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Archive for November, 2010

Security System Comes at Too High A Price

A Toronto Star story last week reported on a residential alarm customer who is letting the contract with his security company run out rather than pay over $1,000 to his local police services for every false alarm call.   It’s actually part of a larger situation where local police forces are now charging for every little thing they do, even though their time and expenses are covered already covered through municipal taxation.   The city of Toronto has issued 1,100 fines of $1,050 since April 1st.  That’s 1.15 million dollars.  The Star called the extra charges a hidden tax.

This applies to those of us in retail as well.   In our business, a deluxe security system was gifted to us in perpetuity by the landlord, who also holds a monopoly in the town on security monitoring, in exchange for clawing back about 600 square feet at the back of our unit.    But the sensitivity on it is simply too great; and we’re constantly asking them to de-commission certain “zones” of the system, as the false alarm calls are a nuisance to police and also to my employees there, who get unnecessarily awakened at 3:00 AM.   (The landlord, whose premises are next door, is technically also a keyholder, but refuses to permit his staff to respond.)

So now we’re down to:

  • door sensors
  • glass break monitor
  • smoke monitor

The problem in retail is that ceiling signage often flutters back and forth at night which sets off motion sensors.   In this building, mice are setting them off.

The cost of false alarms is greater than any potential insurance discount from the enhanced monitoring.

I spoke with the head of a security company who told me that they hate false alarm calls as much as anyone.    Using the example of the glass break alarm, he told me that systems his company deals with won’t trigger a police call unless there are “confirming technologies,” in other words, an air pressure change and the high frequency sound of glass actually breaking.

Another problem we had in our store was caused by “Opens/Closes” reports.   This is a computer system that reports when the system has not been armed well after the store should be closed, or when a staff person returns in off-hours.   The store gets a call basically asking, “Who are you?”   The security person we consulted with said this can be dealt with through the use of a verbal password, saving the next question, “What are you doing there?”   My staff found this rather intrusive, and seemingly unnecessary given that when they return to the store in an evening or on a Sunday, they’re using both a key and a PIN to get in.    I suggested this was a level of security befitting a bank or a jewelry store.   It finally reached the point where nobody on staff wanted to do any customers any after-hours favors.

So we’ve removed the motion sensors, the ceiling monitors and the “Opens/Closes” reports.

I don’t think we’ve removed the potential for further nuisance calls however.

Rolf Zettersten on Being The Best

On the company blog, Rolf Zettersten,  publisher of Faithwords (Hachette Book Group) lists three key values for their company:

  • A Respect for Prose (i.e. “…a love of words”)
  • A Well Managed Process (i.e. “Authors can trust that when they submit their manuscript to the editor, we have systems in place to give it the best opportunity for commercial viability.”)
  • A Passion That’s Personal (i.e. “…They go above and beyond because they have a personal interest in the subject, the manuscript or the author. It’s the wild card in this formula for success.”)

Read the whole article at Faithwords’ blog.

Did Anyone Else Happen To Notice This?

Is it just me or does Charisma House Publishing have a bit of a theme thing going on this month?

The Purple Pig and Other Miracles by Dick Eastman

Keep The Pigs Out by Don Dickerman

Coincidentally, for the last couple of decades, a top selling book in the Charismatic category has been Pigs in the Parlor by Frank Hammond.

Tough for Most CBA Stores to Match This

Works out to $3.33 per DVD…

…Their price on this is valid through Monday night.

Categories: Uncategorized

An Opportunity to Give to those in Need for our Canadian Readers

For our Christian Book Shop Readers:  Giving to Those Less Fortunate
You see them in the malls and big box stores every year.   Volunteers manning the donation kettles on behalf of the Salvation Army.   But in a world where everybody pays using plastic cards, who has change to drop in the kettle?   And what about the people who shop online and don’t see the collection kettles at all?   That’s why we started doing a Salvation Army iKettle last year.  This is a great program for those of us in retail, who get so caught up in the busy-ness of Christmas that we often forget about the tax deadline for donations. Note that the money you give stays with the Salvation Army Family Services in your community.   I’ll repeat this appeal a few times over the next few weeks.  Be among the first to donate by clicking the following link to the Canadian branch of the Salvation Army secure web site:

 

~Paul Wilkinson

New NIV is Forcing Churches to Choose

Online Christian writer Trevin Wax nails it with this observation about the introduction of the 2011 edition of the NIV:

The problem I see with the NIV 2011 is that the publisher (Zondervan) seems to be putting churches and church leaders in a position where they are forced to make a choice. A few years ago, upon considering the resistance from some evangelicals toward the TNIV, Zondervan assured Bible-readers that the 1984 NIV would remain available. But no such assurance is given now. In fact, the publisher has expressly indicated the desire for the NIV 2011 to replace both the original NIV and the TNIV.

Though many evangelicals have gravitated toward other translations (such as the English Standard Version or the Holman Christian Standard Bible), most evangelical churches continue to use the 1984 NIV as their common text. NIV Bibles occupy the pews in thousands of churches, giving it the prominence of being a kind of “default” contemporary translation.

But the widespread use of the NIV as a “standard” English translation will probably disappear. Why? Because this most recent revision (one that straddles the fence between dynamic and formal equivalence, between gender-neutral and gender-specific language) seals the translation philosophy for the NIV as it eventually replaces the 1984 version.

Here’s a few other quick quotes:

  • …Pastors and churches will be forced to make a choice. Either make the move to the NIV 2011 or move to another translation altogether.
  • The programs on my computer require me to update often. A trustworthy program in one decade may require an update installation in order to continue to function properly. But the Bible is not like a computer program.
  • It’s ironic that the NIV 2011 revision is scheduled to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the King James Version, the most popular and most influential English translation of all time. Unfortunately, the launch of this new revision will have the opposite effect of the KJV. The King James Version united Bible readers around a common text. I’m afraid the NIV 2011 will speed up the growing fragmentation of evangelicals in regards to Bible translations.
  • Read the entire piece in context here at his blog, Kingdom People.

Bookstore and/or Inventory For Sale in Eastern Ontario

November 22, 2010 4 comments

We are officially tendering our Brockville store and/or its contents for sale as of today.   Here is a rundown on what’s available:

Cards

  • Our card section is the 3rd largest card shop in the city of Brockville, consisting of 13 four-foot racks.
  • This offers a unique opportunity for a starting or existing store to greatly expand its commitment to Dayspring without being locked into a five-year fixture contract for a five section display — these may be sold separately.
  • 90% of the pockets are maxed out at four cards because the product was shared with the Cobourg store; most are ones, twos or threes.
  • Also Marianne Richmond, Celebration Greetings and others.

Books and Bibles

  • A carefully, title-by-title purchased balanced collection of overstock and remainder books accounts for about three-quarters of this book inventory.   Generally not more than two of a title.   Current frontlist is generally not more than one of a title, but covering a vast array of topics.
  • Bibles are generally one each of about 600 current and reduced product.
  • Older stock has already been purged and transferred to reduced status, or price adjusted for the lower Canadian dollar.

Giftware

  • A conservative selection of occasion-oriented pieces
  • All single quantity items
  • Almost all under $40 retail; most under $30 retail; no expensive pieces, except for a few wall decor items
  • No remaindered/deleted pieces in this collection

Music

  • A conservative selection of CDs in all styles, and current DVDs for adults and children
  • Willing to remove anything from this section the buyer does not wish
  • Single units of most SKUs, a few twos nothing over three copies
  • Very small percentage of remaindered/deleted titles

Serious inquiries only, see the contact page on this blog.

For anyone else who was simply just reading this, what terms would you use to describe your store, and/or inventory to someone who had never seen it before?

U.S. Readers: Canadian laws respecting cultural sovereignty prevents foreign ownership of retail or wholesale endeavors in the publishing or music industries.

More on the NIV-2011 Revision

Last week I noted the number of changes in Galatians and also III John in the online edition of the NIV-2011. III John is a particularly finite specimen for study, so I went to a free online text comparison site, textdiff.com, and input the new version from Bible Gateway, and then the old version, designated as NIV-1984. However, I later decided the format was more useful if you input the older version first, and then the newer.

The red text indicates 1984 text that was deleted, and the green text indicates the 2011 replacement version.

III John:

1 The elder,

To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth.

2 Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. 3 It gave me great joy to havewhen some brothers comebelievers came and telltestified about your faithfulness to the truth andtruth, telling how you continue to walk in the truth.it. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

5 Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers,brothers and sisters,[a] even though they are strangers to you. 6 They have told the church about your love. You will do well toPlease send them on their way in a manner worthy ofthat honors God. 7 It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. 8 We ought therefore to show hospitality to such menpeople so that we may work together for the truth.

9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do withnot welcome us. 10 So ifwhen I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciouslyspreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome the brothers.other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.

11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. 12 Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone—and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true.

13 I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink. 14 I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.

Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name.

A Strong Argument for Traditional Book Publishing in the Christian Market

 

It’s late on Saturday night.   My wife and I just finished doing a community Christmas music thing, and I’m catching up on all the random e-mails I got this week.

Many of them are sent, I’m sure, because I publish this blog.   People have books they would like to see get greater exposure.   And certainly I’d like to help.

But basically, I don’t have a clue who these people are.   And I don’t have time to look over their websites with a fine-tooth comb, or read the individual author biographies to check out their pedigrees.   One thing is certain, I’m not going to recommend a product here that I would not to see turn up in my own store.

Bottom line:  There is something to be said for seeing the imprint of Baker, NavPress, Zondervan, Waterbrook, etc. on a book that is being promoted.   One pastor referred to my wife and I as “gatekeepers” in the community.   When asked how it is that certain titles come into our store, I always say that there are a number of factors, but first and foremost, I trust our key publishers.   They have good editors and discerning acquisitions people.

You can’t say this about the increasing number of small-press and self-published books vying for our attention.   I really want to help, but I really don’t know where these authors are coming from doctrinally or theologically.    And there’s no standardized Christian publishing version of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

Christian Bookstore Managers are Also Publishing Consultants

They make up a small percentage of your customer base. Maybe 1% or less. Maybe 2 – 3% at most.

They are budding authors. People who aspire to someday have a title displayed on the shelves of your store. But first they have a couple of questions to ask you as to how the business works. Or lots of questions.

As I know from personal experience, a lot of great books probably will never get published. The crisis book for women I wrote on pornography was concise, recommended by one publisher for sale in a multi-pack format, vetted by a psychologist and a sex-addition ministry, and has been read online by a few thousand people. But it didn’t fit the mold of the self-publishing industry, and I couldn’t attract a publisher who would actually put it into retail distribution, a channel for which I have an obvious bias.

Part of the reason those writers who visit your store may never see their work in print form is that the big question publishers are asking today is not, “How good is it?” but rather, “Who are you?” The books in your store often happen because of the five lines and little picture on the back cover that say, “John Scribe is a former Formula One driver who later graduated from New York Doctrinal Institute and is currently the pastor of Megalopolis Community Church in Denver, which grew from 500 people to 50,000 as you were reading this. He and his wife Amber, a former Miss Arizona, have two adorable children.” Or something like that.

Or am I being cynical?

But seriously, now; those little mandatory lines on the back cover are as much the story of how the book got to print as the manuscript itself. I’ve always called this profile. And I tell the aspiring authors who visit my store that without profile, their quest for traditional publication is going to be extremely difficult.

Michael Hyatt, president and CEO of Thomas Nelson terms what I call profile as platform, arguing that you don’t need to have the CV of the above mentioned John Scribe (or the trophy wife), and he writes about it in this article you should continue reading…

HT: Kent Shaffer at Church Relevance

More by Michael Hyatt:  Without a platform, an author is like John the Baptist: “a voice crying in the wilderness.”  August 2010.

Also from Michael Hyatt’s blog:  Seven Ways to Build Your Platform Online by Chris Tomlinson.  January 2010


Christian Store Customers Want Christian Distinctives

November 18, 2010 2 comments

This morning my wife and I embarked on a two hour drive to visit our Brockville store only to discover on arrival that, due to a communications problem, that store was virtually sold out of boxed Christmas cards.    Had we known we would have loaded up the car with them as we’re very much overstocked in the other store.

In the short time I was there, I got into a couple of conversations with frustrated shoppers as to how hard it is to find cards which express the historic, Biblical origins of the “holiday” season.   Or anything with scripture.   I fully understand this, especially in a market where the nearest Christian store is over an hour away.

(I then decided to see if I could get a rush drop ship from Dayspring’s Canadian distributor, only to be told that, at 1:32, the rush cutoff was 1:30 — even when I used the word “emergency” — a reminder of how there is absolutely no grace in our grace-based industry.)

All of this is backdrop for what follows…

The customers who are looking for distinctively Christian products have a point.   This is one thing that we can offer that Wal-Mart cannot.   We’ve checked out various retailers, and nobody does the real meaning of Christmas like a Christian bookstore.

So once I got over — somewhat — our current out-of-stock position in that store, I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.

Keep in mind, I have never, on this blog, given a product a terrible review.   If it’s that bad, I probably don’t stock it, and would never bother asking a publisher for a review copy in the first place.    I’m here to celebrate good things; not to bash individual authors or artists.

But in the background, my Brockville employee was playing a demo copy of the Point of Grace Christmas album, and as my wife and I worked away at anothe project, we kept asking each other — out loud — song after song  — what the heck is playing on the sound system?

Somewhere, the balance between the “fun” songs of the “holidays,” and the “traditional” and “folklore” songs of “the season” the Christmas message was either missing or very watered down.

I was embarrassed to be in my own store.

And that item, is no longer going to be carried, except by special order.

And I’ll try to talk a few people out of that idea, too.

Immanuel: Christian Bookstore in the West Bank

It’s been running for five years.

A Christian bookstore in Bethlehem.   No, not Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; the Bethlehem.     A store which some days gives away more Bibles than it sells.

This store is worthy of your reading of the article.   Be sure to click through to the second page as well.

Here’s a prayer request for today:

Without people’s prayers the bookshop won’t stay open. Pray for us, for protection, for finances, because this bookshop needs about $20,000 a year to run. Pray for us as we travel to Egypt, pray for the salvation of people and pray that when people enter here they can feel the Lord Jesus.

Canada Post is no Threat to UPS, DHL, Purolator or CanPar

November 15, 2010 6 comments

Running a multi-store operation without actually building an organization can be challenging, even though we’re down to two stores.   We receive stock centrally, but then have to get that stock from the feeder store to the other one, two hours to the east.  Often, we simply wait until the pile of boxes gets stacked so high it’s about to fall over.   But when there’s a bi-weekly payroll shipping anyway, we usually combine a few special orders and new releases into a box and ship everything at once using our nation’s somewhat pathetic equivalent of the United States Postal Service.

Now remember, the box only has to travel two hours down the road.   I pay for a two-day service, though usually the parcel arrives the next day.   There’s no reason it shouldn’t.   Every other courier company does the two hour distance in a single day.

This time we mailed on Wednesday.    There was no service on Thursday on because of Remembrance (Veterans) Day.  We knew that.   We assumed it would arrive on Friday.

It didn’t.

Canada Post maintains that two business days means two of their business days. They love to throw around the phrase “our service standard,” which actually means, “our lowest common denominator of service.”

So a parcel mailed on Wednesday now wouldn’t arrive until Monday.   That’s a bit of a problem, since payday is Friday; but our staff are understanding.

$25.00 for a 7-pound package that’s only going a two hour distance down the highway.  And taking 120 hours to get there.

But here’s where the story gets stranger still.   By closing Monday the parcel did NOT arrive.   The trace shows the parcel stuck in Ottawa since Friday.   But Canada Post won’t do anything about it.   They say they need one more day before they start tracing it, because they want to know for sure that it’s actually missing.    Seriously.

And I can’t do a darn thing about it…

…or maybe I can.   We’re simply not going to do that bi-weekly shipment anymore.   Our new motto:  The Post is Toast. Starting next pay cycle, the cheques will ship by letter mail — yes, I know, supporting the same inept organization — and the orders can wait.   I just can’t do it anymore.

Now I know someone will ask, “Why not just use UPS or CanPar?   Unless you have contract service the price is double.   I asked at the local UPS Store for over-the-counter (OTC) rates for the same size box and weight, and was quoted $48.00.   We operate on a shoestring.   As to the question of direct shipping; we do, at Christmas, have shipping direct to the other store provided by David C. Cook Canada and HarperCollins Canada.   Anything else just isn’t practical.

Such are the realities of Christian bookselling in small town Canada.

UPDATE 4:00 PM, Tuesday the 16th:  Still no parcel.  Canada Post claims it was successfully delivered at 8:23 AM.   But to where?   We were not open at that hour, and the people next door, who are released to receive parcels for us don’t have it.    There is ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT in my mind that this is all retaliation for a complaint we filed about the same service on the same parcel two weeks ago.

It has now been a full week since the parcel was accepted into their system.   It has been scanned twice today.   Nobody at Canada Post wants to talk to me about it because they have until 5:00 PM until it is considered officially “one day late.”

UPDATE 5:30 PM, Tuesday the 16th: Canada Post now is willing to “look into it,” and start an “investigation” which could take “five business days” to resolve.   All they have to do is ask the driver where he left the parcel at 8:23 this morning, but they won’t do this.   I’m starting to wonder if I should stop payment on the paychecks.

UPDATE 10:10 AM, Wednesday the 17th:  A full week later, the parcel arrives, delivered by a private courier who has been contracted to deliver parcel mail in that town.   He reports that the parcel was accidentally delivered the previous day to a smoke shop in the downtown core where people pick up parcels; only in this case without the delivery attempt happening.

Waterbrook Multnomah Excludes Canadian Bloggers From Review Program

November 15, 2010 2 comments

I’m always amazed at how seemingly intelligent companies can botch things on so many different levels.

Take Waterbrook Press’ attempt to crack the social media promotion thing.   The program was on-again, and then off-again, and then today it relaunched.   But as a Canadian blogger, with 74% U.S. readers at Thinking Out Loud, it’s impossible for me to sign up on their website.   I finally told them I lived in Ohio and that my zip code was 77777.

I’ll probably never  hear from them.

Who is the person who decided — many, many years ago — that Americans are incapable of typing in the name of their state?   Do that many people spell Hawaii and Mississippi incorrectly?   No matter whose site you’re on, you’re left with a pull-down menu of options.   Many contain Canadian provinces.  Many do not.

If Waterbrook wants to limit their social media promotion to the U.S., they should just say so.  But many publishers report some titles are disproportionately high in Canada.

Just remember whose economy kept working while the American economy was crashing.   And remember if we’re part of the U.S. royalty structure, that means we’re effectively part of the U.S. market.

Moving Up The Publisher Ladder

With so many authors changing long-standing publisher affiliations this fall, it’s time to revisit this subject.   Here’s my take:

The Great Axiom of the Author-Publisher Relationship

Once an author has a breakout title, a strong back-catalog, or overall publishing success, they will be wooed and courted by larger publishing houses who can offer greater avenues of publicity and distribution to wider markets.

and

The Corollary to the Great Axiom

In many cases, despite the author’s track record, the greater marketing and the wider distribution; that author’s best-remembered or even best-selling title(s) will remain the title(s) they had with their original, smaller publishing house.

Of course, it’s not true in every case, but we’ve seen it happen; we’ve also seen exceptions.

It also raises the point that most publishers are sitting on a goldmine of backlist that is rarely marketed to the consumer unless there is a revision in content or format.

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