Archive for October, 2011

Thomas Nelson Adds E-Book Only Titles

October 31, 2011 7 comments

Because I’ve already voiced an opinion on major Christian publishers releasing titles in electronic formats only — the article, Do Authors Win or Lose With…E-Books? — suffice it to say here that Thomas Nelson has joined Tyndale and Waterbrook with titles such as this one, Bittersweet Surrender by Diann Hunt.

I guess that as someone who tried to shop a rough manuscript and a book concept a few years ago, I’d rather have a print edition from a secondary publisher than an e-book from a major house.


Popular Reformed Online Bookstore Adds Direct Shipment to Canada

October 28, 2011 2 comments

As Tim Challies reported earlier this week, Westminster Bookstore, a popular destination for U.S. customers looking for both traditional Reformed thought and contemporary New Calvinist authors has begun direct service to all Canadian provinces and territories

The company’s best sellers for last month include:

  1. ESV Outreach New Testament
  2. Note To Self – Joe Thorn
  3. Community – Brad House
  4. Holiness by Grace – Bryan Chapell
  5. Disciple – Bill Clem
  6. Resources for Changing Lives (27 Booklets) – P & R Publishing
  7. The Preacher and Preaching – Samuel T. Logan, ed.
  8. Gospel Centered Life Part. Gd. – Bob Thune
  9. Equipping Counselors for Your Church – Robert Kellemen
  10. Gospel Wakefulness – Jared Wilson
  11. Redemption – Mike Wilkerson
  12. Jesus Plus Nothing Equals Everything – Tullian Tchividjian
  13. Praying Life – Paul Miller
  14. A Meal With Jesus – Tim Chester
  15. Radical – David Platt
  16. The Reason for God – Timothy Keller
  17. Forever – Paul David Tripp
  18. What is the Mission of the Church – Kevin DeYoung, Greg Gilbert
  19. Leaders Who Last – David Kraft
  20. Total Church – Tim Chester, Steve Timmis

The separation and segregation of Reformed authors and resources from the mainstream Evangelical book market is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy especially in brick and mortar stores which rarely see orders for many of these titles. We’ve covered that before here, and there is much similarity to the Charismatic market, where sites like The Elijah List also contain material foreign to mainstream Christian booksellers.

Challies noted that on shipments of five books or more, Westminster becomes the lowest price shipping option for all ten southern provinces, beating out both mainstream sellers and CBD.  As for book prices themselves, including shipping, he writes, “If I bought the 10 comparison titles [in his spring price survey] from WTSBooks and had them shipped to me in Ontario, I would save $17.34 over the next closest competitor.”

You can read his analysis at his blog by clicking here.

Today, Everyone is Potentially a Bookseller

Christian Children’s Book Review is a very well-done blog, that many retail store owners would be forgiven for using as a resource to get background information on the widest variety of family-friendly titles for kids.   But it’s also about money:  The bloggers who post reviews to it are no doubt splitting the kickbacks they get from being both Am*zon and CBD referrers.

Retailers: Remember those early days when you scouted out a location, spent thousands of dollars on fixtures and renovations, bought a cash register, and then spent tens of thousands of dollars on initial inventory?  Well, that’s not how it works today. Today’s bookselling model means:

  • no physical location
  • no fixtures and fittings
  • no inventory outlay
  • no hourly staff costs
  • no insurance costs
  • no monthly rental costs
  • no product returns
  • no hours spent with service-intensive customers

You simply reel in the customers, let the large online sellers process the transaction, and then enjoy the benefits.  With CBD, referrers get:

Fee payment is based on a percentage of net merchandise sales per quarter as indicated below:

All Physical Products………..8%

Digital Downloads and Media Access………………5%

Referrers earn those commissions on as little as $313 annual sales (or a $25 annual commission) and collect on anything the CBD customer clicks into his cart for a four hour period following the referral.  You can read the agreement by clicking here.  (The Am*zon Classic Fee program is 4%, and the Performance Fee program is anywhere from 4% to 15% depending on revenue generated.)  That’s a great return-on-investment; especially when really, there isn’t an investment.

Now then, let me ask you a question.   Think back to your last year end, and your last profit-and-loss statement.  How many of you had 8% or more net income on gross sales?  C’mon now, be honest.  I know some of you larger stores may have, and perhaps a few small ones; but for many of us, 8% has not been attainable especially in the last few years.

But as a referrer, you get 8% and you:

  • don’t have to maintain  a brick and mortar location
  • don’t have to maintain fixtures
  • don’t have to pay down an initial inventory investment
  • don’t have to pay staff (especially when sales are slow)
  • don’t have to pay insurance or worry about liability issues
  • don’t have to fork over a huge rent payment monthly
  • don’t have to do returns, because nothing was shipped in
  • don’t have to listen to Mrs. Faffulfink tell you about her trip to Germany, her gout, and her grandchildren

It certainly gotta make referrers to online sites — like Christian Children’s Book Review — wonder why we bother.

Selling This Title Could Lead to Huge Legal Costs

October 26, 2011 2 comments

Another child has died.  This one was a girl, 13 years old.

If you’re still selling the book, To Train Up A Child, you could find yourself in the middle of more than one major legal case, and also having a lifetime of regret.

Here’s the latest from CNN. (Video is eight minutes long.)

Booksellers:  Don’t stock this book; don’t take special orders for it.  You don’t need to be part of the supply line for something that could be used as evidence in a murder case.  Your store doesn’t need the adverse publicity.  And you don’t need to spend the rest of your life wishing you had been more discerning as to what materials you ordered for customers.

Bookstore Manager Top 20 Reconfigured

I like charts.  Here’s what the Top 5 of the BSMGR Top 20 would be if you listed them merely by units sold per store.

    1. Every Day a Friday (Osteen) (actual #7; but carried in only one quarter of reporting stores)
    2. Jesus Calling (Young) (actual #2; carried in 6 out of 10 reporting stores)
    3. Heaven is for Real (Burpo) (#1, two thirds of stores)
    4. Not a Fan (Idleman) (actual #18, but good numbers in the one-fifth of reporting stores that carry it)
    5. Hearing Home (Graham) (#3, just over two thirds of stores)

The runner up would be Tehran Initiative (Rosenberg). Beyond that there’s a noticeable gap in sales per reporting store.  You also have to consider sales over a longer reporting period; since the Osteen title might not hold its volume over a long time.  I keep hoping sales for Kyle Idleman will continue, it’s a great book that’s proving to be a sleeper title, and also has an excellent DVD curriculum from City on a Hill Productions.  

Categories: Uncategorized

James Smith Tops IVP List

I might have guess Knowing God by J. I. Packer, or maybe even John Stott’s Basic Christianity; Bill Hybels’ Too Busy Not To Pray, or Paul Little’s Know What You Believe and Know Why You Believe. (IVP rejected my manuscript on church-hopping with the working title, Know Where You Believe.)

But in fact, The Good and Beautiful God by James Smith is currently InterVarsity’s number one selling book.  The Good and Beautiful Life is number 5, and The Good and Beautiful Community is number 8.  All three are available in hardcover at $22-$23 US. Do you carry these titles?

Categories: Uncategorized

Profile: Christian Books and Music – Victoria, B.C.

October 22, 2011 1 comment

From left, Michael and Melanie Easton, and Don and Judy Easton inside Christian Books and Music in Victoria. (Photo: Lyle Stafford,

Money could never buy the excellent profile that The Victoria Times Colonist reporter Darron Kloster wrote about Christian Books and Music’s anchor store in Victoria, British Columbia.  

Christian Book and Music, founded as a Bible reading room 72 years ago in downtown Victoria, has come a long way since selling the Good Book, some records and a few sheets of music.

The word of God now comes on coffee mugs, CDs, movies, cards, plush toys, pictures, pens and in books on all topics for every age.

There are bumper stickers: Keep the Faith But Not to Yourself

And T-shirts: Fishers of Men. You Catch ’em, God Cleans ’em.

Survival for one of Canada’s largest faith-based businesses still involves a lot of prayer, says second-generation owner Michael Easton, but it’s really about a diversified product line and shifting with the times.

Michael and Melanie Easton own Christian Books and Music, a sprawling 6,000-square-foot superstore with thousands of products, with Michael’s parents Don and Judy Easton, former school teachers who grew the business from a small downtown store in 1974.

With satellite stores in Duncan and Nanaimo, the company employs 11 staff in the Victoria store and 21 overall who are of eight different denominations.

Every store has something unique to offer, and this article noted that…

The Eastons also have a lease agreement with a business consortium of Ohio Amish for a state of the art engraver. The Amish supply a plethora of products where verses of the bible or personal messages are imprinted.

“We’re hoping it opens more doors,” says Melanie Easton, noting the personalized messages are proving popular gifts for marriages, graduations, baptisms and other major events.

Congratulations to the Eastons on many years of serving their community. Continue reading the entire article, along with a timeline of the business’ history by clicking here.

Bell to Respond to Critics

Rob Bell will release a paperback response to the critics in February 2012 simply titled The Love Wins Companion to be published by HarperCollins.

Notice a similarity?

Here’s the 411 from the publisher:

For anyone who wants to delve deeper into Rob Bell’s bestselling Love Wins, the expansive and accessible Love Wins Companion offers scholarly support and critiques, resources for individuals, groups, and classes, and brand new material by Rob Bell himself. As Love Wins continues to become a touchstone for thousands of readers worldwide, controversy surrounds the book’s arguments. Author Brian D. McClaren wrote that with Love Wins “thousands of readers will find freedom and hope and a new way of understanding the biblical story,” yet USA Today observed that “Bell has stuck a pitchfork in how Christians talk about damnation.” Here, in The Love Wins Companion, Rob Bell offers commentary on the positive and negative attention his groundbreaking book is receiving, delivering a crucial supplement to one of the most important books since the Bible.

For those looking to go deeper with Rob Bell’s bestselling pioneering book Love Wins, this companion offers:

  • Insights and commentary by theologians, Bible scholars, scientists, and pastors
  • Deep analysis of all relevant Bible passages on heaven, hell, and salvation
  • Detailed chapter summaries, discussion questions, and Bible studies for individuals, groups, and classes
  • Excerpts from works throughout Christian history illustrating the variety of teachers also debating the issues Bell wrestles with
  • New material by Bell on his mission for the book and how people can take the next step

In the meantime; Bell is Hollywood-bound.  If you missed the Thinking Out Loud story about the pastor turned scriptwriter, click here.

Price Gap Problematic

Today I had two very embarrassing sales; both caused by the fact the Canadian distributor had left stickers on the product showing the U.S. price of the DVD and the CD.

In the case of the DVD, I finally agreed to drop the price by $5.00, but in the case of the CD, I offered a $2.00 price cut, but the customer left the store.  The CD was $13.99 US (confirmed the list price later) and $19.99 CDN.

Back when I checked everything myself, I would have noticed this on the product, but these days, a variety of people do receiving.

Categories: Uncategorized

Should Canadian Distributors Reserve Stock for CBA Stores?

The two Courageous movie tie-in books, The Resolution for Men and The Resolution for Women are the latest to land on the radar of mainstream retailers such as Wal-Mart, Costco and Chapters. The volume of their orders makes it such that distributors want to comply quickly, often at the expense of the original inventory they were budgeting for CBA stores such as yours and mine. Today’s question is: Should distributors set aside minimal inventory that can be rationed among the stores which represent their ongoing core support, their historical base, and stores which buy the other 95% of their titles? I’d be happy to hear from distributor staff on this question as well.

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Do You Stock Love Wins?

October 19, 2011 1 comment

Does your store stock the controversial Rob Bell book? Just noticed CBD doesn’t.

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STL Database Tilts More Catholic

October 15, 2011 2 comments

If you monitor the daily inventory additions at STL, you know that over the course of the summer, the company has been uploading hundreds of Roman Catholic publisher titles to its database.  While most are still on a “Special Order Only” basis with a “2 – 4 weeks” fulfillment time, the trend has been clear and strong: STL wants to greatly increase its connection to the Catholic market.  Top RC publishers on file now include:

Ignatius Press (419)
Our Sunday Visitor (349)
Catholic Book Publishing (339)
St Anthony Messenger Press (306)
Catholic Word/ascension (246)
Liguori Publications (216)
Orbis Books (182)
Saint Benedict/tan Books (176)
Liturgical Press (111)

With rumors of the company still being tendered for sale, it certainly makes the company attractive to a Catholic buyer.  So today’s question is: If STL were to be purchased by a group or individual with strong ties to the Catholic Church, do you think Evangelical-owned Christian bookstores would continue to purchase from them? Would ownership be a dealbreaker for your store?

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