In the wake of decreasing demand for Christian books, declining revenues, and three lawsuits, Nashville-based Thomas Nelson Inc., the world's largest publisher of Bibles and Christian trade books, plans to slash the number of titles it offers and will probably cancel its quarterly dividend payment of 4 cents a share, using the money instead for ongoing operations.

Additionally, the company eliminated 20 positions in August—including those of two executive vice presidents—and left eight other openings unfilled, saving the company $2 million annually. Joe Powers, a Nelson executive vice president, says vendors and Christian bookstores are not giving as much shelf space to new books as in the past, focusing instead on current top titles.

"We have seen that independent retailers keep fewer titles," Powers told Christianity Today. "There's no sense publishing titles that people aren't carrying."

Christian Booksellers Association President Bill Anderson told Publishers Weekly in July that while some independent retailers are experiencing growth, others have suffered 5 to 7 percent decreases in sales in the softer economy.

This year, Nelson will cut the number of its products from last year's 550—including 200 titles—to fewer than 400. Revenue for the first quarter of fiscal year 2002 is down by $3.1 million from a year earlier.

Nelson is refocusing on its core publishing business. The company, with net revenues of $298 million in fiscal 2001, recently sold Remuda Ranch, an eating-disorder treatment center, for $7.2 million in cash and a $2 million note. Nelson will complete the sale of its Ceres candle unit and decide the future of C.R. Gibson, a gift subsidiary, ...

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