We started BCC in 2004. That’s a very long time for any internet project, and I’ve been really lucky to be associated with some of the best Mormon writers and thinkers around. BCC is a joyful, faithful, troublemaking crowd and every day I read and learn things here that I couldn’t find anywhere else. I have become a better Mormon because of the minds and souls of the rest of you here. We’re proud of this community, but there’s always been the feeling that we could be doing more. So we’re expanding our efforts to build the community and engage with our faith in a new way. We’ve started a non-profit publishing company: BCC Press.
Let me explain a little bit of the thinking behind BCC Press. Over the last decade, online Mormon communities have thrived but they’ve also altered the way we talk about Mormonism and how we think about Mormonism. The traditional heavy lifting on Mormon thought has been — and still is — in the form of journal articles, dissertations, books — in other words, traditional long-form writing. But social media and online communities like BCC have shown that there are important conversations to be had about Mormonism in more informal ways. At the same time, social media present a casual and abbreviated form of talking about our religion that has had mixed results. Blog posts are short, but they are the “long form” of online writing. More common are the Facebook status updates, the tweets and other instant forms of communication that tend to favor emotional response over reason, that breeze over details in order to make a strong political point. These channels of communication are engineered to make us talk that way with each other, and they’re incredibly effective. They’re like sugared cereal — delicious and instantly satisfying.
But religious community can’t be sustained on the Captain Crunch of social media alone. In part, this is because social media platforms can engineer us to interact with others in ways that are unrealistic. Real-world friendships are hard. People aren’t always there to thumbs-up everything you say at all times of the day. Humanity doesn’t really work that way. Instead, wards have lots of people you don’t like, your family probably doesn’t understand you very well, and your friends constantly need to borrow your truck. Real communities are built on extending the hand of friendship despite an absence of immediate emotional gratification. Further, the topics we desperately need to talk about in our Church are extremely difficult. Refugees, sexual violence, loss of faith, scriptural exegesis, institutional racism, scriptural historicity, female spiritual leadership, evolutionary biology, international religious expansion — these pressing topics of our day are just too complicated and too important for us to take them lightly, to approach them with off-the-cuff reactions. They require reasoned arguments that consider multiple points of view, that build on prior work and expand it. They require a community broader than an echo chamber and a faith stronger than the crisis du jour. They require charity of thought and clarity of word. In other words, they require books. We require books.
Now, we have books already. There are excellent publishers out there and they will continue to exist. BCC Press has a few unique attributes. First, the BCC community already exists. This gives us an existing network of authors, editors, and experts in the various fields where writing is most needed. We hope to bring together new writers from all sorts of backgrounds, ethnicities and experiences, and we’ll use our existing community for bringing the books to light and talking about them in meaningful ways. Second, the BCC community needs to expand. We need more people talking about the topics that matter in ways that are interesting and novel, and we need to break out of the insular mentality that seems to plague most online communities. Third, BCC has always been independent and without a profit motive. The BCC Press is non-profit, a 501(c)(3) run by volunteers, and is engineered so that 100% of donations go to operations, and substantially all book revenues go to the authors once costs are recouped.
We are going to publish all kinds of books that tell the stories of Mormonism in really powerful ways. We will have memoirs, philosophical explorations, poetry, anthologies, history, and books that will evade the neat categories of genre. While we will print scholarly books, we’re not an academic press and won’t supplant those institutions. Neither are we quite like existing LDS publishers, though there’s probably some overlap in what we find interesting. We’re here to encourage Mormon writing in new ways and to grow the community. This an enormous experiment, just like BCC was in the first place, and we’re really excited about the possibilities ahead.
So here’s where we are today: we have our first book available right now in both print and e-book: Science the Key to Theology, by Steve Peck. Steve is one of my favorite authors and this book is a fascinating look at how the universe around us points to God (and vice versa). The title plays off Parley Pratt’s treatise, Key to the Science of Theology — and like Parley, Steve is not afraid to jump from the high diving board when exploring the universe. I can’t recommend it enough. Because we’re launching the press and Steve’s book together, we’re inaugurating both with a discount code of 20% off today. The code is VJV5RNU6 and you can use it on our BCC Press site. Soon we’ll have some further conversation here about the ideas he explores. Donors to the press will receive additional special discounts on books, by the way (please donate here). For information about the press, to submit manuscripts or ask questions, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyways, that’s our press in a nutshell. We’re pouring ourselves into this project. We want the press to be successful and to see it have a positive influence on the community. Thanks for tagging along.
UPDATE: I also want to highlight that Tracy McKay’s memoir will be our next forthcoming title. Tracy has an amazing voice and a very powerful story. Watch this space.