view. It does rely at times on anonymous sources, but I’m personally confident that Andrew has used them judiciously and within standard journalistic practices. But also keep in mind that it also represents particular points of view. No one story — no matter how long and well-sourced can do full justice to an issue or event or series of events. That said: this story is worth telling, Andrew has done an excellent job, and many thanks to all those who were willing to correspond with Andrew and especially those willing to go on record.
The struggles of independent LDS publishers
By Andrew Hall
In a Mormon book market dominated by two Church owned publishers and two Church owned bookstores, all which have considerable resources at their disposal, independent publishers live a precarious existence. Independent publishers provide the diversity of outlets which any marketplace needs to thrive. With finite resources and limited opportunities to reach readers, however, the life span of such publishers tends to be short, and authors with works produced by these companies must take the lion’s share of the marketing on themselves. This article will look at the current state of three small independent publishers, Valor Publishing Group, WiDo Publishing, and Leatherwood Press. Valor Publishing in particular is going through what can charitably be called a moment of transition, with two of the four founding members of the company resigning, and several authors taking back their book rights. Continue reading “Andrew Hall reports on the struggles of independent LDS publishers”
Wm writes: Andrew Hall has really outdone himself this year with this look at the Mormon market which features not only works published but a run down of the players in the market as well as some original reporting on them. Sadly, Andrew is probably not going to be able to also do a look at film and theater. Happily, it’s because he and his family are moving to Japan where Andrew has secured a teaching position. Always cause for rejoicing in this tough market for academics. Congratulations and thank you, Andrew.
Click here to view data on the number of books published per publisher from 2000-2009.
Recently I have been worried that the Church-owned sector of the LDS literary market (publishers Deseret Book, Shadow Mountain, and Covenant, and the bookstores Deseret Book and Seagull) were taking too much control of the market, squeezing the independent actors out. That remains a valid concern in terms of the ability of independent publishers getting shelf space or promotion space in the Church-owned bookstores. Independent publishing has not dried up and blown away, however. Just the opposite, independent publishers published more literary works in 2009 than in 2008, and the ranks of the independent publishers grew slightly. Together with a downtick in the number of titles published by the Church-owned publishers, the percentage of titles published by the independent publishers was 50% of the total works published in 2009. This returns the market to the equilibrium that existed for most of the decade before 2008, when a drop in independent publishing resulted in the Church-owned publishers producing 64% of the titles. Of course, the Church-owned publishers achieve sales of which the independents could never dream. But I am glad to see that the independents have life in them. Continue reading “Andrew’s Mormon Literature Year in Review: Mormon Market 2009”