Thomas Nelson is a top commercial publisher of Christian-related materials. The company produces about 10 major Bible translations in the English language and biblical reference products including commentaries, help texts, and study guides. Thomas Nelson also publishes religious and inspirational titles, hosts inspirational conferences (Women of Faith), and produces Christian-oriented and family-focused products for adults and children, including books, games, and audio and video materials. The company can trace its roots back to 1798, when Thomas Nelson began selling Bibles in a town square in Edinburgh, Scotland. Majority-owner Kohlberg & Co. agreed to sell its stake to HarperCollins in 2012.
Thomas Nelson is the largest publisher of The King James Bible. Along with the rest of the company's products, its Bibles are distributed through Christian and general bookstores, mass merchandisers, and by direct marketing. Products reach consumers via direct mail, telemarketing, conferences, and the Internet.
In order to maintain and grow its Bible sales, the company continues to release new versions and translations. In 2010 it partnered with The History Channel (part of A&E Television Networks) and Salem Medias to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible by offering commemorative products in print, radio, and TV. Also that year the company released the American Patriot's Bible, which has added text that relates American history to the Bible. Sales of American Patriot's Bible spiked when its editor, Pastor Richard G. Lee, attended FOX News' personality Glen Beck's Rally to Restore Honor in America on the Washington Mall in 2010.
The company is also focused on digital and audio versions of the Good Book. Nelson is in the process of converting all of its titles to digital versions, and in 2010 digital sales were up 600% from the previous year. In 2009 Thomas Nelson released The Word of Promise Audio Bible. The ambitious audiobook took six years and cost about $5 million to produce. Made up of a whopping 79 CDs, it features special effects and epic scenes, as well as famous voices from actors such as Marisa Tomei, Marcia Gay Harden, Malcolm McDowell, Sean Astin, and Jon Voight.
After 45 years of being publicly held, Thomas Nelson became a private company in 2006. Cable veteran Leo Hindery and his private equity investment firm InterMedia Partners and its subsidiary Faith Media took Thomas Nelson private in a $473 million buyout deal. InterMedia Partners in 2010 sold part of its stake to Kohlberg & Co., making that company the majority owner. Kohlberg's investment increased the company's capital structure and eliminated the majority of its long-term debt.
Kohlberg & Co. agreed to sell its share of the company to HarperCollins for an undisclosed amount.