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.
Tyndale House Publishers knew two years ago that Kevin Malarkey’s book was a fraud—and that’s not the worst of it: http://t.co/lAe5vz1Kte
— Phil Johnson, ن (@Phil_Johnson_) January 16, 2015
(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.