Bookcraft was a major publisher of books and products for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).
In 1940, LDS Church President Heber J. Grant asked the church's Improvement Era magazine to compile his sermons into a book called Gospel Standards. Compiler G. Homer Durham published it in 1941 as "An Improvement Era Publication", rather than through Deseret Book, the church's official book publisher. During production, Grant suggested that the magazine's staff should start a new LDS publishing company, separate from Deseret Book. In 1942, the Era's business manager, John Kenneth Orton, started Bookcraft as a private publishing house in Salt Lake City, Utah.1
When Durham presented a later manuscript to the Era, church leadership restricted book publishing to Deseret Book. John A. Widtsoe and Richard L. Evans, staff members of the Era and early supporters of Bookcraft, referred Durham to Orton's new publishing house. The Gospel Kingdom, Durham's compilation of John Taylor's teachings, was Bookcraft's first major venture in 1943.2
Bookcraft remained an Orton family business. When John K. Orton retired to Arizona in 1946, Marvin Wallin became the company's general manager. When Orton died in 1959, ownership passed to his wife. When she died in 1980, the Ortons' son Russell took over with his sister-in-law, Diane Orton.1
With growth, Bookcraft relocated to new facilities in 1947. In 1969, it moved again to a West Valley City location between Mountain States Bindery and Publisher's Press, the businesses that actually printed and produced Bookcraft's publications.1 Bookcraft expanded again into new facilities in 1977.3
Though independent, Bookcraft established itself as a quasi-official3 publisher of conservative, faith-promoting works,4 and was very careful to follow church leadership.5 Bookcraft eventually became large enough to compete with Deseret Book's lower publishing costs,3 and become the second largest LDS publisher.67
In 1968, Bookcraft hired George Bickerstaff as a full-time publishing editor. Before then, it lacked in-house editing, which Bruce R. McConkie's son blames for the criticisms of the 1958 first edition of Mormon Doctrine.5
Bookcraft also innovated and tried new approaches to LDS publishing. In the 1960s, the company experimented with developing LDS young-adult fiction.8 In the early 1970s,9 it began the Parliament Press imprint for authors to self-publish their books.3 In 1992, Bookcraft began work with The Beehive Shuppan to translate some titles into Japanese.10 In 1995, Bookcraft produced The Book of Mormon Studybase, a digital library CD-ROM of books about The Book of Mormon, and contributed to Infobases' LDS Collectors Library CD-ROM.11
Because Deseret Book was the largest LDS publisher and bookseller, independents like Bookcraft also distributed to national retailers like B. Dalton, Media Play, and Barnes & Noble.12 For a time, Bookcraft even planned to create its own chain of retail bookstores.7
In 1997, Russell Orton sold Bookcraft to Infobases,13 makers of the popular LDS Collectors Library digital library since the early 1990s.14 Infobases president and CEO, Brad Pelo, assumed these same roles in the new Bookcraft, Inc., and WordPerfect founder Alan C. Ashton became chairman.
With Bookcraft's licenses, the company released the Infobases PocketLibrary for PalmPilot in 1997, an electronic 25-book collection.13 To counter Deseret Book's GospeLink CD-ROM and website, Bookcraft released an expanded Infobases Collectors Library in 1998 on CD-ROM and on the new LDSWorld.com.15 Bookcraft then created online stores for its network of resellers, to counter Deseret Book's web sales.15
By 1999, Bookcraft was adding about 100 products annually to its catalog, including general authority titles, an important market shared only with Deseret Book. Bookcraft also had strong sales with titles by BYU professors, titles on church history and doctrine, and the best-selling The Work and the Glory series by Gerald N. Lund, which sold millions of copies.1617
In early 1999, Bookcraft was acquired by Deseret Management Corporation (DMC), the parent company of the LDS Church's for-profit businesses. This allowed the church to expand in the larger "values-oriented" publishing market, and reduce translation costs of titles for international sale. The merger also brought more writings by general authorities under the church's ownership, allowing for electronic and print collaborations with other DMC entities (such as Deseret Book, the Deseret News, and Bonneville International) and church entities (such as Brigham Young University, the Church Educational System).18
The Bookcraft brand name continued as an imprint for inspirational, self-help, youth and fiction titles, while doctrinal, historical and biographical works would be under the Deseret Book brand. Shadow Mountain was also created as a new imprint for "values-oriented" books in the national market, and Eagle Gate Press was created for specialty items such as library editions, art books and non-book products such as bookmarks and jewelry.19
DMC then formed World Media Inc. to oversee Bookcraft's electronic projects, and decide fate of Infobase products and GospeLink.20 A new Infobases Library was released in 1999, before merging into GospeLink,21 to become GospeLink 2001.22 The expanded collection was also at LDSWorld.com, along with new General Conference audio streaming, and was hosted by Millennial Star (MStar.net), the church's new ISP.23
The merger created a massive LDS publisher, but most independent players in the market didn't worry it would hurt their business.24 Over next few years, Deseret Book would also acquire Excel Entertainment Group (an LDS film and music company),19 Seagull Book & Tape (the next largest LDS bookstore chain), and Covenant Communications (the next largest LDS publisher).25
Before becoming an imprint of Deseret Book, Bookcraft made many notable contributions to LDS literature, including:
- Evidences and Reconciliations (1943, 3 volumes)
- No, Ma'am, That's Not History (1946)
- Lehi in the Desert and the World of the Jaredites (1952)
- Doctrines of Salvation (1954–56, 3 volumes)
- Mormon Doctrine (1958)
- Doctrinal New Testament Commentary (1965–73, 3 volumes)
- Messages of the First Presidency (1965–75, 6 volumes)
- The Miracle of Forgiveness (1969)
- The Holy Temple (1980)
- The Work and the Glory series (1990s)
- Compilations of teachings of LDS Church Presidents, including The Gospel Kingdom: Selections from the Writings and Discourses of John Taylor, Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, Teachings of George Albert Smith, Teachings of Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, and Teachings of Howard W. Hunter.
During its years as an independent company, Bookcraft published books by many notable LDS figures, including:
- Church Presidents and Apostles: Ezra Taft Benson, Hugh B. Brown, J. Reuben Clark, Henry B. Eyring, Gordon B. Hinckley, Howard W. Hunter, Spencer W. Kimball, Harold B. Lee, Neal A. Maxwell, Bruce R. McConkie, David O. McKay, Dallin H. Oaks, Boyd K. Packer, Mark E. Petersen, LeGrand Richards, Joseph Fielding Smith, John A. Widtsoe
- Fiction & literature: Gordon T. Allred, Susan Evans McCloud, Carol Lynn Pearson, Jack Weyland, Blaine M. Yorgason, Brenton G. Yorgason
- Scholars & historians: Hyrum L. Andrus, Leonard J. Arrington, Milton V. Backman, Lowell L. Bennion, Susan Easton Black, Eugene England, Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, Milton R. Hunter, Arthur Henry King, Daniel H. Ludlow, N. B. Lundwall, Truman G. Madsen, Robert J. Matthews, Joseph Fielding McConkie, Robert L. Millet, Hugh W. Nibley, Preston Nibley, Stephen E. Robinson, W. Cleon Skousen, Sidney B. Sperry, John W. Welch
- Popular authors: Duane S. Crowther, Paul H. Dunn, George D. Durrant, Richard M. Eyre, Vaughn J. Featherstone, Bruce C. Hafen, Bryant S. Hinckley, Oscar W. McConkie, Chieko Okazaki, Marvin Payne, S. Michael Wilcox
- National figures: Shawn Bradley, Orson Scott Card, Stephen R. Covey, Henry Eyring, Dale Murphy
Some Bookcraft books have been adapted into movies.
- The Christmas Wish (1998) — CBS made Richard M. Siddoway's novel into a made for TV holiday special. Originally a Bookcraft title, the latest edition was published by Crown Publishers.30
- In the Eye of the Storm (2001) — Director Mitch Davis bought the rights to John H. Groberg's 1993 memoir of his Tongan mission and created The Other Side of Heaven, which was distributed by The Walt Disney Company.31
- The Work and the Glory (2004–2006) — Gerald N. Lund's very successful historical fiction series about early Mormons was adapted into three movies: The Work and the Glory (2004), The Work and The Glory: American Zion (2005), and The Work and The Glory: A House Divided (2006), distributed by Excel Entertainment.
- Pusey, Roger (September 13, 1992). "Bookcraft Celebrates its 50th". Deseret News.
- Durham, G. Homer (Spring 1972). "Joseph Fielding Smith - The Kindly, Helpful Scholar". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 7 (1): 12–15. Retrieved 2008-08-21.
- "If It Is Written by a Living General Authority, It Will Sell: A Report on Mormon Publishing". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 10 (3): 122–125. Spring 1977. Retrieved 2008-08-25.
- Roberts, Allen D. (October 1989). "Selling the LDS Sacred: A Visit to the LDS Booksellers Convention". Sunstone 13 (5): 38–39. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
- McConkie, Joseph Fielding (2004). "The Bruce R. McConkie Story: The Mormon Doctrine Saga". Meridian Magazine. Retrieved 2008-08-25.
- In 1989, Bookcraft had twenty percent of the LDS publishing market, compared to Deseret Book's fifty percent.
- Kofford, Greg (October 1989). "LDS Booksellers Meet, Plot, and Plan to Expand" (PDF). Sunstone 13 (5): 50. Retrieved 2008-08-25.
- Hinckley, Helen (Winter 1967). "An Experiement in Mormon Publishing". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 2 (4): 126–129. Retrieved 2008-09-03.
- Bradford, Mary L. (Summer 1972). "New Acts of Poetry". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 7 (2): 60–62. Retrieved 2008-09-03.
- Numano, Jiro (Spring 1996). "Mormonism in Modern Japan". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 29 (1): 234. Retrieved 2008-09-03.
- Ashton, Alan C. (1996). "Book of Mormon Reference Library". FARMS Review 8 (2). Retrieved 2008-09-03.
- Holzapfel, Richard Neitzel (2000). "Publishers and Bookstores". In Arnold K. Garr, Donald Q. Cannon, Richard O. Cowan. Encyclopedia of Latter-Day Saint History. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book. p. 967.
- Kratz, Gregory P. (April 5, 1998). "Happily Joined". Deseret News.
- "Infobase Media Corporation Plans to Expand Following $1.15 Million Angel Investment". LDSLibrary.com. Deseret Digital Media, LLC. October 6, 2004. Retrieved 2008-09-16.dead link
- Fidel, Steve (October 2, 1998). "2 LDS book publishers expand on Web". Deseret News.
- Kratz, Gregory P. (February 9, 1999). "2 LDS publishers may join forces: Deseret Book parent announces plans to acquire Bookcraft". Deseret News.
- Cracroft, Richard H. (Spring 2003). "Telling the Restoration: Gerald N. Lund's The Work and the Glory saga". Journal of Mormon History 29 (1): 233–253. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
- "Deseret Management seeking to acquire Bookcraft". Church News (Deseret News). February 13, 1999.
- "Deseret Book has made other large acquisitions". Deseret Morning News. December 29, 2006.
- Kratz, Gregory P. (June 12, 1999). "Deseret Book adds brand, reorganizes". Deseret News.
- Bennett, Richard E.; John P. Livingstone (Spring 2000). "Infobase Library, CD-ROM". Journal of Mormon History 26 (1): 205–209. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
- Lloyd, R. Scott (January 8, 2005). "LDS library largest ever assembled as a database". Church News (Deseret News).
- Kratz, Gregory P. (October 3, 1999). "A Net link for LDS members: New company aims to form 'digital community'". Deseret News.
- Kratz, Gregory P. (October 3, 1999). "One for the books: Most of the players in the world of LDS literature give a thumbs-up to the merger of Deseret Book and Bookcraft". Deseret News.
- Nii, Jenifer K. (December 29, 2006). "Deseret Book buys 2 top competitors". Deseret Morning News. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
- A search on Worldcat on January 17, 2010, reveals no titles with Bookcraft as the publisher after 2006.
- "Deseret Book". Deseret Media Companies. Retrieved 2010-02-16.
- Sessions, Gene A. (Winter 1978). "Brief Notices". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 11 (4): 126–128. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
- Ostler, Blake T. (Winter 1983). "Responsible Apologetics". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 16 (4): 140–143. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
- Gabriel, Ana (November 21, 1998). "CBS movie based on Christmas story by stake president". Church News (Deseret News).
- Lloyd, R. Scott (October 20, 2001). "Missionary odyssey in Tonga hits silver screen". Church News (Deseret News).