Christian Retailing

John Howard leaves company founded by his father Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Monday, 08 June 2009 01:21 PM America/New_York
Resignation announced as Howard Books is relocated to Nashville from Louisiana

John Howard—who continued to serve as vice president and publisher after Christian publishing veteran Jonathan Merkh recently joined Howard Books—has left the company founded by his father.

Howard announced his resignation, effective May 1, in mid-April as Simon & Schuster revealed plans to move Howard Books—its Christian imprint—to Nashville from West Monroe, La.

“John hasn’t indicated what his plans are,” Adam Rothberg, vice president of corporate communications for Simon & Schuster, told Christian Retailing. Howard’s wife, Chrys, also stepped down as senior editor and creative director for Howard Books, Rothberg said.

“We are … grateful to John and all the Howard staff for everything they have done to bring Howard Books this far,” he added.

Howard declined to comment. Rothberg said it had not yet been determined how many of Howard’s 21-member staff would move to Nashville by May 1.

Howard Books was recently honored for the seventh consecutive year in the 2009 Certified Best Christian Workplaces, according to awards given by the Best Christian Workplaces Institute.

Operating out of his garage, Howard’s father—Alton—started the publishing company in 1969 as a hymnal publisher, according to The (Monroe) News-Star. Howard made the company a full line publisher in 1990. Howard Books is well-known for its successful “Hugs” line, a more than 50-title series that has sold more than 7 million copies since 1997.

New York City-based Simon & Schuster acquired Howard Publishing in February 2006 and changed its name to Howard Books. The decision by S&S to move Howard Books was made after Merkh—who lives in Nashville—was named vice president and publisher of Howard Books in March.

“Nashville is very much (the) center of Christian publishing, so the idea is to have a greater profile and visibility, better access to authors and agents, and proximity to the more robust Christian publishing environment,” said Rothberg, noting that Merkh had been working in West Monroe and Nashville for Howard Books.

Carolyn Reidy, Simon & Schuster’s president and CEO, told the Howard staff in a memo: “For 40 years, Howard Books has stayed true to its mission to increase faith, inspire holiness and instill hope by publishing books of enduring appeal to the Christian reader. ... Your efforts have left us poised for future success and ready to act as caretakers of Howard’s legacy.”