45 years ago today - Jun 24, 1975-Tuesday

[Leonard Arrington]

Yesterday Marv Wallin, principal owner of Bookcraft and of Publishers Press, invited Davis [Bitton] and I to tour his plants and have dinner. ...

... We also spent a little time with George Bickerstaff, who is the editor of the Bookcraft Publishers. Our impression is that he is pretty orthodox and a conservative churchman and wants to be sure that everything he publishes is "safe." I have the same impression of Marv Wallin, who doesn't want to take any chances, but I have the impression that his son will be a little more liberal.

Marv has published the majority of the works by Mark E. Petersen, Sterling Sill, and certain other General Authorities. Marv says that originally the idea of Bookcraft was conceived by Brother [John] Orton and that Brother [John A.] Widtsoe and Richard L. Evans were to be co-owners, but before they ever published any books, he thinks Brother Widtsoe and Evans withdrew their money so there would not be a conflict of interest, and so essentially the owner and principal beneficiary is Brother Orton. Brother Widtsoe, Homer Durham, and Brother Evans channeled a great deal of business to Bookcraft.

Marv said it was an enormous advantage to have a competitive firm to Deseret Book to keep them on their toes. They had been very sloppy and inconsiderate during the period they had a "monopoly" on the Church trade. Bookcraft has achieved [success], Marv says, because of its energetic merchandising and their taking pains to work closely with the General Authorities. He said that a large proportion of their books are his idea. He conceives the idea of the book and helps the General Authority get it done.

... Davis and I got the impression that he has never worked with scholars, does not understand them, and has no desire to build a reputation in the scholarly field-that can be left up to the university presses. ... He does not want to publish anything either by way of topic or by way of lines and paragraphs in any book that would in any way be offensive to any General Authorities or that would cast a shadow on the firm which would cause any General Authority to have second thoughts about publishing through him. Thus if we were to publish a book through him, he would go carefully through it and would insist upon removing anything which might be questionable.

... He invited us to refer to him manuscripts and also to submit any of ours. On the basis of his remarks, however, I do not think he would publish any of our pieces the way our authors would like to see them appear. We discovered he had seen the Orson Pratt manuscript and it was "99 percent acceptable" but there were some controversial inclusions which they would not run and which the author insisted should be included, so they will not run that item. Eugene England reported today on his fellowship. He will do a series of essays for LDS young people on intellectual heroes such as Joseph Smith, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, John Taylor, B. H. Roberts, Hugh B. Brown and possibly others. ...

[Confessions of a Mormon historian : the diaries of Leonard J. Arrington, 1971-1997, Gary James Bergera, editor, Signature Books, 2018]

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