Industry Screenshots

Today was inventory day at IVP.
Inventory at IVP

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For the Love of Books

My Library cartoon

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Six Months to Christmas!

June 25th is for retailers, the six month mark in the year. Six months to Christmas means it’s now been six months from Christmas. How has your year shaped up so far?

This Sunday is also the first day of the 2015 International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) in Orlando, Florida. The home page notes some themes to be considered this year:

  • What does it take to create a new kind of store that Amazon can’t compete against?
  • You are a target! Protect your religious liberties. New strategies to protect your business and ministry.
  • The event is the only place and time the entire industry meets together

A complete list of authors, speakers, panelists, and seminar leaders is posted at this link.

From the InterVarsity Book, Coffee With Jesus


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When Author, Artist Lives Get Messy, Should Stores Pull Product?

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As someone who has spent time leading worship in several different churches, I still get excited when I hear a new song. If the song really captures me — as one did recently — I’ll tell everyone I meet about it.

About a month ago I found such a song. It was a beautiful worship song that also contained teaching and exhortation — the best of all possible worlds worlds — and reminded me of some classic Andrae Crouch, or at least what he might write in 2015.

And then everything crashed. I was telling a group of people about it and they proceeded to tell me a whole load of details about the artist, his affair, his marriage breakup and more. Hours later I went online only to discover everything they said was true, not that I should have doubted.

While I should have grieved over the artist’s sin (and my own), at that point my thoughts were entirely selfish. “Darn;” I thought; “I liked that song.”

Two weeks later I decided to play the song on YouTube one more time. Then my wife and I had a discussion about whether or not the song is in any way invalidated by the fact that the writer, like all of us, is flawed.

On Sunday night the discussion came up again in reference to an author. (See yesterday’s blog post.) Should Christian bookstores simply pull his product off the shelves? If they do so, should this be permanent or just for a season? Is the truth contained in those books in any way invalidated by more recent events?

Christian booksellers went through this when Amy Grant and Sandi Patti each were divorced. When Jennifer Knapp and Ray Boltz came out as gay. More recently, when Mark Driscoll admitted he plagiarized large sections of his books.

Of course, sometimes, the truth just isn’t there. The boy in The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven now admits he was never there in the first place. That’s a different type of situation. But last time I checked, those classic Amy and Sandi albums are back on the shelves, and this time around, some stores didn’t bother pulling Driscoll product at all.

I really like the song with which I began this discussion. I don’t wanna go all Charismatic on you and say it’s anointed, but it’s certainly special, at least to me. Does it not remain valid despite all the back-story? Didn’t God use a donkey once?

Breaking: Tullian Tchividjian Resigns from Coral Ridge, Admitting Affair

Billy Graham’s grandson Tullian Tchividjian has resigned from his pulpit at Coral Ridge Presbyterian, a high-profile church in south Florida, after admitting he had an affair. He released the following statement to the Washington Post on behalf of him and his wife:

I resigned from my position at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church today due to ongoing marital issues. As many of you know, I returned from a trip a few months back and discovered that my wife was having an affair. Heartbroken and devastated, I informed our church leadership and requested a sabbatical to focus exclusively on my marriage and family. As her affair continued, we separated. Sadly and embarrassingly, I subsequently sought comfort in a friend and developed an inappropriate relationship myself. Last week I was approached by our church leaders and they asked me about my own affair. I admitted to it and it was decided that the best course of action would be for me to resign. Both my wife and I are heartbroken over our actions and we ask you to pray for us and our family that God would give us the grace we need to weather this heart wrenching storm. We are amazingly grateful for the team of men and women who are committed to walking this difficult path with us. Please pray for the healing of deep wounds and we kindly ask that you respect our privacy.

continue reading here

photo: Darryl Dash

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Bankruptcy Court Denies Sale of Family Christian Stores

The drama of Family Christian Stores is now officially in overtime. Here’s some of the report from Publisher’s Weekly (19/June), but you need to click through for the full story:

A United States Bankruptcy Court has denied the sale of Family Christian Stores, the largest retail Christian chain in the country, to FCS Acquisition (a company founded by FCS owners to buy back the business). The ruling was detailed in a memorandum decision filed on Thursday in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Family Christian Stores, which has 266 locations in 36 states, filed for bankruptcy in February after several years of falling sales.

The denial of the sale motion was based on several factors: Hilco Merchant Resources, LLC, and Gordon Brothers Retail Partners LLC (Gordon/Hilco)–both liquidators–made bids on the chain, and both have standing to object to the sale. Additionally, the auction process during which FC Acquisition was named the “highest and best” bidder included several mistakes, though the court said it ultimately did not “find that the auction was unfair or fraudulent.”

The court was especially troubled by a telephone call from Family Christian CEO Chuck Bengochea to FC Acquisition owner Richard Jackson during the sale auction, asking him to increase FC Acquisitions’ bid.

A third objection says that the debtors “failed to articulate a sound business justification for the sale to any of the bidders.”…

…The decision comes nine days after a 14-hour hearing in Grand Rapids on June 9 that began at 9 a.m. and ended just after 11 p.m.

A longer story appears at MLive (Michigan Regional News) and notes:

…The judge said the clock is ticking for the company if it wants to remain a viable business. It will have a “liquidity crisis” with cash reserves likely depleted by mid to late July.

…If Family Christian Acquisition’s had been approved, Bengochea planned to close 15 or 16 stores as part of a five-point restructuring.

With several bidders planning to liquidate the company, many creditors, including publishers who would lose millions in the bankruptcy, backed Family Christian Acquisitions’ bid as a way to keep the company afloat and continue as an important distributor of their products.

New Stores Replacing Old Ones

As much as many of us are preoccupied with store closings, in many markets, like the legendary Phoenix, new stores are replacing them. Windsor, West Toronto and Winnipeg — there must be something about the letter W — are all examples of this.

Now comes word that a new store is being assembled in East Toronto, in the same strip mall where Faith bookstore stood, aiming for an early July opening.

Watch this space for further details.

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My Own Store’s Top 30 Books

You know your world has been shaken when there isn’t enough data to produce an authoritative Top 40 chart and have to change it to a Top 30. Titles #1 and #3 have local interest (see story here) but they would probably do well in your market also.

Searchlight Chart Summer 2015 B&W

Check Your Windows

I once read an article by a retail consultant who said that, for him, the worst thing in the front window of a store is a poster advertising a local event that has already passed. I think this probably qualifies as a runner up: Big bold signage containing a spelling or grammatical mistake. Especially in a bookstore, which thankfully, this wasn’t.
Thousands of New Merchandise

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New Bible Edition Lacks Translation Detail

It’s probably a safe assumption that the new edition of the Compass Bible from Thomas Nelson is The Voice Bible translation, but the information is completely absent from annotation at STL, Ingram, CBD, Book Manager and the Thomas Nelson consumer site. Is there a reason?  Are they wanting to make Compass the brand?  ISBN: 9780718009137

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An Alternative to Closing: Shutting Down Individual Departments

Most of what’s currently written about store survival seems to take an ‘all or nothing’ approach to facing the future. Today I want to offer an alternative scenario: Discontinuing select departments in the store.

The reasons for doing this might include one or several of the following:

  • Merchandise offers lowest margin
  • Merchandise management is labour-intensive
  • Turnover/sales on these products is poor

You want to get the most use out of the shelf-space and floor-space you have. Over the years we’ve second guessed everything at times: Greeting cards, bulletins, music, etc. In our book department we’ve made many changes that involved rotating merchandise off the sales floor, but we’re looking at doing these as individual department liquidations in the future. Here are some examples:

  • We’ve removed our Prophecy section twice in our history. Right now, what we have is more of a Middle East Interest section.
  • We removed and then brought back our Health section, but it’s not performing and like prophecy, some of the titles get outdated rather quickly. I see this more as fad that bookstores went through many years ago that we’ve allowed to linger too long.
  • We pulled our biography section a year ago when customers lacked interest. It took up four, four-foot shelves. We brought it back a few months ago with only the strongest stock on two shelves and the response has been much better.
  • We had a section of Bible Study books called “Ready to Go.” The idea was that we would mass-display our full inventory on this product so customers could see we had ten of this booklet and eight of that one, and if they wanted to start a small group in their kitchen the next day, there was no need to wait for an order to arrive. Some people liked the idea, but recently we decided to make better use of those shelves for something else. The books are currently still on the sales floor in two stacks at the end of a fixture.
  • We’re currently considering doing something drastic in our children’s paperback fiction area. People aren’t buying; it’s easier to give the kids a DVD. This one is more ideological, so we’re not moving quickly on this; the end of July at the earliest.

This time around, we’re going to announce the closing of some of these departments more clearly and with deeper discounts. Of course, we can still take orders on those categories.

What do you think? Would something like this work for you?


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