Saturday, January 24, 2009

Spring Creek Books

Let me preface this post. After working at Seagull Book for almost two years I have come to see all the crazy Mormon product out there. I hope to return to this realm after my mission. Although I have seen a lot of crazy things, none can really compare to Spring Creek Books. They have everything from The Great Gathering to A Prophet in Palmyra. In their somewhat crazy, but amusing way, they are a nice addition to the market.

Lately I have noticed that they have not been publishing much. Surely something to do with the economy I imagined. I mean, Signature decided to stop publishing this year, and so it didn't seem too unusual. But Spring Creek is clearly struggling. They stopped distributing their own books last year and decided to go with Brigham Distributing (bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad move in my mind- Granite Publishing and Distributing would have given them much better access to the market in my opinion). Also, Spring Creek is not accepting manuscripts right now. They didn't publish anything during Fall 2008- which is a nail in the coffin. Like every good LDS publisher knows, you save your cream of the crop for Fall. Often the success or failure of a book is based on the timing of its release, usually coffee table books and higher quality or pulp fiction a.k.a. Anita Stansfield do well in the Fall. So I knew Spring Creek was in trouble when I didn't see any new Spring Creek books come through towards the end of my tenior at Seagull. I have been half heartedly monitoring their site for several months, always wondering why they haven't published. Now it looks like, from all signs, unless there is some sort of miracle, they will go belly up.

Spring Creek made some stragetic errors. They used cheap covers, published some things that probably shouldn't have been published (We Lived in Heaven is just creepy, this one's pretty odd too right?, and this one too) But they also published some things that were real hits among the Mormon population (15 Secrets to a Happy Home, Leaning on Prayer, The Lost Sheep-two personal favorites, The Power of Your Patriarchal Blessing, Staying in Tune) but these couldn't account for other things that I mentioned above and other things like The Celestial City. I think Spring Creeks main problem is among their more palatable things, they didn't have anything that would really make them any money. Granite benefits a lot from its distrubtion of popular items, as does Sounds of Zion. But Springcreek would only publish paperbacks of a certain type. They shot themsleves in the foot. But I digress.

To be honest, this is a shame. The small or unique LDS publishers just can't make it. Parables, Signature, Spring Creek, Granite, they all struggle to find their place in the market. I feel like with the purchase of Seagull and Covenant, the new Deseret Book put themsleves in a position where other publishers basically lost a chance at ever seeing their books on the shelves. I am no business man but I think I have some sugggestions to improve market conditions for small publishers.

1. I would like to see Cedar Fort branch out to strengthen itself as their new position as the only major independent publisher and maybe take up some distribution of smaller publishers.
2. I would like Cedar Fort to start publishing the kind of fiction that Parables publishes.
3. Small publishers need to ban together to get their books on the shelves. If they have one major distributor that carries a lot of titles they have a way. Brigham is too weak, Granite is slightly stronger. I think the market is so saturated that one distributor needs to rise up to rule them all. I am not for a monopoly but frankly, the Mormon market is quite market. You have to have strong access to Seagull and Deseret shelves to ever hope to make it.


Jessica said...

Jacob Newman: I checked out those strange books that you mentioned... I want to read them! Not that I think that there's any real truth to that Suzanne lady's journey... but just because they're strange! Thanks for the recommendations! ;)

Michelle said...

Wow. I'm sensing a career in the publishing industry for you. I'll be asking advice next time you are in town.

And I am so excited about your mission! I still need to go comment on that.

Seagulljaap said...

Thanks Jessica- They are odd! Read and comment always!

Michelle- That would be a dream and a half. Maybe I will just have to do Communications and American Studies with a Spanish minor. That would be the dream.

Looking to get published? I can see you on the shelves easily. I don't understand a whole lot of the process of how someone goes about getting something published but I think you would have a STRONG chance with a major Mormon publisher.

Andrew said...

LDS Publisher says that they have gone out of business, and have sold their stock to WindRiver Books.