Archive for November, 2008

Getting the Demographics Right

The church that I’ve been attending for the past three years is demographically challenged.   The median age skews high, with a number of people in their 90s in regular attendance.    The pastor has introduced a worship pattern consisting mostly of modern choruses, though there’s often — but not always — a few hymns.  The older ones don’t always like it, but they appreciate where he’s coming from.

And where he’s going; the popular advice is that you should adjust your worship to fit the demographic you’d like to see in attendance; a rather tricky piece of advice if the congregation rebels.   They also say that if you’re preaching to 100 people, you should craft your sermon and your delivery as though you’re speaking to 200 people; and if you do this, the church will grow.   I know what they’re trying to say with this, but again, it’s tricky.

What has this got to do with us?

We hear reports of things going on at Lando Klassen’s House of James store in B.C., where a concerted effort is being made to attract the next generation.    I know that in my stores, there’s a lot that could be accomplished with a few new paint colors, and last month, the old wire record rack (yes, really) that was being used to display some other product was finally put to rest.     My goal is to identify outdated fixtures from time to time and see that they get taken to fixture heaven (i.e. landfill or scrap metal dealer).

But what about the products themselves?

Gospel Folio Press sells a calendar each year called Choice Gleanings. When I got the promotional e-mail, probably while having a bad day, I wrote back and said, “Most of my customers in their 30s and 40s wouldn’t know a gleaning if they fell over one.”   (Add rimshot here!)  But the word “gleaning” just isn’t part of modern vocabulary.  (Our local PAOC church finally changed its name from “Glad Tidings” to “Church on the Hill.”  You just don’t hear the expression “glad tidings” anymore except in a Christmas carol.)

Chris Cairns of Gospel Folio Press was gracious — make that very gracious — enough to take my comment at face value and provide some background.

gleanings“We print over 60,000 of the Choice Gleanings Calendars in the various forms a year, and each year we are very close to selling them all. This calendar is sold all over the world. Without this calendar, Gospel Folio Press would not be able to exist…

“As a 32 year old, I understand that many people my age would not know what a “gleaning” is. I also desire to expand our sales of this item in the future. However, before anyone in my family were affiliated with
Gospel Folio Press, I remember the Choice Gleanings Wall Calendar hanging in our home, and I remember seeing a few of the pages stuck in my mother’s Bible that she was thinking about.   Even if I were not working for the company, I know I would still have a Choice Gleanings Calendar somewhere in my home. And I receive hundreds of similar comments in a year from others.”

I appreciate the comment.   I wrote back today and suggested that perhaps in the future they can adapt a differently-named product on a parallel track without having to incur the costs of develop something else from scratch.   I think we need to be sensitive to demographic issues; and I think that retailers have a responsibility to provide feedback to their suppliers both in terms of how things are now, and where they see things going over the next few years.

But selling 60,000 copies of a calendar also means you don’t want to tinker too much with something that is obviously meeting a need.

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Christmas Music

This tongue-in-cheek graph, from would never apply to Christian music…or would it?


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Blog Readers Share Their Big Five Book Lists


Over the spring and summer, a blogger I read every day, Steve McCoy, who pastors in Woodstock, Illinois, posted a series of invitations to readers to give their five favorite books in a number of categories, including:

  • personal evangelism
  • preaching
  • spiritual warfare
  • church leadership
  • systematic theology
  • the gospels
  • suffering
  • study Bibles
  • for seekers
  • writing
  • laughter
  • prayer
  • marriage
  • parenting
  • the cross
  • books that changed your mind
  • short books
  • daily devotionals
  • books you haven’t personally read
  • hermeneutics
  • Calvinism
  • biographies
  • sin and temptation

It was a great series to read; and I jumped in a few times.   (It’s never too late, BTW.)   If you truly love books; you can link directly to these particular blog posts, indexed here.   Then, scroll to the very bottom of the page to catch the earliest ones and read upwards.   Click on the comments for each individual post.   Most of this stuff is still somewhat timeless.

Hey…unpack that last sentence: “…is still [limited temporal reference] somewhat timeless [unlimited temporal reference].”

Pictured:  Steve McCoy at Reformissionary

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If You Drive a Car, You’ll Want to Read This

Today’s post on my personal blog has nothing in it that’s industry-related, but if you do a lot of driving, you’re going to want to have a look at this, especially if you live in the province of Ontario.   You might thank me for this one some day!   You can link to the particular article here. On the other hand, if you’re the kind of person whose blood pressure rises with stories of injustice, you might want to skip this one altogether.
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Canadian Band TFK, wins Taco Bell Contest

from Christian Retailing online:

Canadian Christian rock band Thousand Foot Krutch was named one of the three winners yesterday of Taco Bell’s inaugural “Best of the Beat” promotion—which is part of the quick service restaurant’s Feed the Beat program, according to the group’s label, Tooth & Nail Records.

Along with the bands Hit the Lights and Fireflight, Thousand Foot Krutch will work with Taco Bell to hire a well-known producer to record a single for them, which will be part of an online promotion on for the restaurant next spring.

“When we entered this contest, we never thought we’d wind up being one of the winning bands,” said lead singer Trevor McNevan. “…We want to thank Taco Bell for doing something like this to raise awareness of the great bands out there hitting the road to share their music with people.”

More than 180,000 votes were cast in October and early November on Taco Bell’s Virtual Music Festival Web site, and Thousand Foot Krutch was one of the three bands that won the bracket-style contest. The restaurant provided $500 in Taco Bell Bucks to all participating bands.

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Lucado’s Cast of Characters is Really “Lucado’s Greatest Hits Vol. 1”

cast-of-charactersIf your customers complain that the pages in the book they bought seem all too familiar, they’re right.   Max Lucado’s Cast of Characters: Common People in the Hands of an Uncommon God; is a great compendium on some key Bible personalities, but also, the closest the book industry gets to a “Greatest Hits” album. Everything in this (except perhaps for the introduction) has been previously published, which is going to really irk the people who always buy the new Lucado titles either for themselves or as Christmas gifts. It’s 226 previously released pages from a variety of earlier books.Can book buyers anticipate this sort of thing the way music buyers do?

Retailers are accustomed to books being repackaged under new titles, such as the “new” Dee Henderson novel.   We’re accustomed to selling omnibus collections which contain existing titles.   This one is, I believe, a bit unique.  In the record industry, a “Greatest Hits” album is usually released when an artist contract is about to run out.   That does seem unlike here; where is there to go after Thomas Nelson?   (Okay, there’s Zondervan perhaps.)  Make sure your staff let your customers know this.

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Slicing Up The Lutheran Publishing Pie

November 20, 2008 2 comments

Rumour of the week: That Concordia Publishing House, a.k.a. CPH, miffed over Augsburg Fortress’ purchase of Anglican Book Centre, is moving to Foundation Distribution; where the Arch Books and the Happy Day Books can fight it out in the same warehouse.

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Every Bookstore Should Carry This Furniture Accessory

This item could revolutionize our industry.


The Bibliochaise can be seen both full and empty at Nobody and Company

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Shack Spanish Releases: Why Booksellers Should Care About a French Edition

November 18, 2008 6 comments

the-shack-spanishIf any book out there deserves a French language edition, The Shack is the one. French language editions of English Christian books are somewhat hit-and-miss. Two primary distributors serve the Canadian market from Quebec. The books can be quite expensive, with paperback editions often selling in the upper $20s range. CMC carried a number of music titles, also. But The Shack could also be a unique title to strike a responsive chord with Quebec readers, most of whom have long rejected institutional church.

Pictured at right is the just-announced Spanish version. Do you have a market for French books in your store? Would your store purchase a few copies of a french edition of The Shack if you knew that your purchase was supporting a struggling Quebec Christian book market?

Update – 7 months later: June 23, 2009 — We’ve contacted the publisher in France to see if they have a connection with a distributor here in North America and hope to have an answer for you very soon.   For those of you in Europe, link here.

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Distribution Mystery

November 18, 2008 3 comments

In previous posts I’ve implied that all the major prizes had been taken home.   I may be wrong.   Who has ended up with Oasis Audio?   Whoever gets this for Canada essentially has the CDs for titles from a variety of publishers. The sales numbers aren’t huge, but it would be wrong to write off the whole audio genre in the Christian market. Remember, we’re the people who invited “teaching tapes” back in the ’60s.

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Veggie Tales Creator Launches JellyTelly Online; Bypasses Retail Channel


Phil Vischer, creator of Veggie Tales, has announced today that Jelly Telly is up and running.   The internet channel for kids offers 20 minutes of fresh content daily will initially be supported by “pay what you can” monthly subscriptions; and includes programming from God Rocks, which is created here in Canada.  There is no indication at this time that any ancillary product is forthcoming for retailers.

You can read more in my personal blog, where you can also link directly to the Jelly Telly site.

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House Film Release Does Poorly in Opening Weekend, “R” Rating a Possible Reason

houseThe movie House based on the book by Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti, finished in 24th spot on opening weekend, grossing only $355K at the box office.   That means it is almost certain to arrive on DVD before too long.   The question is, with its R-rating for violence, is this something you would want to carry in your store?   Check out the two-minute movie trailer here.   Is this the start of the Christian “Rated R” movie genre?

Don’t watch this if there’s kids in the room, or you really don’t want to know the suspense level of some of the books you carry in your store.

If this is your first time on GodTube, check out the rest of the content.  Try clicking on “videos” and then “most viewed,” or type in the name of a favorite Christian band, author, pastor or speaker.

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