Tuesday, September 25, 2007

YUP Acquires Anchor Bible Series: Part Deux

Just hours after I published my own happy reflections on Yale University Press' purchase of the Anchor Bible series, Charles Halton had the audacity to give a brief list of reasons "Why Anchor Yale Bible is Bad for Biblical Studies and the General Public"! Seriously... how dare he! ;-) His list (supplemented by a few initial comments of my own) is given below:

As a division of Random House, Doubleday had the biggest mass-market exposure of any publisher of biblical studies related books. Now that Yale owns the series, this exposure will probably dramatically decrease.
As a former employee of a major bookstore (I worked for Borders Books & Music for five years, the last year as an inventory manager), I don't think that Doubleday could have ever claimed "the biggest mass-market exposure of any publisher of biblical studies related books." That title probably belongs to HarperCollins, which not only boasts a large imprint dedicated entirely to religious and spiritual titles (HarperOne, formerly HarperSanFrancisco), but also has published some religious titles under its regular label. And as I stated in my first post on this subject (see below), what good are size and resources if they're not being utilized on behalf of your product? It's also important to note that many large bookstores now include titles from academic publishers in their regular backlists. Both of the Borders stores where I worked (in Louisville, KY) carried titles by Jaroslav Pelikan... titles published by YUP.

Anchor Yale Bible is a really bad name: its long, uncreative, and cumbersome–I guess the new acronym is going to be AYB which looks more like a fraternity than an academic series.

Well, I can't argue with this one. Frankly, I wish they would have simply retained the "Anchor Bible" name... or changed it to "Yale Bible" (which sounds nice, but would discard the name recognition of the original series). I guess if you make a deal like this, you should get to put your name on the marquee. ;-)

Yale has a much smaller pocketbook than Doubleday which might limit projects.
The smaller pocketbook is undeniable--but see my response to Halton's first point (and also my post below). I think it's safe to say that Anchor will be more important for the continued success of YUP than it was for that of Doubleday... and hopefully the product will reflect this fact.

Because of the prominence and wide reach of Anchor Bible (even popping up on Barnes and Noble shelves) the thoughtful reach of the field of biblical studies as a whole will shrink.
I certainly haven't shopped in every major bookstore in the country, but I've been in a large number of them, and I've never seen an Anchor Bible commentary on any of their shelves. (I have occasionally seen Anchor Bible Reference Library titles, such as John Meier's A Marginal Jew series and Raymond Brown's two-volume The Death of the Messiah, in both Borders and Barnes & Noble.) But again, if these bookstores already carry backlist from academic publishers, there's no reason why they would stop now... or why they wouldn't begin to carry additional titles, if YUP markets them aggressively and effectively.

1 comment:

o1mnikent said...


The Anchor Yale Bible Commentary is now avilable for pre-order from Logos. All 83 volumes, 43,315 pages, 160 pounds, and 25,000,000 words of it.

Thought you might be interested.