Embracing the future: Deseret Book undergoes transition from frontier bookstore to digital innovator
While Deseret Book (like the Deseret News) is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having published biographies on every LDS prophet and their teachings, it has also taken seriously the call to reach across the world to improve the lives of people with diverse faith backgrounds.
"We don't consider ourselves a Mormon publisher or a Christian publisher, just consider ourselves a publisher that offers this good, clean content all the time, with everything we do," said Chris Schoebinger, publishing director and acquisitions editor for Shadow Mountain.
Clean material is especially appreciated by parents, teachers and librarians.
"My 11-year-old son has never liked reading anything other than the sports page," wrote one mom from St. Peters, Mo. "Since (your author) visited (his school), he's been reading and reading. I found him in his room with my book light reading at night. I can't tell you how happy it made me to see my son enjoy reading."
"That to me is pure gold," said Schoebinger, who is particularly fond of children's literature. "We know that kids who become good readers are more than likely to be successful in life. That's why I love what I do."
Sitting in Dew's office in the new City Creek center on a sunny fall afternoon, there's a contagious sense of optimism, despite the challenges the publishing industry continues to face.
Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves are lined with crisp new books and Dew even whips out her iPad to show off an interactive app they're hoping to release with a future book.
She never planned to be a CEO and even asked to be passed over for the promotion because she felt underqualified, but despite her nervousness, colleagues say she was the best person for the job.
"She has great vision for innovative ways that we can deliver content to our customers," said Christensen with Time Out for Women. "She likes to hire people who, as she says, are smarter than she is and challenge her. There is no question that we follow her lead, and her vision has set the tone for so much of what we do here."
Dew, whose background is in publishing, is quick to deflect any praise and even quicker to compliment those she works with for their energy and momentum. In fact, the only credit she's comfortable accepting is getting the right people into the right spots.
"What you're looking for is people who are leaders," she says. "Brains are not enough. But if they're smart enough and a leader they'll dig in and start to figure out things. Ideally, you want a leader in every chair."
How long Dew will lead her leaders and what she'll lead them into next is unknown, as every time they make a five-year plan "it's like sheer comedy," she says with a wry smile.
After all, it's difficult to predict much in a market that changes almost daily. But her optimism is obvious, and "making plans helps you stay marching," she says.
So the bookstore keeps marching, buoyed by their growth and emboldened by a new mission.
"I've been in the book industry for 25 years this month," said Schoebinger. "I've worked with editors and authors and agents and from all the New York (publishing) houses … and I don't think I've ever worked with a group of people that are just so mission driven."
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