Archive for October, 2014

Ravi on Suffering

Apologist Ravi Zacharias joins the group of “A-list” Christian authors who have fallen into the Hachette Book Group vortex, which means, dear Canadian bookstore manager, no International Trade Paper edition for you. (Read that last sentence a la Soup Nazi.)

A few years ago we spoke with HBC people in New York and basically dared them to release a Joyce Meyer title — just one, just once — in Canada straight to paperback and watch the difference in the sales numbers.

They didn’t take the bait. Sigh!

Still, Ravi is a key author and the book will do some numbers in Canada. But not so much in my store; my customers are too price-sensitive.  They’ll wait the year for the trade paperback conversion. And therefore, so will I. 

But don’t cry too much for Mr. Z’s lost sales; his organization has ceded all of the sales of the products RZIM creates to CBD, which basically shut down all access for stores like ours who formerly carried RZIM items outside the trade ‘box.’

Maybe, as booksellers, this is our version of suffering. If you’re in England or Australia, bring me back a dozen copies, okay?



Describing What We Do

We’ve run this a few times here. You’re welcome to borrow it. Additional metaphors welcome!

  • The Christian bookstore is like a supply depot in a war. And once in awhile, like David, employees find themselves on the front lines of the battle.
  • The Christian bookstore employee is like a bartender. People have issues and questions and want a place to talk and someone to listen.
  • The Christian bookstore employee is like a pharmacist. Like pharmacists in the UK, sometimes store staff are the ones to make the diagnosis and suggest something that might help.
  • The Christian bookstore is like a welcome center for people new to your community, or people seeking a faith connection for the first time. It is the gateway to the next section of their journey.
  • The Christian bookstore is a melting pot. People from a variety of denominations sharing an element of their spiritual life in one room, often at one time. The church without walls, without labels, the way God sees it.
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Francis Chan Marriage Book Now Available in Canada

You and Me Forever - Francis ChanDavid C. Cook Canada has picked up distribution of You and Me Forever: Marriage In Light of Eternity by Francis and Lisa Chan for Canada. The book was independently produced in order to give royalties away to charities supporting orphans and exploited women; and was formerly available only through Send the Light Distribution.   Check out my September review of the book at Thinking Out Loud.

Please note that advertising appearing in this post below this point does not originate with Christian Book Shop Talk

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Beacon Hill Press to Close December 1st

UPDATE NOVEMBER 17: They’re not closing after all. See the updated story here.

A well-respected name in Christian publishing, Beacon Hill Press will shut down in just over 30 days. The Church of the Nazarene announced that activities of Nazarene Publishing House including the BHP imprint will end operations on December 1st. Company bestsellers include A Decembered Grief by Harold Smith and a variety of titles by Stan Toler. There was no word if a buyer was being sought for some of the titles (as Gospel Light did with its Regal Books catalog a few months ago) or where things stand with the 20,000 copyrights owned by Lillenas Music.

Read the full story at Publishers Weekly.

CanCon3: China, My Challenge

In a U.S. dominated industry, I often hear both customers and insiders asking what my store is doing to promote Canadian authors. So today, we conclude our series promoting three Canadian authors.  Today we feature Doris Goheen who is representative of a number of authors whose work is published by Essence Publishing in Belleville, Ontario, or their subsidiary imprint, Guardian Books.

Doris lives in our town and has been a customer, but again we find ourselves wrestling with needing to determine what promotional vehicles exist to drive customers into the store seeking the book. Sometimes a book of this type is of interest to select customers in a broader market, and so online sales from people in a variety of locations will account for a greater response than anything that can be accomplished in the author’s hometown.

China My Challenge - Doris GoheenPublisher Marketing: Finding myself thousands of miles from home in China, unable to write, read, understand or speak the language, I realized I was suddenly ostensibly illiterate.

With none of the resources available to me back in Ontario, I was forced to draw on the years I spent attending a one-room Ontario school where resources were few. The Christmas concerts we did every year meant that the words of the carols and plays were still in my memory, as were the words and tunes of songs popular in 1950s-era Canada, which are so loved by China’s young people today.

Doris Goheen grew up in the village of Newcastle, Ontario and on a farm just north of Port Hope. She currently lives in Cobourg on the north shore of Lake Ontario. After retiring from teaching many years in Ontario, she spent a year teaching English in a college of tourism in northeastern China. When not writing, she spends her time working on her family farm, researching genealogy, traveling and studying the Bible.

This title is also available as an e-book from the following retailers: Apple’s iBooks Store (available only on the Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch), The Kindle Store and the KOBO Bookstore.

ISBN: 9781460001592  paperback $15.00 130 pages

New Store Opens in Cameron’s Windsor Location

More positive news to report today.

InspirationalLogoColour_WEBDerek OuelletteAfter two weeks of soft opening, an email was sent out on Thursday announcing the official opening of Inspirational Value Centre.  The store is being managed by Derek Ouelette (pictured right) and as the name suggests and a quick look at the store’s Facebook page reveals, bargain books will play a big part in their product mix, many of which are being sourced from FDIR, the remainder book division of Foundation Distributing. The store is located at 2001 Provincial Rd, Windsor, the former Cameron’s Bookstore location.

CanCon 2: Voices in the Wilderness

In a U.S. dominated industry, I often hear both customers and insiders asking what my store is doing to promote Canadian authors. So today, we continue our series promoting three Canadian authors.  Today we feature Judith Utman from Brockville. Her book Voices in the Wilderness is available to Canadian stores from Ingram at a short discount or from the publisher, Sands Press.

Voices in the WildernessPublisher Marketing: Jack Davidson has all the experience he needs for any survival situation — or so he thinks. As he prepares to instruct his next basic navigation course on Seeley’s Mountain, he is unaware of an evil headed his way that will change everything. His students are expecting a pleasant getaway from their high-pressure lives in the city, but their weekend soon turns to terror and puts their rudimentary survival skills to the test. As suspicions build and events begin to spiral out of control, they soon turn to and against each other and learn more than they ever expected.

Voices in the Wilderness is more than just a novel; it is a powerful work that has the ability to thrill and entertain as well as to teach readers about the unfailing strength of the Lord. One reviewer claimed that “The Holy Spirit ministered to be in and through this book.” I believe that many who read Voices in the Wilderness will share in these sentiments, and will enjoy this unique approach to the adventure genre that glorifies God and all that He does.

464 pages Paperback  9781449767556 $30

CanCon 1: Sisters in the Son

October 22, 2014 1 comment

In a U.S. dominated industry, I often hear both customers and insiders asking what my store is doing to promote Canadian authors. So today, we kick off a series promoting three Canadian authors.  The first is Diane Lindstrom, who I got to meet last summer and since then we have been corresponding somewhat regularly.   Her blog is titled Nice One, Nana. Sisters in the Son: Reconnecting Older and Younger Women is her first book and is easily available to Canadian stores through Ingram/Spring Arbor.

Sisters in the SonPublisher Marketing: Women are inherently relational. They naturally respond to people, particularly other women. So, what happened to the days when older and younger women regularly met to work, play, and pray together? I get it-our lives are busy and our days are full-but we’re missing out on the unique opportunity to do life together.

In Sisters in the Son, Diane Lindstrom humorously weaves her personal story with the “why and how” journey of creating OVERFLOW! -an innovative group of multi-generational, passionate life learners who want to experience community at its finest. No formality. Just keeping it simple and keeping it real. Grab a cup of tea and snuggle under a warm blanket. Take those ear buds out and flop down on your bed. Read with an open mind and an expectant heart. Young or old, you can humbly, yet confidently ask God to enlarge your sphere of influence for Him and have fun in the process.

Diane and her husband, Chris, live in a small cottage on a big lake in Beaverton, Ontario. Their house is big enough for everyone to visit but small enough that no one wants to stay! Diane frequently speaks at women’s retreats and updates her blog daily.

256 pages Paperback; Xulon Press; ISBN-13: 9781629523521 US SRP: $ 16.49 US  – Std. Disc.

Dollar Starts the Week Stable

The Canadian dollar started the week where it left off on Friday. Though slowly losing value against its U.S. counterpart over the past several months, exchange rates are relatively stable.

The graph below shows the cost of purchasing U.S. dollars. Today’s close was 1.1284 .

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Ottawa’s Salem Storehouse to Close in Early 2015

Salem Storehouse

In a 12-minute interview with CHRI-FM’s Brock Tozer, Doug and Linda Sprunt remember the early days 33 years ago, and then explain the reasons why Ottawa’s only Protestant Christian bookstore will be shutting down after Christmas.

Click here to listen.


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The Rise and Fall of Christian Influencers

This was written to appear tomorrow at Thinking Out Loud; I thought that those of you who deal with the work of Christian authors would enjoy reading it first.

image 1017


I started immersing myself in the Christian blogosphere at least a year before beginning to write my own, so I’m guessing it’s been at least nine years now. During that time I have unfortunately been made aware of the different tribes that exist among my fellow believers, and the degree to which tribal convictions isolate us from each other. While I enjoy the exchange of ideas that can pleasantly take place among those of divergent views, I have also seen firsthand the dismissive attitude that plagues attempts at conversation between people of differing doctrinal positions.

Despite this, there has been another feature of my personal ‘Christian internet story arc’ that involves people of all stripes, and that is the world of Christian publishing. Regardless of rapture views, Bible translation preferences, opinions on predestination, or positions on a variety of gender issues, popularity online usually precedes a book deal.

I have the luxury now of sometimes receiving books unsolicited, but most of the review books I get are things I have specifically requested. For that reason, my library is filled with authors who, at the time, I had enjoyed reading online and wanted to be in a position to promote their published works to others. Always, the books fulfilled expectations since the writing in question was already a known commodity.

Often it is the case that an author’s first book is the best. It says all the things they have most wanted to say. It is often birthed in the heart of the writer before any deal has been signed and there is any sense of deadline. At minimum, the author is offered a two-book deal, and while some authors just keep getting better and better with each new release, with others, the second book now imposes a commitment that must be met, a homework assignment that must be completed.

At the same time, the author is now devoting more of their attention to the book writing and dealing with the enhanced profile that has come with having a title in print. So the blog writing, the thing that brought them to the attention of publishers, often begins to suffer.

In other cases, to paraphrase Andy Warhol, their fifteen months of fame run out, and the attention has turned to newer voices. If they are pastors, their church growth possibly plateaus, if they are musicians, their new album doesn’t generate the same sales.

As a teenager I had one particular nerdy hobby: I would compose my own music charts. Working from the charts of other radio stations with a bias toward the music my friends and I liked, I sat the keyboard weekly and compiled my own Top 40 that was seen by a very select few each week and stored in a number of 3-ring binders. There was no direct benefit to me or anyone else, though I must say that I was faithful to it, just as now I try to be faithful to the blog on a daily basis.

I quickly learned the dynamics of charts. As the “last week” position was typed next to the “this week” ranking, it was obvious that some songs were still gaining traction while others were starting to wane. This of course, was in the days before SoundScan where titles now enter the chart at #1 and then begin a slow descent.

Today, I don’t bother trying to track book sales with the same diligence, though I do compile a chart for the Christian retail store I am involved with at least twice a year. But it is clear that there are always rising stars and falling stars both in micro terms of individual titles and the macro career of certain authors.

As I type this, we’ve watched another development take place in the plummeting of a particular pastor’s influence and credibility. While it saddens many as it should, there are others waiting in the wings to take his place.  Whether you get 15 months of attention, or only Warhol’s 15 minutes, the celebrity hunger in all of us keeps us scanning the horizon for the next big thing.

In Psalm 75 we’re told it is God who doles out promotion, honor, exaltation, lifting up. I don’t know why certain church plants go from zero to ten thousand in two years while others never receive the attention that results from significant metrics. I don’t know why great books languish on the shelves and end up in the remainder bins while others seem to crack the bestseller lists effortlessly.

I also know that within me is a desire to jump on the bandwagon only because sometimes that seems consistent with the idea of coming alongside where the Holy Spirit is moving. But is that always the case, or does human effort dictate what becomes Christian celebrity?

In show business there is saying that “The people you meet on the way up are the people you meet on the way down.” (The original suggests kindness to those people you meet, because of the eventual re-acquaintance.) It’s exciting to watch stars rise, it is sometimes painful to watch them fall. Both are taking place all the time, and sometimes there is a comeback or a second career.

The current chart status of a Christian celebrity is in no way a measure of their spiritual life, but their changing relative influence is part of watching an endlessly shifting landscape.

Mark Driscoll Resigns

Mark Driscoll - Not many of you should be teachers

From Huffington Post to Christianity Today, the story of Mark Driscoll’s resignation as pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle was becoming fairly common knowledge by Wednesday afternoon.  Religion News Service (RNS) reported:

Mark Driscoll, the larger-than-life megachurch pastor who has been accused of plagiarism, bullying and an unhealthy ego that alienated his most devoted followers, resigned from his Seattle church Tuesday (Oct. 14), according to a document obtained by RNS.

..continue reading here..

Elsewhere on their site, RNS included the full text of the resignation letter:

By God’s grace I have pastored Mars Hill Church for 18 years. Today, also by God’s grace, and with the full support of my wife Grace, I resign my position as a pastor and elder of Mars Hill. I do so with profound sadness, but also with complete peace…

…I readily acknowledge I am an imperfect messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are many things I have confessed and repented of, privately and publicly, as you are well aware. Specifically, I have confessed to past pride, anger and a domineering spirit…

…Prior to and during this process there have been no charges of criminal activity, immorality or heresy, any of which could clearly be grounds for disqualification from pastoral ministry. Other issues, such as aspects of my personality and leadership style, have proven to be divisive within the Mars Hill context, and I do not want to be the source of anything that might detract from our church’s mission to lead people to a personal and growing relationship with Jesus Christ…

read the full text here

For Christian retailers, the story began with charges of plagiarism earlier in the year, but this led to a host of other allegations concerning the management of the Seattle multi-site churches. For many years a leading voice among the “Young, Restless and Reformed” movement, Driscoll had books published with Tyndale, Crossway, Zondervan and Thomas Nelson.

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