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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended September 10, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 06Sep00

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 non-fiction.

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.


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