Archive for June, 2014

Dear Thomas Nelson; Dear Waterbrook/Multnomah

Dear Thomas Nelson:

I have five copies of Mark Driscoll’s Real Marriage in my store which has now been shown to have plagiarized the writing of other authors. The author is also alleged to have been involved in manipulation of the New York Times bestseller list. I can no longer stock or sell this title with confidence but I am well beyond the normal return window. I am asking you, as a gesture of good faith, to send me five copies of some other merchandise at the same retail value in order that I remove Mark’s book from inventory.

Dear Waterbrook:

I have four copies of Steven Furtick’s Greater in hardcover in my store. I had great admiration for this writer and gave his first two books growing reviews, but now find his ministry to be greatly tainted by his building of a $1.75M house as well as widely reported related issues surrounding his book sales. I can no longer carry this product with confidence and am asking you, in good faith, to send me four copies of some other merchandise at the same retail value.



Larry Willard Update

Larry WillardMonths after the accident, it’s refreshing to have an update on Larry Willard from Larry Willard. Larry was a guest last Saturday on The Drew Marshall Show and the audio for that 28-minute radio interview has now been posted online. Drew writes:

A few months ago, Larry and his wife were involved in a fatal head on collision. Although both he and his wife survived, their injuries were horrific. Larry shares his journey through recovery – physically and spiritually.

For the most part, Larry talked about the accident, but near the end, he spoke candidly about challenges facing our industry and on how the weather for Christmas 2013 impacted retailers across Canada and the northern United States.

To listen go to: The Drew Marshall Show 2014 archives and select the show for June 21st (at the top as I write this). You’ll also notice that Frank Schaeffer was a guest on the same show — a most interesting interview.  Scroll down to the Journey segment where you’ll see Larry’s interview identified. You then have two links, one to listen-on-demand, and another to download the interview. You can also listen now at this link.

(If you keep scrolling to the week before, you’ll see interviews with singer Gary Chapman and worship leader Brian Doerksen.)

It was good to hear Larry’s voice, and we wish him and Faith Family Books in northeast Toronto God’s richest blessings.



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Ravi Zacharias Receives Lifetime Achievement Award by CBA

Ravi Zacharias Lifetime Acheivement Award Christian Booksellers Association

The Christian Booksellers Association presented Christian apologist and author Ravi Zacharias with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2014 International Christian Retail Show (ICRS). Normally we wouldn’t run a simple photo story like that here, but what actually caught our attention was the number of times this quotation from Ravi got Tweeted; it must have resonated with many people:

“Show me a person who is accountable before God, and I’ll show you a person I can trust.”

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Throwback Thursday

While weeding through the files on the weekend, I found this pre-HarperCollins Canada picture of Tony Federici when he was just starting out working for Word Canada.

Tony Federici

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Well…Some People Won’t Buy It For Their Kids

NIrV Red Star Backpack BibleIt appears there is a new generation of product creators at Zondervan who missed all the excitement in the 60s, 70s and 80s over Satanic symbolism, such as the use of the Pentagram, or 5-pointed star. You can read more at Wikipedia including the present use in Wicca, Baha’i and even Mormonism. On the bright side, at least they didn’t put a picture of a goat in the middle.  But seriously, what were they thinking? And doesn’t this just add fuel to the fire for those fringe groups who say that one particular translation (which I won’t name here, search engines being what they are) is the only acceptable translation? They should have asked me first, right?

Follow the ICRS at Twitter

You may be hundreds or even thousands of miles away, but that’s no reason to miss out on the International Christian Retail Show in Atlanta. With so many publishers, retailers and authors on Twitter, you won’t miss a minute.

Use the hashtag #icrshow or follow the Twitter feed @icrshow

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Selling Ingram’s Net-Priced Items

Today on my primary blog, I’m fulfilling a commitment to help bring visibility to a book written by someone whom I have gotten know online over the past several years. As with many self-published books, it could have used a little more editing, but there are some rather interesting portions that I enjoyed and I have no qualms about recommending it.

The challenge for me as a retailer however is that the book is listed in Ingram at $9.99 NET. Most of you know that NET means there is no trade discount. The book is only 88-pages.

For U.S. retailers I am sure this raises some interesting pricing scenarios. If a retailer wanted to keep the standard 40% trade discount in place, they would multiply the cost price by 1.67. This means the book would retail for $16.70 at their store; which, for 88-pages isn’t an impossible price for an academic book, but a tough sell for general interest. Even $14.99 would be high. Or, in the spirit of the list price, they could just sell it at $9.99; but doing that, they would be unlikely to stock the title.

For Canadian retailers, there is a flat rate shipping charge of between 6.5 and 8.5 percent depending where you are in the country. Then there is about 12% exchange rate, plus the complexity of not knowing exactly what the rate is going to be on the day that Ingram settles the account with your credit card. Using an average of 7.5% for shipping, that means a landed cost of $12.04 and to obtain standard trade discount, a retail price of $20.10. Surely nobody would do that, right?

In the spirit of the list price, I would probably go with $12.99. I might be able to get $13.50. But again, the problem is, I want to carry the book in inventory. I wanted to carry multiple copies.  I really wish the publisher offered some type of advantage to brick-and-mortar stores.

It’s easy to promise writers some visibility in bookstores when selling a custom printing service, but it is impossible to get the retailers on board if there is no margin; if there is no incentive.  Authors who are just starting out wouldn’t get the nuances of that unless they’ve worked in a bookstore.

You can read my review of God is Near today at Thinking Out Loud. It’s also reprinted below:


“Reading about incarnate deity shouldn’t be a chore. This part of the story in particular should feel more like taking a child to a parade than loading the dishwasher.” ~Clark Bunch, God is Near, p. 65

What if I asked you to take several pages and give me overview of the Bible? What is it saying? How do the various stories fit together? Does any of this matter to me?

Being part of the Christian blogosphere has allowed me to interact with some of the greatest people on the planet, but there are some writers in particular who I feel are a kindred spirit. One of those is Clark Bunch who blogs at The Master’s Table, and I was honored when he asked me if I would be one of a select group to review his book, God Is Near: His Promise To His People (Outskirts Press).

God is Near - Clark BunchClark has taken on the unenviable task of blending two objectives into a single book, and keeping that book under 100 pages: To show the immanence (nearness) of God in relationship to His people, and provide an overview of the wider arc of the Bible’s big story.

The result is a concise, informal Bible summary that offers great giveaway potential to that person in your circle of friends who has started asking questions about your faith; but also offers a few insights for those of us who have been in church from infancy.

Eight of the ten chapters concentrate on the Old Testament underpinnings of our faith, but show the foreshadowing of the promise to come. With an almost poetic cadence, each chapter affirms the immanence of God, but without sacrificing the transcendence.

Some of the best portions of the book are where Clark breaks from the narrative to offer some personal glimpses as well as his own insights into the texts. I particularly liked the comparison of the Passover to Christ himself, or the relationship between heaven as depicted in Isaiah and as described in Revelation.

From my perspective, God is Near is a great appetizer. It sets up the reader to want to learn more; to ask more questions.

God is Near is available on ebook in a Kindle edition; or your local bookstore can order it in print from Ingram. You can follow Clark Bunch’s blog (link above) or keep up with book buying opportunities on @Godisnearbook on Twitter.

Read an excerpt from God is Near that appeared at Christianity 201.


For my Canadian readers, buying the print version of God is Near may be a challenge. A similar project both in purpose and page length, by a Canadian author was reviewed here a few weeks ago. Read about God Enters Stage Left by Tim Day.


Waterbrook Fall Releases: Highlights

WATERBROOK_LOGOThanks to Norm at Augsburg-Fortress Canada, the Canadian distributor for Waterbrook/Multnomah for a look at the fall listings:

  • Cindy Woodsmall’s Sisters of the Quilt series releases in mass market paperback, one book per month, in June, July and August…
  • …Then in September, Cindy’s A Love Undone, which deals with how the Amish handle divorce.
  • Josh and Ryan Shook’s Firsthand moves to paperback; a must read for anyone who grew up in church but never took personal ownership of their faith.
  • Parents Chris and Kerry Shook’s Be The Message releases as a book and as a devotional.
  • Stephen Furtick releases a devotional edition of Greater.
  • Nick Vujicic offers us a second ten-pack of a 64-page booklet, The Power of Unstoppable Faith. (His other ten-pack, Your Life Without Limits is still available and a great impulse item at the checkout.)
  • Moving into October, Kim Vogel Sawyer is back with When Mercy Rains.
  • Also in October, Randy Alcorn returns with a paperback titled Hand in Hand, which deals with tough theological issues such as the concept of free will.
  • In November, after a long run with Zondervan, Andy Stanley is back with Multnomah with a book and a small group DVD for a series he recently preached at North Point (which I didn’t miss an episode of) called Ask It.
  • Finally, the big curriculum release is an author new to me, Matt Heard, who brings us life with a capital “L” available as a book, DVD, participants guide, and combo pack.

Adventist Book Centre

Remnant Study Bible
Other than a small Catholic gift and book store, the Adventist Book Centre is currently the only Christian bookstore in the city of Oshawa, so yesterday I decided to pay a visit. The store is spacious, the staff are plentiful and friendly and there is a reading area with soft chairs that ought to be the envy of every bookstore on the planet.  The store is located on a large campus that includes the denomination’s college, headquarters, and shares a building with the It Is Written media ministry. Parking is the handiest I’ve seen anywhere, directly at the door.

The store is obviously stuck with trying to fill the gap and I would suspect they are placing special orders for many things they might not normally stock. But for unsuspecting shoppers who don’t know the nuances of Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) distinctives, things could get confusing.

In many of the aisles, the signage is clear that the books in that section are promoting SDA doctrine. In other sections, such as marriage/parenting, familiar titles are shelved with ones released through various SDA publishing imprints such as Pacific Press.

Included in that, I noticed a customized version of Steve Wohlberg’s End Time Delusions with only three chapters. The SDA church doesn’t buy into rapture doctrine, but neither to some of my customers, and I would love to get my hands on this $6.59 (CDN) edition of a book I currently sell for $19.50.

andrews-study-bibleMore striking however are the customized NKJV and KJV Bibles from Thomas Nelson, including the Andrews Study Bible, which originates from Andrews University; and the Remnant Study Bible which is based on the teachings of SDA founder Ellen White. These are obviously sold exclusively through SDA outlets, as a quick check this morning showed neither available through Send the Light or Spring Arbor. However, the bookstore also had NLT Bibles.

Probably equally striking to some observers would be the general absence of a fiction section. There were a few titles on a library cart marked Buy-1-Get-1-Free, but otherwise fiction in the store was sparse.

The music and media section however most closely resembled anything seen in other Christian bookstores in North America, and if you toured the store you’d also notice more general overlap between this store and your store in the children’s section. There was also several racks of Dayspring cards, but very little giftware.

Finally, if you go through a small door in the very back corner of the store you end up in the food warehouse.  SDA people follow a Levitical diet, but many are vegetarian and as the clerk explained to me, the “health message” of the SDA attracts many people, not unlike perhaps the music attracts many to your church.

Oshawa very much deserves a full Christian bookstore. With no way for customers to easily discern what is SDA literature and what is general, mainstream Christian literature, the situation in this city, as helpful as it seems, would certainly confuse some people.

Mixed Media

Larry the Cucumber meets Kyle Idleman (source: Twitter)

Mixed Media - Veggie Tales Meets Kyle Idleman

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Chart Irregularity Not Applicable in Canada

Christian Retailing May-June Print Music ChartFrequently we are reminded that the non-white population demographic in Canada is quite distinct from our U.S. friends.  Every once in awhile, it shows up in the Christian music charts. A decade ago (or more) Fred Hammond frequently charted in the top spots on American lists, but few Christian retailers we surveyed at the time could remember ever selling one of Hammond’s albums. So when Deitrick Haddon showed up in the top spot in the current print edition of Christian Retailing with LXW — League of Extraordinary Worshipers — we decided to go to YouTube to hear some of the music. The genre is unmistakably a mass choir, gospel sound; but what really caught our eye initially was the low view numbers (in the hundreds) on the YouTube videos we were watching. (We since found some higher ones; so apologies to my Twitter followers.) One video has a banner thanking people for keeping the album on the Billboard charts, but we couldn’t find anything in the Christian listings there that corresponds to the current chart position at Christian Retailing.

Southern Baptists Condemn All “Heaven” Books

Heaven is for Real books

If you haven’t heard, blogger Kristine McGuire summarizes the story accurately in this introduction,

There is an article on Charisma News which is reporting that the Southern Baptist convention has issued a resolution stating books (and now presumably movies) such as Heaven is for Real and others like it (such as My Journey to Heaven by Marvin Besteman, To Heaven and Back by Dr. Mary Neal, and 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper) are not in line with “the sufficiency of Scripture regarding the afterlife” and are determining to remove Heaven is for Real from Lifeway Christian Stores.

And it’s taken them how many years to come to this decision? Heaven is for Real has been in stores since 2010…

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Christian Retailing reported the same story:

…The parent body of LifeWay Christian Stores stopped short of calling for such products to be pulled from the retail chain, however.

Delegates—known as messengers—to the Baptist body’s assembly focused on “the sufficiency of Scripture regarding the afterlife,” cautioning against putting books about personal heaven experiences on the same level as the Bible’s description of the hereafter…

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But certainly the rule here should be caveat lector, let the reader beware. By extension, isn’t any Christian book in danger of being elevated to the same status of the Bible? And doesn’t this happen in certain circles, where the words of both Charismatic and Reformed superstars are given an almost divine authority.

Black Christian News reported:

In another cultural pushback, Baptists affirmed “the sufficiency of Scripture regarding the afterlife” and criticized best-selling movies and books that have focused on heaven and suggested descriptions of it.

“Many of these books and movies have sought to describe heaven from a subjective, experiential source, mainly via personal testimonies that cannot be corroborated,” they said.

In the same session where the resolution was passed, a messenger asked that Heaven Is for Real be removed “for theological reasons” from LifeWay Christian Stores, which are affiliated with the SBC. The request was ruled out of order.

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J.D. Hall at the blog Pulpit and Pen notes:

What’s forgotten is that Burpo’s book (and Wallace’s movie by the same name, Heaven is for Real) is nothing new, novelty, or unique. Phil Johnson gives a good list of books with similar testimonies that have become so prominent in the evangelical marketplace that Tim Challies has come to call the genre “Heaven Tourism.” Johnson gives the list including My Journey to Heaven: What I Saw and How It Changed My Life, by Marvin J. Besteman; Flight to Heaven: A Plane Crash . . .A Lone Survivor . . .A Journey to Heaven—and Back, by Dale Black; To Heaven and Back: A Doctor’s Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again: A True Story, by Mary Neal; 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life, by Don Piper; Nine Days In Heaven, by Dennis Prince; 23 Minutes In Hell: One Man’s Story About What He Saw, Heard, and Felt in that Place of Torment, by Bill Wiese.

continue reading here

Heaven is for RealHis article is titled “Heaven is for Real: Is Discernment Dead?” and makes the point that in the final analysis, “the details of the book ought to strictly and immediately raise the red flag of discernment for even the most elementary of Christians – let alone those serving as provost of Southern Baptist seminaries.” But he seems to disagree that giving so much stock to the child’s story as to render it worthy of condemnation is the wisest move. Good, personal discernment is all that’s needed.

Many articles noted that LifeWay did not actually end up having to remove the book from sales. There’s too much money to be lost, and LifeWay is a cash cow for the denomination. In various places here we’ve reported on instances where the company puts profit over principles, such as Southern Baptists’ wholesale condemnation of women in ministry, while at the same time publishing and promoting the ministry of Beth Moore.