While there are all kinds of knick-knacks and novelty items competing for space at your checkout, probably the best thing you can give your customer is some additional reading material. Here’s a few things we’ve tried lately:
- Catholic Update Guide to the Mass — When a religion story gets several nights coverage on the network news you know this is going to interest more than just Roman Catholics. This St. Anthony Messenger Press edition is only $5.99 for 48 pages, but there is another booklet from Ascension Press, Guide to the New Translation of the Mass, that is only $1.95
- A Call to Courageous Living — At only $1.95 U.S., this 64-page booklet is an easy sale since everything associated with the movie is currently flying off the shelves.
- Why Jesus? — An Alpha product that people love to purchase in bulk to give to their friends or include with a greeting card or gift. This sermon-in-a-booklet takes about 10 minutes to read.
- The Message Book of Job — We bought a few of these $2.49 editions of a single book from Eugene Peterson’s Message version on a whim to meet the minimum needed for an electronic order, never thinking we’d get an immediate response, especially considering we bought Job, not the Psalms, Proverbs, or Gospel of John that are also available.
- Stormie Omartian Booklets — If your church experience involves extemporaneous prayer as mine does, it’s easy to forget that some people still rely on reading printed prayers. The newest is Praying the Bible Into Your Life and Harvest House prints these in such a way that you can put several on the counter at the same time without losing space. See video below…
So what books work as impulse items at your store?
Regular readers of both this blog and Thinking Out Loud know that I’m a rather rabid fan of all three fiction titles by James Rubart. But I was rather distressed to see that B&H Fiction sister company Lifeway has mined the first title, Rooms for a small group curriculum. At first glance, one would think this can only be a good thing, since it encourages people to read the book; but I know in our market, people can’t afford to buy the book and purchase a study guide; and I also know in this market people won’t support the use of a fiction title for small group study, with the exception of one or two fringe “reading groups.”
For me, the presence of a Bible study and DVD kit from Lifeway only serves as a reminder of two things. First, despite the edginess of the book — this is the first B&H fiction title I’ve ever carried — we are again confronting the fact that B&H is, after all Broadman and Holman, the same conservative Baptist publishing company representing, among their constituency, some people who probably consider the reading of Christian fiction on the borderline of sinful, if not already over the line.
Second, it’s a reminder that there is no resource out there that Lifeway is not prepared to exploit. Another product where they reap the revenues and booksellers are left with next to nothing. But as I’ve said before, somebody has to underwrite that large Nashville office and staff, and spinoff luxuries like Lifeway Research. That somebody is you, and your customers.
Did Rubart have a choice? Maybe not. Or maybe someone convinced him that this was a good idea. I don’t agree with any suggestion that this will sell more copies of the book. Rather, I think it confines it to a category of merchandise more suited to Sunday School class material instead of the “hot” fiction it was. Or for that matter, “cool” fiction. Too bad.
Treasures Media of Racine, Wisconsin is self-described by owner Jerry Bloom as the world’s largest distributor of discount Christian books. In this 27-minute local access television program, he talks with The Journal Times business reporter Michael Burke. Treasures must be a big deal in Racine and Kenosha, because they chose Jerry as the very first guest for their video launch.
Footnote: Like so many of us, Jerry Bloom’s life today is an example of ‘grace in progress.’ An archived article in the Racine Post says that he “was convicted 21 years ago of shooting into an occupied church in Kenosha;” and “served time in prison from 1988-90 for firing a rifle into Kenosha’s Friendship Baptist Church.” You don’t need to read that story today, except as an example that God changes people.
This one comes to us from the other side of the Atlantic c/o Phil Groom’s blog, UK Christian Bookshops Blog; and since the author, Roger Pearse, was kind enough to allow Phil to reprint it, we’re going to commit the sin of presumption and share it with you here. Of course, we strongly encourage you to read it at source, and Phil has urged readers to leave comments at the author’s page which you can locate by clicking on the title. (For that reason, I’ve closed comments here.)
First, Phil’s introduction:
MY THANKS to Roger Pearse for kind permission to reproduce this thought provoking and challenging post from his blog, all the more challenging given the number of bookshop closures we’ve seen over the last year or so. Roger’s observations echo many of the conversations we’ve had here over the years, going right back to my Christian Bookshops — who needs them? (2008) and The Future Shape of Christian Bookselling (2009) amongst others; but it’s a conversation that is far from over and, if we’re to find a way through the present crisis, it needs to continue — with even more urgency than we’ve pursued it before. ~ Phil Groom
I did something unusual today. I didn’t buy a book from Amazon.
Not that I buy a book every day from Amazon: I mean that I decided to buy a book, but to order it in from my local Christian bookshop.
Almost certainly it will cost more. But the Christian bookshop is a funny thing. That’s because it isn’t really just a bookshop.
A friend gave me the name of the manager of my local one at Christmas, and I’ve popped in and introduced myself. Suddenly I find myself connected to a network of people who know people, or know of someone. Today I wanted to learn of someone connected to me who was working in the church in a town in the south of England, in order to help someone. The lady knew of someone. For the managers of these places effectively function as an information exchange.
The pastoral role of the Christian bookshop is invisible unless you know that it is there. Yet this too is critical — you can go in, and find people to talk to. The churches themselves — I mean real churches — are lamentably bad at working together in a single small town, and the common need of their members for books means that the bookshop acts as a centre, a place where notices are displayed and people congregate.
Some bookshops take it a step further and add on a coffee shop. St Aldates bookshop in Oxford ca. 1980 did just that. It was very cramped, but then students don’t mind that at all. I often went there as a convenient place to meet.
Christian bookshops came into being in the 60′s and 70′s because bookshops and news agents would not stock popular Christian paperback books or publications. You could order them, but this involved a long wait, no chance of browsing and often was frankly a faff.
Consequently the publishers started to set up retail outlets where their wares could be displayed. Since Christians always wanted the books of Michael Green or David Watson, they naturally became information exchanges.
The convenience of internet shopping means that it will usually be quicker and cheaper to buy a book at Amazon. That was not the case back in the day, since the Net Book Agreement standardised book prices anyway.
So the problem is that the modern Christian bookshop has no real economic basis. The publishers are finding them unviable. They can now sell their books through Amazon.
Yet the bookshop is needed. Indeed if you want some advice on books to buy — as I did today — what use is Amazon?
I don’t know what the answer is, I admit. Let us pray that God finds a way around this. Change is inevitable; but not at the price of wiping out the bookshop.
The Leaving / Learning / Longing / Loving series by Karen Kingsbury won’t be the last we hear from the Baxter Family after all. An epilogue is planned for early summer release under the title Coming Home. Here’s the 411 from publisher Zondervan:
Coming Home is a novel about tremendous victory and unprecedented loss, a story of faith and a forever kind of love, love that will stay with you long after the last page. This stand-alone novel will serve as either a grand introduction or a beautiful conclusion in the saga of the Baxter Family. The Baxters make plans to come together for a summer lakeside reunion, a celebration like they haven’t had in years. But before the big day, the unthinkable happens. As the Baxter Family rallies together, memories come to light in the grief-stricken hours of waiting and praying, memories that bring healing and hope during a time when otherwise darkness might have the final word. In a season that changes all of them, the brilliance of family love overshadows even the valley of heartache as the Baxters draw closer to God and each other. Along the way, secrets are revealed and the truth about the Baxter Family history is finally made known. Ultimately, in this portrait of family love, the Baxters cling to each other and to God’s promise of forever.
Ever wonder what happens when the product leaves the store?
I’m sitting at my computer trying to assemble a January restock order for David C. Cook Canada, and I’ve decided to bet about half of the order on those little laminated pamphlets from Rose Publishing.
In a world of bullet point communication and 140-character Tweets; and in a world where increasingly I’m hearing, “I’m not a reader;” or more often, “My husband’s not a reader;” I’ve decided that these little $3.99 (U.S.) items are currently my best inventory investment.
Is each one a book I won’t sell? Not necessarily. I’m betting on them whetting the appetite of people interested in certain subjects who will come back when they’re ready to dig deeper. My order is a composite of the Top 20 provided by Cook Canada and data from a large online retailer who shall remain nameless. You can buy them individually or in ten-packs.
Click the comments section to see a sample of available titles.
Not sure how these things get decided, but apparently Rob Bell’s backlist titles will reissue in late July under HarperCollins imprints, probably HarperOne. Don’t know if this is a co-publish deal promoting the backlist or making it easier for ABA stores to access the back catalog; or if perhaps Zondervan is effectively handing off the titles to distance itself from Bell since the publication of Love Wins.
|9780062125828||Jesus Wants to Save Christians|
|9780062197283||Drops Like Stars|
Couldn’t resist posting this logo concept from a November post by book industry blogger Robert Treskillard. (He’s got four more if you’re into logos.) You might also enjoy reading his eight predictions about the merger. But then again, some of you might enjoy reading anything since all is fairly quiet on the western front with respect to the merger.