IVP - Strangely Dim - The Work of Welcome

November 18, 2011

The Work of Welcome

I've never been especially corporate-minded. I remember a conversation with my brother and my dad in which each of them shared some examples of their company's culture that made me spit out my gum. Then I shared some examples of IVP's corporate culture that made their jaws drop and their eyes glaze over. IVP is a different kind of publishing company, in many respects: not-for-profit, accountable to the board of a campus ministry, process-oriented and relatively flat in its heirarchical structure. I've not experienced the vicissitudes of corporate America that some of my friends have experienced; I know our CEO and he knows me; I've had an office door since my first day on the job; and from me to the big-big-boss, it's pretty much an open-door kind of place.

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So I think it's a first in IVP's history (at least in my memory) that we've done something as old-school corporate as organizational mergers and acquisitions. But earlier this week we did just that, announcing our purchase of Biblica Books, a line of books from Biblica Worldwide. (Read the official press release here.) Biblica translates the Bible into languages spoken by 1 million-plus speakers, has completed more than 100 languages, and is the translation sponsor and ministry publisher of the New International Version of the Bible. The missions of our two organizations have a lot of overlap, and our book-publishing interests align nicely, so we were seen from the beginning as a good landing spot for their books program. 

Now comes IVP's happy challenge of taking over the work of Biblica Books, both in selling and distributing 170 titles currently in print, and editing and producing thirty titles currently in process. It's a lot of work, but honestly, it's the fun part--new relationships with authors, new ideas moving from our warehouse into the marketplace, new strategies for promoting our books collectively and individually. The books we're taking on include

  • Operation World, a global prayer guide currently in its seventh edition.
  • The Cross, the story of Arthur Blessitt's forty-year experiment in literally carrying a cross all over the world.
  • Besides the Bible, reviews of 100 "must-read" books for the church, edited and compiled by Dan Gibson, Jordan Green and John Pattison (who just signed a contract with IVP for his book Slow Church with Chris Smith). Full disclosure: I'm a contributor to this book, and IVP's publishing history makes a pretty good showing in the bibliography.

It's difficult, when thinking about so classically corporate a move as an organizational acquisition, to think of so quaint an idea as welcome. But we've been talking about hospitality lately here at Strangely Dim, and this really is a matter of that. Publishers are referred to as "houses" for all sorts of reasons, but particularly because the work of a publisher is inherently relational, inherently personal, inherently missional. What happens at a publisher is illuminated helpfully by what happens at a house. You don't invite people (authors, endorsers, coworkers, other organizations) haphazardly; you welcome them, which is to allow them to become a part of you, to be shaped by you even as you are shaped by them.

So we welcome Biblica Books in the fullest sense of the word, and we commit ourselves to the work of welcome. And we invite you to do the same, to help us celebrate the joining of these two publishing efforts and to pray for the fruit of our work together.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at November 18, 2011 4:41 PM Bookmark and Share

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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