The Media They Are A-Changing

The way people receive information has changed rapidly, and, believe me, Christian publishers have taken notice.

We (Lynne and Drew) attended a Christian publishers conference last week. It is amazing how the topics of conversation have changed even since the last time we attended a couple years ago. Though much of what we do is print publishing, I can’t remember one session of this conference that didn’t include mention of Twitter and Facebook, as well as digital publishing.

One speaker quoted Sony Publishing as saying that digital books will overtake sales of print books in five years. Regardless of whether you believe that, the trend is obvious. E-books have finally taken hold, including in the textbook market, where they make a lot of practical sense for both the publisher and the purchaser. And we’re seeing more demand for our digital products in our office, whether it’s digital downloads of music or digital copies of books or the desire for on-demand print publications that can be printed more cost-effectively with digital technology.

This particular conference was for Christian publishers who are owned by their church denomination. Every publisher who was there is significantly larger than Crown & Covenant, but many of the issues we face are similar. And so it was encouraging to rub shoulders with, and gain encouragement from, others who know the particular challenges and blessings of publishing God’s Word for the people in a rapidly changing world.

Future Staff Member

Crown & Covenant’s business manager, Josh, and his wife, Steph, are the proud parents of a baby boy. Kian was born Jan. 19 and weighed 8 lbs. Kian and his mom are both doing well. Our congratulations to Josh and his family. We know that soon Kian will be as much of an encouragement to our office as his sister Alexa has been!

Stewardship in Printing

Printing can be a dirty and wasteful business. Often people are most worried about cutting down trees, but that is not the biggest problem. Printing requires a lot of chemicals, electricity and disposable metals.

Crown & Covenant Publications is interested in printers that are practicing wise and creative stewardship in their business and reducing harmful effects on people, their neighborhoods and the earth in general.

For two decades we have made an effort to use acid free papers and recycled content. More recently, we have been using FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified papers on our books. But now new innovations are allowing printers to do even more.

Last month, we had the opportunity to tour an innovative plant that printed our most recent sales flyer. Knepper Press is special because they built their facility to be energy efficient, environmentally smart and cost effective.

They not only recycle 100% of all the paper, aluminum and skids that they use, they also use vegetable based inks. Most notable is a new press that uses the solvents in the ink to fuel the dryer. They also buy wind energy credits for all the electricity that they use.

Instead of having dozens of trucks haul waste paper away during the week, the facility whisks away all paper waste into ducts that run along the huge facility’s ceiling. From there, they are sucked into a machine that looks like something from a Dr. Seuss book. The machine shreds the paper and compresses it into large “bricks,” which weigh about a ton and only need to be hauled away to a recycle center once a day!

Here are pictures of us looking at a brick made by the wondrous machine.
Dr. Seuss Machine recycles paper.

15,000 Now in Print

The 3rd printing of The Book of Psalms for Worship was delivered today. Since it follows on the heels of receiving our special-edition psalters (the three versions of the Psalter Mini and the Large-Print versions), we have psalter boxes everywhere!

Since the arrival of the 1st printing of The Book of Psalms for Worship in June, the office has seemed like a revolving door of psalter boxes. We’ve been keeping our mailmen very busy. We’re thankful for the challenges all that brings, because it means that God’s Word will continue to be sung by psalm singers old and new. Over 15,000 copies of the 2009 edition are now in print.

2nd Printing Arrives

<i>photo by Shelley Davis</i>
Seminary students and staff join C&C staff to unload psalters. (photo by Shelley Davis)

For the second time in two months, we have received a shipment of the new Book of Psalms for Worship. And, for the second time in two months, more than half of a printing has been sold before the books arrive. Now that the psalters are here, we are going to be very busy shipping those orders.

In the midst of that flurry of activity, we’re already looking ahead to the next printing. Our order for the 3rd printing of The Book of Psalms for Worship will be processed this week. The 3rd printing will have some surprises in store for our customers.

This has been a summer unlike any other. We were hoping for a good response to The Book of Psalms for Worship, but the response has far exceeded our expectations. We can’t help but be excited–this is God’s Word going out to be used in all kinds of worship (personal, group, corporate) in all kinds of places around the world. We are so blessed to have a small part in what God is doing. We are blessed to serve customers who share this mission with us.

Also on the truck that arrived today was the shipment of the new book Political Danger by J. R. Willson. This is a book of essays by a man who was centuries ahead of his time. See the previous blog post, “The Surprising Relevance of James R. Willson.”

The Surprising Relevance of James R. Willson

jr-willson1One of my tasks as Editorial Assistant this week was to pull excerpts from our new book, Political Danger, by James R. Willson. The articles published in this book were written on the political controversies of early 19th century America and, at first glance, the book looks intimidatingly dry. I thus prepared myself for something old-fashioned and tedious—material intended for theologians and scholars, and not for everyday Christians like myself.

What I found instead was a man deeply concerned with the very same issues that plague our nation today. In the broader context of the Mediatorial Kingship of Jesus Christ, the book provides a collection of articles that address the issues of cultural tolerance, power-hungry governments, the treatment of veterans, and a thoroughly surprising section on the abolishment of prayer in the New York House of Representatives written in 1835. (Yes, they were arguing about the constitutionality of state prayer 175 years ago.) As Gordon Keddie, editor of this collection said, “In all of these papers there are passages that could have been written yesterday.”

The sections that most interested me most were those on slavery. To many of us (including myself, until of late) this is a dead topic. Slavery was abolished years ago, and few of us would question its immorality or willingly countenance its existence. Nevertheless, in speaking to 19th century slavery, Willson also speaks to two burning issues of our day.

The first is modern-day slavery and human trafficking, in which millions of our fellow humans worldwide are bought and sold daily. (I am not referring to sweat shops here, but the slavery, the real thing). As Christians we are still responsible for the emancipation of our brothers and sisters in chains–as I’m sure Willson would agree! But that is a subject for a different post.

The second important parallel controversy of today that Willson illuminates is that of abortion. I was surprised to realize the many similarities between the Emancipation Movement and the Pro-Life Movement of today. Both are passionately opposed to injustice and determined to champion the victims. After all, slaves were considered subhuman conveniences (or inconveniences). They were treated like property, and deprived of the freedom of choice so prized by their masters. Effectively they were told “it is best for you if we decide how, and if, you live.” Sound familiar?

Society and the government of the 1830’s were not all that different from that of today. Those in favor of immediate emancipation (like Willson) were told loudly that slavery was a constitutional right, that to act (or even merely speak) against it was fanatical and irrational. Attempts were made to muzzle the press and “make it criminal to utter doctrines adverse to Negro slavery.” The President himself (Andrew Jackson) gave a speech in which he condemned the abolitionists as inflammatory and misguided, and accused them of seeking to foment a civil war. Circulation of “incendiary” material in the southern states was prohibited, under severe penalties.

“There is not the remotest hint,” says Willson, “that…liberty of speech…is guaranteed by the federal Constitution…that people have been deprived of any right, or that it is any evil either physical or moral to hold them, unoffending as they are…there is no suggestion that the two million slaves are objects of compassion…”

Again, does this sound familiar?

I hope that one day as a nation we will look back at abortion as an unnatural, evil blot on our nation’s history, much as we look back on slavery. I hope our children will be shocked that the government and society at large allowed it to continue for so long! Willson’s book may provide some impetus to, and perspective on, our struggle for the rights of the unborn.

Throughout all of this, Willson returns over and over to his ruling theme, the Kingship of Christ. Indeed it is emphasized that the answers to our controversies can be resolved only through Christ Himself. Though a disturbing read, it is also a comforting one when we remember with the psalmist that the Lord is in His holy place, observing, intervening, and judging.

I’m glad I was obliged to read parts of this marvelous book, and once it is available I would recommend it for everyone–not just scholars and theologians. Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes 1:9 “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” In Political Danger, Willson gives us a window into the immediate truth contained in those words.


18 selections from The Book of Psalms for Worship are available on the new recording Abundance—downloadable in MP3 format today at the Crown & Covenant Publications web store. The packaged CD release will be available for $15 by August 20.