Archive for July, 2012

Toronto Retailer Adds Distribution Lines

A Catholic-focused Christian bookstore in northeast Toronto has added a second publisher line and should be included in your list of wholesale suppliers.  Joseph’s Inspirational already represents Paraclete Press. While the line is dominated by writers emphasizing Catholic spirituality and history, it is also home to Scot McKnight (who also writes for Zondervan) and Peter Rollins (frequent guest at Rob Bell’s former church in Michigan). Joseph’s is offering extended discounts on the product line until August 10th.

As of August 1st, Joseph’s began distribution of The Word Among Us Press. This highly respected line includes introductory books to the Mass and First Communion for children, Francis McNutt’s book on prayer, books by the current and former Pope; and although it’s out of print, was also home to a title by N. T. Wright.

Joseph’s Inspirational is located at

#39/40-2721 Markham Road
Toronto, Ontario M1X 1L5

Canadian-Interest Title Lost in Secondary Tier

Well, it took about ten months, but today I learned about a book title that has its roots in my summer alma mater, Muskoka Woods Sports Resort (MWSR) in the heart of Ontario. The book didn’t get promotion because it was relegated to the secondary tier of Thomas Nelson’s print-on-demand Westbow Press imprint; but really, with a strong Canadian angle, there should have at least been some minimal marketing on this side of the border.  Elastic Morality: Leading Young Adults in Our Age of Acceptance is written by Chris Tompkins, Don Posterski and John McAuley.  McAuley is CEO of the large Christian camp, Tompkins is Executive Director and Posterski is highly regarded in Canada for his many books and his years with Inter-Varsity.  I really shouldn’t be finding out about this book this late in the game.

There’s no publisher marketing info at Ingram at all, but Wendy Gritter at New Direction Ministries shared this in a recent newsletter:

Canadian leaders connected with Muskoka Woods, share their findings and insights about the values of this current generation. They say, “Regardless of age, gender or church affiliation, 90% of young adults say that accepting people is more important than agreeing with them.” The authors go on to encourage leaders to learn new and innovative ways of discipling this generation towards consequential faith. I recommend that anyone involved in the lives of youth and young adults take the time to read this helpful book.

9781449728922 paper $14.99 US

Reader Survey: What’s the Best Deal?


Please respond! It will just take 20 seconds!

This survey is open to everyone — Canadian and U.S. bookstore owners and staff — and the question is really simple:

When offered a choice such as the following, which do you choose and why?

  1. 90-day terms   OR
  2. extra 6% discount
Categories: Uncategorized

Largest U.S. Christian Chain Launches Its Own eReader

Publishers Weekly reported:

Family Christian Stores–the largest Christian retail chain, with almost 300 outlets nationwide–has started selling its own e-reader. With a seven-inch screen, the Android-based edifi can also play music and videos and retails for $149.99. Following last month’s release of the Family Christian Reader app, the color touch-screen edifi comes pre-loaded with the YouVersion Bible app, offering 27 translations and four free e-books. It includes safe Internet search options and can be used for e-mail.

[continue reading here]

1K Gifts Audio Now Available in Canada

After working on this on-and-off for about a month now, I am delighted to report that we’ve made major headway today, and the audio CD for the book One Thousand Gifts by homegrown author Ann Voskamp is now finally available from HarperCollins Canada. As we originally suspected, the book was the victim of nothing more than a database glitch. Canadian retail is $30.99.

Thanks to the team at Zondervan in Grand Rapids, HarperCollins Canada in Scarborough and Ann’s management people for clearing this up. When a book is this popular, stores should make an attempt at testing the waters in other formats.

Categories: Uncategorized

Jumping Through The Hoops

Last month my wife used a word I’d never heard before: hidebound. Basically, it means rule-bound, though offers these:

  • oriented toward or confined to the past; extremely conservative
  • restricted by petty rules, a conservative attitude, etc

Many of our suppliers treat retailers like children. You have to jump through the hoops or you don’t get dessert. One Canadian supplier launched over a decade ago with something like this: “Our policies: We have no policiy except common sense.” Years later, they had created more bureaucracy than anyone else we dealt with.

But as retailers, we can do this also. If our exchange policies are as tightly controlled as some of our suppliers’ return policies; or if every tiny custom order requires a massive deposit; then our stores can’t be what they are meant to be: A place of grace.

So the comic from Chuckle Brothers seemed appropriate. The store exists on both sides of the international date line. The item is on sale for one day only, but not on the side with the checkout. “Sorry,” the clerk says, “That sale ended yesterday.” When is a sale not a sale?

After the initial laugh, we have to ask ourselves if some of our customers perceive our store that way.

  • Do we have unnecessary policies that could be eliminated and replaced with common sense?
  • Can we maintain policies to fall back on in difficult circumstances, but let the rule of grace dictate the corporate culture and spiritual atmosphere of our stores?
  • Do we need to give our institutional, church, and bulk-purchase accounts some power of arrangement; the flexibility necessary so they can get what they really need?

A Decade and a Half Later, Wither Lightning Print?

At the beginning of 1998, Michael Lovett had just been named President and CEO of Ingram Book Group and Larry Brewster was Ingram VP and GM of the new Lightning Print division. Heralded as “an alliance between Ingram, IBM,, and Danka Services International, Lighting Print will store books in a digital library and print each book, one at a time, as ordered…”  Brewster extolled: “…With print on demand technology, titles never have to go out of print.”

Lovett said, “It’s the best of all worlds. Specifically,

  • Publishers win because they sell books that otherwise go out of print.
  • Booksellers win because they sell more books and bring in more customers.
  • Consumers win because more titles are available.
  • Authors win because they continue to receive royalties.”

Oh, if only this were true nearly 15 years later.  Here’s how the story has really played out:

  • The eBook has become the default vehicle for out of print books, mostly bypassing the retail chain.
  • While many publishers have a portion of their catalog available in print-on-demand format, consumers remain frustrated by O/P titles they cannot access, and authors who hoped the new technology would prolong the shelf life of their titles are frustrated that their titles weren’t chosen for the extended run.
  • Booksellers are often faced with everything from shorter-discounts to short-discounts to no-discounts on print on demand titles.
  • Consumers are frustrated by extremely unjustified suggested retail prices.  (As I type this, I’m looking at a 63-page paperback booklet — with 1/3 of each page blank — that a customer refused to take after seeing the $26.99 price tag.)
  • Customers in the market for O/P titles are frustrated that the titles continue to exist in eBook formats, but not print, when they were promised — in extensive articles in major newspapers — that Lightning Print technology would be the default mechanism for keeping books in print.

Introduced as “…the answer you were looking for;” it appears that nearly a decade-and-a-half later, the promise of Lightning Print has been hijacked by even newer technology.

Quotation(s) source: Ingram International in-house publication, “Around the World;” Vol III, Number I, Feb/Mar 1998

The Shack Devotional: Yes, Really!

They do this for every other super-seller, so why not the novel The Shack? The devotional spinoff release date is October 2nd from Windblown Media.

Publisher marketing: The powerful story found in The Shack written by Wm. Paul Young stole the hearts of millions and rocketed to fame by word-of-mouth, making it a phenomenon in publishing history. Now, The Shack: Reflections for Every Day of the Year provides an opportunity for you to go back to the shack with Papa, Sarayu, and Jesus.

This 365 day devotional selects meaningful quotes from THE SHACK and adds prayers writer by W. Paul Young to inspire, encourage, and uplift you every day of the year.

Hardcover $16.99 U.S. 9781455523030

Interview With Brent Hackett at Radio Bible Class

As Christian publishing and Christian retail continues in a period of contraction, many industry leaders have had to look for work outside our industry.  Just how portable are the skills we’ve developed?

Two weeks ago we reported that Holly DeGraaf, national sales manager at David C. Cook was moving be director of Retail and Public Relations for the Ten Thousand Villages charitable retail organization. Today we interview Brent Hackett, founder of Forerunner Marketing Corporation and then more recently a sales territory manager with Foundation Distributing (FDI), who is now Canadian Director for Radio Bible Class (RBC), the organization best known for its Our Daily Bread devotional materials and Day of Discovery television ministry.

So first of all, Brent, there is life after Christian publishing?

I think I would change the designation to “Christian Industry’, as that is what it always was to me.  When we had Forerunner, the goal was to always provide as many resources as possible to the Christian Bookstores.  So if the questions was asking if there is life after the Christian Industry, I would say from my perspective YES.  Working at RBC Ministries has tied in amazingly well with what I did with Forerunner and the CBA.  There are a lot of the same people, or people who know the same people, and the networking just continues. But I would qualify my answer, as I was on the wholesale side, so I did spread my networking links further out by going to the US shows, and keeping in contact with more (potential) suppliers.

Going back a few stages, Forerunner was an extremely well-managed and well-marketed company. What led to your decision to shut it down?

Forerunner had to close because of the way the industry was changing.  I never wanted to be known as a distributor who “stole” a line from another distributor.  As such, I never pulled in any really big publishers that had the “must have” book that was the day’s biggest seller.  We always had the other stuff – the games, the puzzles, the novelties, the posters, the candy, etc.  When things were going relatively good, stores were able to buy our products and put them on the shelf.  

But we found that stores had to make the financial decision of shelf space vs. turnover.  So, a game that may take 2 or 3 months to sell, lost out to 4 or 5 copies of a paperback that would sell in a few weeks.  Plus, customers weren’t rushing into the store asking “where is the Bible version of Mad Gab??”  So, we found that the comment to us was increasingly “we can always special order it for our customer if they ask for it.”  Alas, the product we had wasn’t ending up on store shelves to catch the attention of the shopper, it was sitting on a shelf in our warehouse hoping for the shopper to make a special order.  The product that did sell were the novelties.  But it was really tough there too, as we sold in dozens, and to sell a dozen pencils at $2.40, and make 75 cents profit, didn’t cover the labour costs to pick that product off the shelf, pack it up and ship it out.  We tried to increase the minimum pack sizes, but then stores didn’t want that many of one item, and just didn’t order.   So as I watched sales decline, I knew the only choice was to pack it in.

Since many of our readers own and manage their own businesses, was it hard to go from working for yourself to working for someone else?

I’ve been fortunate in that area.  Bob & Pat (at FDI) are great guys, and we always got along great.  When I was working for them, the sales territory was everyone I already knew, and I already understood how FDI worked. So Bob and I were able to bounce ideas off each other, and he respected my input because of the rapport we had with each other.  

In some ways it was a relief working for someone else, as they had someone who took care of payables, someone who took care of receivables, someone who took care of purchasing, someone who managed the warehouse… everything that I had to do with Forerunner.   Today, at RBC Ministries, the Canadian office runs as its own entity, so it has some of the same feeling as running your own business, but there is support — and accountability — with the main office in Grand Rapids.

How long were you in transition after leaving Foundation?

I wrapped it all up with Foundation on June 30, 2010.  In December, I thought I had a job in Burlington, but the company just decided at the last minute to not pursue the position.  So all my hope in getting a job was dashed, and I had to start all over in January 2011.  But in February, I saw the ad for RBC, and after all the interviews, started March 23, 2011.  From the day Bob told me that we had to part ways, to the day I started with RBC was exactly nine months.  Total number of resumes submitted in that time period: 402.

How did the position at RBC come about?

After the job in Burlington fell through, I knew I had to start all over again.  Their process took just over a month, so I didn’t focus too much on finding another job during that period.  But when it didn’t pan out, I just went back to the beginning.  I had saved all my job links on the internet, and started going through them one-by-one.  

There was a little job site for Christians that I found previously, but wrote them off because they never took down any old job postings.  I had seen a job on their site once that I applied for, and then going back to the job description found out that the job posting was 3 years old! But I thought I’d better take a look one more time, just in case.  

It turned out that RBC found the same website, and posted the job listing there. At first I didn’t know if I wanted to apply for the job, as it would require a move to Windsor, and we were pretty settled where we were.  But I figured that if almost 400 other people said no, they probably would too.  So I sent off my resume.  It took a week, but they did call me to see if I would like to come to Grand Rapids for an interview.  Turns out it was a whole bunch of interviews over the course of 2 days. However, through the entire process, things happened that seemed out of the ordinary.  As I look back now, I can see God’s hand working in everything – even the other job that fell through.

You bring many good organizational and leadership skills to the table; but is there anything about your current position that is better informed by your years in CBA?

As I said before, there are so many people that are connected through my CBA connections.  A lot of people at RBC came over from Zondervan, so they too have CBA experience.  The understanding of the Christian publishing industry has been a help, as RBC prints all of their own material, and also has a publishing arm called Discovery House Publishers.  There are a lot of parallels in the processes of both Christian ministry and the CBA industry.  Plus, it has helped to know most of the bookstores in Canada, as we are expanding our outreach with Our daily Bread, and it has been a natural fit to be able to work with stores I already knew.  If I had of come from a secular company into the ministry side of things, it would have been more difficult, as everything in the business world is about sales increase and how can we aggressively go after it.  While businesses in CBA still have to make profits and grow sales, the greed isn’t there, and the desire to minister to people is.

What challenges do you face in the new job.

The biggest challenge is perhaps dealing with all of the different aspects of the ministry.  In Grand Rapids there are about 15 different areas that all have their own focus on the US market.  My job is to deal with every one of those departments and develop a continuity plan for Canada, but on a much smaller scale.  When I go to the main office in Grand Rapids, my days are usually back-to-back meetings because there are so many different people and areas I interact with. 

The challenge is keeping everything straight and making sure I am always on top of everything going on in each area.

Many of us distribute Our Daily Bread in our stores, and sell Discovery House books.  Are there any other ways we as retailers can support the ministry of RBC?

A number of stores that don’t carry Our Daily Bread are concerned with the fact that it could eat into the sales of Everyday With Jesus. But they are two different products.  Stores that currently don’t have Our Daily Bread should consider that there is a dedicated returning customer that will come in every 3 months to get their copy.   Offering Our Daily Bread is an incentive for them to keep coming back to the store.

For those who already have Our Daily Bread, please let us know if you run out early.  We want to make sure you have enough, and it’s just a matter to let us know by email you need more (or less if you have extras).  The best way to support RBC Ministries is to provide Our Daily Bread to your customers.  From there, the little booklet just makes it’s way into places we had no idea even existed.

Discovery House Publishers are their own publishing entity.  They are not part of any other distribution company.  There are a lot of good titles available from Discovery House, including all of the Oswald Chambers titles.  Discovery House Publishers uses the proceeds from their book sales to subsidize the translation costs for their books into other languages.  This allows the foreign language book to be sold at the same retail price as the English edition, even though they may have only run 500 copies.  All of the Discovery House titles are sold through Foundation Distributing here in Canada.

Any closing thoughts?

There is a book that Discovery House produces called The Roller Coaster Ride of Unemployment.  If you know someone that is out of a job, this book may be able to give them support and encouragement.  There is also a small pamphlet we have here called “Now What? The Healing Journey Through Job Loss” (#Q1124)  which is available to anyone at no cost.  It is tough being out of a job, and there are days you are ready to tackle the challenge, and other days when you wonder if you are even qualified to flip burgers at a fast food restaurant.  But through it all, I found that the Lord was testing my faith.  When I took a look at what I was going through, the question kept going through my mind was “where was my faith?”  Psalm 139:16 tells me there is a book about my life that has already been written – by God himself.  So when I was down in the dumps, I had to keep reminding myself that God knows where it is all going to end up, and I just haven’t read the entire “book” yet.

Zondervan Splits UK Distribution

An item I read on the weekend at Phil Groom’s UK Christian Bookshop Blog alerted my attention to an earlier item there (from April) that I had missed and is probably worth a mention here several months later, especially as the new distribution pattern took effect just a few weeks ago.

The article explains:

IN A PRESS RELEASE issued today, Zondervan have announced a new trade partnership with IVP for UK distribution. Under the new arrangement, IVP will take on exclusive distribution rights for Zondervan’s range of church, curriculum, academic and reference resources, with product shipping via IVP as from July 1st. TMD (Trust Media Distribution) will continue to distribute other Zondervan publications including Bibles, fiction and Zonderkidz.

The IVP distribution agreement also introduces The Story, a joint Hodder & Stoughton-Zondervan project, to the UK marketplace. Described in the press release as a “Bible engagement campaign”, The Story, already well established in the USA, presents the Bible as “One Continuing Story of God and His People” in which “Carefully selected verses from the Bible are organized chronologically from Genesis to Revelation, providing a deeper understanding of how God’s story intersects with everyday life.”

The situation highlights that with a broad product range, not all distribution channels are best suited to every merchandise genre. 

Losing Affection for Authors Who Desert Print

Okay, I can visualize the comments already.  I’m being (a) vengeful (b) punitive (c) petty (d) not very Christ-like.  But I am human.

I rarely follow through on these things anyway, but when a successful author in our industry elects not to publish their last three titles in print form, it makes me want to discontinue all their existing print items from my store.  Of course, I never make good on that threat, but you can bet the situation tempers my orders.

This time it’s Frank Viola with a book I would like to both carry in my store and read for myself, since I like(d) what he has to say about the church, both present and future.

I left a comment on his post, but he deflected it by telling me that I simply need to download the .pdf version, and then I don’t need a Kindle or a Nook, adding, “You can easily print it out on a printer. I do that when I really want to read an eBook.” Well there’s a problem, don’t you think? Also, it’s equivalent to 110 pages.

I respect his writing enough that I’m willing to devote shelf space to more of it in an already crowded living room. But does he respect the industry which gave him his present platform? And doesn’t this seriously skew his potential demographics? Furthermore, isn’t this the type of situation for which print-on-demand was supposed to be the solution? We have perfected that technology, right? So many reasons why this seems a rather poor decision.

Maybe it’s just the frustration talking. Yeah, add that one: (e) frustrated.

The book will remain unnamed here, but you can read more at his blog.

Daniel Blackaby Follows the Family Tradition

Publisher’s Weekly profiles the grandson of the author of Experiencing God:

When Daniel Blackaby was five years old his mother made him an offer he couldn’t refuse—for every book he finished she would immediately buy him another. “We grew up with a love of language,” says Blackaby, 25, adding that the power and influence of the written word were affirmed daily. “We rarely watched TV. Our house had a huge library and we played word games around the table.”

As the grandson of author Henry Blackaby (Experiencing God) and son of speaker and author Richard Blackaby, he is proud to carry on the family tradition, and he is the first to do it with fantasy fiction. The Legend of the Book Keeper (Russell Media, June) is his freshman effort, book one of the Lost City Chronicles, a young adult fantasy trilogy teeming with mythological creatures, supernatural settings, and the eternal struggle between good and evil.

continue reading here

Daniel’s book — 9781937498047 –is available from STL and Ingram, but not sold at CBD.