Drew Marshall to Feature HCCP Authors

Drew MarshallAfter its first-ever summer hiatus in eleven years, The Drew Marshall Show returns to air this week (9/20) in the Greater Toronto Area on Joy 1250 radio from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM EST and launches into a new season with a commitment to feature interviews with Thomas Nelson Zondervan, and HarperOne authors for the next eleven weeks.  The program can also be listened to live online at Drew’s website.   Below is the full schedule showing the air date first, and then the book street date.  About five days after the show airs, the individual interviews will be available in the program archives. The Drew Marshall Show is considered an edgy spiritual talk radio program and Drew is known for bringing out things in interviews that other program hosts would never dare to touch.

Sept 20th 2014: Season Premiere
Jesus>Religion | Jefferson Bethke | Thomas Nelson
Trade Paperback |9781400205394 | $19.99 | Oct 7 2013

 Sept 27th 2014
Misfits Welcome | Mathew Barnett | Thomas Nelson
ITPE | 9780718021900 | $19.49 | October 7 2014

 October 4th 2014
Before Amen | Max Lucado | Thomas Nelson
ITPE |9780718016371 | $15.99 | September 30th 2014

 October 11th 2014
Me, Myself and Pie | Sherry Gore | Zondervan
Hardcover | 9780310335566 | $29.99 | October 7 2014

 October 18th 2014:
Walk to Beautiful | Jimmy Wayne | Thomas Nelson
ITPE | 9780718031558 | $19.49 | October 7 2014

 October 25th 2014
Storm | Jim Cymbala | Zondervan
ITPE | 9780310342106 | $19.49 | October 7 2014

 November 1st 2014
The First Phone Call From Heaven | Mitch Albom | HarperOne
Paperback | 9780062294401 | $19.99 | October 21st 2014

 November 8th 2014 (TBD)
Hurricane Hazel | Hazel McCallion | HarperCollins Canada
Hardcover | 9781443434713 | $33.99 | October 21st 2014

 November 15th 2014
Vanishing Grace | Philip Yancey | Zondervan
ITPE | 9780310342120 | $16.99 | October 21st 2014

 November 22nd 2014
The ZimZum of Love | Rob Bell | HarperOne
Hardcover | 9780062194244 | $31.00 | Ocotber 28th 2014

 November 29th 2014
The Crazy Game | Clint Malarchuk | HarperCollins Canada
Hardcover | 9781443432467 | $32.99 | October 21st 2014


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Curriculum Consolidates at Cook

Years ago, when our store sold Sunday School Curriculum, we had one particular church that had a free market approach, allowing individual teachers to choose from curricula that they liked. So three different suppliers were involved. It was, to put it mildly, all very tedious.

Today, that would not be a problem, as David C. Cook Canada announced several weeks ago that they would be fulfilling orders for Standard Publishing, and Gospel Light.  For the record, the lines they represent now include:

David C Cook
Reformation Press
Scripture Press
Gospel Light

If you are already logged in to Cook’s b2b site, these links take you to a .pdf of order forms for the Winter 2014-15 quarter. To the best of our knowledge, this leaves Concordia still with Foundation, Group Publishing still with Word Alive, and Augsburg plus a variety of United Church and Anglican Church resources still with Augsburg-Fortress Canada.  (Corrections to that are welcomed.)

It also means that Cook now has a relative monopoly on curriculum and Christian music and greeting cards. They are the supplier that no Christian bookstore can exist without! But that also means the various departments in your store can combine orders and save on shipping costs.

Our store has a minimum shipping threshold with Cook.  We’ve seen shipping as high as 8% of net, but as the orders get larger it drops very quickly into as low as the 3% range.  That doesn’t mean you have to create orders of a certain size. For example on Monday we submitted an order for a single title that they only had two copies left. It locked it in, but didn’t generate new shipping.

So while changes over the past few years have meant that many of the individual suppliers we once dealt with are now longer around, increased efficiency means lower freight costs, and fewer payments to issue at the end of each month.


Tim Underwood: A Passion for Christian Publishing

When you read Tim Underwood’s Twitter feed, check his profile at LinkedIn, and correspond with him, there’s no escaping his passion for our industry. Name the province and Tim can recite a list of stores and the names of the owners.

Tim blends a variety of experiences starting from when he was raising his own support at The Navigators which gave him an understanding of how parachurch organizations and denominations operate, to his tech work with web design, to his MBA which helped him grow his understanding of business and marketing.

Tim worked his way through the ranks of R. G. Mitchell (RGM) until its closure — six years ago today as it works out — as a brand and marketing manager. Then he became a first round draft pick when the agency Graf-Martin started which does the behind the scenes promotion and publicity for many of the books (and now movies) that our stores carry.

If you want to really know Christian publishing from the inside out, Tim is the guy to get to know; either for Canadians wanting to better understand how things work south of the border, or Americans wanting to better understand how things function north of the 49th.

About a month ago I felt compelled to ask him if we could do an interview here at Christian Book Shop Talk…

~Paul Wilkinson

Tim UnderwoodPaul: What is your current title and what are your current responsibilities at Graf-Martin?

Tim: Integrated Communications Manager (which highlights that we try to integrate all marketing and publicity pieces to increase effectiveness). I look after the digital marketing of what we do, but I also work with strategy and publishing. My love continues to be in the publishing industry. Our clients now include small businesses, non-profits, ministry, authors, and publishers and entertainment (movies).

Paul: What factors or circumstances led you to this particular place?

Tim: The fall of RGM. Ellen Graf-Martin started her own agency, I did some retraining in inbound marketing, and then Ellen urged me to consider joining with her as we had worked together well at RGM.

Paul: This is obviously a critical time for publishing and book retail; what changes do you think are happening more subtly than are widely reported?

Tim: Although it is not going unnoticed, I think the direct publisher-to-consumer channel is happening more widely than really reported. You are seeing more of the larger publishers experience their livelihood taking place [in that sector] and now digital enables this more than ever. That and the increasing dislike of Amazon and the inability of retailers to manage digital.

Paul: The Christian market has historically had some unique traits (i.e. the relative strength of its backlist versus frontlist, though that has changed recently); what do you see as the particular blessings and challenges we face?

Tim: The continued blessings are that local retailers know their customer unlike any publisher or distributor will because you have regular and honest face to face interactions that can often be described as ministry interactions. There is something different and special about that. The business counsel here is how can this be fostered and maintained? How can this be self-sustaining? What models will provide for that? More church-store integrations, community-store integrations? What can this look like into the future?

Paul: Do you have any independent projects you’re working on right now?

Tim: On the publishing side we are working with World Vision Canada to help with their publishing and I am the one who creates the eBooks. In fact, I have a couple of eBooks I am working on this week. I am also helping a couple of Christian authors with their websites, including SEO, search engine optimization (becoming found better on Google).

Paul: This was an unusual year for Christian film projects and Graf-Martin worked on publicity for a couple of these; do you see this continuing into 2015, or was this year an aberration?

Tim: Because we are seen as providing unique access to the Christian/faith/family marketing in Canada — no one else doing this the same — for publishers and film production, this might continue into the future as we become more well known to the movie production houses.

Paul: How do you manage to track down all the various articles on your Twitter feed?

Tim: I am a researcher and content curator at heart. That coupled with my interest and love for the publishing industry and other trends. It keeps me reading and posting what I read.


Price Gap for Select Retailers is Simply Too Great

September 13, 2014 2 comments

The Canadian list price in the CBA market for the Heaven is for Real DVD is $35.99. We’ve tracked the Wal-Mart price since release, and it has been as low as $21.99 in some stores (with a free Blu-Ray) and fairly steady at $23.99.

We’ve assumed it’s high for reasons associated with its U.S. MSRP. Nothing can be done, right?

But then we discovered Foundation Distributing’s 72-Hour participants are offering it for $24.99.  Eleven dollars less.

Don’t get me wrong. Flyer program participants spend a lot of money to purchase and distribute flyers which in turn create wider awareness of the product and secondary, spillover sales well after the sale has ended. They deserve a break.

But the gap is simply too great for this retailer to fathom. It leaves me feeling that somehow, in some indirect way, we would be subsidizing the cost to the other retailers.

We don’t sell the Heaven is for Real DVD in our store. Not with Wal-Mart a mile away.

And definitely not with fellow Christian retailers leaving our customers with the sense that we are ripping them off, especially after we’ve told them that $36 is the price of the product. Nobody needs that type of price discrepancy circulating in such a specific market. It makes us look either completely dishonest or like fools who can’t properly run a retail enterprise.

No matter how matter-of-fact or dollars-and-cents we think our action is, there is an underlying morality to everything we do.

Moving forward, we are increasingly focusing on feature product of our own making, not what this industry tells us we have to sell.

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Customers May Not Identify New Project as Brian Doerksen’s

The staff member who checked in the CDs was surprised when I told her that the album was actually a new project from Brian Doerksen. In the U.S. market, I supposed there would have been a sticker attached to the shrink-wrap, “New from Worship Leader Brian Doerksen.” Here, we’re relying on word-of-mouth to accomplish that, I guess.  The following is from my consumer review which appeared at Thinking Out Loud:

Brian Doerksen and The Shiyr PoetsThe Shiyr Poets (pronounced ‘sheer’) takes a word-for-word approach to the book of Psalms, but with a conversion to modern English from the Hebrew and with the addition of recurring choruses as keeping with the structure of modern music. In many ways, bringing these texts into our century captures the heart and anguish of the Psalmist in ways we might miss with a cursory reading of the text.

The band is the latest project from worship leader Brian Doerksen composer of Refiner’s Fire, Come Now Is The Time to Worship, You Shine, and Faithful One. The sound is consistent with past Doerksen albums, a gentle, more intimate sound. (Foreshadowing this project was the song Fortress 144 from a few years back; a song Brian said was written especially to be a song that men could embrace in a corporate worship setting.)

On Songs for the Journey, Volume One the goal is to begin working sequentially through the book of Psalms, hence this album covers the first ten, with two bonus tracks. Yes, this is an ambitious project! The group used crowd-funding to partially underwrite the launch of the first project and probably would need to do that again to create successive volumes, as this has not been produced for a major label.

You can listen to an audio sample from Psalm 3, at the band’s website by clicking here, or watch a video from a Christian television program here and here. The physical album is currently only available in Canada, but elsewhere customers can download it from iTunes.

Again, there’s a lot going on in the Psalms that we miss, and this project accurately captures both the tension and the wonder.

Those of you not having AdBlock on your browser: Let me know who and what type of advertisements WordPress adds to the end of these articles.


IVP CDs Offer Stores Greater Exclusivity

Michael Card - CD series based on the Gospels
Chances are, whatever outlets compete with your bookstore for physical CD sales by Christian artists, they don’t deal with InterVarsity Press (IVP).  I’m just sitting down to do a review for Thinking Out Loud for one in Michael Card’s series that I especially asked to hear, and now realizing that there is a sense in which Christian bookstores have these somewhat exclusively.  The four titles are available through David C. Cook in Canada.

9780830838011 Luke: A World Turned Upside Down CD
Supplier #: 0830838015
Artist/Author: Card, Michael
9780830838028 Mark: CD
Supplier #: 0830838023
Artist/Author: Card, Michael
9780830838035 Matthew CD
Supplier #: 0830838031
Artist/Author: Card, Michael
9780830838042 John: The Misunderstood Messiah CD
Supplier #: 0830836675
Artist/Author: Card, Michael


Note: Any advertising you see below this point does not originate with Book Shop Talk.

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The Indisputable Allure of a Good Book

Brilliant Bookstore Advert

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Christian Child/Youth Novels Not Evident at Barnes and Noble

While browsing the Christian section at Barnes and Noble last week, I suddenly realized there was something I had never seen at their stores, so I hopped over to the kids section and spoke with a very knowledgeable staffer.

“In the adult section;” I began, “You have Christian books divided into fiction, non-fiction and Bibles, but in the children’s section, there seems to only be a Bible section with a few other non-fiction titles, but no Christian fiction for kids.”

She affirmed that the type of novels and first chapter books I was referring to are not in the stores, though a later check revealed they are available online. She pointed me back to the kids ‘religion’ section, and again noted that it was all non-fiction. Any Christian novels that are making into the section were simply not evident in this particular location.

It concerns me that this particular avenue of teaching our kids isn’t available at B&N, especially when there might not be a Christian bookstore in that community.

How is kids fiction doing in your store?

Categories: Uncategorized

Packaging Inspiration?

September 7, 2014 1 comment

Here I Am to Worship CD


Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it’s just the little circle in the middle, but when I saw this, I immediately thought of Campbell’s Soup. Was this conscious or sub-conscious borrowing on the part of Capitol Christian?


Categories: Uncategorized

Independent Authors Crave Market Access

Increasingly, we are getting requests from independent authors looking for ways to break into the CBA market in Canada and beyond. Occasionally I will evaluate the merits of a product and if the discount is amenable, will carry one or two of these products in my store.  I’m assuming that as retailers, you are seeing more and more of these requests as well. The one below arrived yesterday and is representative:

Just found your blog. I am independantly published under my own imprint, “Songdove Books”, here in Canada. My books are available through Ingram/Spring Arbour and by extension, Bookmanager.com. I’m looking for information on reaching the Canadian Christian audience here in Canada. I’m in the “starving artist” category and doing all current marketing and promotion for free. My author page on FB is: https://www.facebook.com/Marilynn.Dawson.Author?ref=bookmarks and my own blog/website is: http://songdove.fa-ct.com/wordpress-mu/songdovemusings/ I’m interested in ways and means of getting word out about my books to my fellow Canadian Christians.

A search for this author revealed many physical products. With two exceptions, they are paperbacks under $10 US. The author is most definitely Canadian residing in Kelowna, and her bio mentions “singing on the praise team” at her church and “doing multimedia” which reflects an Evangelical background. But the discount is only 25% which is problematic, and some of the books have low page counts, which means that face-out they are seen, but spine-out they are not. Also these books all have the same title, but aren’t labeled “Vol 1″ or “Vol 2″ in the titles, but there are clues in the annotations.

On the other hand, another check I use is, “Is the author being carried by Christian bookstores in her home town?” We found the books easily at Bell Tower Books listed as special order titles.

My encouragement to booksellers would be to continue to investigate some of the requests you get, as they can turn up significant product which will be off the radar of A-zon or CBD.

Crossover Retailers Cover the Basics

As we work our way through the United States this week, it’s interesting to see how market segments are being covered in places where Christian bookstores have disappeared.

For books and Bibles, the discount chain Ollies has become the default Christian bookstore in many cities and towns. We saw a lot of Baker and HarperCollins (TNI & ZDV) merchandise this time but not so much from Broadman, Waterbrook, or Harvest House.  If the city is larger, Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million offer Christian books, but the selection is unfiltered, and often shelved with other religions or general self-help.

For greeting cards and giftware, Hobby Lobby has it covered with a full Dayspring display in each store, plus the other giftware that they carry that often carries a religious theme.

Music and DVD coverage takes a greater hit, as that type of store is experience closings parallel to what is happening in Christian bookstores.

Categories: Uncategorized

Toronto Market To Get New Store

September 2, 2014 4 comments

Agape Christian Marketplace

In a year where more store closings have made headlines, it’s nice to announce the opening of a brand new store, in a brand new location, in a major Canadian market. Agape Christian Marketplace’s grand opening was Saturday, September 6th at 3232 Steeles Avenue West on Toronto’s northern edge, just east of Highway 400 and west of Jane Street.

Jaret and Liz Voce - Agape Christian MarketplaceThe force behind the store is Jaret Voce, a recent employee of Foundation Distributing, and his wife Liz.  Before FDI, Jaret worked for The Salvation Army as a website manager, and was also a youth pastor for a Brethren Church in Willowdale.

Geographically, the store somewhat ‘replaces’ Speelman’s Bookstore which was also on Steeles West, between Islington and Kipling, and closed earlier this year after 52 years. It’s no surprise that the store’s grand opening advertising carries an endorsement from John and Grace Speelman. Stores in the GTA currently include Cornerstone at Yonge and Finch, Faith Family at 401 and McCowan; three Catholic-focused stores; and three academic/university stores. By any measure, even with its religious and ethic diversity, Toronto would be considered under-served. 

So a new store will make a big difference, and hopefully be a portent of future growth in our industry in Canada.


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