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2 LDS publishers may join forces
Deseret Book parent announces plans to acquire Bookcraft

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 9 1999 12:00 a.m. MST

The parent company of Deseret Book Tuesday announced plans to purchase Bookcraft Inc., bringing together the two biggest names in LDS publishing.

Deseret Management Corp., the holding company for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' commercial entities, has signed a letter of intent to buy Bookcraft.Details of the transaction have not been finalized, and financial information regarding the purchase has not been released.

But Brad Pelo, president and chief executive officer of Bookcraft, said he expects the deal to close within 30 days.

Pelo said representatives of Bookcraft and Deseret Management started talking about joining forces in early December, as they discussed how they could work together better to serve the LDS Church's 10.4 million members worldwide.

"It came out of some collaborative thinking," Pelo said.

Deseret Book Co. Chairman Robert H. Garff said the planned transaction should "enable the development of new products in electronic and print publishing."

"The acquisition of Bookcraft will promote synergies with Bookcraft and other DMC-owned entities such as Deseret Book, Deseret News and Bonneville International Corp.," Garff said in a press release. "Working in cooperation with the Brigham Young University, the Church Education System and other church-related entities, these organizations will be able to promote religious values throughout the world."

Rodney H. Brady, Deseret Management's president and chief executive, said the combination will help the LDS Church better compete in the religious publishing marketplace.

"The cost of translating publications into different languages has been a barrier to entry for publishers seeking to introduce their works into different cultures," Brady said in a press release. "The acquisition will better enable DMC to enter new markets with new products."

Pelo said he does not think the average reader of works from Deseret Book, which traces its roots back to 1886, and Bookcraft will notice much difference in products after the purchase.

"The LDS retail marketplace has changed in recent years so the LDS retail store isn't just providing LDS materials, but other Christian and values-centered books," Pelo said. "We're no longer just competing with ourselves in the market. . . . I think we publish a lot of things that could be brought into the broader market."

Bookcraft, which was founded in 1942, adds about 100 products to its library every year, of which about 65 are books, he said. The company annually publishes four or five books written by LDS Church general authorities, Pelo said.

"Outside of Deseret Book, we're the only other publisher doing that," he said. "That was a good part of our business. We published a lot of church history and doctrinal works from BYU professors and other writers."

Bookcraft also publishes the popular LDS fiction series "The Work and the Glory," which has a 10th installment yet to come.

Pelo said the purchase by Deseret Management should not affect that publication. But it is less clear what will happen with Bookcraft's Infobases CD-ROM collection of LDS books, which the company started making after a 1997 merger with Infobases.

Deseret Book released its own electronic reference library, called GospeLink, last year. Whether those two products will remain separate, or will merge into one, remains to be seen, Pelo said.

But Brady said Alan Ashton, chairman of Bookcraft and a long-time Infobases investor, has agreed to serve as a director of Deseret Management Co. or the companies that will oversee activities involving the current Bookcraft operations.

"He brings his expertise and broad experience to assist DMC in moving forward into new electronic media," Brady said.

"Publishing authoritative books by general authorities of the church and other talented writers is a very committed and careful business," Ashton said in a press release. "I feel very good about guiding our valuable books, products and employees into a transaction that will ultimately benefit so many members of the church and other people across the world who are seeking values-oriented materials."

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