I was recently asked on Twitter around/about something I am regularly asked about. For those who don’t know, I currently seek to serve the church and connect with the academy through my work at IVP (Inter-Varsity Press) as Editorial Director, wherein I have the privilege of overseeing our series and academic publishing, as well as looking after the Apollos Imprint. That said, other than the historical facts, the below should be seen as a personal opinion piece by me.
I’ve already used several bits of publishing lingo, so let me back up and start from the beginning (Sort of).
This blog post is going to require the important distinction between a publisher and an imprint. Here are the definitions I’m working with:
- Publisher: a company or person that prepares and issues books, journals, or music for sale. [For our purposes, the company/organisation is key]
- Imprint: a brand name under which books are published, typically the name of a former publishing house that is now part of a larger group. [For our purposes, brand name is key]
Thus, there are two companies in existence who would or could be referred to as IVP, one based in the UK in London (for which I work) and the other based in the USA in Illinois, for which I do not work but count several employees as friends!
Back in 1928 the organisation now known as UCCF (The Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship) was called the Inter-Varsity Fellowship – a collection of Christian student groups. In 1928 the first booklets from the fledgling organisation appeared – these were published with ‘IVF’ on the spine. Space precludes me from a full history of the ‘thing’, but on the other side of the Atlantic, in the USA, an InterVarsity Fellowship (note the extra capital and lack of a hypen – those Americans, eh?) was emerging, echoing the British one. By 1947, the American IVF had started it’s own publishing arm – the InterVarsity Press. As a Brit serving the older and original IVP, I refer to them as IVP-USA, and note that the American IVP was initially very reliant on IVP-UK (or, in English English, just IVP) authors and books to serve their growing campus ministry. In 1974 the Inter-Varsity Fellowship (in the UK) helpfully changed it’s name to ‘The Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship’ (UCCF), but did not change the name of IVP. To add an additional layer of complexity and confusion, the Tyndale Commentaries started appearing in (I THINK) the 1960’s. At this time, there was a research division of IVF called Tyndale House (Which continues to this day as an independent charity) – and so ‘The Tyndale Press’ was the imprint that these commentaries, which brought evangelical hermeneutics into the mainstream of theological education, sat under. For a number of years the Tyndale Old and New Testament Commentaries were published by IVP in the UK and around the world, and by Eerdmans in the USA. In recent years it has been IVP-USA in the USA – with a share cover design, green for the NT and purple for the OT. The ‘Tyndale Press’ imprint was retired – and there is another, entirely separate American publisher called Tyndale House.
Apologies, I digressed down a Tyndale shaped tangent, but to recap (And to introduce a few IVP key history dates in, too):
- 1928 – Inter-Varsity Fellowship in the UK starts publishing small booklets
- 1936 – Ronald Inchley was appointed as the first Publications Secretary
- 1947 – InterVarsity Press in the USA begins (primarily distributing Inter-Varsity Press books and authors – the story can be found in Heart, Soul, Mind, Strength)
- 1953 – New Bible Commentary Published (now in it’s 3rd edition)
- 1956 – First two volumes of the Tyndale New Testament Commentary published – James and Thessalonians.
- 1968 – Books start being universally branded ‘IVP‘ rather than ‘IVF’
- 1974 – Inter-Varsity Fellowship in the UK renames itself UCCF, IVP remains as IVP
- 1986 – IVP marks 50 years since Ronald Inchley’s appointment, John Stott’s The Cross of Christ published.
- 1989 [edit NOT 2000, which is a date on the earliest email I’ve seen internally!] – I believe this is when the first books on the Apollos Imprint began to appear.
At some point, a variety of publishers who don’t work primarily in the English language have begun to publish books licensed for translation (And presumably local content – I don’t know!), and use the name IVP – though, in my dealings with them, it is usually clear that it is (for example) IVP-Korea, for the Korean entity (Which is usually linked to a national student movement, and certainly independent of IVP here in the UK.
At present, across the two English-speaking IVPs, there are (As I understand it!) the following imprints:
For IVP (the one in the UK that I work for) this is two imprints:
- ivp – Christian living books, evangelistic resources and bible study tools, by evangelical Christians for anyone with a faith or on a journey towards Jesus. This includes the Bible Speaks Today series of expositions (On Old Testament, New Testament, and Themes running through Scripture) and the Tyndale Old and New Testament Commentary series. We also put most of our reference works on this imprint historically, though this is starting to shift, beginning with the 2nd edition of the Dictionary of Paul and His Letters in 2023 (Which we license from IVP-USA and is on their ivp Academic imprint).
- Apollos – publishing more academic work in biblical studies and related disciplines. Key series include the New Studies in Biblical Theology series (licensed to IVP-USA for North American consumers) and the Apollos Old Testament Commentary (Which, along with the BST Themes series, is no longer licensed by IVP-USA).
For IVP-USA, there are four imprints (though this blog post from 2009 has a couple of others that I assume are discontinued)
- ivp – Christian living books, from evangelism/apologetics, to bible studies.
- ivp Academic – IVP-USA’s academic imprint, including reference and series, including in the USA the Tyndale, BST and NSBT series. There is some overlap between ivp-Academic and what is published on the two IVP imprints in the UK! Echoing IVP-USA’s close links to IVF-USA, this includes academic books from disciplines that IVP/Apollos in the UK don’t publish into.
- ivp Kids – self explantory, this is children’s books from IVP-USA.
- ivp Formatio – books with a ‘spiritual formation’ slant. This can range from books which we at IVP in the UK would publish, through to ones we wouldn’t, or haven’t.
I hope that these summaries are fair – I’d welcome comments from colleagues and friends in the USA about whether I’m representing things fairly.
For the reader in the UK, there is a further complexity in that IVP is part of the larger ‘SPCK Group’, which publishes books on imprints including one called ‘SPCK’, and also has a business division that sells books from a number of American publishers into the UK and EU – including, you guessed it, IVP-USA!
I HOPE that this blog post goes some way to explaining why there are different publishers/imprints (or companies/brands) called IVP – and start to explain that with two distinct but linked by history and ongoing shared publishing in some cases that understanding different IVP imprints might help readers work out what they are getting.
I’d welcome comments – this sort of publishing minutiae is fascinating to me, and I can’t cover everything in one post.