Catholic Publishers

I am currently cataloguing our parish library. Many of our books are quite old and I can’t find out anything about the authors or titles on the net, so I’m looking at the publishing houses to try to get an idea of the books’ orthodoxy (or lack thereof). I found this thread

in which the poster gave their opinion of several publishers (and from what I can gather, I agree with the poster) but there are many others I have come across. He includes Ignatius, Sophia, Basilica, Tan, OSV, Emmaus Road, Image, Servant, and Scepter as ‘Good Publishers’ and Paulist Press, Notre Dame, Crossroad, and secular publishing houses as ‘Bad Publishers’, although he comments regarding secular publishing houses that “they do occasionally publish some good authors, like Scott Hahn.” Would everybody tend to agree with these? Also, what is your opinion of St. Anthony Messenger, Twenty-Third, Ave Maria, Liturgical, Sheed & Ward, Herder & Herder, ACTA, Loyola Univ. Press, Liguori, Newman, and Queenship (and any others you can think of)? Which ones would you say are your top five, especially after obvious ones like Ignatius and OSV? Which publishers would you include on the ‘obvious’ list?

Many thanks for your help

Be sure to add Baronius Press to the good list!

Part I

It’s difficult to make sweeping generalizations in regards to Publishing companies. Not only does each company offer many different titles, but you have to consider the publication date as well (For example, Sheed & Ward used to be excellent, but now they’re pretty bad). I tend to use five categories rather than two (Good, Mostly Good, Mixed, Mostly Bad, Bad). Of course, there are so many small publishers, it’s hard to keep track of everyone. And, of course, my knowledge is limited to those titles I have seen. But, I have some overall impressions that I will share. Here’s my list:

*]Ignatius Press - I don’t think I’ve seen them publish a questionable book
*]Ascension Press - newer and smaller than Ignatius, but still very solid
*]Emmaus Road - small, but 100% solid; Publishing arm of Catholics United for the Faith.
*]Sapientia Press - very new, very small, but so far, so good; from Ave Maria University
*]St. Joseph Communications - specializes more in audio and video, but they are certainly solid (any company that carries over 100 titles by Scott Hahn can’t be bad!)
*]San Juan Catholic Seminars - not really a publishing company per se, but they publish an awesome set of Apologetics booklets
*]Scepter Publishers - Admittedly, I know little about them, but most of the solid Catholics I know love the Navarre Bible and In Conversation With God series that they publish
*]Midwest Theological Forum - That they publish the Didache High School textbook series pretty much puts them right up at the top automatically
*]C.R. Publications - Small, but they have an excellent set of High School level texts (that could also be used for adults as well)
*]Sophia Institute Press - I have very few titles of theirs, but everything I’ve seen is solid

Mostly Good
*]OSV - Mostly right on, sometimes a little softer, but certainly not heretical
*]Pauline Books and Media - some of there stuff seems a little squishy to me, but it’s hard to categorize them as bad when they publish all the Pope’s encylicals and most of his Wednesday Audience compilations (such as Theology of the Body)
*]Queenship Publications - Although I haven’t personally seen a bad book by them, I put them under mostly good only because of the books they have on Medjugorje, which some Catholics have problems with it. Mark Miravalle’s “Introduction to Mary” is by far the best intro to Mary I have come across.
*]TAN Publishing - I can’t quite put my finger on it, but some of their stuff seems a little off to me. Most of their stuff on saints is great, though, and I’m totally open to being wrong on them and reclassifying them as Good.
*]Loyola Press - I’m not sure whether they belong here or in the “Mixed” category, but they’re “Six Weeks With the Bible” Bible Study series is surprisingly good. Thanks to Cardinal George, I think they are on their way to improving after some shaky years.
*]Liguori Publications - Most of what I’ve seen (especially the newer stuff) is pretty good, but I’ve also come across some of their older stuff which seems to be not so good.

Continued below…

Part II

*]St. Anthony Messenger Press - They are mixed primarily because they bought out Charis books in 2003 (and now use the name Servant Books for those titles). The Servant Books arm of SAMP is the one who publishes some of Kimberly Hahn’s books, for example. Some of the strictly SAMP stuff isn’t too terrible, but there is certianly better stuff out there.
*]St. Mary’s Press - They focus primarily on High School/Youth Ministry materials. As with most youth ministry programs, you get a sort of mixed bag. Their “Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth” is actually pretty decent, and they have some acceptable stuff for younger kids (Ready-To-Go Bible skits, etc.), but some of their stuff takes it a little too far (their Bible for Junior High School kids is the Good News Translation, for instance).
*]Sheed & Ward - Check the publication date: Before 1965 :thumbsup: ; after 1965 :frowning: . (Although there are a few of their newer titles that are okay, such as one by Peter Kreeft).
*]Liturgy Training Publications and The Liturgical Press - There’s some good and some not so good (which seems to be a general trend in liturgical things)
*]Most of the straight-up textbook companies (Sadlier, RCL/Benziger/Silver Burdett Ginn, Harcourt, Pflaum) tend to be a mix. Sadlier is the best of these and seems to be improving.

Mostly Bad
*]Twenty-Third Publications - Although I haven’t personally seen a book of theirs that I like, and I have serious issues with their main guy Bill Huebsch and his problematic interpretations of Vatican II, I classify them here instead of as Bad. The only redeeming quality I have seen is that their Threshold Bible Study has some notable endorsements from Archbishop Chaput, Cardinal George, and Scott Hahn. So, I defer to them in saying that at least they’re not *all *bad.
*]Liturgical Publications, Inc. - Their Bible Study is fluff at best.
*]Paulist Press - I do not have that much experience with them, but I know they’re not all bad.

*]Ave Maria Press - I’m definitely not a fan of these guys or their subsidiaries like Sorin Books (which, if possible, is even worse!). Any company that publishes books like God has no religion has got serious issues. Their high school textbooks are quite problematic as well.
*]ACTA Publications - I’m not too familiar with their stuff, but what I have seen seems none too good.

Hope this helps!

Just to prove that anyone can hit the mark on occassion if they are prolific enough, I came across Behold Your Mother: Priests Speak about Mary, published by Ave Maria Press. One of the chapters is written by Fr. Benedict Groeschel.

So I guess this means even the “Bad” publishers aren’t a total loss! :slight_smile:

Thank you, Joe, that will help me out a lot. :tiphat:

David :nerd:

What may also be helpful is one of Michelle Arnold’s articles:

How To Judge A Book By Its Cover

It gives tips on how to become more adept at evaluating a book without having to necessarily read the whole thing.

She answered a related question in a previous thread as well:

Hope this helps!

Bridegroom Press. Fairly new, very orthodox (they publish a calendar of indulgences every year). Steven Kellmeyer is head of the company and writes most of its books.

Check my signature!

you are talking about old books from publishers, or in most cases imprints, that either do not exist any more, or that have been sold to mainstream big business publishers or to other smaller houses, not all of which specialize in Catholic or religious material. What may have been an excellent reliable imprint or publisher in the days your work was published: Sheed and Ward, Image, Scepter etc. may have been purchased by a publisher whose line has changed drastically.

Also the copyrights and other rights to published authors that rank among the best Catholic writers of the last century may have been sold to publishers whose main line is contrary to the values of that writer.

bottom line you can’t compare the same publisher or imprint from say 1960, to today.

If your purpose in asking is to cull problematic material from your parish library, you would be better of researching authors than publishers.

Puzzleannie made some good points. That’s kind of what I was trying to get at in my first post, but she said it better. :slight_smile:

Back to Ave Maria Press, I forgot they’re the one’s who publish Fr. Thomas Green’s books on prayer (Opening to God, When the Well Runs Dry, Drinking From a Dry Well, etc.). His books are great. I may have to move them to my “mostly bad” list. :wink:

I should also say that most of my observations regarding publishers come only from the last ten years or so, so if you’re looking at predominantly older books, you may have to do a bit more digging regarding the author to find out what you can (as puzzleannie suggested).

When I come across a book that I’m unsure of and I can’t glean anything from the author name or who endorses the book, I usually look at the chapters or index and see if the book addresses Creation and the Fall or the Eucharist. If they get Original Sin or the Eucharist wrong, it’s hard to get anything else right. That’s just my opinion, though.

Yes, most in the books in our library are older. The reason I started to look at publishers was that I couldn’t find anything out about the authors. Even doing the widest search possible, ie typing their name in quotes into Google, nothing generally comes up but booksellers that sell used books. Unfortunately, most of our books are from the mid 60’s to the 80’s so I am worried about their orthodoxy, especially those without an impramatur.

Peace in Christ

Yes, that is a bit sketchy of a time period as far as Catholic books go :wink:

I always hesitate to throw out books even if they are heretical. You could always donate them to a Catholic Apostolate that answers questions on the faith (like Catholic Answers or Catholics United for the Faith) so they could use them to help refute them :slight_smile:

If you have any questions on particular books or authors (or a series of books), you could ask about them on the forum and see what response you get.

Do you happen to have the “On Our Way” textbook series from Sadlier? I know people who would pay good money for that one :slight_smile:

Roman Catholic Books

Baronius Press

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