Doubleday/Image Paperbacks; A “Jesuit’s Jesuit” & Ignatius Press

A portion of my theology library is made up of Doubleday/Image paperbacks. In the 1950’s they published many works of Catholic theology & philosophy — St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, Jacques Maritain, G.K. Chesterton, all nine volumes of F.C. Copleston’s History of Philosophy, et. al. — under the slogan “making the world’s finest Catholic literature available to all.” Good stuff, and more importantly affordable too, considering the typical budget of a college student.

According to the history of Image Press’ parent company Doubleday Books:

The business became known as Doubleday & Company in 1946. Anchor Books created by Jason Epstein in 1953, was the first line of distinguished trade paperback books in the industry. Shortly thereafter a Catholic publishing program was started by John Delaney. By 1955 the program had expanded to cover other religions, which soon led to the Image line of trade paperbacks. . . . Doubleday was sold to Bertelsmann, AG, a Germany-based worldwide communications company in 1986.

Unfortunately, as the decades progressed the content of Image’s selection of Catholic authors and literature greatly deteriorated (some might add, concurrent to the decline of just about everything else in Western civilization). 1 But to this day, I still take delight in visiting a used bookstore or rummage sale and discovering old Image paperbacks.

* * *

By way of Gen X Revert comes a fitting tribute to Fr. Joseph Fessio by John Mallon, contributing editor of Inside The Vatican and occasional blogger (“Mallon’s Media Watch”).

Of Fr. Fessio’s many accomplishments, the one for which I am most appreciative is the founding of Ignatius Press (now celebrating their 25th anniversary). With the lamented decline of Image/Doubleday, Ignatius Press is one of the prevalent publishers to have “picked up the reigns,” becoming one of the finest publishers of “the world’s finest Catholic literature” in existence today.

I consider them an especially great blessing to Catholics here in the United States due to the fact that they are largely responsible for publishing the works of Cardinal Ratzinger in english, not to mention Henri De Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Cardinal Schönborn, Pope John Paul II, as well as the saints and the fathers of the Church. So if you’re feeling particularly thankful, drop ’em an email! 2

Ignatius Press - Catholic Books

  1. Catholics who favor Hans Küng, Fr. Greeley, or Anthony De Mello will probably differ from my assessment and think this a remarkable improvement in Image Press’ editors. At the same time, I would think Doubleday’s recent publishing of the “lightning-paced, intelligent” religious thriller The DaVinci Code bolsters my position.
  2. This blog is a purely voluntary endorsement — after all, God knows whether this website would even exist, were it not for an initial introduction to the good Cardinal through Ignatius Press.

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