Christian Retailing

Steve Cobb to retire from WaterBrook Multnomah Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Tuesday, 04 November 2014 05:14 PM America/New_York

WaterBrookMultnomah-webThe WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group has announced the retirement of its president and publisher, Steve Cobb, after 18 years with the company. Alex Field, who was most recently vice president and publisher for David C Cook, will join WaterBrook Multnomah in the same capacity starting Dec. 1.

In a letter to Crown employees, Tina Constable, senior vice president and publisher, Christian publishing, at Crown Publishing Group—of which WaterBrook Multnomah is a part—reflected on this time of transition as “a transformative moment in the life of the Crown Publishing Group’s religious publishing program.”

“With our WaterBrook Press, Multnomah Books, Convergent Books and Image imprints, ours is the only such program in trade publishing with dedicated imprints to serve every major Christian tradition,” said Constable, who has been with WaterBrook Multnomah for five months and with Penguin Random House for 28 years. “Religious publishing is a core business for us—and one that we are strongly invested in growing, by building upon the firm foundation established under Steve.”

SteveCobb-webConstable celebrated the diversity of the company while announcing a refreshed editorial mission for each imprint.

“These changes are intended to strengthen our ability to focus, and enhance, the distinct core strengths and sensibilities of WaterBrook, Multnomah and Convergent, respectively,” Constable said in the letter. “We are committed to advancing our mission of publishing books that meet the interests of a full spectrum of readers, in acknowledging and respecting the vibrant theological diversity within the Christian community.”

Constable called Field, who will report to her, a “true rising star in the Christian publishing community and a man of deep and humble faith.”

She applauded his many skills and strategic work with David C Cook.

“Alex’s sharp editorial focus, creative energy and broad management experience—coupled with his deep personal faith—make him ideally suited to lead WaterBrook Multnomah as we embark together to build upon our rich history in the evangelical space,” Constable said.

Maya Mavjee, president and publisher at Crown, expressed “mixed emotions” as she announced Cobb’s retirement in a separate letter to Crown employees. She said Cobb “has provided inspiring and dedicated leadership for our religion publishing program for nearly twenty years.”

Cobb was a founding executive of WaterBrook in 1996, when the imprint was launched as an autonomous evangelical Christian publishing division of then Bantam Doubleday Dell. He later played an instrumental role in the purchase of Harold Shaw Publishers in 2000 and the acquisition of Multnomah Publishers in 2006. In 2005, Cobb took on oversight for Doubleday’s Image line. In 2012, he founded Convergent Books, an imprint for “progressive Christians.”

“Steve has led and managed a business that has realized consistent profitability while building an extraordinary legacy as a nurturer of author talent,” Mavjee said in her letter. “With passion, purpose and acumen, he has overseen the acquisition and publication of innumerable important, and bestselling, books by such noteworthy authors as Kay Arthur, Liz Curtis Higgs, Stephen Arterburn, Joanna Weaver, Shaunti Feldhahn, Kerry and Chris Shook, David Platt, Randy Alcorn, David Gregory, Shannon Ethridge, Steven Furtick, Andy Stanley, Francine Rivers, Cindy Woodsmall, Joshua Harris, Nick Vujicic, Mary Neal, and Bruce Wilkinson, to name just a few.”

The restructuring also means that the position of vice president, editor-in-chief at WaterBrook Multnomah has been eliminated, with Kenneth Petersen leaving the company at the end of November.