Archive for June, 2010

Your Store Holds The Key To Many Kids’ Futures

Caught this link to the InterVarsity Press blog over at Tim Challies blog and it’s definitely a valid business apologetic for bookstores in general:

Want your children to go further in their education—high school, college, maybe more? Want them to earn more as adults? Here’s one key predictor of educational attainment and earning power. Is it IQ? Is it economic status?

No, it’s the number of books in the home. That’s the finding of a 20-year study conducted in over twenty-seven nations and published in the June 2010 issue of Research in Social Stratification and Mobility. The conventional wisdom among researchers has been that the education of parents was the key factor. But having as few as twenty books in the home can have a significant impact. Having five hundred books means children will on average pursue two to six years more education depending on the country.

Researcher Mariah Evans said, “You get a lot of ‘bang for your book.’ It’s quite a good return-on-investment in a time of scarce resources.”

continue reading this article, with comments, here


Visiting Other Stores

Yesterday morning I spent the better part of an hour with Mary and Cathy at The Word Bookstore in Perth, Ontario.    This was the first time I’d seen their somewhat downsized location, which was opened four years ago.

Mary didn’t give me permission to give her age, but she has been faithful to the store for a long time and is hoping to find someone who feels calls to assume responsibility for the business soon.   With the closest Christian bookstore about an hour away in Ottawa, it does meet a real need.

Here’s a few observations from my visit:

  • We do similar annual volumes (ours being per location) but have a radically different inventory; our store is dominantly books, while the Perth store has probably less than 25% of fixture space dedicated to books and Bibles
  • Their inventory is lean, but has all the bases covered.   Giftware is keyed to realistic special-occasion needs while the fiction section was populated with recent copyrights, not older product
  • They have some very strong support from some key churches; support that has been directly tied to “wanting to see the store stay in business.”
  • They see their growth market in Bible sales.
  • A prayer request bulletin board in a store tells you a lot about their relationships with customers

I was very encouraged to spend the time with them, and I hope they felt the same.   I didn’t ask to what extent they get visits from other store owners, but it’s something I think we should all do more often, especially when, as we are, you find yourself vacationing in other parts of the country.

…Then we stopped in Sterling, Ontario to visit Hearts to God, only to find the store is closed on Mondays.    This is a very large store for the size of the community, which meant looking through the window actually consumed the better part of five minutes.

It’s also a “Dutch” store.   I don’t know if you have these in the U.S. or U.K., or even other parts of Canada, but it’s a store with general market giftware (and a limited selection of books and music) for people whose first language or cultural identity traces back to Holland, aka The Netherlands, aka The Low Countries.    This merchandise is occasionally found with — and mixes well with — Christian book and gift stores.    It consumed the better part of one wall of the store, though I couldn’t see the floor fixtures toward the back.

There was probably double the inventory that we found in Perth, despite proximity to a store in Belleville (a 14 minute drive) and our own store in Cobourg (a 28 minute drive) and despite base populations that would suggest it ought to be the other way around.

It is also a store that has done extensive Christian radio advertising.   I’m sure that brings people in from a wide region, and possibly draws people out of Belleville, if they want to see a different array of product, and weather permits a drive in the country.   It’s interesting that the radio station in question has sold a significant volume of advertising to stores in places like Napanee and Sterling, while the larger stores in Belleville and Cobourg couldn’t come to terms with them on an affordable advertising package.

I’m hoping our plans take us to the U.S. at some point this month.   I haven’t been in a Family Christian store in 12 months, and I’m starting to experience withdrawal symptoms!

BBC Traces Origins of Bible Covers

It’s not often an article about what we would call “Bible covers” or “Bible cases” makes the BBC News.   And they don’t actually use that term.

Instead, the article traces the history of early “book satchels” and explains the need-driven creation of them:

Book satchels played a key role in Scotland’s conversion to Christianity by allowing religious texts to be carried easily by monks spreading the word of God.

You can continue reading here.

Francis Chan Children’s Title

I usually post these things closer to the release date — this one doesn’t hit the shelves until September 1st — but I wanted you to be in the loop early on this.  Plus, I’m sure this is Francis himself doing the reading on this video:

The 32-page hardcover from David C. Cook retails for $12.99 U.S. (It’s probably an oversize hardcover so I did an oversize video embed!)

Canadian Christian Bookstore Websites

Over the summer I’ll try to remember to include a few posts like this one where we link to the websites of Christian bookstores in Canada.   If you want to submit your site, just list it in the comments section, and from those, we’ll create a fresh post later on.

Questions to ask yourself as you read:

  • What are the strengths of the site?
  • What are the weaknesses of the site?
  • Does anything reflect the “local” flavor of the place the store is located?
  • Does it make you want to visit?
  • Are they uniquely promoting some key items that sometimes get lost in the maze of available products?

Here’s a few I randomly pulled out of my head to kick things off:

Salem Storehouse – Ottawa

House of James – Abbotsford

Lighthouse Bookstore – Fredericton

Treasure House – Newmarket

Family Christian Bookstore – Burlington

Our own approach was to do something completely different.   Although we have an “information” page about our store, we decided to invest our web hours in giving something back to the community.   So we modified a blog page and created a Christian Events page that lets our customers know of local and regional events.   It has been very well received.

Searchlight Christian Events – Cobourg, Ontario

…Your web design and maintenance need not be done by someone in your city, your province or even in our part of the world.    If you want a fresh look for your online presence, consider  people who really know the internet, such as Bruce and Moira Allen at Timezone Media in Halifax.   Their website emphasizes their work in The Maritimes, but they do serve a number of ministry organizations.

Has Christianity Failed You?

The above title of Ravi Zacharias’ new book (Zondervan) is provocative enough, but here’s a really well-produced, two-minute book trailer.

Most books featured on Christian Book Shop Talk represent significant titles expected to do well in Christian bookstores.   The publisher of this book does not supply us with review copies.

EMI Christian Music Group Snubs Christian Retail for Crowder EP

Here's a picture of the product you can't sell

Chalk up another title not sold in stores.

EMI Christian Music Group aka EMI CMG is releasing a four song acoustic EP by David Crowder exclusively through iTunes, titled Summer Happiness.

Happiness?  I can think of a few retailers who aren’t very happy right now.

Read the story here at Christian Music Source.

Should retailers allow this sort of thing to temper their purchasing of EMI CMG products, or is that just being vindictive?   Many retailers want to put their money with suppliers who support the industry that helped create their initial success.

Strengthen The Things That Remain

While many of us have rightfully focused much of our attention on the rapid change taking place in the publishing industry, it’s easy to overlook the facts that:

  • giftware sales are steady
  • jewelry sales are steady
  • greeting card sales are steady
  • despite a shortage of new releases, and despite fears to the contrary, music continues to account for a respectable portion of our daily sales
  • DVD sales are up

The critical categories are books, Bibles, study guides and Church supplies.   Not everybody is prepared to buy giftware online and single greeting cards just are not practical to purchase that way.   (The e-card didn’t last long, did it?)

It was the book and music business that was destined to take the greatest hit as technology advanced, but the music department isn’t a write-off yet; in fact a few teens — who, as always, have the highest disposable personal income in history — are coming back to buy a CD simply because they can.

The problem is that we get focused on “the ones that got away.”   We hear of a church that bought 40 books online instead of through our stores, and it hurts.   We tend to forget we rarely hear of an individual who bought 40 greeting cards through another channel.     We need to focus on the departments that are performing and make sure we are giving an amount of energy to them commensurate to the return they are giving us.

Our stores may thought of as “Christian department stores” by some, but on hot summer days, we need to be thankful for the diversification.

Seven More Days to HST

Today I purchased twenty postage stamps.

I didn’t really need them just now, and the HST is revenue neutral to business.   Pay less now.  Pay more later but claim the inputs.

So why bother?  Does it make a difference?

I figured this way, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty won’t get anything from my purchase.   After July 1st, he will.

So I bought them now to use later.

…Hey, at least I’m being honest.

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Lighter Side: What’s Missing at Our Stores

Jason Boyett, author of the Pocket Guides series (Pocket Guide to Christian Belief, etc.) thinks what’s really missing from our stores is a cosmetics department, and he’s got just the products to get us all started.

Check out this fun item at his Beliefnet blog.

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Radical is the Hot Title for Summer

The cover sizzles like the hot summer sun.

The color foreshadows that Radical by Birmingham, Alabama pastor David Platt is the hot ticket for July and August sales.

You can find out why today on my other blog, Thinking Out Loud.   Or take the first link on this earlier post at T.O.L. and then click on “Chapter One” to read the first chapter of this powerful book.

Thanks to Waterbrook’s CDN distributor Augsburg-Fortress for a “must keep” copy of this to review.

Another Perspective on the HST: UK Braces for increase from 17.5 to 20.0%

Perhaps we shouldn’t complain.   Admittedly, in the UK the value added tax is hidden in the cost of goods and services, but that’s quite a hike they’re proposing for the new year:

Britain’s budget on Tuesday set challenges for the coalition government that will ultimately decide whether the alliance has a long-term future or will crumble under the weight of a record peacetime deficit.

Finance minister George Osborne announced plans to increase VAT sales tax to 20% from 17.5% next year and raise two billion pounds through a tax on bank balance sheets.

continue reading at News Source

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