One moment I was browsing social media half-heartedly, allowing my brain to slow down from a rough day at work. The next, my brain was racing in a million directions, my imagination captured by a small, insignificant to most, announcement: the Sunrise Centenary Edition inventory was up for sale.
Books have fascinated me as far back as I can remember. Growing up on the mission field, we didn't have a library to browse through, so every book in the house, except those cryptic tomes in papa's office, was a precious treasure to be read and re-read. The best of these would be read together as a family, one chapter a day at the dinner table.
Books, like most of our clothes, toys, and that zenith of American cuisine: peanut butter, found their way into our excited hands through those marvelous treasure chests known to the outside world as care packages. One day an unknown angel included some innocent-looking books that would forever change my life: The Laird's Inheritance, The Fisherman’s Lady, etc.: wonderful retellings of MacDonald's work for today's readers by Michael Phillips.
George MacDonald quickly became a favorite around the house. The stories were exciting enough, but the underlying message was what really set them apart. And in my heart at least, the pages in these novels slowly began to stir mysterious channels. Could what MacDonald hinted at be the most authentic way to look at God? Could it be so simple, and yet so profound? Could I dare to believe it?
It took a few years to transition to the originals and then, one day I discovered the unedited reprints - the Sunrise Centenary Editions. The pinnacle of book heaven: not only were the words in these editions perfect reproductions of the originals; the books themselves were veritable works of art. Surely standard fare gracing the shelves of princely abodes in the next world!
When the opportunity to purchase the Sunrise Centenary Edition inventory appeared on my horizon, I immediately started to count the cost. Could I make the radical decision to start a new business and dedicate some of my time, already stretched to the breaking point, to pursue a dream like this? Would it be even possible financially? Would my wife, my wonderful partner in life get behind it?
Quickly everything started falling into place. My lovely wife immediately was supportive. Business had been fairly good the previous year, and the asking price was within our means. Having a technology background and with the amazing turn-key shops available through Shopify.com, it became apparent that setting up an online bookstore would not be very difficult.
However, the biggest obstacle to what we now call WisePathBooks.com came from a completely unexpected source: Michael and Judy Phillips. You see, the creators of the Sunrise Centenary Editions were not very eager to sell. They started questioning if this could really work. Why was I interested in doing it? Could I really afford it, or would it be a big financial blow? What if the books never sold? Did I have a space big enough to store them? They tried to talk me out of buying!
At first I didn't know what to make of it. Were they having second thoughts about selling the books? Or was it just selling to me that was the problem? But as the communications went back and forth I began to understand what was going on.
It slowly became apparent that Michael and his wife Judy are honest and true like you don't find in business these days. Their main concern was not to sell their book inventory, but rather they were concerned for the eventual buyer. If the financial or business burden would have been too much for me, they didn't want to put me in that situation, no matter how excited I was about it. So they questioned if I was ready in order to make sure they were doing the right thing in selling to me. I can honestly say this is the first time I've run into business dealings of this sort, outside of a MacDonald novel that is.
Another factor was also important in this business deal. Michael Phillips has been on a decades-long journey to bring the message of the Father's heart to recent generations, and he is tireless in that pursuit. Until more recently, he has been almost single-handedly carrying the torch of the message MacDonald reintroduced to the modern world. So, of course, Michael was cautious about whom he would partner with in selling the original reprints!
Even though I felt, and still feel, far from worthy of partnering with undoubtedly the most important writer in the MacDonald resurgence, I am deeply grateful to be here. I was able to meet and spend some exciting time with Michael and Judy, about which I may write at another time. WisePathBooks.com is now a reality, selling not only the Sunrise Centenary Editions but also other amazing books related to MacDonald. Who knows what the future holds for this little bookstore?