Plough Publishing House, for decades the public voice of the New York-based Bruderhof Communities, went on what has been termed a “hiatus” Nov. 14.
The Bruderhof, which has 3,000 members living in 10 Christian intentional communities in the United States, Great Britain and Australia, has been known for its sometimes radical activist stances, fueled in part by some of the books the publishing house brought out.
The group, founded in the 1920s by German theologian Eberhard Arnold, formerly was affiliated with the communal Hutterian Brethren.
Sam Hine, who did marketing for Plough and now works on the communities’ Web sites, said the decision to close the publishing house was made in September. However, he said, this does not mean the firm is closed forever, only that its 40 workers were needed elsewhere while the group focuses on other objectives.
“It wasn’t a financial decision, but a matter of human resources,” Hine told Publishers Weekly. “We’re a church community first, and we are focusing on our core mission.”
In addition to its publishing work, which was part of the group’s original mission in pre-war Germany, the Bruderhof is involved in a variety of manufacturing interests, including toys and equipment for the disabled. They also operate Rifton Aviation, a New York-based premium air-charter service, while the Danthonia Bruderhof in Australia makes custom signs and marquees.
Hine, who lives at the Spring Valley Bruderhof near Farmington, Pa., said remaining stocks of the firm’s books will be available online or through bookstores.
The Bruderhof also plans to offer several free e-books on its Web site, www.bruderhof.org, where a small selection is already available.
Now that the publishing house and its affiliated magazine, Plough Reader, are no more, the Bruderhof will continue to voice its views on nonviolence, the death penalty and other issues through its Web site.
Hine said articles by Bruderhof leader J. Christoph Arnold – whose books were published by Plough – would be available online, along with other essays of interest.
Meanwhile, other publishers have been in contact with Plough about keeping some of its most popular titles in print.
Hine said the Plough bestseller She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall, written by the mother of the Columbine High School shooting victim, may be brought out by another publisher, along with other titles.
Plough also has published essays by Mumia Abu-Jamal, a Pennsylvania death-row inmate jailed for the killing of a police officer. Abu-Jamal’s cause, including calls for a new trial, has been a major social concern for the Bruderhof in recent years.
This article first appeared in the Mennonite Weekly Review.