Foundation Shipping Product for Which it Has No Canadian Rights

On Thursday, February 1st, I accidentally miscopied an ISBN into a Foundation pending order file which was intended to go into a HarperCollins pending order file.

The item I wanted from Foundation Distribution was an NIV Life Application Bible in hardcover. (They own the rights to the hardcover, Zondervan does the leather editions.) Instead, I copied the number for the NIV Listener’s Bible, a $99 product audio product.

So my order actually read:

1 9780310444343 Life Application Hardcover

the ISBN and description not even matching.

Back in the day, when I worked for InterVaristy Press Canada, and later for the Canadian Bible Society, and finally when I worked for CMC Distribution (with fulfillment from Beacon Distributing/David C. Cook) when a customer placed an order like this, it would appear on the customer’s invoice with the notion “NOP” which stands for “Not Our Product.” As someone who has also been a wholesale customer in this industry for 43 years, I also know this as the correct way to handle this.

Or make a phone call to clarify the order.

That’s the proper way to do things.

That’s the type of principle which guided our industry for years.

That isn’t what happened here.

Foundation filled the order. That’s right. They filled the order for a $99 item for which they have no Canadian rights to do so with complete disregard to industry protocol.

Has anyone else had something like this happen?

Furthermore, I did obtain the product from HarperCollins, and at my non-returnable discount, not 40%. I would never buy Thomas Nelson or Zondervan product from Foundation.

For years, Foundation Distributing, which distributes product for Tyndale House, NavPress, Standard Publishing, P. Graham Dunn and Christian Art Gifts has been in the habit of buying large quantities of HarperCollins — usually Zondervan — product from liquidators such as Book Depot, and including those titles in its marketing catalogues. But those products are sold to dealers at a discounted price.

This is the first time we’ve had tangible, physical evidence of the company selling a HarperCollins frontlist title as if it’s their own. I now have proof. There are simply too many steps that need to be taken to obtain this product for this to happen accidentally. There is no excuse. Foundation owns stores, but the ISBN number shouldn’t exist in their wholesale system.

I know many reading this are good friends with the management of Foundation. I am not. I have never been. Either way, someone needs to call this out for what it is, the desperate act of a company so hungry for sales that it’s prepared to sacrifice all moral authority to do so, even to the point of stealing sales from HarperCollins. This is the action of a company which is, as I have been saying privately for years, indulges in practices which are difficult to justify ethically.

One should expect better of the leadership in our industry.

Furthermore, can you imagine their reaction if Parasource started selling Tyndale product? Do you think they would stand for that for even a minute?

The invoice was not marked sales final.

UPDATE: We got a return authorization, though no apology or explanation. Now I want to know how widespread this is, how many other stores who are friends of FDI are getting their HCCP product through them. I cannot accept this was a one-off event, only that they picked the wrong guy.






Give Your Friends a Taste of New Translations

We all have people in our stores who are more than just customers, they have become friends. Many share our passion for Christian literature, and of those, some are Bible geeks just like us. They like to know what’s new!

Just like the woman in the white smock at Costco, you can hand out free samples, using your store newsletter, store website, or store Facebook page. With Family Day weekend happening here in Ontario, we doubled down on the amount of print text in this Facebook post in case people were hungry for some input, and because we wanted to give our customers a sample of The Passion Translation (Broadstreet Publishing/FDI in Canada).

Because we did all the work — selecting verses mostly from page one results at — you can simply copy and paste what follows!

The Passion Translation New Testament by Brian Simmons is gaining readers. A hardcover edition is now available in two hardcover editions and several leather editions, with two more hardcovers due in March and in addition to the NT contains Psalms, Proverbs and Song of Songs.
• Ephesians 2:8 – For it was only through this wonderful grace that we believed in him. Nothing we did could ever earn this salvation, for it was the gracious gift from God that brought us to Christ!
• Matthew 28:18 – Now go in my authority and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
• 2 Timothy 3:16 – Every Scripture has been written by the Holy Spirit, the breath of God. It will empower you by its instruction and correction, giving you the strength to take the right direction and lead you deeper into the path of godliness.
• Romans 10:9 – And what is God’s “living message”? It is the revelation of faith for salvation, which is the message that we preach. For if you publicly declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will experience salvation.
• Romans 8:28 – So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.
• Romans 12:2 – Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.
• Philippians 4:13 – I know what it means to lack, and I know what it means to experience overwhelming abundance. For I’m trained in the secret of overcoming all things, whether in fullness or in hunger. And I find that the strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty.
…Read more; now available on your computer at Bible Gateway or on your smartphone at You Version.

Exclusive Offers and the Sin of Partiality

This article appeared today at Thinking Out Loud

Early in the week, I was contacted to see if I knew how someone could get their hands on a song by Casting Crowns titled Listen to Our Hearts. They believed it was on the album Come to the Well, but they couldn’t locate it there.

A little research later, I determined that the song was a bonus track which was only sold to people who pre-ordered the album on iTunes.

It’s not the first time something like this has happened.

In the past few years there have been entire albums by Christian artists which were only available at LifeWay stores. Here, I need to point out that there are no LifeWay stores in Canada or the UK, so fans of the artists in questions simply could not obtain the product, no matter how hard they tried.

There’s something about this that just strikes me as wrong.

I saw an article the other day about “The Sin of Partiality.” Not surprisingly it began in the book of James (2:1-4):

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

My brain connected the article with the song request.

I know Casting Crowns needs to make money, and I’m not saying they should give their songs away for free — the influence of Keith Green notwithstanding — but somewhere between open source and restricted access there should be a balance.

I posted a fan-posted YouTube edition the song on Twitter as a type of protest. That way some people got to hear it that day. I added that a year, or two years later, “the song never surfaced in any form.” That brought this reader response:

To which I responded,

I realize that Christian retail is fraught with moral and ethical perils. The one I hear the most is, “The Bible should be free.” (I always have free copies to meet that objection.) I don’t expect the people at iTunes to live by Christian standards, but surely the people at LifeWay must know, in the back of their minds, that at the same time they’re doing something for their customers, they are denying others, right? (In a future article, we’ll look at the related idea of giving greater discounts to people buying in quantity, which is always an ethical dilemma.)

I just think anytime you say “exclusive offer” you’re letting some people in and shutting some people out.

At that point, the connection to what James says about favoritism is valid.

Note: The song was a collaboration between three artists. The versions by Steven Curtis Chapman and Geoff Moore have proved equally elusive in 2018.

Parasource Backs Off Aggressive Discounts

February 14, 2018 2 comments

Popular titles such as The Five Love Languages, Crazy Love and The Proving by Beverly Lewis were showing at a 10% discount on Wednesday night on the new Parasource consumer website, down from 30% on launch day. As we write this, we’re believing that this may be a response to retail dealer reaction to the site.

Some featured titles, such as The Action Storybook Bible were being offered at 18% off; while Zondervan and Nelson titles from HarperCollins such as Purpose Driven Life, and the NIV Study Bible were also down to a 10% discount from an earlier high of 25%. Product sourcing from Foundation Distributing, such as The Message Bible were still at net price, and typing in other Foundation titles such as “Masterpiece Francine Rivers” continued to yield no results.

On a page marked “Seasonal Sales” however, we were able to find items such as the two below at a 50% discount, and hovering over a tab marked “Bargain Bin” yields the message, “Coming Soon.”

Many stores signed on to a letter of concern which was forwarded to Parasource on Friday. Additionally, some, like my own store, have adopted an “Essential Orders Only” policy while waiting to see what Parasource plans in terms of the marketing of the site to the Canadian Christian community at large.


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Remembering James Sire

You never forget the books that marked your entry into this business, and for me, acting as Warehouse Manager for InterVarsity Press (IVP) in Canada, one of those books was The Universe Next Door by James Sire.

Sire was also a longtime (30 year) editorial director at IVP who introduced the world to authors such as Francis Schaeffer (How Shall We Then Live), Rebecca Manley Pippert (Out of the Saltshaker) Calvin Miller (The Singer) and Os Guinness (The Dust of Death). Dare I say it was a golden era for IVP? Sire is credited with raising the profile of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s (IVCF) publishing arm to the point it could attract top authors.

Sire died on Tuesday; he was 84. In addition to Universe, his own books with IVP included the classic Scripture Twisting (1980) to the more recent Apologetics Beyond Reason (2014).

There’s a full tribute to James Sire at the IVP website, as well as this article in Christianity Today.


Gospel Lighthouse Waterloo Move: Not the Move Customers Expected

The Gospel Lighthouse store in Waterloo — at one time part of the legacy Carpenter’s Shop chain — had until the end of February to vacate its current location on King Street. It had another location in place on Victoria Street, when, as Lynda Schoffro described it, everything fell apart.

“I thought I had my location secured and found out we have zoning issues.” That was last Friday.

Then yesterday, an announcement appeared on Facebook under the heading, “Our Plan ‘B’ Was God’s Plan ‘A'” Instead, the store is moving to the Frederick Street Mall at the corner of Edna and Frederick in Kitchener. Customers are already looking forward to plenty of free parking, and better yet, no threat of parking tickets. Other mall tenants include a florist, sewing machine store, a grocery store, a restaurant, a bank, a theatre and a dollar store.

The store is one of eleven Gospel Lighthouse stores in Southern and Western Ontario. Learn more at

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Store Frontliners Not Considered Influencers

Pastors work their way down the line of giveaway books at T4G.

My store should have closed years ago. Partly, what has kept it going has been the synergy between my retail store and my writing at my blog, Thinking Out Loud. Over the years I have been blessed to be the recipient of many free books from a variety of publishers I greatly respect — still nothing from IVP, though — and these have been kept and treasured in my personal library and my passion for these titles has resulted in ordering multiple copies for the retail store.

I realize many of you reading this do not have that particular advantage.

In the past, sales associates, managers and owners would attend conventions such as CBA and come home with a suitcase full of free books. They would have met authors and had copies autographed. Their excitement would be contagious and result in customers making purchases.

Again, at the risk of overstating the obvious, customers making purchases is what keeps the whole industry going. Remove sales from the equation and publishers might as well lock the doors. It’s for that reason I believe, sales associates should be at the top of the pecking order when it comes to the distribution of review copies.

Don’t think publishers can afford to throw a half-dozen copies of some new or forthcoming releases? Then you underestimate the budget for marketing which is part of the MSRP of every book you carry. I don’t care how small your store is, your store staff is more influential than the ‘mommy bloggers’ getting free books who only have a handful of readers per day.

I say all this because I want to present you with a list of “Zero Dollar Books.” These are books which every single pastor attending last year’s Calvinpalooza better known as Together for the Gospel got for free. This is the largest number of titles they’ve given out.

No Adam, No Gospel (chapter), Gaffin
Grace Hymnal
Reviving the Black Church, Anyabwile
Christ-Centered Exposition (Matthew), Platt
Understanding the Great Commission and the Church, Dever
Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus, Dever
Swans 7: Camaraderie of Confidence, Piper
ESV Gospel Transformation Bible
Church in Hard Places, McConnell/McKinley
NIV Study Bible
We Cannot Be Silent, Mohler
Same Sex Attraction and the Church, Shaw
Thoughts for Young Men, Ryle
Simplicity in Preaching, Ryle
Psalms Commentary, Plumer
Faith Alone, Sproul
Ligonier’s Christology Statement, Sproul
Are We Together?, Sproul
[Source, with list from other years, click here.]

That’s right. One of each. Every pastor. Absolutely free.

Don’t you think your staff is worth at least some similar type of perk? Maybe not from this doctrinal stream or those publishers, but something?

Publisher’s don’t, and in Canada, the situation is compounded by the secondary tier created by independent distributors. As I’ve written before, in 17 years, I’ve received one free book from FDI, How to Smell Like God. (Yes, that’s the title.) One. Book. 17 Years. I gave it away at some point.

There are two exceptions. I have to assume the top dozen stores in the country are better serviced with Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) and review copies of finished books. I know some stores were getting a fiction package from David C. Cook Distribution Canada before the corporate restructuring. The other exception is HarperCollins Christian Publishing, where stores are dealing direct with the publisher. They have always been generous, even when I wanted to delve into older backlist for a particular review on the blog.

I just think the size of the list above is rather obscene. Don’t you?

Stores deserve better.



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Canadian Bible Society Launches New Website

After some delays from Thursday’s scheduled launch, the Canadian Bible Society (CBS) has completed its first major website update since 2009. opened today.

For an opening special, CBS is offering 30% off on case lot orders, though users need to dig in to find out what the carton quantity is exactly. There are currently no other special promotions on offer.

New customers must create a login and password.

The site is limited to products produced by CBS, ABS, or the United Bible Societies around the world, and other items it sells in its store under special arrangement. In other words, no trade Bibles from major publishers such as Zondervan, Nelson, Baker, Tyndale, etc.; at least not so far.

Seventeen indigenous languages are represented.

There is a “Price Alert” for each item whereby users can receive email notification if a particular item is going on sale.

The site also indicates if an item is on backorder and shows the exact number in stock of those available for immediate shipping.

There is a minimum $4.95 flat rate shipping charges, and then additional charges based on the weight of each piece. Presumably items ship from CBS headquarters in Toronto.

An advance search feature allows for searching by binding, colour, font size, etc.

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Canadian Stores Contacting U.S. Publishers

February 5, 2018 2 comments

This is a fuller version of something that was rushed to some of you on Friday in view of developments which took place last week. I hope you find it a useful guide if you’re contemplating going this route.

Contact – The person you want to speak to first is the director of the International Sales Department. Not the International order desk. You want to state your case as to why you are trying to set up a direct account.

Time Zones – International Sales directors work weird hours. (I know this personally; I’ve had friends who held this position and I’ve had to deal with them when I worked in wholesale.) They are in constant contact, for example, with Christian retailers and distributors in Australia and New Zealand, as well as Europe and Africa. You may wonder why you’re always missing them by phone or why your emails are not being replied to right away. And don’t forget U.S. time zones.

Rights – They might try to shut you down with the line that Company X has that line exclusively for Canada. I can’t imagine that this is always the case and as I’ll explain below, don’t be dissuaded at this point. Many of these contracts are non-exclusive. Some of these contracts are exclusive marketing contracts, and have nothing to do with sales. And it can be argued that in the present situation, Company X is in breach of any arrangement which spells them out as a distributor now that they have entered into the role of a retailer. It’s very important that they know that, “In the last week everything has changed in Canada, and in terms of the way the playing field has been, all bets are now off.”

Timing – While this may seem like a great time to explore this, you might want to wait until you’ve got a significant (for your store’s size) number of titles with that publishers ready to order, so that you’re discussing a tangible order and they have an idea how many units you’re considering. Once you’ve got one publisher on board, you can use them as a reference in approaching others. This is going to be difficult at first, but once the paradigm starts to shift — and I believe it will — the metaphorical Berlin Wall is going to fall fast.

Size – Related to the above, remember that under current arrangements, your order is not going to be as significant as a distributor might place, but then again, it’s important to you. In the R. G. Mitchell days, case lot ordering was common in these situations, but now U.S. publishers are accustomed to shipping mixed-title cases. The present distributor is probably not buying all that many copies of each title. American publishers need sales, too; and might be glad to have you a customer no matter how small that order appears to you.

Discount – Still, you should expect to receive something more than the standard trade discount, and you’re going to need that extra margin to deal with some costs you may not be accustomed to experiencing, such as brokerage. Placing an order through the foreign order desk, you should get at least what a domestic account might expect to get at a major trade show. At least. Or they may have a deal where you get a free copy when you order eight or ten. Generally, 50% would not be uncommon at all in this situation. And if you have multiple locations, I would expect to do even better.

Brokerage – You need paperwork to get your shipment across the border. Properly completed paperwork, with correct Harmonized Codes detailing product type and intended use, as well as country of origin. (Many children’s books are printed in the far east; you need paperwork that shows this on a line-by-line basis, for each title.) We may have a Free Trade deal with the U.S. (for now) but we still need proper documentation. (I blame Statistics Canada for some of this.) It sounds complicated, but if you choose UPS’ international service, your actual brokerage charge might be as low as $30. On the other hand, some of you have imported before and have a customs broker. My little store is set up with DeJong (in Norwich, Ontario) the same company the big guys use, though I haven’t needed them for about a year. (Technically, the brokerage is called Parkview, then DeJong ships to you in Canada, often on a transport truck. If you don’t have a loading door where a transport can park, expect to load off by hand from the back of the truck.) The government collects the GST/HST at this stage as well. You want to make sure you are paying this on the wholesale cost and not the retail price so you really need properly prepared and formatted international invoices (and usually 4 copies enclosed with the order).

Freight – You’re probably going to pay more in terms of percentage to have your order shipped from the U.S., unless the distributor agrees to pay some of the brokerage and shipping from the U.S. In the case of a company like DeJong, you might want to see if they’ll hand off your order to a courier for domestic delivery, or if they have a customer near your store where they can drop your smaller order.

Payment – I personally prefer to pay these things by credit card. Some suppliers may request a bank draft because of the extra discount they’re giving you. Either way, on these deals expect to pay in U.S. funds, so be aware of the current exchange rate and do the math before you order.

Delivery – Use a ground rate that is reasonable. Your order may take up to ten working days (two weeks) but it’s a slower time of year.

Bonus Items – You might find your order contains a few things that you’re not accustomed to seeing here, like a window poster advertising a new title, or even a review copy of a forthcoming title. (They’ll show these at no charge on your paperwork, though; you don’t want your parcel inspected and have it containing undocumented items.) You can ask if they have any autographed copies of items you’re buying, though not all customers appreciate these. 

Pricing – Price your order as the Canadian distributors are currently doing but with a concession toward any better exchange rate you received after factoring in brokerage and freight.

…Let us know how you make out. Keep track of your overall discount and then what your freight and brokerage is as a percentage of the net order. Don’t track GST/HST; you would have paid that anyway.

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NLT Claims Four of Top-Ten Spots in 2017 Bible Sales

Based on sales data from NPD Bookscan (formerly Nielsen Bookscan) the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association recently posted the Top 25 Bible Sales chart for 2017. NLT had four spots in the top ten, NIV had three, and NKJV, Amplified and KJV had one each.

The chart records sales of individual editions and no composite ranking of overall bestselling translations was available.

When the entire Top 25 is considered, the situation with NIV and NLT reverses: “There were a total of seven NIV editions in the Top 25 Bibles Bestsellers, followed by six editions of the NLT (Tyndale).”

Click this link to see all 25.

How does that top ten list compare with your store’s experience? For mine, the editions are different, but the overall translation mix is about right, at least for the top ten. 


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Snakes in Church!

We had something else scheduled today about yet another new consumer website, but it appears not to have launched. So instead we bring you something lighter.

Two Academic publishers (University of Tennessee and Duke University) have released titles about snake-handling churches. U. of Tenn released In the House of the Serpent Handler: A Story of Faith and Fleeting Fame in the Age of Social Media by Julia Duin. Given its location in The American South, it shouldn’t surprise us that it’s the 4th such title for that press. (Sidebar: Julia is a religion writer for The Washington Post but that didn’t stop them from calling her up to report on the Amazon Go! store which opened in her hometown. I guess one needs to be flexible!)

Test of Faith: Signs, Serpents, Salvation by Lauren Pond released through Duke University is a photographic collection, and was a subject less typical for them. It came about as part of prize Pond won in 2016. Both books apparently offer “an insider’s perspective.”

Read more at Publisher’s Weekly.

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Retailers Respond To Parasource (2)

Derek Martin from Living Waters in Linwood, Ontario writes:

Yes, I agree this has been a surprise.

I feel the same as you do, and many of the rest of you. If someone wants to distribute and retail, I believe and feel very strongly they must abide by their own retail prices. If they don’t feel like they can do that, how do they expect the rest of us to survive. It is one thing to distribute and retail at the Suggested Retail prices, and quite another to distribute from one, and turn around and sell into the churches and schools across Canada (Our customers) and market to them.

It looks as if Parasource no longer believes we are doing our job well enough, and they believe they can do it better. However, the only difference is they need to be able to sell for less than everyone else for them to do it. (Example: Parasource Stock # 313513 is SRP $15.99 – 37% $10.07, or on their retail site $15.99 – 25% $11.99 & Free Shipping)

I believe it’s time for Parasource to play fair, or chose between either being a retailer or distributor. If they are a distributor, they can either find a Canadian retailer to have a website, or they can adjust their pricing to be at their suggested retail prices (Approx 34% higher than US retail prices) with the current exchange at 23%.

I say all this, recognizing we distribute a few products to many of you as well, however, you can at anytime walk into our store, and any of our wholesale books will be at the Canadian retail price, and if they are ever on sale, we offer the wholesale discount on the sale price as well.

We have also been in contact with Parasource, and currently stand with the Gospel Lighthouse and any of you who also recognize this move (as is currently) from Parasource is not fair in one bit to any retailer. I have built many good relationships with the people at Parasource over the years, however, I do not believe this move is ethical to their customers.

I along with Lynda, implore you to take a stand. Call the American Publishers and make them aware that their Canadian distributor is no longer a distributor but our competition. If Parasource wants their retail/consumer site, they should be required to buy at the prices we are obligated to buy at.

Thanks everyone, God bless as you continue to serve in this ministry.

Derek Martin

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