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Archive for January, 2015

Why I Don’t Do Prepub Ordering

January 31, 2015 1 comment

image 300115

I usually make my final commitment on quantities of new titles about a week before release. We’re a smaller market, so often the quantities would never be sufficient for additional discounts anyway. I wait until I can make an assessment of the market and the potential popularity of the title as close to release as possible. And then I use a just-in-time system to replace items as they sell out.

I say all this to say that right now I am thankful that we do not have very many new titles on backorder. This is one of those times when the strategy pays off. I would probably be cutting back those quantities now given the effect of the rising U.S. dollar will have on sales.

However, I also believe there are some consumers who will buy new titles no matter what. They did it before when the conversion rate was high; and some don’t care about price to the extent we think they will. But I believe this time around, with today’s market conditions, the prices conversions will cause some customers to rethink their purchase, or more aggressively look around online for a more competitive price. 

The buying price for the American dollar Friday, when you factor in the 2.55% your bank charges for the transaction is 1.2972, in other words, even the 1.25 rate is insufficient to cover titles your store imports direct.  David C. Cook is raising MSRPs this weekend to approximately 1.2500 x U.S. list, but if this trend continues, watch for 1.300 soon.

image: CBC National News

Related: We Need Fixed Canadian Pricing

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Philip Yancey on Writing

Philip YanceyThis is part of a much longer article at WORLD Magazine online:

You have been in the Christian publishing industry and the evangelical church for going on 40 years. What changes have you seen in that time? There are huge changes going on in publishing, in general, and in Christian publishing. The biggest thing, noticeable to me, is how Christian bookstores and general bookstores are departing one-by-one. I hear these statistics that something like half of the number of independent bookstores are in existence now that were even 20 years ago. People are buying online. They’re buying at Walmart, at Target, and Costco. It used to be if you wanted a Christian book, you would go to a Christian bookstore, browse around, see what caught your eye, and take it home. Now that doesn’t happen so much.

It’s harder, for sure, for younger writers to make a living. I feel very blessed to have lived in the period of time I did because I could make a living doing things I’d want to do apart from that. I worked out my faith in words, in print, and was able to make a living while doing it.

Tell me about when you are in the writing mode. Do you write a couple of hours a day? Do you research? Do you write for weeks on end and then don’t write for months? What does that discipline look like for you? A lot of people have the idea that you just kind of roll down to your desk and sit there and look up and think, “Hmm, wonder what I’ll write today.” It’s not like that at all, at least the kind of books that I write. Usually, when I choose to write about a topic—take prayer, for example—I’ll have been mulling it over for years, and I’ll have some fat file folders full of clippings. I’ll have an accumulation of books, a shelf full of books, and I’ll have been reading and thinking about it. Okay, so now I’m going to write about prayer. In that case, I spent probably six to eight months before I wrote a word. I interviewed a lot of people. What is your prayer life like? Why is it unsatisfying? What are your biggest questions about prayer?

I spent several months in seminary libraries, reading about what other people have to say. And then [there is] a period of time where I do outlining, organizing my thoughts. I’ve got all this data. Now, how do I make a book out of it? I often end up with an outline. Usually my outlines are about half as long as the chapter, so they’re pretty extensive outlines. Then comes that terrifying time when there’s the blank computer screen or the blank piece of paper. I’ve got these thoughts, but I’ve got to come up with words and sentences and transitions. That’s the terrifying, painful time. I try to get away somewhere, out to a mountain cabin, in my case, and get that over with as fast as possible.

I began my life as an editor for a magazine called Campus Life, and so as soon as I get the words down, then I can slip into that much more comfortable role of editing, trying to make some sense out of the words that I’ve got down.

Vanishing GraceOnce you have a draft, how different is that draft from what ultimately gets published? In What’s So Amazing about Grace? I cut 150 pages out of it. I realized this was a tangent. … The book I just finished,Vanishing Grace, had an outline of, I think, 12 chapters. In the final draft, only one of those chapters survived. I realized I was kind of cobbling together things that didn’t belong together, and other questions came up in the process of writing, so I just kept redoing it, redoing it. I keep all that stuff that I cut in a little file called junk, J-U-N-K, and I’ve got a macro that’ll just take whole paragraphs out and stick it in that junk file. I keep thinking, one day I can use that stuff. Then later, when I look at that junk file, I realize why I called it junk to begin with.

When it comes to the end for you, what do you want people to say about Philip Yancey? …I once likened my writing career to a jungle explorer and he’s got the machete out and he’s cutting through these thick vines, and he has no idea where the other side is. Then finally he gets through and says, “Oh, there it is. There’s the ocean. I made it.” Then to his surprise, he turns around and looks, and there is a whole line of people following him on that path. That’s how I feel as a writer. I’m not thinking about those people following me. I’ve got the machete hacking through the vines trying to get through to the other side. How can I get there? Then, to my surprise, and delight, I turn around and hear from people who say, “Thank you. I was on the same path. Thank you for showing me the way.”

Read the full article, click here.

Crossroads Cedes Online Store to ChristianBook.com

January 28, 2015 2 comments

Crossroads eStore at Christian Book

Et tu, Crossroads?

Crossroads Christian Communications has delivered the worst blow possible to Christian retailers in Canada. The broadcaster, which probably has the greatest influence on customer awareness of published works has partnered with Massachusetts-based Christian Book Distributors (CBD), which almost since its inception in 1978 has been a thorn in the flesh of Christian retailers on both sides of the border.  CBD’s assault on the sales of Canadian Christian bookstores long predates the internet, but the web has accelerated their reach into this country.

The site, crossroads.christianbook.com is one of many boutique sites the company operates. Because the media has limited access to the Hendrickson brothers no one is likely to know how many of these exist. Some of the more publicized ones include one for The Navigators discipleship ministry which gets extra discounts on NavPress titles (we were unable to crack the URL for that one) and the exclusive distribution contract CBD  has with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.  Because the New Calvinists are so critical of the broader Christian publishing market, they created cbdreformed.christianbook.com, a variant on their main site purged of non-Reformed products, and so they could buy through their own channel.

Clicking the eStore tab at crossroads.ca, redirects to the CBD site. At the Crossroads page, which will invariably be dominated by Canadians, customers are warned that prices are in U.S. dollars, shipped from the U.S., and that shipping charges apply.  Typically, CBD charges Canadians 25% shipping.

But it could be argued that despite this, the new partnership is going to train thousands and thousands of people how to order from CBD. One dealer wrote to us, “I flipped through several different products, and quickly came to notice that the prices were extremely low, and not even within a range that I could price match and still turn a profit. Yes, there are shipping costs, but with the deep discounts on the products we still can’t compare.”

CBD has been unrelenting in its quest for dominance of the market. A Google search for just about anything published in any Christian genre turns up a link to christianbook.com at the very top of the sponsored links. It gets worse: Because my own store website is powered by WordPress, advertising for CBD often appears on the site; and if you don’t have AdBlock, you may have also seen their ads right here at Christian Book Shop Talk. (We have no control over those ads.)

Canadian authors who have appeared on Crossroads’ flagship program, 100 Huntley Street would need to negotiate for their products to be carried by CBD. In our initial overview of the site, no Canadian authors or musicians were visible. 

For its trouble, Crossroads gets a donation page on the CBD site, but that page does not attempt to make it clear that those donations are also in U.S. dollars.

The decision by Crossroads Christian Communications is a major betrayal by fellow Canadians we would have thought would be supportive. While the Bible cautions against a harbouring a retaliative spirit, you would have to think twice before cooperating with anything the ministry wants to do in your local area. 

If they ever decide they need me, honestly, the answer is going to be ‘no.’ 

Crossroads has betrayed an already hurting Christian retail market in this country, proving the adage that Christians do indeed shoot their wounded.


To the best of our understanding, under Mass. law, christianbook.com and Christian Book Distributors (CBD) are distinct entities. However, we’ve used the terms interchangeably here. The Hendrickson family is also involved in Hendrickson Publishing; both companies are based in Peabody, MA.

McMaster Professor’s Timely Message

How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? Ps. 137:4

Book Review: The Church in Exile

Although I worked for InterVarsity Press briefly several lifetimes ago, and have covered other IVP books here before, this is the first time I’ve attempted to review anything from the IVP Academic imprint. So let me say at the outset that perhaps I have no business considering scholarly titles here; however there is a personal connection that had me wanting to read this book, and that resulted in my wanting to give it some visibility here.

Lee Beach was our pastor for nearly ten years, and one year of that overlapped a staff position I held at the church as director of worship. He came to us after serving as an associate pastor and then interim pastor of a church just 45 minutes north. He was young, passionate and everyone just called him Lee.

Today, years later, when mentioning him to students in his university community, the honorific is always used, it’s Dr. Beach at McMaster Divinity School in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada where he serves as assistant professor of Christian ministry, director of ministry formation and teaches courses on pastoral ministry, mission, the church in culture and spirituality.

The Church in Exile - Lee BeachThe Church in Exile: Living in Hope After Christendom is made more accessible to those of us who are non-academics because of its timeliness. Because of immigration, the rise of secularism, and a decline in church membership and attendance, Christianity is losing both numbers and the influence that those metrics bring. In some communities already, Christians are no longer the majority stakeholders.

From his vantage point in Canada where religious pluralism has been normative now for several decades, Dr. Beach has a clear view of where the U.S. is heading. From his background as a Christian & Missionary Alliance pastor, he also has a heightened awareness as to the status afforded Christianity in other parts of the world.

The book is divided into two sections. The first begins in the Old Testament with a focus on those times God’s people lived in exile, or were scattered, particularly the narratives concerning Esther, Jonah, Daniel, and what’s termed the Second Temple period, where the community of the faithful seems to be diminished; a shadow of its former self. (Sound familiar?) From there, the book moves to the New Testament with particular attention to I Peter.

In the foreword, Walter Brueggemann points out that while exiles may have a sense that the present situation is temporary, the Jewish Diaspora brought with it no expectation of returning home. In other words, their placement was what we would call today ‘the new normal.’ That so well describes the church in 2015. There is no reasonable anticipation that things will go back to the way they were.

The second section builds on the theological framework of the first to turn our thoughts to the more practical concerns of being the church in the margins. How does one lead, and offer hope in such a period of decline? How does our present context govern or even shape our theological framework? How does a vast religious mosaic affect evangelism, or one’s eligibility for inclusion or participation in church life? How do followers of Christ maintain a distinct identity?

To that last question, the term used is ‘engaged nonconformity’ wherein

Exilic holiness is fully engaged with culture while not fully conforming to it. Living as a Christian exile in Western culture calls the church to live its life constructively embedded within society while not being enslaved to all of its norms and ideals. p. 183

It should come as no surprise that some of this section cites practitioners of what has been termed the missional church movement.

“But wait;” some might say, “We were here first.” While that may not be exactly true, the spirit of it is well entrenched, and early on we’re reminded that you can experience the consequences of exile even in your own homeland. You don’t have to sell your house to feel you’ve been displaced, and that’s the reality that will impact North American Christians if it hasn’t touched some already.

In the post-Christian revolution, it is fair to say that the church is one of those former power brokers who once enjoyed a place of influence at the cultural table but has been chased away from its place of privilege and is now seeking to find where it belongs amid the ever changing dynamics of contemporary culture. p. 46

In the end, despite my misgivings about wading into academic literature, I read every word of The Church in Exile, and I believe that others like me will find this achievable also, simply because this topic is so vital and our expectation of and preparedness for the changes taking place are so necessary.

Send the Light Adjusts Canadian Minimum Orders

Send the Light Canadian StoresCurrently, in order to qualify for the shipping discount from Send the Light — which requires accounts to be current and invoices paid on or before the 10th of the month following — purchase orders must contain a minimum of 15 units. (Total units, not line items.)

Recently, the company announced that would convert to a dollar amount, $150; but in an announcement today, as of February 1st the minimum will be 20 units instead of 15.

An expedited surcharge of 6% of invoice value still applies.

We’ve used their online payment system and find this to be the most efficient way of getting payments to them on time. No bank drafts, money orders or postage stamps; you simply pay by credit card, and the system is secure.

While their database is not as large as Spring Arbor’s, they offer a wide variety of book and non-book merchandise, and their Advocate Distribution subsidiary provides exclusive fulfillment for many publishers.

We also encourage our home-school customers to browse their homeschoolstore.com website and then call us if they see anything they need. It’s nice to know that absolutely everything they see is available and we can promise them no additional shipping costs. We also pledge home-school customers a real-time U.S. conversion rate on their materials, not an automatic percentage factor.  (They already face many costs, especially with larger families.)

Send the Light also provides Light Post, a dealer magazine which contains print listings of all forthcoming releases from dozens of publishers. This is a great tool — along with utilizing the Latest Releases tab on their website for making sure that your store is current and you’re not missing any key releases.  There’s also an auto-release program that lets you increase or decrease quantities, or, for Canadian stores desiring ITPEs, pass on a hardcover title entirely.

Canadian publisher representatives still are able to offer better pre-pub and re-stock percentages, but for those more obscure orders, or emergency back-fill on key titles, order consolidation through a distributor like Send the Light is most efficient. 

Remember, however, your smaller orders will still complete, so make sure you’ve achieved the 20-unit minimum.

Toronto’s Largest Store Seeks New Partner(s)

The opening item in the most recent customer mailing from Faith Family Books and Gifts contained more than announcements about music and giftware specials or the store’s new used book department. Readers were made aware of an opportunity to become a part-owner.

Faith Family Books and GiftsAre you interested in ownership in a Christian Book Store here in Toronto?

Due to some changes in our management team Faith Family Books has an opportunity for you to own or be a partner in Canada’s third largest Christian book and gift store. For more information contact Larry Willard: 416-573-3249 or lwillard@faithfamilybooks.ca

The hope is that someone will step forward to replace one of three existing partners. Faith is located in northeast Toronto at a major intersection, McCowan and Highway 401, on a corner diagonally opposite the Scarborough Town Centre and across the road from CTV’s flagship station, Toronto’s CFTO-TV. The store had a soft opening in April, 2009 and opened officially in May of that year. It is approximately 12,000 square feet in a mall that includes Winners, Starbucks, Coras and Just Add Ice, and currently houses a café. Pictures below are from that opening day nearly 6 years ago.

faith opening 1
faith opening 3
faith-family-gift-dept
faith opening 6

Blessings Ceases Operations in BC and Alberta: Four Stores Close

January 22, 2015 1 comment

Confirming what we have been aware of four a couple of weeks, Mark Hutchinson, President of Blessings released the following statement to us this morning, confirming the closure of all four stores:

Blessings Christian MarketplaceFor the past several years, Blessings has run at a continual financial deficit, with the losses in the past two years running into the six figure range.  To continue further after this fashion would simply be poor stewardship.  It is with a very heavy heart that we have begun the pursuit of amicably and honorably winding up our operations, being left with no other alternative course.

Our Edmonton retail location saw its last customers on Saturday, January 10th and our Langley retail location served until close of business on Thursday, January 15th.  Our Calgary location closed in 23rd and  our Chilliwack  on January 31. We  served with tremendous spirit and dedication until  the end.

We would like to extend a heartfelt and sincere thanks to the hosts of faithful customers who have graced our stores with their patronage over the years.

Blessings was at one time a national chain with 23 stores stretching from the Maritimes to the west coast. A restructuring early in 2008 left the company focused on its four stores in Alberta and BC. The announcement means that only a few days into 2015, two stores in Alberta have closed and one has announced an intention to close; all in major market areas.

Canadian Author Turns Church Comedy of Errors into Teachable Moments

Like me, you probably get customers who have no church affiliation whatsoever. Somehow, somewhere, something happened that left them burned by the experience. I think this author would identify.  This review ran earlier this week at Thinking Out Loud; I want to encourage you all to bring this book into inventory…

Killed by the Church Resurrected By Christ - Rick AppersonIf someone decides to start something like Churchgoers Anonymous, I think I’ve just found your curriculum: Killed by the Church, Resurrected by Christ published by WestBow Press. Author Rick Apperson has had his share of strange church experiences. Remarkably, just weeks after visiting some of these congregations, the place would shut down. Someone suggested it was like having Angela Lansbury of Murder She Wrote show up at your front door, but clearly, none of this was Rick Apperson’s fault.

From Pennsylvania to East Tennessee to Croatia to British Columbia; and from Catholic to Charismatic to Congregational; Rick has seen his share of church governance models, worship styles, and quirky parishioners. But mostly he’s seen hurt, frustration, and disappointment. If anyone had the right to walk away from it all, it was him and the book’s final chapter should end with total rejection of faith in God.

But instead, Rick, later with wife Sarah, perseveres. We aren’t told what drives this desire to keep attending even in the face of lies and false doctrine, but he seems to always be willing to risk the vulnerability of starting from scratch in a new place of worship; of giving it all one more try.

Despite the autobiographical nature of Killed by the Church, there is much teaching here and I would suggest that at 132 pages, the book offers more food-for-thought than books twice its size. What’s more, despite what some would consider the ‘in-group’ nature of a critique on the local church, it is presented in a very simple, very casual writing style that might actually resonate with that person you know who has walked away from weekly church attendance.

Most of the chapters in the book conclude with a section called “What I Learned on the Way to the Resurrection” where Rick does delve a little deeper into the life lessons underlying his personal journey. Then there is a section called “Taking it Deeper” which is a set of discussion questions that could be used in a group setting, but are also deeply personal to the reader.

I can’t say enough how much I think people who have abandoned church could identify with this book. However, despite the many ways that people in local assemblies may have wounded them, this book has a very positive spirit to it and could be instrumental in their journey to healing.

…I’ve been following Rick’s blog, Just a Thought almost from its inception and have especially enjoyed the Five Questions With… series he runs with Christian leaders and authors. After years of association with Youth With A Mission, today he serves with The Salvation Army in BC.

Finally, in the last chapter, just to show that God has a sense of humor, we learn that Rick and Sarah planted a church. Who better?


Read an excerpt from chapter 2 of the book at Christianity 201.


Paperback 9781490853789 $13.99 US
Hardcover 9781490853772 $30.99 US
available from Ingram/Spring Arbor
reg. disc.

The Boy Who Came From Heaven Recants Story

January 16, 2015 16 comments

 

The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven - Product Line

Alex Malarkey, the boy in The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven has now recanted his story. The Washington Post provides the update:

Tyndale House, a major Christian publisher, has announced that it will stop selling “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven,” by Alex Malarkey and his father, Kevin Malarkey.

The best-selling book, first published in 2010, describes what Alex experienced while he lay in a coma after a car accident when he was 6 years old. The coma lasted two months, and his injuries left him paralyzed, but the subsequent spiritual memoir — with its assuring description of “Miracles, Angels, and Life beyond This World” — became part of a popular genre of “heavenly tourism,” which has been controversial among orthodox Christians.

Earlier this week, Alex recanted his testimony about the afterlife. In an open letter to Christian bookstores posted on the Pulpit and Pen Web site, Alex states flatly: “I did not die. I did not go to Heaven.”

Referring to the injuries that continue to make it difficult for him to express himself, Alex writes, “Please forgive the brevity, but because of my limitations I have to keep this short…. I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible.”

Continue reading at Washington Post.

I guess we have to take this at face value. Alex and his mother have been reported as trying to get the truth about the story out there for some time. Still, there’s something about Alex’s final comment, the idea that people should only read the Bible, that suggests he’s been influenced by some ultra-conservative or fundamentalist individuals or group.

Should we get rid of all the books in the same genre? Right now there is a huge backlash online concerning “Heaven Tourism” books like Heaven is for Real and 90 Minutes in Heaven. Although we carried the Don Piper book in our store, I carried it in very small quantities until I was able to watch the hour-long video that goes with a curriculum of the same name. That changed my mind. And I think that Todd and Sonya Burpo have been very realistic about whatever it was that Colton experienced; there’s no denying that he was party to information after the experience that had never been shared with him, and that they, like Don Piper, were very reluctant to go public.

Michael Patton writes:

“Among conservative Christians who think critically about these matters are Gary Habermas and J.P. Moreland, both of whom have written on the subject. In discussions with them, they seem to agree that while NDEs [Near Death Experiences] have debatable significance in giving us a glimpse of heaven, and little to no value in proving the Christian faith, they do have significant value in discrediting naturalism (the belief that there is no transcendence to nature) and scientism (the belief that science can explain all things). Why? Because, at the very least, NDEs give evidence that there is a conscious part of individuals that transcends the body and brain. NDEs give evidence of the soul.”

Read more at Parchment and Pen.

Got stock of the Malarkey book? Hopefully Tyndale will do the right thing. I’ve got 3 paperbacks, 2 pocket editions and a video (but see below for clarification) and it’s the potential loss on the DVD that bothers me most. But it’s not been a good year for Tyndale, either; they were also the home of Mark Driscoll’s Resurgent imprint.

I also need to clarify that the last link is to a blog called Parchment and Pen, and the upper story contains a link to Pulpit and Pen. The people at the latter are also part of the group called #the15 who are trying to hold LifeWay retail stores more accountable for the things they carry that are inconsistent with the store’s and the Southern Baptist Convention’s standards. Needless to say, they’re jumping all over this in the same way the mainstream press is jumping and punning all over Alex’s last name. For them, the timing couldn’t be better; however, this affects all of us who have retail stores.

Why do I have six units of product? I have a certain amount of skepticism about many of the titles my customers order — we sometimes deny orders on certain subjects ranging from what constitutes hate speech under Canadian law in some titles, to books that encourage rather severe corporal punishment of children — but frequent ordering means that titles find their way into core inventory. (That’s what happened here, we passed completely on pre-pub offers.) But I don’t think it would be right to look at that book in my store and say that we as owners, managers and staff lack discernment. Honestly, our “heaven tourism” books are all on a lower shelf. From Betty Malz to Aldo McPherson these stories have an appeal to a certain type of person, but then, I personally distance myself from most prophecy titles, yet there’s no denying that there are people saved and attending church today because of The Late Great Planet Earth and even the Left Behind series.

I’m not thrilled with everything our industry produces, but to toss everything except the Bible means to toss out a vast catalog of Christian literature that includes everything from the writings of the Early Church fathers to the great classics of the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries. Furthermore, many of our spiritual heroes claimed a number of strange and mystical experiences, many of which we don’t talk about today.

To paraphrase Kenny Rogers, you gotta know when to display ’em, and know when it’s time to take ’em down. This one is done.

Canada’s Largest Christian Bookstore Tendered For Sale

January 15, 2015 5 comments

Scott's Parable Christian Book Store

After selling the Scott’s Parable store in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, the Scott family has announced their intention to sell their location in Red Deer, Alberta — Canada’s largest Christian retail store —  before the present lease expires at the end of August.  An undated story in Calgary’s City Light News we learned:

…If the 15,000-square-foot Scott’s Parable Christian Store in Red Deer can’t find a new owner, its 62-year legacy will end on August 29, 2015.

But with the recent sale of their sister store in Saskatchewan, there is still hope for the Central Alberta location.

A local family with retail and marketing experience bought the 10,000-square-foot Saskatoon store, explained manager Jim Pearson. “As of January 2, 2015, it’s not going to be Scott’s Parable; it’s going to be Kennedy’s Parable. So all the staff will be staying…just the name has changed.”

A similar scenario in Red Deer would be ideal, said Pearson. “That keeps the ministry going.”…

The store is located halfway between Edmonton and Calgary and more than half of all monthly traffic is people making the 90 minute drive from either city. The loss of the store would leave a huge gap in the province.  The story continues:

“It’s God that changes someone’s heart. It’s God that brings answers to the questions people are looking for,” Pearson mused. “We’re the ones who are privileged to be part of that process.”

With no buyers on the immediate horizon, plans are being made for the store’s final days.

“We want to go out with a godly character, where everyone gets paid. That’s why we’re deciding to shut down now,” Pearson explained. “If we decided to renew our lease for five years and only made it through three, the only option is bankruptcy. Then people don’t get paid and the landlord gets defaulted on the lease. That’s just not a good expression of how we’ve tried to honour Christ in all we’ve done all these years.”

Continue reading here.

Additional coverage in a pre-Christmas story at The Red Deer Advocate

The Easiest Form of Evangelism

Recently, author J.D. Greear (Jesus Continued, Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart) reblogged a piece from John M. Drescher about people who claim to be fisherman but never fish. It’s a great (but sad) analogy about people who talk about reaching the world, who form committees and create organizations all about reaching the world, but never step out themselves to do the actual work of making disciples.

It got me thinking about how easy our job is in the Christian bookstore environment.

  1. People come to us.
  2. They’re on our turf.
  3. The context presumes the subject of the conversation.
  4. We are surrounded by resources to equip us in the interaction.

What could be better?

And then it hit me: This is why communities need Christian bookstores. This is why we need to be there as a third space that isn’t home and isn’t church where we can facilitate life-changing conversations. Technically speaking, we don’t have to go out into the world any further. Weddings, Baptisms, First Communions, Confirmations, Ordinations, Bereavements, or simply the need of an entertaining story or music CD means that the world comes to us.

In the course of a year, we see the most interesting cross-section of our community; not just church people or the religiously inclined. Sometimes we know we’ve only got a minute or two to be salt; to plant a seed. But we have already gone out into the world. We didn’t buy a plane ticket, we bought a cash register and store fixtures and with that ticket we placed ourselves on the mission field.

It’s so important that we never forget this.


Help us spread the word about mission-focus. If you have friends in the industry who aren’t regular readers here, send them the shortlink to this story:  http://wp.me/pjjot-1ZU

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Customers Want Products That Don’t Exist

Just now it was a loose-leaf NLT Bible. Sorry, no can do.

Earlier on it was a Bible case for a compact NLT that was smaller than small in size, but more than twice as thick as an NIV Thinline cover that remains a possible runner-up . (Is the NLT thing a theme for today?)

We all get requests for things that don’t exist, but sometimes I wonder if there are simply too many of them. It can be very discouraging and disheartening to always be saying ‘no’ to customers, and in the customer’s mind it’s always they couldn’t get it. It’s never, no one manufactures such a thing, it’s always, the bookstore couldn’t located it. It’s your fault. It’s my fault.

Part of what we should see ourselves doing is educating the customer. When we switch hats from being merely order-takers to wearing the hat of teacher, guide, instructor, informer; then in the eyes of customers we look better. They explained why they don’t make that item. They helped me understand why that’s an obscure request.

I think part of the problem is that if you get too many esoteric requests in a single day, you start to get to get frustrated and just want the customer to move on. But if you treat each one as someone to whom you want to give your best service, you can help them see why the product they are looking for would be rare commodity, and lead them toward something that will help them accomplish the goal they are trying to fulfill.

Categories: Uncategorized