The Publishing Ministry


Chapter 31—Careful Management and Promotion

Lift the Debts—God designs that we shall learn lessons from the failures of the past. It is not pleasing to Him to have debts rest upon His institutions. We have reached the time when we must give character to the work by refusing to erect large and costly buildings. We are not to copy the mistakes of the past and become more and more involved in debt. We are rather to endeavor to clear off the indebtedness that still remains on our institutions. Our churches can help in this matter if they will. Those members to whom the Lord has given means can invest their money in the cause without interest or at a low rate of interest, and by their freewill offerings they can help to support the work. The Lord asks you to return cheerfully to Him a portion of the goods He has lent you, and thus become His almoners.—Testimonies for the Church 9:71. PM 331.1

Economy in Little Things—Let the proper estimate be placed upon the publications, and then let all in our offices study to economize in every possible way, even though considerable inconvenience is caused in consequence. Stop every leak. Mind the little things. It is the little losses that tell heavily in the end. Look after the littles, gather up the fragments, that nothing be lost; for many who look after the larger matters have never learned to guard and save the trifles. Waste not the minutes, for they mar the hours. Persevering diligence, work done in faith, will always be crowned with success. Some men think it beneath their dignity to look after small things. They consider it the evidence of a narrow mind and small spirit to be careful of the littles. Watch the little outgoes; save the little incomes. The smallest leak has sunk many a ship. No derision or jesting should keep us from saving the littles. Nothing that would serve the purpose should be left to go to waste. A lack of economy will bring debt upon our institutions. Much money may be received, but it will be lost in the little wastes of every branch of the work. Economy is not stinginess. PM 331.2

Every interested working man and woman employed in the office should be a faithful sentinel, watching the littles, that nothing be wasted. They should guard against supposed wants and expenditures of means. Some men will live better on four hundred dollars a year than others will on eight hundred. Just so it is with our institutions. Some can manage them with far less capital than others. God would have every worker practice economy, and especially learn to be faithful accountants.—Manuscript 1, 1879. PM 332.1

Balance in Profit Between ABC and Publishers—I have felt a very deep interest in tract and missionary work, and it may be my strong and urgent appeals have done much to mold matters as they now exist. But the last view, as I read what I wrote last fall, shows me that there is great danger of running everything into the tract and missionary work. This vigilant missionary work is as a wheel within a wheel, but at the same time it must not swallow up other interests. PM 332.2

The office of publication must not be crippled in any sense to keep this branch in vigorous action, leaving the matter of profit to the tract and missionary society, while but little profit, if any at all, comes to the publishing house.—Letter 2, 1880. PM 332.3

Mistakes Not to Be Publicized—He [God] has shown that our leading men should be in harmony. They should not put articles in print or bring matters before the people until, by counseling together, these subjects are understood among themselves, and they are at agreement among themselves. PM 332.4

Whatever may have been the mistakes in the tract and missionary work, the motives were the best, and even if the matter has been carried quite too far, and altogether too strongly, disproportionately with the other branches of the work, without proper discernment, it would be unwise to publish this fact in our papers. We should correct these errors as soon as possible among ourselves without giving publicity to them.—Manuscript 1, 1879. PM 333.1

Unnecessary Books and Costly Bibles—I was shown in my last vision that you and Elder F were in danger of giving an example of extravagance in the expenditure of money for books not on present truth. Many who do not need these books, whom they will not benefit at all if offered for sale by our ministers, will purchase them if the statement is made that the profits on such books go to the tract and missionary society; and the money thus expended should have purchased publications on present truth, which they needed. There should be a leaving off before there is a beginning to purchase costly Bibles. When poor ministers see these good and extravagant Bibles, they will have them who are the least able, and as a result they cannot supply themselves with works treating on our faith.—Letter 2, 1880. PM 333.2

Liberal Policy to Encourage Ministers—When the resolution was adopted that this small source of income, [That is, a profit from the sale of our books.] besides their small wages, was cut off from our ministers in the selling of our publications, I said to myself, All wrong. There will be a serious reaction from this. I am sure that the heart and soul is being taken out of our ministers by these movements, and I must not keep silence. The interests of every part of the cause are dear to me as my life, and every branch of importance. I was shown that there was danger of making the tract and missionary work so absorbing that it will, through a multiplicity of plans, become perplexing and intricate. “Too much machinery” was repeated to me by the angel.—Letter 2, 1880. PM 333.3

Fair Prices for Publications—Our houses of publication are the property of all our people, and all should work to the point of raising them above embarrassment. In order to circulate our publications, they have been offered at so low a figure that but little profit could come to the office to reproduce the same works. This has been done with the best of motives, but not with experienced and farseeing judgment. PM 334.1

At the low prices of publications the office could not preserve a capital upon which to work. This was not fully seen and critically investigated. These low prices led people to undervalue the works, and it was not fully discerned that when once these publications were placed at a low figure it would be very difficult to bring them up to their proper value. PM 334.2

Our ministers have not had suitable encouragement. They must have means in order to live. There has been a sad lack of foresight in placing the low prices upon our publications, and still another in turning the profits largely into the tract and missionary societies. These matters have been carried to extremes, and there will be a reaction. In order for the tract and missionary societies to flourish, the instrumentalities to make and print books must flourish. Cripple these instrumentalities, burden the publishing houses with debt, and the tract and missionary societies will not prove a success. PM 334.3

There has been wrong management, not designedly, but in zeal and ardor to carry forward the missionary work. In the distribution and wide circulation of papers, tracts, and pamphlets, the instrumentalities to produce these publications have been crippled and embarrassed. There is ever danger of carrying any good work to extremes. Responsible men are in danger of becoming men of one idea, of concentrating their thoughts upon one branch of the work to the neglect of other parts of the great field.—Testimonies for the Church 4:597. PM 334.4

Mistakes in Lowering Prices—As a people we need to be guarded on every point. There is not the least safety for any unless we seek wisdom of God daily and dare not move in our own strength. Danger is always surrounding us, and great caution should be used that no one branch of the work be made a specialty while other interests are left to suffer. PM 334.5

Mistakes have been made in putting down prices of publications to meet certain difficulties. These efforts must change. Those who made this move were sincere. They thought their liberality would provoke ministers and people to labor to greatly increase the demand for the publications. PM 335.1

Ministers and people should act nobly and liberally in dealing with our publishing houses. Instead of studying and contriving how they can obtain periodicals, tracts, and books at the lowest figure, they should seek to bring the minds of the people to see the true value of the publications. All these pennies taken from thousands of publications have caused a loss of thousands of dollars to our offices, when a few pennies more from each individual would scarcely have been felt.—Testimonies for the Church 4:598. PM 335.2

Books Sold Too Cheaply—Then instruction was given to Elder Haskell that in his anxiety to supply the people with the precious truth contained in his books, in his desire that all should feel that the books are worth more than they cost, and that all should be encouraged to give them a wide circulation, he was selling his books too cheap, and thus making his own burden too heavy. PM 335.3

Our Counselor said: “The books should be sold in such a way that the author will not be left barehanded and that the publishing house shall have a proper margin so that it will have means to carry on its work.”—Testimonies for the Church 9:73. PM 335.4

Low Prices Poor Policy—There had been with A and yourself a mistake in lowering the prices of our books so low that the office could not prosper. This was poor policy. These plans appeared right to you both, but were the worst thing you could do for the office. It belittles the value of the books, and when once placed at so low a figure, it will be very difficult to increase the price so that they will be placed at their proper value.—Letter 2, 1880. PM 335.5