Monday, December 11, 2006

Sophia Institute Press Needs Your Help

[The Book of Kells facsimile]

I hesitated a bit to write this post because it will appear to some to be motivated by self-interest (it's not, I can assure you); I decided that the cause was good enough to take that chance.

Sophia Institute Press (my own publisher), is in a severe financial crisis right now (about $40,000 past due), because of slow sales. It is an apostolate, whose primary income consists of sales revenues. Sophia (I can testify from first-hand experience) is a class organization through and through. John L. Barger has labored since 1983 to bring Catholic classics to a contemporary audience. Anyone who collects a lot of Catholic books would have many of Sophia's books in their collections (I certainly do).

I was greatly blessed and honored in 2003 when they decided to take on my book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism (at the time, self-published and out a few years). I had been trying to persuade any Catholic publisher to do that for the previous seven years. Sophia has been very good to me and kept us afloat with generous advances on now three occasions. The editing ability of my friend Todd Aglialoro has made my books much better and more readable. That's important for a guy who is accustomed to firing off posts on my blog almost daily. Books ought to be far more carefully written and constructed than blog posts.

It so happens that my next book, The One-Minute Apologist, is one of the titles scheduled to be published next (possibly before the end of the year). I'm hoping it can help Sophia to keep their doors open (I know, it sounds terribly self-interested, but there it is; I don't care. I'm simply trying to do my part to help the folks at Sophia and the great work they do).

I should note, too, that the original conceptions and formats for this new book, and my last one, The Catholic Verses, came originally from Sophia. I really appreciate the opportunity to have been able to participate in those projects. It was enjoyable and educational for me (and I hope for readers, too). Those books are, in my opinion, every bit as much creations of John Barger and Todd Aglialoro as they are my own. These were joint projects: they came up with the basic ideas, structure, and did the editing; I chipped in with the "raw material," so to speak. It's a bit like I imagine the relationship of a singer to a songwriter to be.

Karl Keating wrote about the current plight of Sophia in a recent e-letter (ironically, I found it by accident tonight; I had gotten off his mailing list for the e-letter because of my change of e-mail address). Please read that in order to better understand some of the reasons why Sophia is in financial straits at the moment (Mr. Barger has referred to "the difficult days since
Sept. 11 and after the scandals that rocked the Church these past few years" - factors beyond the control of Sophia).

Catholic publishing in general is going through some hard times. These books don't sell in the millions (as Karl Keating noted). It's a small market. I know that for John Barger and others at Sophia, this is a labor of love and an apostolate first and foremost. They could all be doing lots of other things, making a lot more money. But the motivation is to spread Catholic truth.

Please visit the Sophia web page or go right to their request for emergency donations.

It so happens (I found this out tonight also) that they are offering two of my books: A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, and The Catholic Verses, for a donation of $100. I figured that if you are reading this blog and haven't yet read those books, then this post could possibly generate a donation their way, or at least a few book sales for Sophia, and allow you a chance to help out and get something in return.

Now, lest you become cynical at "self-plugging," remember that I receive maybe $1.70 per book in royalties. Such a donation would help them a lot more than it would help me. I'm doing okay; I have a new part-time job and a second one in the works. I don't have overhead and employees like Sophia does (I simply have the usual living expenses like anyone else, as a self-employed writer and apologist). My books - by God's grace - are selling well (i.e., within their relatively small market). I'm not gonna "go under" anytime soon. I may have my serious financial troubles now and then, but like a cork, I'll always pop back up.

But Sophia Institute Press is truly in a crisis, and all who love the Catholic classics of the past (their specialty) and are able to help will, I hope, see fit to assist them in getting past this time of difficulty.


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