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Archive for January, 2009

Lawson Falle Makes Veiled Accusations Against Dayspring

logo_upperDid anyone else get that letter from Lawson Falle this week?   The undated letter, clearly intended for U.S. customers’ eyes only, with its reference to “what makes the American economy strong;” and what is “not the American way;” makes no mistake as to its intent:

  • “…untruths are being spread by our competition about Lawson Falle Publishing that must be addressed.”
  • “The rumors of Lawson Falle Publishing’s demise are unequivocally unfounded.”
  • “Monopolistic practices squelch innovation.”
  • “The competitor’s motivation for spreading untruths is clearly not in your best interest.  Their intent to remove choice form the market is not healthy…”

While a number of U.S. companies sell greeting cards into the U.S. Christian bookstore market — we deal with Dear Cards ourselves — there is no question that this is directed at Dayspring.    Lawson Falle wants to see a two-supplier market, and is clearly given to believe that Dayspring does not.

Of course, corporately, Dayspring has never liked the idea of anyone dictating the rules of play.   So it’s not a huge leap to believe that Lawson Falle had lots of anecdotal evidence  that pushed them to write this letter.  So now, it’s a catfight on a grand scale.

Footnote: The letter, on Marian Heath letterhead, never uses what we understood to be the “new” corporate identity, Life Cards.

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Too Much Information

All of us with computers need to guard against the possibility of over-using e-mail.    It’s fast, it’s free and it’s dangerous if you’re offending the people you’re trying to reach.   Sometimes you need to take a break from using it altogether.

This year I’ve taken the unusual step of blocking e-mails from a couple of my suppliers, and a local concert promoter.   While information is key in our business, sometimes enough is enough.   I’ve never once made a purchase from IAM Distribution anyway; and their DVD covers in their e-mails tend to arrive uncompressed; which take forever to download even with high speed DSL internet.    Crown Video has also completely over-worked this particular mode of communication.

At our end, we were only using our e-mail list once a month.   There are few churches or pastors who hear from me about every ten days, but most of those tend to be customized announcements that go to a select list.   The names on that list are kept “open” so that they know they are one of a small handful of people receiving that particular e-mail.  (They would all know each others addresses through the ministerial association anyway.)  Right now, our general e-mail broadcast is on hold, mostly because of the complaint of one individual — a pastor –who is leaving that church in a few weeks. While he is only one of many; I took his remarks to heart and backed off a little more with e-mails; even though I disagreed with him.

Of course when you do use e-mail to promote your store; brevity and concision are of the greatest importance.    Product pictures should be compressed and thumbnail size, in deference to people still on dial-up internet.    HTML layouts should assume recipients with both regular and wide-screen monitors.     Basic store information should be reiterated in each mailout, in the event someone forwards your e-mail to their friends.   Finally, e-mails should always link the recipients back to your store website, or contain another “next steps” plan of action, but don’t be too swift with “expiry” dates on offers, since some people only read their e-mails once a week.

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Book Tables: Taking the Goods to Where the People are Gathered

This week all the eastern Canada chapters of Youth for Christ gathered here for their staff conference.    From the beginning it was a foregone conclusion by the organizers — not sure why — that we would not have a book table at the event as we’ve done with them on other occasions, but they suggested we have a coupon in the welcome pack.

We printed up 110 customized, full-colour coupons, with generous discounts, giving directions to the store which was just two blocks down the road.    We displayed a rather large collection of books related to youth ministry, church planting, next-gen ministries, postmodern outreach, missional church, social justice and emerging/Emergent church topics.

Nobody came.   It reminded me of the movie title, “What If They Gave a War and Nobody Came?”   It was a complete shutout.

I’m not sure if this reflects a disdain for Christian bookstores among younger leaders, or just a preference for buying online, making stores like ours completely irrelevant.

It’s not just the financial loss, but the realization that some great resources never made it back to local YFC chapters; including a few things that are imports, out-of-print, or simply not sold in other Christian bookstores (like both editions of the Kiwi Bible; a Word on the Street -type ‘Bible’ in New Zealand street slang).

We should have grovelled, begged, pleaded; … done anything that we could to arrange for a traditional book table.   Today some people would be enjoying some great books; and our bank deposit would mean we wouldn’t need to borrow the money we need to borrow to make our GST payment today.

I typed this in blue for that reason; blue is how we feel today.

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Three Things My Business Advisor Taught Me 15 Years Ago

  1. Nobody keeps a mental record of the hours your store is open.  You have to post them in the window, mention them on your phone answering machine, and make only subtle changes in them at any given time.
  2. As a rule, the majority of customers will not venture more than one-third into your floor space unless you place the items of greatest necessity at the back, or have a store layout and merchandising which absolutely compels them to press deeper into the store.
  3. You don’t make up bad weather days.  That’s a myth.  While customers with urgent needs will come back the next day; the sum of the two-days’ sales will not equal what it would have been without the bad weather.

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New Retail Store in Toronto: Former RGM Employees Team Up With Castle Quay Publisher

January 27, 2009 2 comments

This teaser is on the free page at Quill and Quire…

New Christian book retailer rises from R.G. Mitchell’s ashes

When the Ontario Christian book wholesaler and retailer R.G. Mitchell went into receivership last year, it left a big hole in the faith-based book marketplace. This April, a new retail operation – managed by two former R.G. Mitchell employees – will attempt to fill the…

Continue reading the story in the COMMENTS section.

UPDATE:    The store will be at McCowan and north of Highway 401 in the east end of Toronto.  (If you know Toronto, that’s the general vacinity of the Scarborough Town Centre and the flagship station of the CTV television network, Toronto’s Channel 9.)   They’re looking at grand opening early April, with a soft opening prior.   “They” includes a couple of non-industry investors; one investor name you’d recognize; and some former RGMers staffing key positions.      Click on “comments” below to continue reading.


But You Expect CT Readers To Be… Well… Readers

January 27, 2009 1 comment
Christianity Today Poll
How many books do you read a month?
More than 5


14%
4-5

18%
2-3

26%
1-2

37%
NONE

5%


Total Votes: 245

Categories: Uncategorized

Pricing: Being Thankful for Small Mercies

Check out these prices:

  • The Beginner Bible – $56.00 U.S. (hardcover)
  • More Than A Carpenter – $27.00 U.S.   (paperback)
  • The Case for Christ – $41.00 U.S. (paperback)

Give up? They’re the prices STL charges for Japanese editions of those books.

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Virtual Tour of a Christian Trade Show

The Christian book publisher with the most to gain by promoting the existence of Church Bookstores, recently held a conference on that theme, and all the major gift suppliers and book publishers were there.    Cleverly, they allowed each of them to post a one minute message online for those of us who weren’t there, which forms a virtual tour of the entire show.   You can see that by clicking here.

Interestingly, a few of the vendors get down to business and start talking discounts.   One giftware company offered an extra 15% over and above regular wholesale, while Illinois-based Crossway books offered an everyday minimum discount of 44% and free freight.

If your 2008 numbers showed that you ended up with around 6% profit, and suddenly a supplier offers you an extra 4% (with prepub orders no doubt proportionately better also) that means you could be looking at 10% before even factoring in the free freight.    Generally, U.S. discounts are always more favorable than what we get here in Canada where “trade discount = 40%” is still considered something stores can still survive with. *

*Not that wholesale distributors don’t need more points, too.

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The Auction Complete, The Story Ends

r-g-mitchellAfter attending yesterday’s auction, David Fisher, for many years owner of The Ambassador Christian Bookstore in Peterborough, posts an obituary for Mitchell Family Books, that not only you, but all of your regular customers should read.  (Send them the link.)  Connect to the article here.

David W. Fisher was for many years chaplain to the Toronto Blue Jays and still operates Epistle Sports Ministries in Peterborough; while also managing donor relations for SIM Canada in Toronto. Graphic:  Pilgrim Scribblings blog (D. Fisher).

-30- (universal journalism symbol for, “end of story.”)


Stores Won’t Get New Beverly Lewis Title Without Signing Baker Books Contract In Blood

An open letter to David Lewis,  Executive V. P. Marketing, Baker Book Group, Grand Rapids, MI

…You have this completely bureaucratized, law-and-order society where your citizenry are quite content to jump through hoops.

We have a system here where if people understand “why” they are willing to cooperate without coercion or threat.

The Beverly Lewis “street date affidavit” crossed a line for my stores.   We’ve notified David C. Cook that we will not carry this title as part of the spring flyer or as a stock item.   We will explain to our customers that it is not available through our stores.

I have also canceled all backorders for Baker Group titles.   This is not the industry I signed up to work in.

Book Expo Canada in Limbo

trade-show-introWith Penguin and HarperCollins joining Random House in sitting out this year’s Book Expo Canada, the future of the trade show is now up in the air, though Reed Exhibitions hasn’t said anything officially.   This means that out of the “big four” only Simon & Schuster is expected to exhibit.   The annual book event attracts approx. 200 publishers, but in a Friday article, the Globe and Mail asks the questions:

“…are booksellers in Vancouver or Edmonton or Halifax going to commit to coming to Toronto knowing that three former anchor tenants won’t be there? And will other small or medium-sized publishers bow out now that the lure of the big guys isn’t there?”

Read the entire Globe and Mail story here.

HT Quill and Quire

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Photo:  Don’t look too closely, it’s just a generic trade show shot.

Disclaimer:  No, I don’t believe in limbo.

Categories: Uncategorized

A Book About Church for Academics and The Rest of Us, Too

If your city or town as a Youth For Christ or Youth Unlimited chapter, you need to know that a few years back, the national YFC Canada conference was greatly impacted by Michael Frost of Australia.

rejesusMichael Frost and Alan Hirsch have combined for another book; don’t let the title of this one throw you, but it’s called ReJesus. (Once you understand the title, it actually makes a lot of sense.)   Because it’s written by two people, and because chapters contain many theses and hypotheses, it’s written in a “we believe” or “we are advancing the idea that…” first person plural style (instead of an “I think”) which by itself makes for interesting reading.

Essentially, Frost and Hirsch are trying to recover the idea that we need to get back to a fundamental understand of who Jesus was, and then just as you might “re-boot” your computer if it wasn’t resopnding, we need to “re-Jesus” our understanding of what it means to be the church, and need to “reJesus” other types of ministry situations.   I started reading this on Friday, and the weekend has been full of distractions, but I’m already halfway through.

The book is available in paperback from Hendrickson/Augsburg Fortress, and in addition to Youth For Christ people, will sell strongly among the same under 40 crowd that buy other Emergent, Emerging and Missional titles.  It would also make a good small group study.