Zondervan's aim to be "most progressive Christian company" creates technology opportunities

Zondervan in Grand Rapids aims to be  the most progressive publisher of Christian-based media by making every title they publish on paper available in digital format. And if that wasn't enough, the company will make each digital book available for their biggest customers, Christian retailers, to sell in their bricks-and-mortar stores.

To accomplish this, Zondervan recently reorganized the company, moving all information technology, Internet enterprises and the micro sites they operate into a new digital and emerging business division. Jon Nisper, a former director of technology at X-Rite Inc., came onboard last week as vice president of the operation.

"We most certainly have our eyes set on being the most progressive Christian company," says Steve Sammons, executive vice president. "Publishers traditionally are paper focused and online products are an afterthought. We've not experienced any cannibalization with our online products, so you can anticipate that when new books come to market multi formats will be available simultaneously."

Zondervan sells titles in nearly 200 languages and over 60 countries through retailers who are members of the Association for Christian Retail. And many of those stores' customers want to purchase books the same way they purchase music – digitally.

So last year, Zondervan launched Symtio, the publishing industry's first patented digital merchandising system for retail.

Symtio enables customers in the store to buy a merchandise card for a specific digital book, and then download it from the Symtio web site when they get home. They simply enter the card number and the book downloads in the format they choose, including downloading audio books as MP3 files or burning them on a CD.

"Giving customers the choice to purchase products through any channel and in any format they desire; that is our intent," Sammons says.

Source: Steve Sammons, Zondervan; Brian Burch, Lambert, Edwards & Associates

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at [email protected].

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