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Archive for June, 2015

Ingram/Spring Arbor Effectively Terminates Accounts of Hundreds of Smaller Stores

I missed it by $448 net. Less than 10%. A target I didn’t even know I was supposed to aiming for.

Last night I found out the hard way that my store was one of the ones that didn’t buy $5,000 from Ingram last year. $4,552 was close, but no cigar.

The company has removed all accounts falling below this annual purchase rate to a 30% max. short discount on book product. But they’ve done it such a way that stores are unlikely to take the steps to remedy the situation; effectively terminating those accounts, albeit perhaps over a long, drawn-out period of time.

First here’s the letter that went out, that I certainly did not receive:

ingramDear Ingram Customer,

As with any business, Ingram must closely monitor our expenses and make adjustments when needed so we can continue to provide the speed, accuracy, and support that you’ve come to expect. Sometimes, as our costs decrease, we have been able to pass that savings on to our customers. For example, we were recently able to lower our fuel surcharge to $1.75 per shipment due to a drop in the cost of diesel fuel.

However, to cover increased freight and operating costs, we’ve found it necessary to explore and evaluate our discount structure. Effective Monday, June 15, 2015, all accounts that fell below $5,000 in sales in 2014 will have a new discount structure of 30% on all regular discount items. Please note, this discount applies only to regular discount titles, regardless of quantities purchased or order method. All other items such as video, short, audio, etc., will continue to be discounted as they have been. Also, Ingram does review each customer’s account sales annually and offers volume discounts based on net annual purchases.

We truly value your continued business and appreciate your understanding in this matter. Please contact your Ingram sales representative or call Customer Care at 800-937-8200 or 615-793-5000, ext. 27652 if you have questions about this new discount structure.

Sincerely,

Ingram Content Group

So here’s the situation we find ourselves in:

1. There was no warning. The letter went out on June 8th to take effect on June 15th. This shows the low view they have of their customers.

2. There was no way to remedy the situation. The period the numbers were based on was January 1, 2014 to December 31st, 2014. For nearly six months we had failed to meet a target we didn’t know existed.

3. Offering to buy the difference to pull this year’s balance up is futile because that product would all ship at a short discount.

4. The situation is confirmed as irrevocable; there is no room for appeal, even for those of us who missed by less than 10%.

Reading the letter, we have to wonder if the company is simply squeezed because of their deals with companies like Chapters. Doing that volume of fulfillment on small orders where customers are getting free freight means someone is taking a big hit. I don’t know for sure, but I’m going to guess a similar deal exists with Amazon.

As I wrote my sales rep last night — a sales rep I didn’t even know existed until last night — it really hurts to get dumped:

We’ve been a customer of yours for a long, long time. We go back to the days of inputting orders on Telxon units and placing the big plastic suction cup over the phone. We go back to the days when Spring Arbor acquired Gospelrama and got into music and video for the first time. If we had known that we were $448 short, we would have simply bought that amount in December. Times were tough. We were watching inventory carefully. Now, six months later, it comes back to haunt us.

If anyone at Ingram sees this, they will deny that they are actually terminating any accounts. Tonight I placed an iPage order for five items for which I had taken deposits or prepayments. Some of these were non-book items which went through at 35%; one was a short 20% discount item anyway.

For the Christian stores, Send the Light simply offers a better option, with their willingness to include giftware and church supply items, and their vast homeschool catalogue. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of small publishers that Send the Light doesn’t deal with presently; plus their listings on even major publishers like Tyndale are selective, not exhaustive.

There are going to be orders we are simply going to have to start turning down. I can’t make up the Ingram difference for this year when I can buy the items 10% cheaper from Send the Light. And even if something came along where I needed a good volume of a shorter discount item, any return to regular customer status might not apply until June 15 of 2016.

Our account with Ingram is terminal, but I’m going to keep it on life support until they decide I’m not even worth that.

For people wanting to open stores in small markets — and I know some of you are checking out this blog on a regular basis — don’t consider Ingram/Spring Arbor as an option.

For those of you who are self-published authors — who also are regular readers here — find a way to get your book positioned with Send the Light or Anchor Distributors.

Industry Screenshots

Today was inventory day at IVP.
Inventory at IVP

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For the Love of Books

My Library cartoon

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Six Months to Christmas!

June 25th is for retailers, the six month mark in the year. Six months to Christmas means it’s now been six months from Christmas. How has your year shaped up so far?

This Sunday is also the first day of the 2015 International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) in Orlando, Florida. The home page notes some themes to be considered this year:

  • What does it take to create a new kind of store that Amazon can’t compete against?
  • You are a target! Protect your religious liberties. New strategies to protect your business and ministry.
  • The event is the only place and time the entire industry meets together

A complete list of authors, speakers, panelists, and seminar leaders is posted at this link.

From the InterVarsity Book, Coffee With Jesus

coffeewithjesus167

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When Author, Artist Lives Get Messy, Should Stores Pull Product?

no longer available

As someone who has spent time leading worship in several different churches, I still get excited when I hear a new song. If the song really captures me — as one did recently — I’ll tell everyone I meet about it.

About a month ago I found such a song. It was a beautiful worship song that also contained teaching and exhortation — the best of all possible worlds worlds — and reminded me of some classic Andrae Crouch, or at least what he might write in 2015.

And then everything crashed. I was telling a group of people about it and they proceeded to tell me a whole load of details about the artist, his affair, his marriage breakup and more. Hours later I went online only to discover everything they said was true, not that I should have doubted.

While I should have grieved over the artist’s sin (and my own), at that point my thoughts were entirely selfish. “Darn;” I thought; “I liked that song.”

Two weeks later I decided to play the song on YouTube one more time. Then my wife and I had a discussion about whether or not the song is in any way invalidated by the fact that the writer, like all of us, is flawed.

On Sunday night the discussion came up again in reference to an author. (See yesterday’s blog post.) Should Christian bookstores simply pull his product off the shelves? If they do so, should this be permanent or just for a season? Is the truth contained in those books in any way invalidated by more recent events?

Christian booksellers went through this when Amy Grant and Sandi Patti each were divorced. When Jennifer Knapp and Ray Boltz came out as gay. More recently, when Mark Driscoll admitted he plagiarized large sections of his books.

Of course, sometimes, the truth just isn’t there. The boy in The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven now admits he was never there in the first place. That’s a different type of situation. But last time I checked, those classic Amy and Sandi albums are back on the shelves, and this time around, some stores didn’t bother pulling Driscoll product at all.

I really like the song with which I began this discussion. I don’t wanna go all Charismatic on you and say it’s anointed, but it’s certainly special, at least to me. Does it not remain valid despite all the back-story? Didn’t God use a donkey once?

Breaking: Tullian Tchividjian Resigns from Coral Ridge, Admitting Affair

Billy Graham’s grandson Tullian Tchividjian has resigned from his pulpit at Coral Ridge Presbyterian, a high-profile church in south Florida, after admitting he had an affair. He released the following statement to the Washington Post on behalf of him and his wife:

I resigned from my position at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church today due to ongoing marital issues. As many of you know, I returned from a trip a few months back and discovered that my wife was having an affair. Heartbroken and devastated, I informed our church leadership and requested a sabbatical to focus exclusively on my marriage and family. As her affair continued, we separated. Sadly and embarrassingly, I subsequently sought comfort in a friend and developed an inappropriate relationship myself. Last week I was approached by our church leaders and they asked me about my own affair. I admitted to it and it was decided that the best course of action would be for me to resign. Both my wife and I are heartbroken over our actions and we ask you to pray for us and our family that God would give us the grace we need to weather this heart wrenching storm. We are amazingly grateful for the team of men and women who are committed to walking this difficult path with us. Please pray for the healing of deep wounds and we kindly ask that you respect our privacy.

continue reading here

photo: Darryl Dash

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Bankruptcy Court Denies Sale of Family Christian Stores

The drama of Family Christian Stores is now officially in overtime. Here’s some of the report from Publisher’s Weekly (19/June), but you need to click through for the full story:

A United States Bankruptcy Court has denied the sale of Family Christian Stores, the largest retail Christian chain in the country, to FCS Acquisition (a company founded by FCS owners to buy back the business). The ruling was detailed in a memorandum decision filed on Thursday in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Family Christian Stores, which has 266 locations in 36 states, filed for bankruptcy in February after several years of falling sales.

The denial of the sale motion was based on several factors: Hilco Merchant Resources, LLC, and Gordon Brothers Retail Partners LLC (Gordon/Hilco)–both liquidators–made bids on the chain, and both have standing to object to the sale. Additionally, the auction process during which FC Acquisition was named the “highest and best” bidder included several mistakes, though the court said it ultimately did not “find that the auction was unfair or fraudulent.”

The court was especially troubled by a telephone call from Family Christian CEO Chuck Bengochea to FC Acquisition owner Richard Jackson during the sale auction, asking him to increase FC Acquisitions’ bid.

A third objection says that the debtors “failed to articulate a sound business justification for the sale to any of the bidders.”…

…The decision comes nine days after a 14-hour hearing in Grand Rapids on June 9 that began at 9 a.m. and ended just after 11 p.m.

A longer story appears at MLive (Michigan Regional News) and notes:

…The judge said the clock is ticking for the company if it wants to remain a viable business. It will have a “liquidity crisis” with cash reserves likely depleted by mid to late July.

…If Family Christian Acquisition’s had been approved, Bengochea planned to close 15 or 16 stores as part of a five-point restructuring.

With several bidders planning to liquidate the company, many creditors, including publishers who would lose millions in the bankruptcy, backed Family Christian Acquisitions’ bid as a way to keep the company afloat and continue as an important distributor of their products.

New Stores Replacing Old Ones

As much as many of us are preoccupied with store closings, in many markets, like the legendary Phoenix, new stores are replacing them. Windsor, West Toronto and Winnipeg — there must be something about the letter W — are all examples of this.

Now comes word that a new store is being assembled in East Toronto, in the same strip mall where Faith bookstore stood, aiming for an early July opening.

Watch this space for further details.

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My Own Store’s Top 30 Books

You know your world has been shaken when there isn’t enough data to produce an authoritative Top 40 chart and have to change it to a Top 30. Titles #1 and #3 have local interest (see story here) but they would probably do well in your market also.

Searchlight Chart Summer 2015 B&W

Check Your Windows

I once read an article by a retail consultant who said that, for him, the worst thing in the front window of a store is a poster advertising a local event that has already passed. I think this probably qualifies as a runner up: Big bold signage containing a spelling or grammatical mistake. Especially in a bookstore, which thankfully, this wasn’t.
Thousands of New Merchandise

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New Bible Edition Lacks Translation Detail

It’s probably a safe assumption that the new edition of the Compass Bible from Thomas Nelson is The Voice Bible translation, but the information is completely absent from annotation at STL, Ingram, CBD, Book Manager and the Thomas Nelson consumer site. Is there a reason?  Are they wanting to make Compass the brand?  ISBN: 9780718009137

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