Summarized by Kent Larsen
Small LDS Publisher Cornerstone Buys 29-year-old Horizon
BOUNTIFUL, UTAH -- Cornerstone Publishing, a small LDS publisher
started about two years ago by Richard Hopkins, last month purchased
the older and larger book publisher Horizon Publishing and
Distribution, owned and operate by LDS author Duane Crowther. The
purchase makes Cornerstone one of the five largest LDS publishers,
increasing its number of titles inprint from less than 20 to more
than 400. Crowther reportedly sold his business to serve an LDS
mission in Mexico.
The purchase also preserves and rejuvenates Horizon, which has
focused its publishing program on non-fiction and doctrinal titles.
Horizon was started by Crowther in 1971 after the author became
dissatisfied with the way his books had been handled by Bookcraft,
then an independent publisher, the second largest in the industry.
Over the next nearly 30 years, Crowther increased Horizon's number of
titles, reaching 30 to 36 a year. However, the firm's sales
reportedly plateaued about 15 years ago, as competition increased and
as booksellers started demanding the more liberal sales and returns
policies offered by the New York publishing houses.
Cornerstone's founder, Hopkins, became a Horizon employee after
spending 20 years as a lawyer in Southern California. Crowther hired
Hopkins in 1997 to run its sales and marketing, and Hopkins soon
convinced Crowther to adopt more agressive sales and returns
policies. But the two eventually disagreed on how far to take those
policies, and parted amicably. Hopkins then founded Cornerstone,
publishing some similar doctrinal titles, and adding some fiction.
With the purchase of Horizon, Hopkins says he is making significant
changes to its profitability and marketing. Already he has
consolidated Cornerstone's operations with Horizon's in Bountiful,
Utah and has outsourced some parts of Horizon's operations,
effectively cutting back office and support staff in half.
The consolidation also will mean that the combined firm will reduce
the number of titles it publishes -- to 12 to 24 a year, starting
next year. But even with this reduction, Hopkins says he may hire an
additional editor to handle the work. He adds, however, that the
combined firm plans to maintain both names on its books, letting both
names publish the same kind of titles they do now -- Cornerstone
carrying both doctrinal works and fiction while Horizon carries
In marketing, Hopkins also plans to put new covers on most of the old
Horizon titles, which one industry veteran says were clearly poor.
And he is changing Horizon's sales and return policies to match
Cornerstone's, and industry standards, which, he says, has made most
booksellers pleased with the change.