Harper Collins Publishing Group Buys Christian Book Publisher Thomas Nelson

The HarperCollins Publishing group announced on Monday that it will be purchasing Thomas Nelson Inc., maker of Bibles for almost 200 years, for an undisclosed amount.

The news comes 18 months after private equity firm Kohlberg & Co. acquired a large sum of Thomas Nelson's stock.

All that's known for sure is that HarperCollins will buy Thomas Nelson for a discounted price of the $473 million InterMedia paid to make the company private in 2006.

HarperCollins also owns Zondervan, another Bible maker. A majority of NIV Bibles pressed are made directly through Zondervan with Thomas Nelson printing the NKJV and ASV as well as other Christian books.

With both publishers targeting the same audience, many wonder how the franchises will coexist.

“HarperCollins already owns Zondervan and has the HarperOne imprint. Zondervan's focus is on religious books that go into Christian bookstores or are used as church curricula. HarperOne is aimed more at the secular bookstore market. And Thomas Nelson really hits that sweet spot right down the middle – doing some very successful titles that appeal to the secular bookstore model and being a mainstay of the Christian bookstore,” said Betsy Phillips, a representative of HarperCollins, to The Nashville Scene.

Casey Francis, director of corporate communications for Thomas Nelson, told The Christian Post today, that through HarperCollins’ resources and capabilities, Thomas Nelson “will be able to capitalize on opportunities” HarperCollins will bring to the company.

Thomas Nelson is one of the lead trade publishers in the United States, and the largest Christian publisher in the world. They provide all sorts of Christian literature including Bibles, e-books, journals, and digital applications.

Bill Graham, Max Lucado, and Dave Ramsey are among the larger names that publish with the company.

Thomas Nelson also does marketing for the "Women of Faith" conferences every year in the U.S. – an event that draws over 400,000.

CP reader, Kathryn Sarcone had a number of questions and gripes with this transaction. She posed these questions:

"[The purchase gives] HarperCollins, a secular company with no reason to maintain the sanctity of scripture, a scary amount of control over our Holy book. If they decided, for instance, to let someone of higher influence "buy" a few words and change their translation, slightly, what would the Bible become? How do we as Christians feel about the ethics of Bible publishing, as a business and as a moral responsibility? Are there checks we can put on the system to protect ourselves? Is there such a thing as a "Bible monopoly" and does HC have one now?"