November 1st, 2011
09:36 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
(CNN) - Publisher HarperCollins reached an agreement Monday to buy fellow publisher Thomas Nelson, a move that will bring the two largest religion book publishers in the country under one corporation.
Lyn Cryderman, a former Zondervan publisher, said the move makes "HarperCollins the largest Christian publisher in the United States."
Brian Murray, president and CEO of HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide, cited Thomas Nelson's wide reach into "books, Bibles, e-books, journals, audio, video, curriculum and digital applications" as a reason for the acquisition.
HarperCollins is the parent company of Zondervan, a Bible publisher whose Christian authors include megachurch pastor Rick Warren.
"Thomas Nelson adds further balance to our existing publishing programs," Murray said in a press release. "Its broad inspirational appeal is a good complement to Zondervan, which will continue to publish books consistent with its mission."
HarperCollins is a subsidiary of News Corporation, a multinational media company headed by Rupert Murdoch, the media magnate who earlier this year was plagued by hacking and phone-tapping allegations at some of his publications in the United Kingdom.
During the hacking scandal, some of Zondervan's authors questioned how a company who owns the rights to the world's best-selling English bible, the New International Version, could be associated with ethics violations.
Zondervan distributes books to over 100 countries.
Though HarperCollins' acquisition brings both Zondervan and Thomas Nelson under the same corporate umbrella, Casey Francis, director of corporate communications at Thomas Nelson said for the time-being the publisher is "still operating as competitors" with Zondervan.
According to a report by Publishers Weekly, HarperCollins expects to close on the acquisition by the end of the year and it is unclear as to whether after that point that two companies will publish separately.
"I know that we are very excited to be joining HarperCollins and I know that Harper Collins hopes to continue to publish both of us," Francis said. "As of right now, though, they are focusing on closing the transaction."
Francis was clear that "it is too early to say we are joining forces," because Zondervan and Thomas Nelson will continue to be published under their respective names.
Cryderman, the former Zondervan publisher, was not surprised by the move.
"For decades Zondervan and Nelson competed vigorously for authors and market share so it remains to be seen how this move changes things," Cryderman said.
The price HarperCollins paid for Thomas Nelson is currently unknown.
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