The Publishing Ministry


Section 4—The Output of the Publishing House

Chapter 18—The Publication of Books by Ellen G. White

What Shall Be Published?—The question of what shall be published at the office must be viewed in the light of the teachings of the Holy Scriptures. The Lord's voice must be honored and obeyed. “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” The truth must not be placed in the background as it now is, for subjects of vast importance to the soul receive only a passing notice, while these objectionable things have the foreground. The workers overlook the great truths that would make them wise unto salvation. They do not see that daily they are to receive manna from the heavenly table, that they are to feed upon the Word of life, and so gain spiritual strength. They are now to store up, for the present and the future, supplies that will provide for the soul in times of emergency. They are to lay up in store the precious gold and silver and precious gems of the Word of God, jewels that will never perish.—Letter 31, 1891. (Selections from the Testimonies Setting forth Important Principles Relating to Our Work in General, 176, 177; Special Testimonies Concerning the Work and Workers in the Pacific Press, 46, 47.) PM 205.1

Denominational Publishing Houses to Print Ellen G. White Books—I am fearful regarding any plan that would take the work out of the hands of our publishing houses, for this might lessen the confidence of our brethren in these important agencies for the dissemination of present truth. PM 205.2

I believe that in the selling of your books [S.N. Haskell] you want to do just what is right. I believe the Lord will guide you with His counsel. Regarding my books, I feel that I cannot take them into my own hands and thus weaken the work of the office of publication. It would not be wise for me to make a move that would look as if I did not have confidence in our leading publishing houses. We must do all things in a righteous way. We must not weaken the hearts and hands of those of whom we expect so much.—Letter 70, 1907. PM 205.3

Avoid Injustices in Publishing Books—The dealing in regard to The Gospel Primer was unjust. Another book, His Glorious Appearing, was crowded in to kill the sale of the Primer. The way in which The Gospel Primer was handled has left a record on the books of heaven which those concerned in the matter will not be pleased to meet in the judgment. The young men who were handling the books did not understand the diplomacy and scheming, but some knowingly took part in these wrong practices, diverting from the Southern field a book specially prepared for that field. The profits from this book should have gone into that field. Not a penny should have been charged for the publication of the book for that field. This donation would have been small enough for the [Review] office to make to the Southern field.... PM 206.1

Had the very book God appointed to stand in its lot and place [The Great Controversy] been handled as earnestly as Bible Readings men would have cooperated with the angels. of God to make the very impression essential for that time. [The Gospel Primer was written by Edson White, self-supporting missionary to the Southern states. Book sales were meant to provide means for advancing the work among the blacks, but another book, His Glorious Appearing, was crowded in and the sale of Gospel Primer suffered. A similar situation existed when The Great Controversy lay helpless on the shelves of the Review and Herald publishing house while Bible Readings was promoted in the field. Ellen White protested this narrow and shortsighted policy.].... The light given was that Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation, Great Controversy, and Patriarchs and Prophets would make their way. They contained the very message the people must have, the special light God had given His people. The angels of God would prepare the way for these books in the hearts of the people.—Letter 43, 1899. (Selections from the Testimonies Setting forth Important Principles Relating to Our Work in General, 211-214; Special Instruction Regarding Royalties, 6-9.) PM 206.2

Blocking Publication of The Great Controversy—When you insisted that you were doing all in your power to bring Great Controversy [1888] and Patriarchs and Prophets [1890] before the people, I knew your statements to be untrue. M and you confederated together to uphold and sustain each other, and worked according to your blindness of mind in using your influence to control the management of the books to make as high a show as possible in gathering means into the office. The Lord brought me into your council meetings. I was bidden to mark the influences at work to repress Great Controversy that resulted in its falling nearly dead from the press, as was the case also with Patriarchs and Prophets. PM 207.1

The most solemn promises were made to me by Brother N that if I would reduce the royalty on Great Controversy to ten cents, the Pacific Press would push the book with all their power. Yet in spite of these promises, Bible Readings was brought in, and, being sold cheap, hindered the sale of the books that God had commanded to be written, that the light of truth might be given to the world to prepare a people for the great day of God. Every appeal was made that I could make, but without effect. Stoutly and strangely was this unjust work carried forward. Brother N thought he did not do the right thing by me, but he must follow the lead of Battle Creek. At the conference at Minneapolis, in the autumn of 1888, M faithfully promised me that he would take hold of these works and push them the next spring. Did he do it? No, they were kept back decidedly, determinedly, and your voice did much to accomplish this; you discouraged their sale and exalted Bible Readings, and the influence of M was united with yours.... PM 207.2

The Pacific Press violated their solemn promise to me that if I would take ten cents’ royalty, they would give wide sale to the book [The Great Controversy]. They would have reduced the royalty still more, but warnings were given me that I was encouraging a spirit of injustice, and that it was my duty to guard not only my individual rights but the rights of others.... PM 207.3

What excuse did Brother N give for not keeping his word? He told me that it would not answer to push The Great Controversy and Patriarchs and Prophets while the men in the Review office stood in the position they did in reference to the matter, for they would be jealous of the Pacific Press. I said, “Judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey.”—Letter 15, 1895. PM 208.1

Refusal to Embarrass Publishing Houses—On making inquiries regarding the publication of Early Writings, I learn that our offices at Mountain View and at Washington have just brought out and have in stock a large edition of this book, and that they are selling a paper-covered edition for thirty-five cents. Under such circumstances, therefore, it would seem unjust to them were we to endeavor to place on the market a smaller-sized book to be sold at a low price.... PM 208.2

Now, Elder Haskell, I want you to understand that I appreciate your interest in the scattering of the truth through a wide sale of Early Writings. [S.N. Haskell encouraged Ellen White to have Early Writings published by a non-SDA publishing concern in order to secure a broad circulation. A contract was drawn up and a delegation brought it to her to sign. As she picked up the pen to sign, she paused and looked up, then said she couldn't sign. After the men left, W.C. White remonstrated with her because she was fully aware of the terms, but Sister White told him that when she looked up, as she was about to sign, she saw an angel standing behind the men shaking his head, “No.”] I thank the Lord that I know you will not misunderstand me. I thank you for your kindly interest in my behalf. But I will closely watch and pray earnestly that the Lord will remove from me this pressure of debt without my taking a course that might seem unfair to the publishing houses. I know that your offer comes from the sincerity of your soul, and may the Lord bless you for your desire to help me, but I dare not venture to risk the consequences of the step you propose.—Letter 106, 1908. PM 208.3

Language Simplified by Helpers—The articles that were simplified [by Fannie Bolton] on the childhood of Jesus were not satisfactory to me. The matter was diluted altogether too much, and the life and spirit did not appear.—Letter 84, 1895. PM 209.1

Edson, you are at liberty to select from my writings the matter that is needed for the proposed simple tracts and booklets for the Southern field. We send you some articles on the child life of Jesus [a series of five Ellen G. White articles under the title of “Child Life of Jesus,” which appeared in The Youth's Instructor, November 21, 1895, to January 2, 1896. Edson adapted material on the life of Christ received from his mother, Ellen White, and prepared the well-known book Christ Our Saviour (The Story of Jesus), Which first appeared in 1896, and is still available in English and a few non-English languages. The statements quoted above should not be understood to be authorization by Ellen White to simplify all of her writings.] that may be a help to you. As you will see, they are in two styles. Sister Bolton, my copyist, has had little time for the preparation of the simple form, and you may be able, yourself, to simplify in a way that will suit you better. You are the one who can best prepare the matter you need, for you are acquainted with the Southern field. You will know how simple to make the truth so as to be understood, and what portions to select.... PM 209.2

All that can be done should be done for the Southern field. As far as you can, obtain the cooperation of those at the head of the work, that they may not be tempted to think you are starting out on independent schemes.—Letter 86, 1895. PM 209.3

Loans for Printing E.G. White Books—I now write to ask you if you will let me have the use of two thousand dollars to help me in bringing out books that the people need.... PM 209.4

If I should fall in the conflict before the Lord's appearing, my sons would carry forward the work of circulating my books according to my plans. When the expense of issuing my books is lessened, the sales will soon pay up all my debts.... PM 209.5

We find it difficult to bring out all the books that we desire to, for we have not the means to pay for the work that must be done on them. But the Lord knows all about this, and He may move upon the heart of someone who can do so to help us in this time of need. It is hard to be delayed in this work, for we know that we have but a short time to labor, and we greatly desire to give the world the light we have received from the Lord. We shall do what we can in the preparation of the matter, and will ask the Lord to lay the burden upon those who can help us with their talent of means. Some have already lent me money. Upon this money I pay them 5 percent interest, and whenever they call for the return of the money, I send it to them. PM 209.6

My brother, will you help us in our efforts to get before the people of the world the message of warning that is to prepare a people to stand in the great day of test and trial?—Letter 139, 1904. PM 210.1

Care Regarding Expense of New Editions—I am distressed for means with which to live and to pay my workers. [Ellen White received the salary of an ordained minister after her husband died in 1881. She also received royalty from the sale of her books, but the cost of book plates and the wages paid to her office helpers were met from her royalty income.] I am seeking to follow the light given me not to become deeper involved in debt, but to do all I can to free myself from debt. And while we have not the capital to invest, I do not see how we can reset these books. It must not be done. PM 210.2

Even though these books do not sell as readily as they would if thoroughly revised, yet the resetting of them will place upon me a heavier burden than I am able to bear.... PM 210.3

I might have consented to a considerable outlay of means had not the Lord instructed me that there would be dissatisfaction created, because a new edition would render the old editions unsalable. I want my every movement to be true to God and to maintain the principles of His law. I must love Him supremely, and my neighbor as myself.... PM 210.4

Time is nearing its close. I want every transaction to show the marks of unselfishness.—Letter 229, 1903. PM 210.5