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!

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.”

First Edition Nearly Sold Out

We planned for a healthy amount of interest in the soon-to-be-released Book of Psalms for Worship. But we underestimated the early response.

With a week to go before the psalters are shipped from the bindery, prerelease orders have reserved 90 percent of the books. And our magazine ads for the psalter (such as in WORLD magazine) are just beginning to reach mailboxes.

The second printing has already been started. If you had planned to own a first edition, you won’t want to wait long to order.

Third Time Is Not a Charm

At 11:30 on a Saturday night, I took a sip of decaf and thought about going to bed. Pittsburgh had experienced two nights of temperatures well below zero, so it felt good just to be inside and warm. 


Then the security company called. A motion detector at our office had set off an alarm, though none of the exterior alarms had been tripped. My heart fell. The last time that had happened, it had not been a thief but a cascade of water from a broken pipe that had set off the alarm. Given the stacks of books stored at our office, fire and water are more fearsome enemies than thieves. This week’s weather was ideal for frozen pipes.


I rushed to the office and arrived as the police were pulling up. They checked the building periphery–no tracks on the freshly fallen snow. As we neared the door, we heard that odd sound. It was a sound you might hear at a public fountain or at the base of a waterfall–quite unfitting for a frigid night in winter. I opened the door and walked through rivulets of warm water–yes, warm. The hot-water pipe had frozen on the second floor, sending water into a first floor office, where it soaked the carpet and seeped onto the stacks of books in the basement.


This was the third time a pipe had broken in the same shaft. The first time we were told by the plumber that an interior pipe breaking like this was a fluke, a rare experience of below-zero temperatures and other factors. The second time, a couple years later, we insulated the pipes and the shaft and provided a way for cold air to escape from the shaft. But now, 10 years after that last episode, we were back to square one.


We took some other precautions after the first “flood,” protecting many of our book stacks from water that might seep from above in a catastrophe. The early detection and the preventive measures made this third flood relatively minor. We’re very, very thankful that is was not worse. And we’re working harder than ever to find a permanent fix. We prefer our fountains out-of-doors.

Reformed Voice

One of our companion web sites puts good Reformed teaching at your fingertips, wherever you may roam. The site is, and it features thousands of free sermons from dozens of speakers.


This week we added our 50th broadcaster to the site, and, before the year is up, we expect to receive our 3 millionth visitor to the site.

Fare Thee Well, Friend


We bid farewell this week to our editorial assistant, Lindsey. She is a gifted musician who has decided to pursue her doctorate in music performance. We know she’ll do well. We’re glad that, for the near future at least, she won’t be far away.


Lindsey also has a heart for ministry to the Japanese people, a heart that has been developing over the past year as she went on two mission trips to Japan. She loves many things about Japan; so for our last staff “meeting” it seemed most appropriate to go to a Japanese restaurant.


A great thing about the hibachi Japanese restaurants is that they are part dining experience, part entertainment, as one admires the chef’s work and laughs at his antics that are aimed to please.


Staff members in the photo are Josh, Lois, Ariana, Lindsey, and Lynne. Lindsey trained Ariana this week as the new editorial assistant.
Staff members in the photo are Josh, Lois, Ariana, Lindsey, and Lynne. Lindsey trained Ariana this week as the new editorial assistant.

Changes to the RP Witness

There’s something very different about the May 2008 issue of our monthly magazine, the Reformed Presbyterian Witness. But you’d never know unless I told you.


That issue is the first one of our magazines to ever be produced without leaving the digital world until it was put on the printing press.


Most of the magazine’s production has been digital since 1987, when we first purchased a computer and layout software. Over time, even our articles and photos were submitted in all-digital form.


Always, though, at some point the magazine had to be printed out before it went to press. We would receive this final proof copy (sometimes called a blueline or blueprint, since all the type appeared blue) to check for mistakes that we or the printer had made. This final proof was made in such a way that it was an exact representation of the plate that would go onto the presses.


Technology has advanced to the point that making such hard-copy proofs is no longer necessary. When the magazine is ready for the printer, I simply upload the layout file to a web site that belongs to our printing company. There, its software automatically processes the job, and, almost immediately, I am able to see on my computer an exact representation of what will go onto the presses. This new technology saves at least 1/3 the time of our normal printing process, and saves a bit of money as well.


Children At Work

“Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” was April 24. In the U.S., this official day began about 15 years ago. At Crown & Covenant, there are many days through the year when you can see the bright face of a child in our offices. That tradition goes back at least 20 years. My wife and I, sharing one job, had times when we  needed to be working together. There were even a couple of board meetings where we had a playpen nearby!


AlexaMost recently, it is the shining face of three-year-old Alexa that we see from time to time. She is the daughter of our business manager, Josh. Sometimes she is here for just a few minutes, sometimes a few hours. But always she is a refreshing addition to the workplace.


Recently a former employee came back to work temporarily for us. We encouraged her to bring her child Kinsey with her if it meant that working for us would be more feasible. We’d rather have valuable employees working with restrictions than not working at all!


Besides, God has placed us in families–a critical part of, and reflection of, His promises to us. We are missing something, and making our children miss something, if we strictly forbid them from the workplace. It’s good for them to see us going about our day’s business (Deuteronomy 6:5-9).


It’s easier in a small office environment to allow this kind of flexibility. Someone who works at a nuclear power plant or who digs ditches can’t include children often. But for those who are able, it’s much more of a blessing than a hassle.