Publicly traded company
symbol: TNM) in the book publishing industry
. Largest English
language publisher of Bible
s and inspirational (Christian
Started by bookseller Thomas Nelson in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1798, the company focused on Nelson's mission of providing Christian works and classic literature inexpensively to the common folk. With innovations such as travelling sales reps and the rotary printing press, the business expanded quickly. Nelson's son, Thomas, Jr., opened a London office in 1750 and a New York office in 1854 (the first British publisher to establish a branch in the United States). Despite a fire in 1878 which destroyed their Edinburgh headquarters completely, the business managed to bounce back and expand its reach.
In World War 2, the company's London plant was bombed to rubble. After the war the company's focus turned to coffee table books and the United Kingdom textbook market, facing stronger competition. Meanwhile, the American religious market remained strong (The American branch of the company had remarkable success with its Bibles: the American Standard Version in 1901, the Revised Standard Version of the New Testament in 1946 and the complete RSV Bible in 1952). In 1960, the company merged with The Thomson Organization, which sold off the Edinburgh printing and binding operations. In 1969, the company was bought by Sam Moore, a former Bible salesman who owned Royal Publishing, and wanted to return to the founder's mission for the company. Under his ownership, the company becomes the premier publisher of Bibles in English (11 translations in 1500 editions), publishes a new translation of the Bible, the New King James Version (1976), and acquires other religious publishing interests, including Editorial Caribe in 1991 (to expand into the Spanish language market) and Word Publishing in 1992. The company's acquisition of C. R. Gibson in 1995 put it into the gift and stationery market-- now responsible for a third of the company revenue. However, it took a sound drubbing in fiscal year 2000 when the merchandising for Dreamworks SKG's The Prince of Egypt never took off. The company is looking to recover by outsourcing its manufacturing and fabrication. Thomas Nelson interests also include Rutledge Hill Press, J. Countryman, Nelson Reference and Electronic Publishing, and Tommy Nelson.