Archive for February, 2012

Bill Hearn to Head EMI Nashville

EMI Christian Music Group CEO Bill Hearn will now also be heading up general market EMI business in Nashville.

Hearn is the son of Billy Ray Hearn who left Word’s Myrrh Records in the mid-70s to found Sparrow Records in Canoga Park, California. The younger Hearn took over the company which was later sold to EMI forming the basis of EMI Christian Music Group. Like so many of the “Jesus Music” labels, operations moved from Southern California to Nashville in order to be closer to the pulse of the broader music industry. You can read more about Bill Hearn at this EMI CMG info page.

Today EMI CMG includes Forefront, Sparrow, SixSteps, Worship Together among other labels and a 50% ownership in Tooth & Nail Records and BEC.

Source: Variety


Book Shop Talk Reader Contest

February 28, 2012 7 comments

Well, more of a game actually.  I mean we could have had a book as a prize, but that would be like taking coals to Newcastle, right? 

So here’s how you play:

(a) Go to an early January Post on this blog where I listed the Top 40 Books for 2011 in my own stores.

(b) You should — if you’re up on what’s going on in Christian publishing — notice two very glaring omissions.* Leave a comment indicating what books are not there.

*Omissions, not errors. The chart is actually accurate vis-a-vis my two stores.

Categories: Uncategorized

Price Guns: Because “Priceless” Isn’t Always a Good Thing

I’ve known people — and had employees — who got confused between cost prices and retail prices; but here in Canada the complexity doubles because we basically work in two different currencies. Probably well over 90% of everything we sell originates in the United States, and while some publishers are establishing Canadian retail prices, re-pricing product is a fact of daily retail life north of the 49th, and the clicking of price guns is like background music in our main store.

We actually keep four price guns loaded at all times, and by comparison, our stores are very small:

  • a two-line, white label gun for regular price product, date codes and additional special codes when needed
  • a two-line, red label gun with original list price on top, sale price on the bottom and room for a date code in the upper right
  • a one-line, yellow label gun for small items where the large price tag would be too intrusive on the product and date codes don’t matter
  • a one-line, white label gun with no pricing, just a constantly increasing number that is applied to giftware  pieces and the boxes that match up to them

For nearly two decades, we’ve always used the Contact line of price guns. If you don’t have one (or four!) I want to introduce you to our friends at Millennium Marking, just east of Toronto who can set you up.  You can link to the image at the top for their home page, or click the image at right to go direct to a two-line starter kit that is a must-have for even the very smallest store. If you’re using hand-written stickers or your price gun has reached the point where you can’t tell a ‘3’ from an ‘8’ or a ‘2’ from a ‘7,’ then make today the day to upgrade.

Brock and Bodie Thoene Turn to Contemporary Fiction

February 25, 2012 3 comments

In a radical departure from anything they’ve produced heretofore, Brock and Bodie Thoene (pronounced TAY-nee) enter the field of contemporary fiction with a new release from Zondervan.

Publisher’s Weekly said:

The megaseller Thoene team shift from historical to contemporary as they turn a screenplay into a novel that accompanies the forthcoming Pathlight Entertainment film by the same name. The tear-jerking, heartwarming tale pits troubled teenager Anne Wells against her father, Adam, a former preaching prodigy now desperate to lead a small Texas church and, perhaps, revive his career.

Throw in more ingredients: peacemaking mom Maurene, caught in the middle; 16-year-old Stephen Miller, who sees more than Anne’s angry exterior; a former senator with national aspirations; a mysterious stranger from the past; a troubled boy whose anger turns deadly — and readers will find a novel that’s entertaining and challenging. When tragedy occurs, all the characters must examine their hearts for true motives and new understanding. Predictably — it’s a holiday film, after all — long-buried secrets are revealed, and hearts are broken and remolded to become whole again.

The Thoenes have created a tale sure to draw readers eager for drama and escape.

BTW, does anyone know what happened to a Thoene title, Evensong which was scheduled for April 2010 release from Harvest House? The project was ready to go with full cover (see comments for this post) and promotional video, and then vanished.

Delineating Sub-Genres in Your Music Department

This is a continuation of yesterday’s post:

Where to put things?  For example are mass choirs a subset of choral music or urban gospel (black gospel)?  At the very minimum, books are displayed spine-out, but CD spines are harder to find, and in flip-bins, a small subsection of music can easily be missed.  Make sure your staff know how to find these:

  • Bluegrass Music — This should be distinct from country gospel or southern gospel
  • Wedding Music — Usually found among the soundtracks, but what do you do with the samplers containing a variety of tracks, including the Wedding March?
  • Celtic — A tricky genre that almost always involves some cross-filing, since the group Iona (which we still get asked for) belongs in contemporary, but many of the generic Celtic music aligns better with the traditional and worship sections.
  • Chants and Liturgical — Tracked more in stores which are responding to a distinct Catholic market; but for stores that don’t, you should be able to locate the Taizé and John Michael Talbot quickly.
  • Mass Choir — There’s a disconnect here between people who ask where the section is and people who actually buy.  We found the word “gospel” resonated more with our staff, so it ended up as subset of southern gospel, which objectively would be my last choice. Probably better in urban or a choir section if you have one.
  • Budget samplers — Anything under $4 really belongs at the checkout. You’re trying to introduce non-music customers to new artists, not lose a sale within the music department itself.
  • Music parody — Really there’s just Apologetix and most people would ask for them by name.  Are they still doing new albums?
  • World Music and Jazz — You probably don’t have enough of anything to form a section, but if you do, staff should know who and where they are in the store.
  • Local artists — Music you’ve taken in on consignment from local bands and artists deserves to be featured within its proper style, not placed in some independent ghetto.  If it’s rock, put it in rock.  If it’s worship, put it in worship. They probably left you a quantity so just put them face out where people can find them. True, they’re taking up space where you’d rather display things you actually own, but hopefully you negotiated a decent margin.
  • ‘Tween music — Hate to say it, but in our store it’s a subsection of the children’s department, which is physically as far removed from the rock/contemporary section as possible. Ideally, it would be located in contemporary, but we’re really full there, and the parents are more comfortable when it is still part of the kids section.

What specialty music sections are unique to your store?

Cook Aims First-Time Fiction Author to Reach Wide Market

With two kids books behind her, Julie Cantrell decided to take a run at romantic fiction.  Publisher David C. Cook is hoping to reach the widest possible market with Into The Free and on Wednesday, USAToday rewarded those efforts with a substantial interview with the  editor, farmer, teacher and author.   Read the interview at USAToday Books

Delineating Sub-Genres in Your Book Department

In a store like ours which is seriously over-crowded, locating the right books in a timely way is critical.  So we have segregated some titles which are tagged with a small shelf-talker to highlight their content.

For example, our Family section has four major shelf divisions:

  • Men
  • Women
  • Marriage
  • Parenting

But then there are two shelves of special-interest and special-issues including:

  • blended families and step-parenting
  • single parenting
  • adoption
  • financial issues
  • addictions
  • sexuality
  • singles issues
  • separation, divorce and remarriage
  • special issues with daughters, sons
  • seniors, extended families
  • children’s faith questions
  • family issues
  • technology
  • bullying, school issues
  • abuse
  • considering home schooling

In our ministry section, in addition to books of interest to pastors, commentaries, etc.,we offer

  • comparative religions
  • comparative denominations
  • women in ministry *
  • church history
  • classic authors**
  • church planting
  • ministering to postmoderns
  • emerging church
  • next generation writers
  • Zondervan Counterpoints series***

*  Started last year as a temporary section when one church was doing an exhaustive study on this issue.
**You must be dead several years to get in this category, but C. S. Lewis survives in the Christian Living section. 
***3-5 viewpoints on a single issue, not tagged since the books stand out on their own

In our apologetics section we offer

  • general apologetics
  • reliability of scripture/Bible translation issues
  • Bible and science (which itself has various unstated viewpoints)
  • basic Bible overviews
  • sharing your faith

With an army of part-time employees, it’s important that everyone is able to find everything.

Do you have little niche sections of your store that are fairly active?

Grocery stores are generally the best at highlighting items you might have missed; click the image to learn more

Toronto Store Closing Brings Total to Eight; LA Retailer Bucking The Trend

While Christian stores continue to struggle, the record of store closings in Toronto in just a little over three years shows that the general market is equally hurting.  John Goddard’s article in the Business section of The Toronto Star focused on the closing of one of the five Book City locations, but also contained this sidebar showing the recent casualties within the city limits:

2012 – Books for Business, off Bay St. on Adelaide St. W., in the financial district; The Book Mark, on Bloor St. W. in Etobicoke; [and Book City in Bloor West Village];

2011 – The Flying Dragon, children’s bookstore, Leaside.

2010 – This Ain’t the Rosedale Library.

2009 – Pages Books, Queen St. W.; David Mirvish Books, Markham St.; McNally Robinson Booksellers, Don Mills.

The article went on to describe the Book City closing:

“Physical retail stores for media — books, music and video — are becoming increasingly unviable,” owner Sean Neville said.

Book City’s decision to close one of its five locations coincides with the company’s move to expand its product line at the remaining stores, Donker said.

“We need stores that have enough square footage for us to be able to add something new without hurting our selection of books,” he said. “We’re looking for a few things to take over for the small decline that’s happened because of ebooks, online sales, that type of thing.”

The 1,000 square feet or so at the Bloor West Village location offered too little room to accommodate expanded inventory, which so far includes greeting cards and toys, he said.

But before we become too hasty, there’s this story about an entrepreneur who is swimming against the tide:

In the past few decades, the publishing industry has gone through drastic changes: large chain bookstores have pushed out independent bookstores, and now digital book retailers and ebooks have pushed out the chains.

But Josh Spencer is turning back the clock. A former online book seller, Spencer now owns a 10,000-square-foot used bookstore in downtown Los Angeles, aptly named The Last Bookstore.

On the corner of 5th and Spring streets, The Last Bookstore is a book-lover’s paradise with a large cavernous space, a hushed atmosphere, comfy couches, and, of course, rows and rows of books. Formerly a bank that opened in 1915, the building boasts tall columns and antique furnishings that give the space a nostalgic air, while murals and sculptures – one made completely of books suspended on wires – add a more modern feel. The store also features a section of used records and a small coffee bar.

Spencer, who sold books online for the last 12 years, said he was approached in 2006 about creating a physical bookstore in downtown LA. Three years later, Spencer opened a small store on Main St. and soon had more books than the few shelves would hold. Spencer and his employees found the current space and opened the store in June.

…continue reading this story at World California…

If it’s true that trends move from west to east, The Last Bookstore might not be last after all.

Monday Marketing Musing

February 20, 2012 1 comment

I know the people at Kregel are trying to market this Bible study to women…

The letter of 1 Peter was heard by women who knew times like these. This newest addition to the Sue Edwards Inductive Bible Study series digs into 1 Peter and takes a look at the stories of real women–past and present–to teach today’s woman how to stand faithful to God regardless of her trials, however severe.

Women today need Bible study to keep balanced, focused, and Christ-centered in their busy worlds. The study questions in this guide allow readers to choose the study level that fits their lifestyle. To provide even more flexibility, readers may pick a different level each week, depending on their schedule. Whatever level of study they choose, women will find fresh solutions and hope to help them overcome obstacles so they can experience victory when discouragement takes hold.

…but I still find the cover somewhat disturbing.  Seriously, how many women in the study group can live up to the image the cover photo projects?  And how does the red-blooded American male pastor who was simply collecting study guides on I Peter explain this choice to his wife? 

“No, really honey; you look better than her.”

Lifeway to Continue Carrying NIV2011 Bible Version

Profit over principle? 

Lifeway’s trustees have decided to go against the recommendation of their parent denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, and continue merchandising and selling the 2011 revision of the New International Version of the Bible published by Zondervan. But the USAToday story, excerpted below, says the chain “won’t endorse it;” which is a throwback to a controversy a few years ago where the company placed consumer advisory warning stickers on some products of which it did not ‘officially’ approve.

The comedic value of this, “We’ll sell it to you, but we don’t approve of it” policy is, like the policy itself, without limits. Lifeway could bring in just about anything in print, CD or DVD without having to sanction it; which means it could make forays into the wider ABA book market or carry CDs or DVDs which its customers enjoy and are buying elsewhere, without compromising principles.

But does a warning notice or sticker on the product exempt the company from those principles?

Here’s the story from USAToday:

Complaints that the New International Version of the Bible (NIV) is inaccurate and too gender-inclusive are not going to stop one of the world’s largest Christian resource producers from selling it.

That translation was criticized at the 2011 Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Phoenix. Church representatives there approved a resolution asking Nashville-based LifeWay Christian Resources — owned by the denomination — to take it off its shelves.

Critics said the translation, which was updated in 2011, is filled with errors when it comes to language about gender, using “brothers and sisters” instead of “brothers” and “they” instead of “he” for a single pronoun. That kind of approach undermines the authority of the Bible, they said.

LifeWay’s trustees disagreed.

After having a committee review the 2011 NIV, they voted unanimously this week to keep selling it, while making clear they don’t endorse it…

…That decision disappointed the Rev. Tim Overton of Halteman Village Baptist Church in Muncie, Ind. Overton wrote the resolution against the NIV that passed in Phoenix.

His resolution initially was rejected by the committee that vets resolutions before they are presented at the annual meeting. But he brought it to a floor vote, where it was approved.

Overton, like many other Southern Baptists, believes in verbal plenary inspiration — the idea that every word of the original texts of the Bible comes from God. Adding words to a translation undermines that belief, he said.

“If it says ‘brother’ and you say ‘brothers and sisters,’ you are adding to the Scriptures,” he said.

Marty King, spokesman for LifeWay, said a committee of trustees reviewed the NIV to decide whether it was acceptable. Under Southern Baptist rules, he said, they were not required to comply with the resolution, and representatives at the annual meeting had inaccurate information about the translation.

“People thought this Bible used female language for God,” he said. “It does not. We think that messengers* voted without accurate information.”

continue reading here

*insider term for delegates to the SBC convention

A Beka: Another Segment of Christian Publishing Not Part of Christian Retail

The A Beka home school curriculum is sold exclusively through Pensacola Christian College.  Unlike the various home school publishers available through STL, American Christian bookstores don’t get a piece of the action.  But how much action are we talking about?

…Pensacola Christian [College] officials decline to release sales figures. But they say that A Beka Book proceeds have paid for the college’s $300 million in construction plus $2 million a year in student scholarships.

The Internal Revenue Service took away A Beka Book’s tax-exempt status five years ago. The college paid undisclosed millions in back taxes.

Jason Short, general manager of Green Leaf Christian Books in Baltimore, said the Christian textbook market has boomed recently as Christian school and home-schooling enrollment has grown. His business has gone up 25 percent each of the past three years.

Green Leaf doesn’t offer A Beka books, because the college sells them exclusively. But, Short said, “A Beka Book is very well thought of. A lot of the home-schoolers ask for them.”

Read the entire story at Pensacola News Journal.

Bloomberg Businessweek: Amazon Wants to Burn the Book Business

The headline really says it all, but the story, at five online pages, is worth reading from beginning to end.  It covers the early beginnings of the company and then focuses on the company’s plans to enter into publishing its own titles.

HT: The Author’s Guild via Thomas Nelson Indies on Facebook