A century of publishing in the palm of your hand

Anabaptists have been publishing for centuries. The writings of Menno Simons date from the 1500s and Martyrs Mirror was first published in 1660. As readers of this blog likely know, MennoMedia’s publishing history runs over one hundred years.

I began working for MennoMedia 10 and a half years ago. I was new to the publishing industry, and from my perspective, the business still revolved around the production of physical, printed material. Ebooks were just a blip on my radar.

Much has changed since then. The popularity of ebooks has risen as more and more people adopt smartphones, tablets, and e-readers. This change brought about controversy and growing pains for publishers. But it has brought greater access and flexibility for readers.

MennoMedia has been involved in digital publishing for a little while now. But some recent changes make it a good time to reintroduce all of our digital efforts.

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New edition of Generation Why curriculum for youth.

Sunday school teachers and church leaders have a number of options of downloadable studies available from the MennoMedia webstore. The products range from adult studies such as the Good Ground series, to the junior youth series Fast Lane. There are also resources for teachers for ages K-6 looking for quick lesson plans. And the new editions of Generation Why are now becoming available on the webstore as they are released. These study resources are all available in PDF format.

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Believers Church Bible Commentary series

For many years MennoMedia has partnered with Logos Bible Software to publish digital editions of the Believers Church Bible Commentary series. The Logos software allows for extensive searching and research across the Bible and through the user’s own library. In addition to the commentary series, in recent years many Herald Press theology and historical books have been added to the Logos library. This platform is ideal for those doing research or in-depth study of texts.

MennoMedia has also added various ebook formats to our publishing efforts. Many of our newest titles are available, as are our popular bestsellers like More-with-Less Cookbook and The Upside-Down Kingdom. We have also added a large assortment of backlist books including the Believers Church Bible Commentaries, Classics of the Radical Reformation, the Louise Vernon series, and historical texts like the Complete Writings of Menno Simons and the Martyrs Mirror.

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Bonnet Strings (Kindle edition) on sale at Amazon.

You can download these from our webstore or from your preferred ebook seller. We are pleased to announce that our books are now available from iBooks on iTunes, and also from Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Kobo.

If you’re a bibliophile like me, you may have some skepticism about ebooks, preferring the physical presence of a book in your hands, enjoying the smell and feel of the pages. You may also be like me and look at shelves groaning under the weight of books, and dread the thought of ever moving them to a new residence!

While I do not think ebooks will ever fully replace the physical book, they do provide a great new way of reading. Quick delivery, space-saving, the ability to easily search the text, and even ways of highlighting and making notes in the “margins.”

Whatever your preferred reading method, MennoMedia has options for you to choose from. And I think we can all admit that it’s pretty amazing to now to be able to carry the entire Martyrs Mirror in your pocket.

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Joshua Byler, Marketing and Sales Manager

Keeping Current with Technology (Part 1)

Ten Tons of books. That’s what I estimated were heading for the dumpster as we closed the warehouse of the former Mennonite Publishing Network (MPN) in Scottdale, PA,  in June of 2011. “What a waste,” I thought to myself, “I hope in the future we can do it differently.”

Today, with eBooks, Print on Demand, and audio downloads, MennoMedia is doing it differently.

ward-sutton-in-preparation-for-landing-please-turn-off-your-books-new-yorker-cartoonEBooks are everywhere now. Over the past several years they have become the fastest growing segment of book revenues in North America. While many like to read digital books on dedicated devices, like a Nook or Kindle, the tablet computer is rapidly becoming the device of choice and will, I believe, make dedicated readers obsolete in the near future.

MennoMedia has recently had most of its backlist (older) titles converted to eBook formats, which are available at places like Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. Since last fall, every new book title from Herald Press has a digital format available concurrently with the print version. Before too long we hope to be able to sell eBooks directly through our own online store as well. While I am not a huge fan of digital books personally (I like the tactile experience of reading a book on paper) I can see how eBooks can be especially useful to people who travel, do research, or who simply don’t like stacks of books lying around.

photo (3)Print on Demand. It used to be that when you printed books, you had to calculate a print run in the thousands in order to get a decent unit price on books. Older books were a dilemma: how many more would we estimate to sell? What if we don’t sell all that we print? Shall we just let it go out of print? Do we risk printing 500 or 1,000? The ten tons we disposed of in Scottdale are a case in point. In the past decade, a new technology, Print on Demand (POD) has changed the decision-making. Now we can literally print one copy of a book at a time and not have any inventory at all. We are utilizing it for lower selling products as well as older books that have steady, but lower sales. It means that we also never have to let a book go out of print. As POD vendors such as Lightning Source open up facilities overseas we also see them being able to produce our books in places such as the UK, Germany, South Africa and Australia, meaning that we don’t have to ship books overseas, which is very expensive and time-consuming.

Audio downloads. I love listening to books, especially when I am driving long distances. Sometimes I borrow books on CD from the library (a useful, but dying technology,) but lately I have been downloading books directly to my iPhone via Audible. Two of our recent books, Laughter is Sacred Space, by Ted Swartz and Making Friends Among the Taliban, by Jonathan Larson,  are now both available as audio books and we have made both available only as a downloadable version. Both authors are great speakers/performers and it was natural that we would produce audio books from each. These downloads, by the way, are available directly from MennoMedia’s online store.

Russ Eanes

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See also video trailer for Making Friends among the Taliban, and Weaving Life documentary, and video for Laughter is Sacred Space.

New Yorker Cartoon above available as a poster.

Growing Fifty Shade of Grace

How is the idea for a book born? Let me count the ways.

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Most often in the mind of an author or writer–I often scribble an idea–or lots of them–on a scrap of paper. Sometimes on a blank computer document. Sometimes through lively staff discussions or brainstorms in the lunchroom.

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Fifty Shades of Grace: Stories of Inspiration and Promise was launched in our lunchroom at MennoMedia on Dec. 12, 2012, as an “answer” of sorts to a certain other popular Fifty Shades book.

An email went out soliciting stories. Deadlines were established, with a desired release date of April 15.

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A designer got busy working on a cover in time for the 2013 Catalog.

Oh, and then in this case, a project manager (me) is assigned to pull the stories and chapters together cohesively.

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Mostly we work with manuscripts electronically, but sometimes, when organizing a book of this nature with more than 50 submissions, you eventually have to print it out and work hands on. At least I do.

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There! It feels more like a book. Funny, since many readers will end up accessing this as an ebook–which is fine!

So the thoughts go full circle–whether electronically or printed–into the minds of readers! and the stories carry us to another place, another time, another world …

“Cold mountain wind roared in my ears. The path through the snow had vanished, along with visibility beyond forty feet. I had no map, no compass, and no idea where the 2,000 foot cliffs were lurking …”

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We hope you look for this book April 15 or thereabouts!

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Watch this for a lovely quick peek how books are still made in some places. Today many titles can be handled as print on demand only books. MennoMedia has many books available as ebooks through standard sources like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo.

–Melodie Davis, MennoMedia author, columnist, producer, blogger.