Archive for January, 2014

Longtime Toronto Store Begins Inventory Liquidation

January 31, 2014 2 comments

Speelman's Closing

A store that has served West Toronto for decades is shutting the doors for good in just six weeks, and this weekend begins the process of selling off inventory with a two-day half-price sale. The closure of Speelman’s Book House in Etobicoke represents the end of both a retail business and a wholesale remainder business that was also open to the public. A third business stream which involves wholesaling Dutch-themed gifts, books and music items to select retail stores will continue to operate. With its unique situation on the top edge of metro Toronto at Kipling and Steeles, the store served customers from Bolton, Brampton, Bramalea, Vaughan, Mississauga and Toronto. John Speelman was a leader in our industry, and his store will be greatly missed by customers and suppliers alike.



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Thomas Nelson: Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing?

January 30, 2014 2 comments

WND Faith

A writer at WND, (World Net Daily) holds nothing back in an full-blown attack levied at Thomas Nelson, an imprint of HarperCollins Christian Publishing. In an article titled Beware the Bookseller Pretending To Be Christian — more about that headline later — Jim Fletcher writes:

Back in the day, with its marketing angle that touted the company’s roots (the company began in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1798), one got the feeling that its books were trustworthy.

Guess not.

He continues,

Thomas Nelson has seemingly not cared about being too rigidly biblical in its offerings for some time, and the current list of authors/books is disturbing to anyone who would identify as a conservative Christian…

He then systematically works his way through Shane Claiborne, Tony Campolo, Rachel Held Evans, Brad Lomenick, Richard Stearns, Ron Sider, Donald Miller, Judah Smith, Leonard Sweet, and Bob Roberts, Jr.  It’s hard to imagine that there was anyone left to attack

As the article builds to a crescendo he concludes:

…They remind me of those thoroughbred running backs in college and the NFL, the ones who feint this way and that, stopping defensive backs in their tracks.

But feinting can also mean one who intentionally deceives.


Read the full article here.

It should be noted that whether you agree or disagree with the doctrinal state of Christian publishers in general, or Thomas Nelson in particular, WND editors committed a major blunder in creating the article’s headline. (Generally, writers do not choose their header.) The article is about the actions of a publisher, but the headline implies that booksellers like you and me are deliberately engaging in deception.  That’s just not fair.

Historically, book sellers have trusted their publishers. Is that still the case?

American Reading Habits: Pew Research Survey

Scot McKnight had this on his blog yesterday:

American Reading Habits

Categories: Uncategorized

Tyndale Exec Turns Traitor?

Amazon jumps “all in” to Christian publishing

Publishers and wholesale distributors have a different relationship with Amazon than do the people serving in the trenches, the retailers. While bookstore frontliners regard Amazon as the threat to their future and therefore the enemy, on the distribution side the relationship is less sharply defined, ranging from ambivalent to those quite happy to allow Amazon to accelerate the process of natural selection so that unsustainable retail accounts can simply fall by the wayside.

tammy-faxelSo when the announcement includes a mention that a former director of New Business Development — there’s a clue right there — at Tyndale House for 22 years is heading up things at Amazon’s new Christian imprint, Waterfall, it’s easy to see how some Christian retailers might be left scratching their heads.  Tammy Faxel subsequently held similar positions at STL and the Oasis Audio, racking up a total of 30 years in traditional, old-school Christian publishing before moving to Brilliance, which will handle logistics for the in-house publishing division of Amazon.

That means that while the title of this article is deliberately meant to be provocative, it possibly defines how the primary audience for this channel — old-school retailers — would see it as an exception to the idea that the Amazon assault is being commanded by an army of industry invaders, not long-term insiders.

For these brick and mortar retailers, fraternization with the enemy is unacceptable, and anyone who has been at Tyndale or STL should know better, right? Well, not so fast. From a publisher or author’s agent viewpoint, you can’t live without Amazon, and exposure to the traditional paradigm of the past generations may only serve to highlight the need to be friendly to the beast. So since we don’t know Tammy personally, we’ll give her a pass, for now.

WaterfallLogoFor Amazon, this is nothing more than the next natural step. Christians, who are stereotypically frugal, have embraced the door-to-door, discount distributor and the company already has specific imprints for original titles in target markets. The Wall Street Journal reports, “Waterfall Press joins sister imprints 47North, AmazonCrossing, AmazonEncore, Amazon Publishing, Grand Harbor Press, Jet City Comics, Kindle Worlds, Lake Union, Little A, Montlake Romance, Skyscape, StoryFront, Thomas & Mercer, and Two Lions in the Amazon Publishing family.”  Grand Harbor Press is described as an “inspirational” book line and also works with Brilliance. Waterfall will eventually include fiction and non-fiction.

Still, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is an active lobbyist and donor for the gay marriage initiative, as we’ve covered here. If you were committed to the highest level Christian ethics in investing, you might not buy shares in the company, and if you were a dedicated, conservative Christian, you might reconsider where you do your shopping. However, as we’ve found firsthand, even if you share that information with conservative churches, bargain pricing and direct delivery have won them over, and online purchasing has become entrenched for pastors, children’s workers, and church librarians.

But the authors are more principled, right? It came as a bit of a surprise that among the initial stable of authors included in the Waterfall announcement was Mark Buchanan, who has previous titles with Thomas Nelson, Zondervan and Multnomah. But when you think about, each of those houses has what some pejoratively term “secular ownership,” with Nelson and Zondervan now part of NewsCorp, and Multnomah owned by Random House. Besides, Buchanan’s first title with the company is, for the time being, an audio product only, though two other titles this spring are also releasing in print.

And what about Random House? Waterfall is very close in sound to the company’s Waterbrook Press. Was there not another name on the short list? Waterfalls (plural) only occurs once in the NIV, in Psalm 42, and the context — “My soul is downcast..” — is rather depressing. Not exactly Biblical imagery.

As a category killer, Amazon is a lean, mean, bookstore-destroying machine, but now that they’re also a publisher, one we may have to learn to live with. Buchanan’s audio title is already listed at Ingram, so if you have a customer who wants it, or any other Waterfall title, you might just have to play the game. The new game.

The Waterfall announcement isn’t a really big deal. It doesn’t represent the kind of news we had when Simon & Schuster or Hachette announced forays into Christian publishing and took some high profile, A-list authors with them.

But it is highly symbolic.

With files from:

David C. Cook: Who’s Dave?

David C. Cook - Who is Dave   L

A weekend article in the Colorado Springs Gazette focused on the corporate identities of ministry organizations based in the area, including HCJB (now called Reach Beyond), David C. Cook and Focus on the Family.

The section on David C. Cook is of interest to readers here:

David C Cook, a major Christian publishing house that was founded in 1875, changed its name to Cook Communications Ministries in 1994 following a series of acquisitions. But after a 2007 leadership transition, the company returned to the David C Cook name.

Designer Thom Hoyman has been helping to tweak Cook’s image ever since. The “Who’s Dave?” campaign summarizes and humanizes the company, which is little understood by millions of people around the world who use its resources. Even its local employees have struggled to articulate its work clearly.

Cook, which moved to the Springs in 1995, is a big company, selling $80 million worth of resources a year from its three major divisions: curriculum published in 150 languages for churches and Sunday schools; books on Christian living by authors such as best-seller Francis Chan; and music that includes Integrity Music, one of the world’s larger Christian labels.

“When you have too many identities, you have no identity,” said Hoyman in a recent presentation about the long-running rebranding project.

The company’s new slogan, “Transforming lives together,” was partially inspired by campaigns for The Home Depot and Lowe’s.

“We see ourselves as a partner, not a peddler,” Hoyman said.

The “Who’s Dave” campaign explains that unlike many local nonprofit ministries, Cook is a for-profit company that uses profits to support a non-profit foundation that works around the world. CEO Cris Doornbos said Cook will donate $5 million to its foundation this year.

Hoyman’s campaign explains this complex arrangement with an illustration about hybrid cars that run on both gasoline and electricity.

“This is part of what really inspires me to work for David C Cook,” Hoyman said. “I love the fact that I work for a company that sells to the rich so it can give to the poor!”

Read the entire article by clicking here.

I laughed when I read this because it reminded me of a music artist who had their album picked up by Cook for distribution and, wanting to impress me that she had an inside track, told me that “Dave” was looking after her marketing, and spoke as if she and “Dave” had talked just that morning.

The “Who’s Dave” motif plays out on the ‘about’ page of the corporate website:

David C. Cook - Who is Dave

David C Cook is a nonprofit organization dedicated to publishing and distributing leadership and discipleship resources to help Christians all over the world grow in their faith and pass it on to the next generation. We call this “DiscipleShaping”. We were established in 1875 by David Caleb Cook in Chicago, IL. Since that time, we have published numerous bestselling books from The Picture Bible to Crazy Love by Francis Chan, developed over ten lines of Sunday school curriculum, and published many of today’s most popular praise and worship songs through our music division, Kingsway.

Read the whole page by clicking here.

In the end, “Dave is a ministry of regular people, like you, with a passion to transform lives around the world.”

Bible Translations Have Specific Followings

Yesterday at his blog, Jesus Creed, Scot McKnight reopened the thorny issue of Bible translation with a rather humorous introduction. He didn’t say this, but to paraphrase, By their Bibles ye shall know them. And he also didn’t add that many people who belong to one tribe wouldn’t look at another version for even a split second.

He begins,

What depresses me about Bible translation debates today is tribalism. Some have raised the bar of this conversation to such heights that variation is tantamount to heresy. But let’s have a little fun with the tribalism that does exist, that seems almost inevitable, that does sometimes lead to uncharitable divisiveness, but that can lead us to see ourselves in humorous tones at times. Translations can also be a window to our heart and theology and preferences. So here goes with a sketch of tribalist translation tendencies. Each of these is partially true but not wholly true, so let’s not reify but have a little fun…

NRSV for liberals and Shane Claiborne lovers;
ESV for Reformed complementarian Baptists;
HCSB for LifeWay store buying Southern Baptists;
NIV for complementarian evangelicals;
TNIV for egalitarians;
NIV 2011 for peacemakers;
NASB for those who want straight Bible, forget the English;
NLT for generic brand evangelicals;
Amplified for folks who have no idea what translation is but know that if you try enough words one of them will hit pay dirt;
NKJV and KJV for Byzantine manuscript-tree huggers;
The Message for evangelicals looking for a breath of fresh air and seeker sensitive, never-read-a-commentary evangelists who find Peterson’s prose so catchy.
CEB for mainliners who read their Bibles.

Translations are now officially and unofficially connected to tribes, and it is not a little bit humorous and also at times quite sad…
continue reading here

Facebook Paradigm Shift Hurts Business Pages

Does you or your business have a Facebook page? Have you noticed that the number of likes you have is a lot higher than the number of people who are seeing your store’s page? That’s because Facebook has been slowly transitioning to a model where only a sample of things posted turn up in an individual’s feed. But it also gives Facebook an opportunity to boost your visibility. Problem is, if you take the bait, you’re now paying to make sure your posts get seen by people who have already ‘friended’ your page.

Sadly, you can no longer count on Facebook to help you get your message out. You can’t count on your special events to be noticed. You can’t count on your product reviews to get read.

Shopping and Selling Your Manuscript

Getting Your Christian Book PublishedWhile the purpose of Christian Book Shop Talk is to help Christian retailers, the fact is that we do have a handful of aspiring Christian writers who follow us here, as well as a few published authors.  So today’s post is just for you.

One of the blogs I track periodically is Marketing Christian Books and this week they’re offering you a resource that might be valuable to some of you, Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace – 3rd Edition. The fact this has gone into a 3rd edition ought to be encouragement that the book has some worthwhile things to offer.

To learn more click the link above for the blog or click here to learn more about how to order the book.

France Passes Anti-Amazon Law; Bans Free Delivery

January 22, 2014 1 comment

From, Latest update : 2014-01-09

Click here to read at source

In a bid to protect France’s independent bookshops, the French Senate on Wednesday night [1/8/14] approved a bill that would ban online book retailers from offering free delivery.

France has long protected small booksellers. Since 1981, a law has banned discounts on new books of more than five percent of the cover price, which effectively stops large chains from engaging in aggressive price wars with their smaller rivals.

But with huge growth in online sales, especially from Amazon, the game has changed.

Traditional booksellers in France claim Amazon and other web-based retailers are subjecting them to unfair competition by offering new books with a five-percent discount as well as free shipping.

The bill passed by the Senate, which was approved by France’s lower house of parliament in 2013, will forbid companies like Amazon from shipping to France for free…

…France has one of the highest number of traditional book shops in the world – with a total of 3,500, of which around 800 are single independent businesses.

This compares with the United Kingdom – which has less than 2,000 bookshops – whose numbers are being steadily eroded by web competition…

Click here to read the full article

Source: UK Christian Book Shop Blog

Categories: Uncategorized

Free Resources Further Undermine CBA Stores

If you don’t regularly read Christian blogs, you might be oblivious to the proliferation of free music downloads and free eBook downloads available on a daily basis. The distribution of these resources cuts across all musical styles and a wide range of Christian publishers.

If you haven’t really had the ‘in you face’ experience, you need to visit which we did yesterday, browsing all five pages of available free products.   Another page encourages visitors to get books for free by putting reviews on their blogs.  I’m sure that site proprietor Dan Radke sincerely believes in what he’s doing and before you shoot the messenger, remember that these free downloads weren’t his idea, he’s just collecting all the various offers in one place. Still, sites like this are just another nail in the coffin of stores like yours and mine. There is now a complete disconnect between the price of a product and its eternal value.

Have the various publishers and record companies really thought this through? In any given category 78 to 85% of all sales are still in physical product. If those numbers aren’t impressing the execs, perhaps they should refocus their marketing and product development efforts. Yesterday, an author with a major Christian publisher shared with me that they’ve done virtually nothing to promote his book. That’s evidenced by a dearth of both advertising and reviews online.

Electronic publishing and music selling makes the whole thing far too easy. Nobody wants to do the work necessary to create buzz for a product. It’s easier just to drop 200 review copies into the blogosphere and let another 2-3,000 go out free for a few days. But how many e-Readers (both the devices and the people operating them) make it to the final chapter of a book they’re not invested in?

The founders of our major Christian publishing companies would roll over in their graves if they could see what’s currently going on.

Joni Eareckson Tada Receives Oscar Nomination … for Singing

Christianity Today reports:

A Hollywood nod to a Christian film has come as a shock to the entertainment world, as the song “Alone Yet Not Alone” (from the movie by the same name) was nominated for an Oscar.

The song beat out Coldplay, Taylor Swift, and Lana Del Ray to join the other four nominees for best original song: Frozen’s “Let it Go”; U2’s “Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom; Pharrell Williams’s “Happy” from Despicable Me 2; and Karen O’s “The Moon Song” from Her.

What’s more surprising, however, may be the person who performed the song in the end credits: Joni Eareckson Tada, quadriplegic Christian author and speaker, and one of CT’s “50 Women You Should Know.” (A video of Tada singing the song is below.)

…read the full story at CT

Book Marketing: A Pastor Reveals What He Looks For in a Book

A church leader in Scotland writes:

Any church leader worth his salt will always have a book on the go. We must never stop thinking. We must never stop learning. We must never stop seeking to grow in our understanding of God’s Word and how to apply it to our specific cultural contexts. It’s cheesy but true – “great leaders are great readers”. The problem comes in discerning what books we ought to be reading and what books we ought to give a miss. Like most, I have my own way of sifting the wheat from the chaff.

Should we read books that we know we agree with before we have even opened the cover? I think so, yes. It certainly doesn’t do any harm to read something that we know will be an encouragement to us and a balm to our souls. Does that mean we shouldn’t read books that we know we will have problems with theologically (ie Rob Bell)? No, not at all. On the contrary, reading books we disagree with helps broaden our perspective (in theory at least – for some it could just strengthen their own presuppositions). But I don’t want to fill up what little time I have reading that which will not be beneficial to my soul. That leaves the big question. How do we know whether a book will be good or not and if it will intellectually challenge us or not?

1. I always look for the publisher straight away. I usually can tell immediately if a book is going to be theologically acceptable to me this way. It doesn’t always guarantee agreement but it does provide a doctrinal safety net.

2. The author is a bit of a giveaway. Can he/she be trusted? What is his/her previous body of work? If he/she is an unknown then who has been prepared to give a recommendation on the sleeve or the inside cover? All helpful indicators (for me).

3. I like to look at the back cover and read the summary to give me an idea of whether or not the topic is of interest to me. Importantly, is it within an area that I can contextualise for my work in Niddrie?

4. Read the chapter headings to get an idea of the flow of the book.

5. Pick out any ‘controversial’ chapters (if there are any) and quickly skim them to pick up the main points of argument.

6. I like to read the first 2 pages of opening chapter. If the book captures my attention within that period then 99% of the time I am inclined to buy it and read it whether I agree with it or not.

7. I hate diagrams. If a book has diagrams then I will definitely skip over these parts. I find them highly irritating and they do nothing to aid my learning experience.

8. Read then re-read. I commit the cardinal sin of marking my books with yellow highlighter. It enables me to capture the essence of a chapter as I read back over it once I have finished the book.

9. I will try to blog about most books I read unless they were absolute stinkers!

10. I will try to find out the opinion of trusted pastors, leaders and/or bloggers if I’ve never heard of a book before. I personally trust Challies implicitly, so if he gives it a good review I’m usually golden.

Continue reading Should All Leaders be Great Readers?