My post last week caught the attention of Mr. Willie MacKenzie, the Director of Publishing at Christian Focus (publishers of Graham Beynon’s new book Planting for the Gospel). Here is his clarification of what happened:
The process started early in 2010 with the cover designer, a solid, respected and honourable Christian friend of mine, using an unrestricted image from istockphoto.com. We agreed the design by late summer/early autumn. The book went on to be promoted by our sales team throughout autumn & winter and was published in January 2011. We first discovered that your title used the same image at a conference we attended this March. Obviously it is not something we would have wanted, but our perspective is that the books are not similar, ours being a small A format on Church planting whereas yours is a much larger discipleship training workbook. It was a comfort that the two books come from two authors and two publishers that share very similar theological outlooks.
It was most definitely not our intention to “rip off” anyone’s design, nor would we have progressed with the design had we known that your book was in print – although I am not precisely certain when your work was published . It was not in anyone’s interest to have this clash of designs. I would be grateful if you could amend the blog message you put up and perhaps blog a clarifying post to defend our reputation as a publisher, the reputation of our author and that of the cover designer.
In all other respects we are thankful for the publication of your workbook, I looked at it closely when I was at the Gospel Coalition and it looks a tremendously useful resource, it’s our desire that both your book and ours will be used mightily for the furtherance of God’s Kingdom.
Based on this clarification, I am happy to defend the integrity of Christian Focus and of the individuals involved in the design and production of Beynon’s book. It seems clear that the design overlap was entirely coincidental – a possibility which I acknowledged in my initial post. I am pleased to affirm that they did not “rip off” our design. This kind of thing happens, unfortunately, when designers use stock unrestricted images. And if we’re going to share design similarities with anyone, we’re thrilled to do so with the good people at Christian Focus, who share our theological convictions and our zeal for gospel renewal.
I’m hoping to get my hands on a copy of Beynon’s book soon so I can review it here. (Incidentally, Christian Focus publishes one of our favorite Christian children’s books, which we reviewed last year.)