Ask BHP: *Real* Miscellaneous Roundup

So, two weeks ago, on April Fool’s Day, I wrote a post with “answers” to commonly asked questions—all of them silly and made up. (You can check it out here.) A few readers who started out believing the post mentioned that they’d love to hear the real, non-April-1 answers, so that’s what this post is all about!

Why do you have so many covers with the model’s head cut off?

Fake Answer: The printer adjusts the covers and often cuts off the model’s head for space reasons.

Real Answer: Our books are printed exactly as they look on our design department computers (except for the fun details like embossing and textured covers), so no one is decapitating characters at the printers!

The reason for the headless person might be slightly different for each book—in one, we might want to draw attention to the heroine’s playful smile, in another it might add eeriness to a suspense novel, or in another case, it might just balance out the design better. But one common reason for showing only a partial glimpse of a character, or seeing him or her from behind, is so that readers can picture the character in their own way.

What is the Bethany House logo supposed to be?

Fake Answer: It’s a peapod or husk of grain in honor of Janette Oke books.

Real Answer: The Bethany House logo was designed to look like the nib of a fountain pen with a stylized flame inside of it, though some feel the angular part of the design looks more like an open book. But Janette Oke was our first fiction author, and we do love her and her books!

Who is Bethany, anyway?

Fake Answer: It comes from the Hebrew for “Living Oath.”

Real Answer: I think this was the one that fooled the most people! That etymology was completely made up. Bethany House used to be the publishing branch of a mission organization, Bethany International, a reference to the biblical city where Jesus’s friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived, and where Jesus taught and performed miracles. I’m told that “Bethany” actually means “house of welcome” or “house of figs.” The first fits our publishing office more than the second. (But also, our receptionist’s name is Bethany, which can get confusing when she answers the phone.)

What happens to a book when it goes out of print?

Fake Answer: We frame the cover in our Archive Room, along with reviews, then give it a Viking burial in a lake.

Real Answer: Honestly, this one just isn’t as exciting. We do have an Archive Room with copies of out-of-print books, all neatly organized and locked away, but there aren’t any fun rituals around a book going OP, other than some database changes and boring things like that. Maybe we should make one up!

What is the point of those annoying paper overlays on hardcover books?

Fake Answer: Dust jackets were developed during the Gilded Age as a prank and caught on.

Real Answer: Obviously, the point of a dust jacket is to protect a hardcover book from damage (although I also dislike them and usually end up getting rid of them). But a little deeper digging took me to this fascinating blog post on the history of the dust jacket. Short version: they began in the 1820s and 30s, but because they were originally meant to be disposable, early dust jackets are extremely rare and valuable to collectors. But it was in the Gilded Age that some dust jackets were printed with artwork, title, and author, so I’m claiming partial credit for my made-up nonsense.

How do your authors come up with their ideas?

Fake Answer: We have a plot generating machine to help authors overcome writer’s block.

Real Answer: The processes authors use to come up with story ideas varies as widely as those stories do, but the closest thing to the mythical Bethany House story idea generator is the fact that our editors often work with authors to hone their ideas before they start writing, and then offer suggestions to help them overcome plot holes or other issues that have them stumped. They’re certainly not artificial intelligence, but I think our editors’ problem solving skills are pretty advanced and worth bragging about anyway.

I hope these real answers help clarify some behind-the-scenes fun facts for you!

What was a favorite April Fool’s joke you experienced, either this year or in the past?

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