I’m very excited to announce that I’ve signed an agreement with a new publisher for a new book. This marks what will be my third book in two years. As you know, the first, Dating God: Live and Love in the Way of St. Francis (St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2012), was released this past February. I also have another book set for publication in 2013 with Franciscan Media, the parent company for the imprint St. Anthony Messenger Press. The working title for that book is, Love and Suffering: A Retreat on the Last Words of Christ (St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2013).
This new book, tentatively titled Francis of Assisi and the Future of Faith: Exploring Franciscan Spirituality and Theology in the Modern World (Phoenix: Tau Publishing, 2012), is a different kind of book from the two books published by St. Anthony Messenger Press in that it is slightly more academic, although still written in an accessible style, and it is quite a bit longer than the other two. Francis of Assisi and the Future of Faith contains thirteen essays about the Franciscan spiritual and theological tradition, including themes like Christology, spirituality in a digital age, a Franciscan understanding of death, among others. What makes this book particularly exciting is the unique approach that highlights the insight of the Franciscan tradition, while exploring the ways it remains relevant to us today.
Most people may not have heard of Tau Publishing yet, a relatively new (founded in 2002) and small publishing house headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. It is a family owned and operated business that has published an impressive range of Catholic books over the last ten years. It’s focus is primarily Franciscan and its catalog includes some very well-known Franciscan authors including Murray Bodo, OFM, André Cirino, OFM, Zachary Hayes, OFM, Teresa Downing, OSC, Susan Saint Sing, Kenan Osborne, OFM, and others. I am delighted to join the company of such great writers.
Despite its relatively small size when compared to other Catholic publishers (such as St. Anthony Messenger Press, Paulist Press, Orbis Books, and the like), it has an impressive reach. To illustrate this point, when I was recently in Europe, I saw Tau Publishing books for sale in England and Italy. I also saw a wide range of Tau Publishing books at a retreat center bookstore in New York last week. (While my book, Dating God, was in stock in England, it was noticeably absent in Italy and this retreat center — the manager of the retreat-center store told me they’re planning to stock it soon, though).
I’m very excited to be working with Tau Publishing for a variety of reasons. First among them is the business model that its publisher, Jeff Campbell, and his staff embrace. Committed to values like sustainability and community-building, Tau Publishing values the customer-publisher relationship in an impressive way. While its books are listed on Amazon.com, for example, they appear as one among several distributors of the texts (under the “buy from these sellers” link), so that Tau Publishing is the one who ships and engages with the customer service directly. They work with Amazon and Barnes & Noble to sell their books in Kindle and Nook formats, but they are committed to direct selling and promoting small businesses such as local bookstores, retreat centers and the like. This naturally has a downside — as an author, it is easy to promote books through Amazon, a site most people are already accessing on a regular basis. But the upside is the commitment to local businesses and the avoidance of large monopoly-like corporations (with the exception of e-book distribution). I think it’s a worthy tradeoff.
Another thing that is really neat about Tau Publishers is that it operates its own press in addition to the publishing-side of the operation. What this means on a practical level for the customer is not much except for the fact that the costs are kept low (hence very reasonably priced books!). For those in the publishing industry, this is an impressive and somewhat novel (or perhaps, more accurately, ‘retro’) model. Tau Publishing maintains seamless control from the acquisitions department to editing and design to actual printing and binding of the texts. Most big publishers do all the front work (acquisitions, editing, design, etc.), but outsource the physical printing and binding of books to other printing companies and then keep big stocks of books in warehouses. Tau Publishing can maintain a small stock at any given time, keeping warehousing costs minimal, because they can run another cycle of printing when needed.
All in all, this is an exciting move and publishing partnership! I will continue to work with some of the big publishing houses in the years to come (in fact, I’m currently in conversation with one of the larger publishers about one of the two current book projects in the works), but I also hope to be able to work with Tau Publishing into the future with projects that fit well with its mission.
Stay tuned for more details to come!