HarperCollins Christian Published Kevin Malarkey's Second Book

Today, HarperCollins Christian Publishers released a marketing email for their heaven tourism book, Heaven Is for Real, in the face of the failure of Tyndale House’s book The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven. In short, HCC is standing behind the Colton and Todd Burpo’s story.
As it turns out, another one of HCC’s authors is Kevin Malarkey, the author of the now discredited The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven.
Marlarkey’s second book (with agent Matt Jacobson), titled Beautiful Defeat, is available now on the HCC website.
Alex Malarkey’s retraction undermined the credibility of the entire enterprise involving Kevin Malarkey and Matt Jacobson and so I wonder if the collapse of The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven presents any problems for HCC.
 

HarperCollins Christian Publishing Really Wants You to Know Their Heaven Story Is For Real

Publisher HarperCollins Christian want to make sure you believe their heaven story at same time Alex Malarkey has retracted his. In an email that was delivered today, HCC stands by the story in Heaven Is for Real.

     I stand by my story found in my book Heaven is for Real. – Colton Burpo            
FaithGateway
Today
The subject of heaven has been making headlines this month after teenager Alex Malarkey, who had claimed to have visited heaven when he was 6-years old and in a coma, and had a book based on his experience, revealed that he lied. In light of the recent press, Colton Burpo, the subject of the book-turned-movie Heaven is for Real (published by Thomas Nelson, owned by our same parent company), has come out with a statement that he stands by his story.  “I know there has been a lot of talk about the truth of other Heaven stories in the past few days,” says Burpo. “I just wanted to take a second and let everyone know that I stand by my story found in my book ‘Heaven is for Real,'” Burpo says.We’ve published the full excerpt of Colton’s statement for you today, and to read more of Colton’s story, we have a free download of the first few chapters of the newly revised and updated, Heaven Changes Everything: The Rest of Our StoryDownload this sampler today! What does the Bible say about Heaven? Jesus mentions Heaven about seventy times in the book of Matthew alone. It appears from the very first verse in Genesis- “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”- to the last reference found at the end of Revelation- “He showed me the great city… descending out of heaven from God” (Revelation 21:10 NKJV). In fact, there are Bible verses about heaven in fifty-four of the sixty-six books in the Bible. These Bible verses about Heaven are our only authoritative source of information about Heaven, and we can learn much from the Scriptures. The Bible says heaven is for real. We invite you to dive deeper into the topic of heaven by reading some of these recent FaithGateway blog posts and Bible studies: 
Bible Verses about Heaven: What the Scriptures Say 
Can We Be Sure We Are Going to Heaven? by Billy Graham
What Makes Heaven Heavenly? by Max Lucado
Bible Study: The Story of Heaven by Max Lucado and Randy Frazee

This went out in an email today to subscribers to the HarperCollins list.  A free download of portions of the book is available.

Free Download

Get an exclusive download from Heaven Changes Everything: The Rest of Our Story

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Claim your free download now!

The following note has been referred to in other online publication but was sent out today from the publisher:

A Note from Colton Burpo
by Colton BurpoMeet Colton BurpoDear Friends,
I know there has been a lot of talk about the truth of other Heaven stories in the past few days. I just wanted to take a second and let everyone know that I stand by my story found in my book Heaven is for Real. I still remember my experience in Heaven. I want to keep telling people about my experience because it has given hope to so many people.
People may have their doubts about my story, but the thing is, I wasn’t coaxed into doing this.  I wanted to tell people about my experience. In fact, I started sharing my story with my friends and people in our town way before there was a book called Heaven is for Real.
I hope that my story continues to point people to Jesus.  

He really, really loves you.
I Believe in heaven

HarperCollins has discounted the books and even has a new edition available with “the rest of the story.”

Save 40% off Heaven Changes Everything: The Rest of Our Story for one week only!

Heaven Changes Everything by Todd and Sonja BurpoRegular Price: $15.99 Sale Price: $9.59
Buy Now
There’s so much more to the story.Todd and Sonja Burpo’s almost-four-year-old son Colton made an unforgettable trip to heaven and back during the darkest, most-stressed-out days of their lives. Times were tough, money was scarce and the bills, frustrations, and fears were piled high. The story of Colton’s visit to heaven changed their lives—and the book they wrote about it, Heaven Is for Real, gave new hope to millions of readers.In Heaven Changes Everything, the Burpos share details about their experience and about Colton’s visit to heaven that they weren’t able to include in the original story or in the Sony Pictures release of theHeaven Is for Real movie. Practical and inspiring, the short essays shed light on living with a miracle and the afterlife, each ending with a relevant scripture. Listen in as Todd, and for the first time ever Sonja, from her perspective as a mom, show you how believing heaven is for real helps us survive hardships here on earth, including the death of a loved one or the loss of a child through tragedy, miscarriage, or even abortion. 
This newly revised edition offers bonus material including:

  • New foreword
  • Never-before-seen family photos
  • Favorite scenes from the movie
  • Q&A section 

Come see how heaven can indeed touch earth and change everything.   
Learn more about 
Heaven Changes Everything: The Rest of the Story….

The marketing never ceases. At Heaven Is for Real Ministries, you can get the DVD signed by Todd and Colton Burpo.
For Real Yo.
 
 

More Reasons Tyndale House Should Have Investigated Obvious Problems with The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven

(See update at the end of the post)
If you are reading this, there is pretty good chance you know that Tyndale House decided to stop printing The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven. The boy, Alex Malarkey, suffered a horrific car accident when he was six years old but has recently retracted his story about going to and coming back from heaven. The fallout has been an intense media storm.
A good overview of the controversy was published yesterday by the UK Guardian. That paper has some of the communications between Alex Malarkey’s mother and Tyndale House along with Tyndale House’s latest statements on the subject.
A good source for much of the email exchange in 2012 in which Beth Malarkey asked Tyndale to pull the book from print is at Phil Johnson’s blog. At the end of that exchange, Jan Harris Long publisher at Tyndale House said:

Even if we could make a case for breaking our contract, the book could (and probably would) be back in print with another publisher within a few weeks. So I don’t think that would achieve your goal.

In those emails, Beth Malarkey made a pretty good case that Tyndale should investigate the facts in the book and ask Kevin Malarkey and the book agent some hard questions. Mrs. Malarkey also provided the identity of people mentioned in the book and expressed doubts that those people were interviewed for the project. In other words, leads were given that would have allowed Tyndale to investigate claims in the book. After all, when Mark Driscoll was accused of plagiarism, Tyndale launched an investigation of those allegations. Clearly, Beth Malarkey’s allegations were as serious, if not more so, than those leveled against Driscoll. Last night, I asked Tyndale House if the company conducted an investigation. No replies to my questions as yet.
According to the email exchange, the problems with the story go back to the beginning. In one of the emails, Beth Malarkey said Tyndale employees had heard Alex protest about the inclusion of angels and heaven in the story when he was being interviewed for the book. On April 23, 2012, Beth Malarkey wrote:

From: beth malarkey
Sent: Monday, April 23, 2012 6:46 PM
To: Jan Long Harris
Subject: RE: innaccuracies
Sorry., but I had one more thought….you guys were here. On November 3 & 4, 2009, I had to pull Alex into the room to help him calm down. Some of the team from tyndale were asking him questions about heaven and angels. He made it clear that he did not want a book going in that direction and that he was not supposed to tell. I  tried to ask the team members to please not push him on the matter just because Alex had seen things  and he was a child. It was made clear soon after that that the title choice and cover picture were not going to be decided by Alex anyway. I am guessing that in November the direction of the story was pretty much already determined just not directly stated to Alex. So you see, Alex has spoken directly to team members before…..

Jan Harris Long replied that she was unaware of Alex’s feelings about including heaven and angels. However, if Beth Malarkey is correct, then someone at Tyndale knew the book did not properly reflect the sentiment of the child author. Tyndale had more than enough to go on in 2012 to launch an investigation.
On February 24, 2013, Beth Malarkey again wrote to Jan Harris Long claiming that Alex was being exploited.

From: beth malarkey
Sent: Sunday, February 24, 2013 5:23 PM
To: Jan Long Harris
Subject: Re: Conference call?is
Dear Jan,
It has been almost a year since my last correspondence with your group. I have learned much and gained much strength as I continue on this journey. I did receive more phone calls after that last email that I exchanged with you, as well as some mail, but i really saw no point in forwarding those things onto your group. I was extremely disappointed that all that seemed to want to be accomplished was some changes to materials to try to improve what was claimed to be(by me)inaccurate. The real issues of what was being done (and is still being done) with my son never really seemed to be a concern. I was told that Kevin is in contract with you, which I am guessing is the reason that he was forwarded all the emails that I sent to you.(He told me that he was sent each page). His threats of not being believed if I spoke up seem to be true.  I was told by you that you can not tell someone how to spend their money. I am ALex Malarkey’s mom and only caregiver but yet I am not allowed to know what legal contracts were signed with my minor, dependent child’s name possibly on them? If he is indeed a coauthor, he would be entitled to at least 50% of the royalties. Have any checks been written to him? He is a medicaid recipient and can not have money so if money has been sent to him, where is it? How can all of this be allowed to go on?? This is not an issue of just truth not being told but something much deeper and yet it being promoted and encouraged. I have sought much counsel on the matter and the one thing that I can do is take care of my kids and tell the truth. This is not something that a child needs to be asked about but adults need to examine very closely for the possible wrongs and then take action. A child is being exploited and that is truth. His name is being used on materials that are selling because people believe they are reading his words, and that he is benefiting financially from the sales of the materials, neither of which is true.

Long wrote back on March 4 to say she was sorry the book was a source of distress. Long indicated that she had taken up some of Malarkey’s questions with the book agent, Matt Jacobson, although she didn’t disclose Jacobson’s answers. She told Malarkey that the reason Kevin Malarkey was getting the royalties is because he entered into the contract with Tyndale House. Long promised to send Alex royalties if Kevin allowed it contractually. Apparently that never happened. I have made efforts to contact Kevin Malarkey with no success.
By this time, Beth Malarkey had made a clear case for exploitation and Tyndale House had grounds to launch an investigation, not only about the facts of the book but the exploitation of the minor child being used to sell the book. It is amazing that this was allowed to go on for as long as it did. Given the information now available, it appears that the ball is again in the court of Tyndale House and their contractual partners. The burden is on them to try to make things right with those they have used and duped.
UPDATE: Yesterday, Tyndale House released a statement to Christianity Today and on their website.
Tyndale said that they put the book on “out-of-print status” and informed retailers that products could be returned. Regarding what the publisher knew and when, Tyndale said:

While it was only this past week that Alex Malarkey retracted his story, leading to Tyndale’s immediate decision to take the book out of print, our editors had tried on multiple occasions to meet with the family to correct any perceived inaccuracies,” stated Tyndale. “On several occasions in 2012, Tyndale reached out to Beth Malarkey to schedule a meeting to respond to a list of alleged inaccuracies in the book. After originally agreeing to a meeting, Mrs. Malarkey sent us an email on May 22, 2012, saying that, out of concern for her son, she no longer wished to meet.

As I demonstrated above, if Beth Malarkey’s allegations are true (and they were not denied by Tyndale at the time), Tyndale’s process from the beginning was flawed. The boy did not want material regarding heaven and angels in the book, and yet claims about heaven and angels make up a large part of the book. Alex Malarkey did not co-write the book and, according to his mother, protested at least some of the content from the beginning. Tyndale has yet to address this claim from Alex’s mother.
Furthermore, as I demonstrate above, the May 22, 2012 email was not the last effort Alex’s mother made to reach out to Tyndale. Again in 2013, she wrote to Jan Harris Long and asked for help to end the exploitation of her son.
Tyndale’s statement ends with the May 22 email as if Malarkey’s decision not to meet on Tyndale’s terms was decisive and sufficient to relieve them of obligation. However, Malarkey did reach out again. Also, in my opinion, Tyndale’s responsibility to investigate the claims made by Malarkey was not relieved by Malarkey’s May 22, 2012 email.  She had already given them sufficient information to prompt an investigation.

Tyndale House Talks to the Guardian (UK) About The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven; Emails Indicate Tyndale House Knew Details About Exploitation

I will have some observations and other questions about this article in the UK Guardian today about The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven.
As I read this and examine the research I have, it seems to me that Tyndale House still hasn’t confronted the seriousness of this situation. Their credibility was seriously compromised by their dealings with Mark Driscoll over plagiarism. This situation should prompt some serious public disclosures and changes.
UPDATE: I have obtained a series of emails between Beth Malarkey and Tyndale House. While I am not sure that I have all of them, I can confirm that Mrs. Malarkey alerted Tyndale House in April 2012 about numerous problems of fact in the book The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven. Beyond fact problems, Alex’s mother protested the exploitation of her son. Mrs. Malarkey asserted that Alex expressed to Tyndale visitors before the book was published that he didn’t want elements of the story to be published. Those elements were published anyway.
I am still working my way through them and will publish some material in another post soon. I have also asked Tyndale House yet again for their side of the matter.

In Light of Problems with The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, Lifeway Christian Stores Pledge to Evaluate Products

In the wake of Alex Malarkey’s retraction and The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven fiasco, it seems natural to wonder about the other “heavenly tourism” books (e.g., Heaven is for Real, 90 Minutes in Heaven). According to the tweet embedded below from Janet Mefferd, it appears that Lifeway Christian Stores might move toward an examination of such titles in the future.


Note the last sentence about being proactive in the next few months. That sentence was added to the original statement I was given by Lifeway when they pulled the few copies they had. The statement to Mefferd addresses the need to review other books in the days to come.
I asked Martin King, Director of Communications whether or not the heavenly tourism titles might also be reviewed, and he replied that he had nothing more to share on that topic at this point.
I suspect that the other books in this genre will receive heightened scrutiny over the next several weeks.

Has Tyndale House Recalled the Boy Who Came Back From Heaven?

I know the publisher has said the book was pulled from print. However, at least some retailers continue to sell the book. I called several local Barnes and Noble and Books-a-Million stores to find out if Tyndale House had recalled the books. None of the four locations I called had heard of the controversy and they all had copies in stock.
Tyndale House has disabled the book’s product page.
Tyndale has not responded to questions about whether they intend to recall the product or simply not print the book again. Tyndale claims that Alex Malarkey’s mother declined to meet with Tyndale, but Phil Johnson has produced emails which appear to contradict that story. Kevin Malarkey has not responded to requests for comment, although the UK Daily Mail says his parents are standing by him.
It has been removed from Amazon.

Beth Malarkey Issues Statement About Boy Who Came Back from Heaven

Just a bit ago, Alex Malarkey’s mother issued a statement. One important fact she cleared up is that the Malarkeys are not divorced.

A STATEMENT FROM BETH MALARKEY
For at least three years, my son Alex Malarkey has been speaking the truth and pleading to be heard regarding The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven. I’m thankful to the Pulpit and Pen blog for posting Alex’s open letter last week and finally helping his voice to be heard. The sudden interest of the media has meant that many reporters are seeking to investigate the story and I would love to answer every question, but since 2006, I have been Alex’s only nonstop caregiver, and I also have three more precious children to care for. So I’m forced to say no to all interview requests. I hope people understand. The facts of the case are being heard, through sources like the Pulpit & Pen website (http://pulpitandpen.org/) and the Grace to You blog (http://www.gty.org/Blog/B150116/setting-the-record-straight).
I do stand with my son and I’m proud of the courage he has shown. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4).
I also want to correct one glaring error that has appeared in countless news articles over the past few days: I have not divorced my husband and I am not planning to pursue a divorce. Kevin and I are still married. My hope is that all of this can be resolved in a way that exalts Christ by honoring the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:14). That, likewise, has been Alex’s only aim in all his attempts to set the record straight.
“Now may the God of peace . . . equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20-21).

I imagine things have gotten crazy in that the story has gone world-wide. For instance, the Today Show covered it yesterday:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Big Questions for Tyndale House After Pulling Boy Who Came Back From Heaven (UPDATED)

UPDATE 2 (1/17/15) – Last night Tyndale released a statement indicating that the company has stopped printing The Boy book because of information they received this week.

Earlier this week Tyndale learned that Alex Malarkey, co-author of ‘The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven,’ was retracting the story he had told his father and that he recounted in the book they co-authored for publication in 2010. It is because of this new information that we are taking the book out of print. For the past couple of years we have known that Beth Malarkey, Kevin’s wife and Alex’s mother, was unhappy with the book and believed it contained inaccuracies. On more than one occasion we asked for a meeting with Kevin, Beth, Alex and their agent to discuss and correct any inaccuracies, but Beth would not agree to such a meeting.

However, Phil Johnson continues to dispute this narrative saying that Beth and Alex wanted to meet with Tyndale (see this link for emails).
It is not clear if Tyndale is pulling product from the shelves or just not reprinting the book.
UPDATE: Phil Johnson claims Tyndale House knew two years ago that the Boy Who Came Back from Heaven was invented. Beth Malarkey retweeted this link when Johnson posted it. I expect to hear from her soon, but as of now all I am hearing is crickets from Tyndale House.


 
…………….
(Original post begins here)
Yesterday afternoon, Tyndale House announced that the company would no longer publish the Boy Who Came Back from Heaven.
The book had been a best-seller and was the basis for a television movie of the same name in 2010. There are at least two big questions for Tyndale House now that the company will no longer print the book. I asked Tyndale House spokesperson Todd Starowitz these questions yesterday via email and twitter and left phone messages, thus far with no answers.
First, what now happens to all of the existing product? We know that Lifeway Christian Stores is returning existing product to the publisher, but what about other retailers? Even though negative reviews are now piling up, Amazon still carries the book without disclaimer. Barnes and Noble still has it available. A local Barnes and Noble store still had a copy of the book and had not heard about the retraction. The staff there had not gotten a request from Tyndale to pull products off the shelves. On the other hand, Family Christian Bookstores are pulling the book off the shelves and the manager of the one I called said Tyndale had requested them. Thus far, Tyndale’s spokesperson has not replied about the company’s plans.
The second, and more difficult question is: When did Tyndale House learn that Beth Malarkey and her son denied the contents of the book? Given how long Alex Malarkey’s mom has been speaking out on this matter, it is hard to understand how Tyndale House did not know about it. However, neither Tyndale House nor Beth Malarkey has not responded to requests for this specific information.
The answers to these questions have consequences in dollar signs and trust. If Tyndale does not make a good faith effort to pull existing product off the shelves, they risk further erosion in their image, while making additional money from unsuspecting customers. If Tyndale House knew the boy had recanted his story, then some disclosure should have been made with a proactive public statement. One hopes Tyndale House will move to quickly restore public trust by disclosing the reasons for waiting until yesterday, just after Lifeway Stores pulled the products from the shelves, to take a similar step.
UPDATE: The website supporting the book is now down (google cache as of January 15, 2015). The domain is owned by Tyndale House. The product page on Tyndale’s website still is up as is the promo video on the You Tube page.

After Retraction, Lifeway Books Returning Boy Who Came Back From Heaven to Publisher (UPDATE: Tyndale Pulls Book)

UPDATE: Tyndale is pulling the book, according to the Washington Post. However, as far as I can tell, existing product will remain available, except at Lifeway Stores.
…………….
On January 13, Alex Malarkey released a retraction of his claims in the book Boy Who Came Back from Heaven. The retraction was issued to the Pulpit and Pen blog.
In response to my question about the book, Martin King, Director of Communications at Lifeway issued a statement saying the stores are pulling the book:

LifeWay was informed this week that Alex Malarkey has retracted his testimony about visiting heaven as told in the book “The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven.” Therefore, we are returning to the publisher the few copies we have in our Stores.

I have contacted the book’s publisher Tyndale House as well to find out what they intend to do about these recent developments. The book was made into a 2010 television movie.
Malarkey began by saying he did not die.

“An Open Letter to Lifeway and Other Sellers, Buyers, and Marketers of Heaven Tourism, by the Boy Who Did Not Come Back From Heaven.”

Please forgive the brevity, but because of my limitations I have to keep this short.

I did not die. I did not go to Heaven.

I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible.

Apparently, Alex’s mom has been reaching out to people with the less sensational story about her son since at least last April (check that, since at least July 2013) My guess is that there is a substantial back-story on this.