1. For a few years now, Wesleyan Publishing House (WPH) has been declining. I suppose that's no surprise given the general state of the publishing industry right now. In the absence of any real change, it's been dying a slow death. Fewer and fewer staff, no real vision (unless the plan is to let it fall under its own weight). Just the General Board checking the numbers each meeting and seeing a bad trajectory.
I think the situation has now reached a ripeness for reinvention. Any forces that might have fought against doing something innovative are pretty much gone. Now is an opportune moment to do something I think we can be quite good at--innovating.
2. For example, I've heard it suggested that the main divisions of HQ should be the point people for initiating and then marketing WPH books. So a book would only get published if Spiritual Formation, Education/Clergy Care, etc. were willing to take it under their wings and do the initial underwriting of the project.
They do it already and have sometimes done it in tension with WPH. These leaders are the ones out there in the churches anyway. Their leaders and staff have often been great marketers. How better to insure that the books produced at HQ are useful to the church?
3. There needs to be a full shift to a print-on-demand model that does not require any in-house sales or shipping. As an extreme example, WPH could do all its sales and shipping through Amazon. It could have a website that is basically a glorified astore. I don't know if a publisher like Wipf & Stock would be be willing to be a publishing arm for a denominational imprint.
In the print-on-demand model, a book isn't printed until it is ordered. No book ever goes out of print, and every book can make a profit. With Wipf & Stock, there is an initial fee. But they even have editors on staff. Then the book is permanently available and printed on demand.
4. Bottom line. Let's not ever use the word "close." Let's use the word "re-structure." There's no reason for closure. (P.S. Why not let the colleges in on the game too? Then IWU could merge its Triangle Publishing into the enterprise).