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Archive for April, 2009

Foundation Distributing Presents “A Day In The Country”

oronoAnother sure sign of spring is Foundation’s “Day in the Country” event in which dealers are allowed to run amok through the warehouse, playing games, enjoying lunch and visiting one another.

The event is part warehouse clearance, part remainder book show, and part frontlist buying opportunity.

This year’s theme was based on the popular TV show, “The Amazing Race,” in which stores completed an entry ballot by answering 30 questions that could only be answered by checking out merchandise on selected warehouse shelves throughout the facility.   The winner was to receive a $1,000 gift card from Best Buy.

The event also featured a demo of an engraving machine  from P. Graham Dunn — one of Foundation’s vendors — which can be used to customize everything from plaques to pens.   Each retailer attending today’s event received an engraved wood name tag produced on the machine that, ignoring Foundation’s own logo, could be used back home in their own stores.

For stores returning to the event for the first time since Foundation added several major publishers, this was a first look at some of the new nooks and crannies created as the distributor continues its takeover of the Orono, Ontario building it now owns.

But for other stores — especially a large number of major buyers from Alberta and British Columbia who were flown in for the event — this was their very first look inside Foundation’s operation.

There were no major announcements while we were there in the morning, but Foundation has apparently ended its relationship with Madacy Music.  No word on who will service the CBA market moving forward.

If anyone at FDI wants to send us some pictures of the day, we’ll gladly post them.

Orono is truly “in the country.”  If you Google it, all you get back is “yawn.”   But the Orono Bakery — check out the flax rolls and nine-grain bread — has competition; we counted five places to eat downtown.    If you can call it downtown.   Lots of antique shops, though.

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Adrian Plass — Classic Christian Humour

adrian-plassLiving in a country that simply adores British Humour — yikes!, we even spell ‘humor’ differently up here — means that Canadians are a more likely audience for U.K. Christian author Adrian Plass.

We’re more likely to get some of the references to other British institutions, not to mention the dry wit.   The title of Plass’ best known work, The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged 37 1/4, is itself a tongue in cheek reference to a British children’s book.   But I’ll be the first to admit the humour section of Christian bookstores isn’t a high traffic area, and some stores don’t have one at all.

bacon-sandwichesI’m just finishing reading Bacon Sandwiches and Salvation available in North America through STL Distributors.    This is an A-Z encylopedia of things Christian and Biblical interspersed with short anecdotal stories.   His explanation of Christian choruses still brings me to where I can’t read it aloud with breaking up!

Later this year, Zondervan U.K. is releasing three new titles, which we’ve been told we will be able to get here, but are not releasing through them in the U.S.   Hopefully, U.S. readers who are fans will be able to get their hands on them.   They are releasing his full-length novel Ghosts again, under a different title to try to help it find a larger audience.

In the meantime, here’s a full list of Plass’ books courtesy of Wikipedia:

  • “Adrians Adventskalender” (only in German)
  • “Adrians Neuer Adventskalender” (only in German)
  • An Alien at St. Wilfred’s
  • And Jesus Will Be Born
  • Bacon Sandwiches and Salvation
  • Blind Spots in the Bible
  • Broken Windows, Broken Lives
  • Cabbages for the King
  • Clearing away the Rubbish
  • Colours of Survival
  • Father to the Man
  • The Final Boundary
  • Ghosts
  • The Growing-up Pains of Adrian Plass
  • Jesus – Safe, Tender and Extreme
  • The Heart of the Family
  • The Horizontal Epistles of Andromeda Veal
  • Never Mind the Reversing Ducks
  • Nothing But the Truth
  • Philip Illiot, Biography
  • Plass At Christmas
  • The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged 37 3/4
  • The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass, Christian Speaker Aged 45 3/4
  • The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass, on Tour: Aged Far Too Much to Be Put on the Front Cover of a Book
  • A Smile on the Face of God
  • Stress Family Robinson
  • Stress Family Robinson 2
  • The Theatrical Tapes of Leonard Thynn
  • The Unlocking
  • View from a Bouncy Castle
  • The Visit
  • When You Walk
  • Why I follow Jesus
  • Words from the Cross
  • A Year at St. Yorick’s
  • You Say Tomato

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Followup to Yesterday’s Thomas Nelson Blog Blitz

Yesterday’s blitz for The Noticer was probably bigger than I expected.   There were about fifty reviews on WordPress blogs alone when I stopped counting, and it turns out there was a different promotional vehicle running on Facebook.

You have to post your review to an online site as well, so my CBD review — one of about 35 and among the five lowest ratings at 3.5 stars — ended with this:

The length of the book and the careful distance it seems to keep from stronger Christian terminology makes this an excellent gift for someone who hasn’t crossed the line of faith; who is not a heavy reader; for a male reader; or for someone not interested in reading that fits into the regular “Christian living” section at the Christian bookstore.

You like that reference to “Christian bookstore” on CBD?   Nothing like being subversive.

It will be interesting to see what effect all this has on sales.   They must have given away hundreds of books.  The goal is have the book go “viral” much like the marketing campaign that launced Purpose Driven Life.   I’m just not sure that this title can carry that responsibility.

You can read the rest of the review on my blog, linked in the right column of this page.

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Thomas Nelson Engages Bloggers to Promote Andy Andrews

noticer1

If all goes as planned, this coming Monday, April 27th will see a blog blitz online promoting the fourth Andy Andrews book, The Noticer. Members of the Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers — which I recently joined myself — will all release their reviews the same day on their blogs as well as posting the reviews to at least one commercial website such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or ChristianBook.   (And no, I won’t be posting mine to Amazon!)

My own review for my blog is already written and mostly sticks to the facts about the book along with comparisons to a couple of other Christian titles; but members of the Book Review Bloggers are told their reviews can be positive or negative.   Any publicity is good publicity.  Andrews is best known for his first novel, The Traveler’s Gift which I reviewed a few weeks ago.

It will be interesting to see what saturation level this achieves in the blogosphere, particularly on Christian blog aggregators such as Alltop Church or Alltop Christianity.

The book’s street date for retail is the following day, Tuesday, April 28th.

Personal Note: I also recently signed up for a similar program with Bethany House.   I wasn’t sure what to do when my list of potential review titles arrived until I saw the final selection, the update of James White’s The King James Only Controversy. No contest there… can’t wait for that one to arrive!

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Time to Dig Out That Box of Da Vinci Code Responses

Ah yes, The Da Vinci Code.   You probably invested in some of the various responses to this book and movie, with titles from Zondervan and Tyndale being among the most popular.   You also may not have been able to return everything you bought and eventually gave up and consigned what you had to the sale bin or even a box off display.

Well, it’s time to dig them out.   Angels and Demons the new Dan Brown movie releases on May 15th, and again will not be without controversy.    Meanwhile, Dan Brown’s newest novel, The Lost Symbol releases exactly four months later, on September 15.

As with the first book and movie, these events will bring customer into our stores looking for information on the authority of the Bible or refuting Dan Brown’s ideas.   This is a good time to have books which deal with how we know the Bible is true and how we can trust its authority.

But it’s also a time for staff to be conversant on their personal convictions of the authority of scripture and be able to respond with both confidence and passion.   The books and movies are a wide open invitation for us to be ready to give account for the hope that we have within.

A frontliner who can’t provide a basic response to the Da Vinci code line of reasoning may be a retail frontliner, but they are not equipped to be a spiritual frontliner.

In addition to the Tyndale and Zondervan titles you know, here’s a couple of items you may have missed last time around:

The Da Vinci Code Controversy – Michael Easley (Moody)
The Books The Church Suppressed – Michael Green (Kregel)
The Da Vinci Code on Trial – Stephen Clark (Evangelical Press)

da-vinci-code-controverseythe-books-the-church-supressedda-vinci-code-on-trial

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Product Search Bulletin Board

We’ve created something new for stores looking for long lost product in the “pages” section of this blog. Right now, this page is for Canadian Stores only.

Use this page to post comments re. product you are looking for on behalf of regular customers for whom you don’t mind doing favours!   In posting here, you must have tried all the regular sources first.   If you post your e-mail address you do so at YOUR RISK in terms of getting spam.   We suggest at the very least you use the yourname[at]domain.ext format, or if you prefer,  just wait for and we’ll direct other stores to you.    The first word of your post should be WANTED in capital letters.     (We’ve put one in just to get the ball rolling.)   Please limit yourself to one post per day.   These should be your prime wants, not extended lists or inventory wish lists.

If you have product someone else wants, follow the same guidelines re. address posting.    We’ll do the necessary linking from our copy of the comment, which shows your e-mail to us, but not online.   It’s up to the store that wants the product whether to get it sent from your store at a fair wholesale price, or simply get their customer to deal with you directly.   The first words of your comment post should be WE HAVE in capital letters.

So that there will be no confusion, the comment section on this post has been turned off so that all comments go to the appropriate page.

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Missionfest

missionfestToday we went to Missionfest, but you can read all about that in general terms today on my blog, Thinking Out Loud.

While there, met Larry Willard for what was actually the first time.   Despite a less than desirable booth location, they had lots of visitors who were excited to hear about Toronto’s latest Christian bookstore.   Less informed were some of the ministry leaders at other booths who tried to inform us that the Faith Family group had (a) purchased the Mitchell’s building and distribution contracts; or (b) had purchased all seven stores.

The Castle Quay booth was separate from the one for The Word Guild.   TWG was promoting Write Canada 2009, Canada’s largest Christian Writer’s Conference which takes place June 18-20, 2009.   You know that aspiring writer who drops by your store on a regular basis?   This is the event to send them to.   (They can learn not to end a sentence with a preposition, like I just did.)

The Word Guild is also preparing a quarterly e-mail newsletter to which stores are invited to subscribe.   This is a great way to keep up on Canadian writers.

Speaking of sign ups, had a good conversation with Kim at the United Productions booth, who reminded me to remind you that signing up for the consumer e-mail newsletter at YourMusicZone.com is a great way to stay on top of new releases.   Each newsletter contains a sidebar which lists releases happening on the next Tuesday and the Tuesday following.

Retail sales at the event were handled by YWAM Publishing, whose booth was highly focused on missions-themed titles.

At the Living Truth booth, noticed a couple of Authentic Media titles by Peoples Church pastor Charles Price.   I was aware of the two from Kregel Books, but not these two, one of which is a commentary on Matthew, and the other, now that I come to think of it, may be by Charles’ wife Hilary.

At the Radio Bible Class booth, noticed a couple of new Our Daily Bread CDs, which I don’t think CMC/Cook has yet.    Also was reminded that they are more than happy to send out bulk copies of their devotional to stores, as well as editions in large print, as well as Spanish, French and Chinese.  For those of us who carry ODB in our stores, I was also told that those bulk ‘renewal’ cards can be processed by telephone to save time and postage.   (Though you might want to enclose a donation; I have a customer who handed me $5 for ODB that I need to pass on to them.)

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Hope Fitzgibbon – Christian Bookstore Veteran

I was sorry to learn today of the passing of Hope Fitzgibbon of the Treasure House stores in central Ontario.

Bob and Hope have served the cause of Christ through their bookstores longer than most of us, and our sympthaties go to Bob and the family as well as the staff at the stores in Newmarket and Barrie. The funeral was held on April 15th.

Toronto Star death notice link.

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Being a Christian Bookstore Evangelist

Today I’m challenging the readers of my regular blog to make a return visit to their local Christian bookstore. I figure it’s the least I can do. The post is actually a re-write of something I had spent 25 minutes carefully crafting which then got zapped into the ether by a recurring WordPress glitch. It’s hard to capture the same flow the second time. You can read the rewritten piece here.

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When Your Successor Can’t Afford To Buy You Out

I had to be at our Good Friday service fairly early.   There were just a few people in the hotel banquet room for what would be the first of two services involving seven local churches.   One of them was Greg, who owned a retail store in our local mall and had recently sold his franchise.

“So tell me,” I said to him; “Is there life after retail?”

I told him that I’ve been looking at possible long-term strategies for getting out of the business in such a way that the ministry continues in the two towns where we have stores.

Thinking about it later, I was reminded of a couple I spoke with about ten years ago.    They had an employee who they viewed as a successor to their business, but she couldn’t get the necessary financing to complete the transaction.   They wanted to retire, and she wanted to take over, but her gifting in understanding Christian retail wasn’t matched by equity in her home that would qualify her for the loan.

Anyway, my friend Greg suggested something called a ‘transfer of ownership.’   You simply sign the store over to another party, stipulating the amount of money you need to receive monthly.    That simple.    It’s different from a third party loan or a vendor-take-back loan in several respects, and I’m not sure I understand all the nuances of it, especially if the new owner encounters rough financial waters.

But on that Good Friday morning, the thought of another option — a very do-able option — was like a breath of fresh air.

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Two Reasons To Mention an Older Title

travelers-giftToday on my regular blog, Thinking Out Loud, I reviewed a book that’s seven years old. The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews is relevant right now because:

(a) Andrews has a new book, The Noticer, coming out at the end of the month.

(b) The similarity — using a contrived fictional plotline and heaping paragraph upon paragraph of Socratic, didactic dialogue — between Traveler’s Gift and The Shack was hard to miss.

(c) The story set-up in the first chapters parallels what many are experiencing in the present economy.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t mention Shack in my blog because the mere mention of it draws too much intense comment. I like getting comments on my blog, but the Shack debate can be draining.

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Does Your Store Produce a Chart?

Traditionally, ours is a “chart” business. Many of us have posted the book charts from Christian Retailing (while we still had the print edition) and continue to post the music charts from CMC/Cook.

But have you ever thought of producing your own chart? We got away from this for the past year, but decided it was time to get back at it.

Our chart makes an adjustment for special-order titles, though it does include some of them.   It’s also a four-month rolling list, with new titles from the previous four weeks skewed higher.

So here’s our list; let us know if there’s a link to one you’ve produced for your stores.

chart1

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