Send the Light

Send the Light (STL) is a British Christian book distributor which had absorbed other Christian publishers and bookshops, and eventually merged with the International Bible Society to become one of the largest non-profit book distributors in the world under the title of "IBS-STL Global".

Early history

The name “Send the Light” first appeared in 1957 as a Christian literature evangelism ministry sending copies of the Gospel of John from Chicago to Mexico, under the direction of George Verwer, then a student at Moody Bible Institute. Verwer later moved to Bolton in the UK, where he established Operation Mobilisation (OM), which today distributes Christian literature in many countries around the world. Verwer decided to keep the name “Send the Light” for one particular aspect of OM, exporting Christian books to India. As STL, this developed into a general distributor of Christian books, and relocated to Bromley in Kent.

Rise to Prominence

In January 1986, Keith Danby was made chief executive of STL. Danby had a background in finance and by introducing stock catalogues, a free telephone number and next-day deliveries he increased turnover by 52% in one year. In 1988 he set up an independent board for STL which separated it from the governance of OM, and the following year the company relocated to Carlisle. In the 1990s STL began to expand its interests.

In 1992 an old Christian publisher, Paternoster Press, was acquired, and the first Wesley Owen Books and Music shop was opened in Bromley. The intention was to create a “Christian Waterstone's” which would be more professional than many of the Christian bookshops then found in the UK. The following year STL took over the Church of Scotland shops, the Evangelical Christian Literature (ECL) shops, and the Scripture Union shops. Danby explained that STL’s aim was to show “excellence combined with Christian compassion”.

In 1993 OM released STL to operate as a separate organisation to allow it top concentrate on the publishing and distribution of Christian literature. [] .

In 2001 it acquired Word UK, which produces books, music and videos. STL is now the largest Christian organisation dealing with books in the UK. STL remains a charity, and in 2001 was listed as the 74th largest one in the UK. STL is also the main gateway for several of the biggest American Christian publishers, including Tyndale House, Zondervan, Moody Books, Baker Books, and Multnomah.

Entering the American Market

In 2003 STL moved into the US market by acquiring OM_Literature. It has also purchased the distributor FaithWorks, and in 2005 it bought its largest acquisition, Appalachian Distributors Inc. The CEO of STL USA is David Passman.

Merger with the International Bible Society

In January 2007, Send the Light merged with the International Bible Society providing a truly global reach. The result is the creation of one of the largest non-profit book distributors in the world. The STL leaders set a target for when the merger went through on 1st March 2007 of having “a Bible for everyone on Earth”. The new organisation is known as "IBS-STL Global"


* Stuart Arnold, "Power, Value and the Future: A Study of the UK Christian Book Trade", MBA Thesis: University of Bath, 1996.
* Richard Bartholomew, “Religious Mission and Business Reality: Trends in the Contemporary British Christian Book Industry”, in "The Journal of Contemporary Religion", 20 (1), 2005, 41-54.
* Jana Reiss, In Surprise Move, STL Buys Appalachian Distributors in "Publishers Weekly", 13 July 2005.
* “STL – Christian Compassion and the Pursuit of Excellence”, in "The Bookseller", 22 October, 1993, 14-15.
* Kenneth Taylor, "My Life: A Guided Tour: The Autobiography of Kenneth N. Taylor", Wheaton: Tyndale, 1991.

External links

* [ STL's website (trade customers)]
* [ STL's USA website]
* [http://www.appalink/ STL/Appalachian Distributors]
* [ STL/Authentic - Publishing for the Global Community]
* [ STL/FaithWorks - Sales, Marketing, Order Fulfillment, and Credit & Collection Services]
* [ STL/International]
* [ STL/Great Value Books - High Discounted Products]

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