A temporary cease-fire has been declared between LDS Church-owned publisher and retailer Deseret Book and privately-owned Seagull Book & Tape.
Seagull Book, which last week was warned it could lose its nearly 20-year professional relationship with Deseret Book by the end of the month, said Wednesday it is given an extension to buy Deseret Book products through Aug. 31.
The reason: Both companies have begun discussions "to explore options for addressing long-standing differences" over how the Deseret Book brand and products are marketed, placed and promoted at Seagull's 26 stores nationwide, said Jon Kofford, Seagull's executive vice president, in a statement Wednesday. Seagull has 21 stores in Utah including seven in Utah County. Five others are in Mesa, Ariz.; Los Angeles and Oakland, Calif.; Boise and Idaho Falls, Idaho.
Seagull, which has between 200 and 300 employees companywide, declined to comment if any layoffs are planned.
Representatives of both companies declined to comment on details of the talks or the buyout speculation.
Seagull spokesman David Politis disputed earlier reports of the number of Deseret Book titles and audio products currently carried by Seagull but declined to provide estimates. He said Deseret Book isn't the only source of LDS product for the company.
Seagull, which is owned by the Kofford family, has been marketing Deseret Book products since its inception in American Fork in 1987, while Deseret Book has been carrying books published by Seagull's unit, Covenant Communications Inc. Founded in 1958, Covenant is owned by V. Lewis Kofford, who is also Seagull's president and CEO and majority owner.
And for now, both companies are continuing to carry each others' titles. For Jeffrey Lant, a BYU student who has been in Provo for four years, that's a good thing.
Lant, who was shopping at Seagull's store in Provo on Wednesday afternoon, said he would visit both Deseret Book and Seagull for different promotions and selections.
"We're at Seagull today because they have a promotion on children's books. They're going for between $1 and $3. But we go to Deseret Book more often because their product selection is bigger. Ultimately, it's nicer to have two options because different stores have different promotions," Lant said.
Founded in 1866, Deseret Book operates 43 stores nationwide including 20 in Utah. Five of the Utah stores are in Utah County. Deseret Book's line includes books by leaders of the LDS Church including church President Gordon B. Hinckley, and its products are available at Wal-Mart, Costco, Sam's Club, Smith's Food and Drug, Walgreens, Barnes and Noble, Borders, FYE Stores, Amazon.com, and hundreds of other retailers.
This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page B6.