40 years ago today - Nov 21, 1978-Tuesday

[Leonard Arrington]
Elder Durham, in a reflective mood, explained the origin of Bookcraft. Ken Orton was employed with the Improvement Era and Dr. [John A.] Widtsoe told him, "Ken, you are too talented a person to be working for the Era and for the Church. You ought to get out where you can make yourself a better living." So he quit. This was about 1940 or 1941. He got an apartment house and other businesses, and did well. He was a large, heavy person"fat." After a few months Dr. Widtsoe was coming out with In the Gospel Net, privately published by him and printed by Zion's Press in Independence [Missouri]. This was to be distributed to family and friends as a Christmas gift. Ken Orton said, I have had experience in the Era in publishing; would you allow me to publish this for the Church trade if I formed a publishing firm to do it?" Dr. Widtsoe said yes. So he formed Bookcraft, and it consisted of himself and Bry Badger, who also had worked for the Era. They did well, and shortly [G.] Homer [Durham] had finished with The Family Kingdom, the sermons of John Taylor [1943]. They published that as the second book, and it did well. Homer said he got a check for $600, which was the first down payment on his house. This was 1941 or '42. They went on, of course, and published many books, and now have a big spreadPublishers Press, the Intermountain Bindery, and other enterprises. Ken later went [retired] to Arizona and died there [in 1959] at age 53. When Bry Badger went into the service in the 1940s, they brought in Marv Wallin. Marv stayed with them and of course he has made a great deal of money....

[Confessions of a Mormon historian : the diaries of Leonard J. Arrington, 1971-1997, Gary James Bergera, editor, Signature Books, 2018]

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