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Signature Books is a press specializing in subjects related to Utah, Mormonism, and Western Americana. The company was founded in 1980 by George D. Smith and Scott Kenney and is based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Contents

History

In the late 1970s, Scott Kenney decided there needed to be a Mormon press that didn’t have political ties to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and in 1980 he and a few investors created Signature Books and in 1981 published its first book, Saintspeak by Orson Scott Card. Several of Signature Books' publications have won awards from the Association for Mormon Letters, the John Whitmer Historical Association, the Mormon History Association, the Mountain West Center for Western Studies, and the Utah Center for the Book. Among those present at Signature Books inception were George D. Smith and Scott Kenney, assisted by a distinguished board of directors composed of historians and business leaders: Eugene E. Campbell, Everett L. Cooley, David Lisonbee, D. Michael Quinn, Allen Dale Roberts, and Richard S. Van Wagoner; and a similarly impressive editorial board: Lavina Fielding Anderson, Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, Davis Bitton, Orson Scott Card, and Jay Parry.

Present

Signature Books produces from eight to ten books a year, which deal with topics of western and Mormon history, fiction, essay, humor and art. Among these are the diaries of Mormon leaders such as Joseph Smith, William Clayton, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, L. John Nuttall, Anthon H. Lund, John Henry Smith, Rudger Clawson, B. H. Roberts and Reed Smoot. Noted studies of the best early Mormon theologians such as James E. Talmage, B. H. Roberts, Orson Pratt, Parley P. Pratt, Brigham Young, John Widtsoe and award winning biographies of significant early Mormons such as, Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor and thirty three of the plural wives of Joseph Smith.

Controversy

A number of books produced by the publisher related to Mormon history have been considered controversial. Some authors view this as "quality liberal thinking on controversial LDS topics."[1] Terryl Givens states that the publisher is "the main vehicle for publications that challenge the borders of Mormon orthodoxy."[2]

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Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS)

The publisher is sometimes viewed as being at odds with the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), a collaboration of Mormon scholars and apologists devoted to defending orthodox Mormon historical scholarship. Author Simon Southerton referred to Signature Books as "a perennial thorn in the side of FARMS."[3] One example was Signature Book's publication of Grant Palmer's book An Insider's View of Mormon Origins. The publication of this book immediately resulted in five negative book reviews by FARMS.[4] Ron Priddis of Signature Books responded to these reviews by stating: "Is nothing beyond the reach of sarcasm by FARMS polemicists?", while referring to the book reviews by FARMS as "tabloid scholarship." [5]

At one point in early 1991, FARMS claims that Signature Books threatened a lawsuit over several reviews of its books that appeared in the Review on Books of the Book of Mormon.[6] The item which initiated the lawsuit threat was a book review published by Stephen E. Robinson in which he characterized Signature Books by stating, "Korihor's back, and this time he's got a printing press...In its continuing assault upon traditional Mormonism, Signature Books promotes with its recent and dubiously titled work..."[7] Signature Books asserts that several of the scholars who participated in New Approaches considered themselves active and participating members of the LDS faith. Several of the FARMS reviewers portrayed these authors as opponents to the LDS tradition. Signature management made an inquiry with the FARMS management and pointed out that such inferences were insulting and could be considered libelous. Signature then requested a retraction. To the staff of Signature Books, “the assertion that Signature threatened a lawsuit seems far reaching.”[8]

In 2004, Signature Books posted on its web site a speech given by John Hatch before the Sunstone Symposium titled "Why I No Longer Trust the FARMS Review of Books." Hatch said, "After reading the (FARMS) reviews myself, it appears to me, and is my opinion, that FARMS is interested in making Mormonism's past appear as normal as possible to readers by attacking history books that discuss complex or difficult aspects of the church's past. As one who hopes to some day contribute to the body of the New Mormon History, I am deeply troubled by what I see as continued efforts to attack honest scholarly work."[9] A news item posted on Nov. 16, 2006 titled “FARMS is at it Again” responds to an article published in the FARMS Review by Dr. David G. Stewart Jr. by stating: “It goes to show that Stewart is smarter than the so-called experts, who don't know much of anything—a complaint one often hears from FARMS.”[10]

Notes

  1. ^ Ostling & Ostling 2000, p. 353
  2. ^ Givens 2002, p. 296 note 123
  3. ^ Southerton 2004, pp. 148-149
  4. ^ Cobabe 2003
  5. ^ Priddis, Ron. "A Reply to FARMS and the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute". Signature Books. http://www.signaturebooks.com/excerpts/insider's4.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-01.  
  6. ^ Peterson 1992
  7. ^ Robinson 1991
  8. ^ Template:Tom Kimball
  9. ^ Midgley 2004 Although Hatch's essay was present on the Signature Books website on 24 April 2004, it has since been removed.
  10. ^ FARMS Is At It Again, November 16, 2006, http://www.signaturebooks.com/news.htm#stewart, retrieved 2007-05-17  

References

External links


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