On the face of it, LDS Archive Publishers may not seem of much interest. Because it publishes mainly reprints, its not interested in new works–what LDS authors are usually selling. And because demand for reprints is relatively small, booksellers often aren’t willing to think too much about them. But in fact, publishing reprints is important, because it allows readers access to the basic works that helped create a market for LDS books in the first place. And, LDS Archive Publishers is also interesting for its involvement in a segment of the LDS market most of us never see: the homeschool market.
LDS Archive Publisher’s principle business is publishing reprints — new editions of long out-of-print titles. To my knowledge, it is the only company dedicated to the LDS market to fill this necessary, but low-demand, function.
In addition to reprints, LDS Archive Publishers has also published several volumes of works by friends and acquaintances of the owner, Dan Hunter (He says the company does not seek manuscripts from others). Himself an author, Hunter has written a series of 9 history textbooks from an LDS perspective for use in home school situations, published under the “Living History” imprint.
The company’s list of titles in print can be found on its website (http://www.archivepublishers.com).
1. Can you give us a little history of the company? It looks like it started in about 1996 or 1997 and you then purchased it in 2004. What led to its sale and why did you purchase it?
Answer: Archive Publishers was begun by Jack Monnett in 1997. Jack realized that there was a need to provide an inexpensive alternative for those who desired the old publications, yet could not afford the cost of purchase an original. As book titles came on line, Jack contacted LDS bookstores in Utah and across the country, offering them a source for these old books. He also began to attend LDS homeschool conventions, as homeschoolers are often interested in original sources.
In the meantime, I was writing my history books called the Living History series, which are history textbooks written in story form, with God and religion put back into history. I needed a publisher, so when I attended my first LDS homeschool convention in 1998 in preparation for offering my first book in 1999, I met Jack. He offered his services, thus a business agreement was entered into.
During the summer season of conventions during 2004, Jack told me that his wife’s health was not good, that he could not keep up on book production, and was looking to sell. He preferred to sell the company to someone who was involved in homeschooling, as he felt it was a valuable source for them. My wife and I have been homeschoolers since 1993, had used Jack’s books in our homeschool, and so we offered to buy the company. This transaction was completed on September 23, 2004. We have not only continued to provide these books to LDS bookstores and homeschoolers, but it also allowed me to continue to publish my history books.
2. How many titles have you published? About how many new titles each year? How do you decide what titles to publish?
Answer: We have 110 titles at the present time (May 2009). Our goal is to prepare 6 titles each year, however, this year I was able to get 9 done. We debut them in August of each year as part of the LDS Booksellers convention. We decide on which titles to publish based on requests from the LDS book industry of those titles bookstore owners would like to see made available again, and titles of books which I have read that I think would be of value to the LDS buying public. I seek for books which are public domain, therefore 75 years old or older are the titles I am most interested in. If there is a title I wish to publish that is newer than that, I seek permission from the copyright owner.
3. I notice that you haven’t reprinted any of the many old LDS fiction titles. Why?
Answer: I personally have an interest in the historical, biographical, and doctrinal books of the past. I have more than enough work just to publish them. When I feel I have published a sufficient number of these old titles, I may venture into the LDS fiction books.
4. Do you or would you publish/reprint LDS works that might be considered controversial? How do you determine whether or not a work could be controversial?
Answer: I seek those titles who have authors who would be more recognizable to the buying public. If that author had a controversial book, I would consider it. I desire to strengthen the testimonies of the Saints, so it would need to a title that would support that idea, and not one to tear it down, or lead to contention.
5. Where do you principally sell your books? Have you had much success getting your books into LDS bookstores? Do you get any crossover between the LDS homeschool audience and the rest of the LDS market?
Answer: I sell to about 75 LDS bookstores across the country, Canada, and England. I would love to be in all LDS bookstores, of which there are about 150, but some have limited space, others are not interested in stocking these old titles, but order from me upon request. Since the buying public comes into an LDS bookstore to buy current or recent titles, those stores who have limited space reserve that space for those types of books. It becomes a matter of inventory turn. Our books work well for both the LDS bookstore market and the LDS homeschool market. We sell many books at LDS homeschool conventions, and on our website. At present, the following states have homeschool convention which I attend: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Texas, Northeaster United States, and the East Coast. There are also many LDS private schools and LDS homeschool organizations around the country that purchase from us.
6. Are you represented by distributors or sales representatives?
7. I know you have exhibited at the LDSBA in the past. Do you plan to continue attending the LDSBA? Are there other Mormon-related conventions you attend? LDS homeschooling conventions?
Answer: I do plan to continue attending the LDSBA. It is a good way to rub shoulders with the retail market to learn what things they would like to offer to their customers that I might be able to fulfill. I guess I answered the other questions about homeschooling in number 5.
8. How do you promote your books to LDS consumers? How do customers find out about your books? Is this different from how the LDS homeschool audience finds out about your textbooks?
Answer: I make a personal phone call to each of my 75 bookstore accounts every 2 months. They, of course, are welcome to call in or fax an order to us at any time. We do not have any minimum quantity or dollar amount requirements, which is appealing to the bookstore buyers. I have not marketed Archive publishers in the print media or LDS websites as of yet, but that is under consideration. A lot of our business is by word of mouth, as many visitors to our website at www.archivepublishers.com tell us about how they found us. Others find us by doing searches on the Internet for a particular title. LDS homeschoolers find us the same way, although homeschool conventions have been the most successful for us.
9. What formats do you produce your titles in? Have you considered ebooks? books in other languages?
Answer: At present we publish only in English. I have not had an interest in ebooks, yet I might get into that at a future date. I personally am one who likes to have a book in hand, so that is my focus. We are looking into having some of our titles translated into Spanish and offering them to the Spanish Saints in Central and South America as well as in the United States.
Question about the Future
10. What is the future of the LDS market, and what needs to happen for it to reach that potential? Does the market for LDS homeschool products have a different future?
Answer: The LDS market is going through some tough times right now with the economy as it is. Some stores have had to close their doors, and some homeschool conventions have had to cancel conventions. Our immediate plans are to weather the storm, continue adding more titles to our collection, and attend those conventions and bookstores that remain. We believe when things turn around, there will be more conventions and bookstores available to us. We feel there is a need in the Spanish market to make these titles available. I would even be interested in taking my entire collection and having a book show at LDS bookstores to help draw people into that store, and expose my books to the buying public. To make these things happen will require money, which is limited to us. That is probably our biggest need. But we do with what we have and continue to press on. I have a lot of fun offering these books to the bookstore and homeschoolers. It does my heart good when people realize these books are available again, and at a cost that is reasonable.