Archive for July, 2015

Lack of Intuitive Search Features Frustrates Store Staff and Customers

It seemed like a straight forward request. But try as I might, I couldn’t get the author’s name to come up in three different websites. So was it:

  • Holly Girth
  • Holly Gerth
  • Hollie Girth  or
  • Hollie Gerth  ??

Finally I just did a Google search. The correct spelling is

  • Holley Gerth

Why can’t the websites we use as dealers have a mechanism for offering the alternatives? If I were a database manager, it would be as easy as tagging the alternatives.

I suspect sometimes sales are lost because dealers don’t push past the barriers, or a part-time staffer, if they don’t know the writer, assume the customer is requesting something outside of the CBA sphere of authors.

Years ago I heard someone say in a CBC radio interview that the person who has truly mastered the internet is the person who has mastered search. I believe this is equally true today.

But it shouldn’t be this difficult. You probably have your own search stories to tell, right?

Categories: Uncategorized

Story in the Stars

The Story in the Stars

Several years ago I was made aware of First Century Foundations, the ministry of Joe Amaral. Joe and his wife Karen are based in Canada; their ministry is very similar to that of America’s Ray Vander Laan. Both are committed to help people see the life, teachings and miracles of Jesus in the context that his Jewish audience would have seen, heard and understood them. Although I had some early exposure to Ray, it has been Joe’s teachings which most recently have helped me learn more of this type of content, which truly makes the Gospels come alive. In addition to books such as Understanding Jesus and What Would Jesus Read? they lead tour groups to Israel on a regular basis.

So it seemed only fitting that the man who has helped so many see so much of what we miss in our hurried scripture readings wearing Western-mindset glasses should turn his attention to the many astronomical references in the scripture which can be equally overlooked. (Perhaps it was the natural next step, since Joe takes his telescope everywhere.)

“Can you direct the movement of the stars–binding the cluster of the Pleiades or loosening the cords of Orion?
-Job 31:31 NLT

He who made the Pleiades and Orion And changes deep darkness into morning, Who also darkens day into night, Who calls for the waters of the sea And pours them out on the surface of the earth, The LORD is His name.
-Amos 4:8 NASB

Story in the Stars is a DVD/BluRay combination which does leave you scratching your head in wonder at the detail that we’ve missed. Even the twelve signs of the zodiac, which is anathema in conservative Evangelical quarters, are rich in relevance when interpreted through a Biblical lens.

But the real payoff in this 41-minute documentary is a section at the end which gets into signs occurring in the heavens relevant to Jesus’ birth — a better understanding of what drew the Magi to the Bethlehem stable — as well as his crucifixion, resurrection and second coming. Having been in the audience for several Story in the Stars live presentations, I can say that this video only begins to whet your appetite for this topic, and as I said above, it serves to warm you toward an area that has been off limits for many church people. Perhaps it’s the similarity of the word astronomy to the word astrology that throws Christians off the trail.

Story in the Stars is available for purchase or download at and at Christian Bookstores who can order copies through Elevate Entertainment via Send the Light Distribution. Canadian retail customers will recognize this product from its exposure on 100 Huntley St. and can, as we did, place a wholesale order direct through their office in Milton, Ontario. It’s a great introduction to a topic that many of us might never have considered. A companion coffee-table book is also available; and even though it’s not about astrology, the move or the book make a gift and conversation-starter for someone who has that passion.



Even If You Discounted It Greatly, This Would Still Be a Nice Sale

This is the current Canadian price of the complete curriculum kit for What’s in the Bible? I’ve never seen a single Christian Ed. item at this price, but even if you gave away 2/3rds of the 30% discount — if perhaps it was your own church or you just wanted to help a local congregation with the cost — you’d still be left with $147 profit before shipping. Click the image below to link to

WITB Curriculum Canadian Price

Take your children’s ministry through the whole Bible in one year! 52 weeks with Buck Denver asks … What’s in the Bible? will take you from Genesis through Revelation. The Whole Bible box set includes all 13 volumes of curriculum – plus the Old Testament Review and Why Do We Call It Christmas?  The Box Set also includes the new Church Resource Kit DVD that contains printable classroom decorations, promotional materials, and videos including countdown videos, volunteer training videos and special messages from Phil Vischer just for parents!

– Contains 60 weeks (15 months) of media-driven curriculum to take your ministry through the whole Bible – Genesis to Revelation!

– Includes Why Do We Call It Christmas? – a 4-week Christmas curriculum designed for the busy holiday season

– Includes all-new Church Resource Kit – 2 discs that include files to print your own classroom decorations and promotional posters plus countdown videos, videos for parents from Phil Vischer, and more!

– Each volume contains everything you need on DVD, DVD-Rom and CD-Rom: videos, customizable lessons, and take-home materials.

– Each volume includes a website password to access all materials for download – or lead your class via a mobile phone or tablet!

– Created by VeggieTales® creator Phil Vischer

Categories: Uncategorized

New Paul Young Novel Just Weeks Away from Release

Paul Young - EveAfter the huge success of The Shack, many publishers were after Paul Young’s next novel, Eve. Ami McConnell was at HarperCollins at the time, who lost out to Howard, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. But then, Ami found herself at Howard herself, where she is now Vice President and Editor in Chief.

She did a short interview of the book with Publisher’s Weekly which you can read by clicking this link.

Howard Publishing is represented to the Christian bookstore trade in Canada by David. C. Cook. The 320-page novel, releasing simultaneously in hardcover and paperback hits the street on September 22nd.

From the publisher’s blurb (excerpt):

…Eve is a bold, unprecedented exploration of the Creation narrative, true to the original texts and centuries of scholarship—yet with breathtaking discoveries that challenge traditional misconceptions about who we are and how we’re made. As The Shack awakened readers to a personal, non-religious understanding of God, Eve will free us from faulty interpretations that have corrupted human relationships since the Garden of Eden.

Eve opens a refreshing conversation about the equality of men and women within the context of our beginnings, helping us see each other as our Creator does—complete, unique, and not constrained to cultural rules or limitations…

Categories: Uncategorized

New Waterbrook Titles

Here’s a graphic you can use on your store’s Facebook page or store newsletter. You can add copy describing these new titles. The first is a hardcover, the second is a paperback original, and the third is trade paper conversion title.

New Waterbrook Releases

Categories: Uncategorized

The Onion Spoofs the Heaven Tourism Genre

Click this link to read at source

NEW YORK—Speaking for the first time since waking from a medically induced coma following a devastating car accident, 8-year-old Aiden Miller recounted an extremely vivid near-death experience Friday that reportedly contained detailed descriptions of heaven, angels, and a six-figure book deal. “I was walking up in the clouds and met friends, and strangers, and all these famous people who talked with me about all kinds of things and brought up the possibility of selling the rights to my story to a big-name publisher,” said the second-grader, who attested that during the five-minute period in which his heart had stopped on the operating table, he ascended to a shining, golden paradise where he says he met with the archangel Gabriel and a literary agent who has helped a number of authors secure multi-book deals with lucrative worldwide book tours. “Jesus was sitting at the right hand of God and my grandfather was right there, and they looked at me and smiled at each other and said I should ask for an $80,000 advance with 10 percent of back-end profits.” Miller added that he felt a profound sense of peace and well-being when Jesus told him to go forth and seek a blockbuster deal for the movie rights.

Categories: Uncategorized

When Wholesale is Not the Best Price

Frequently, bookstores larger than ours are part of programs which allow them to sell books to customers below the wholesale price. Unless something is in the back of a clearance bin, I don’t make a practice of buying from other stores, but recently realized that sometimes, I am being played by my suppliers.

I noticed on Monday that we were out of stock of Choose Life by Stormie Omartian, and happened to remember that the Canadian supplier was running a 46% discount on her selected backlist. Today, that book is available to customers at a Hamilton bookstore at 50% discount. Next Wednesday, the discount on this “Dutch Auction” special jumps to 60%. I’m sure there are many other stores which are part of this particular promotion.

During the last few weeks, I have made an extra concerted effort to buy all I can from this particular supplier, knowing as we all do that with stores in major cities closing, they probably need every sale they can get. But despite this, I find myself today moving back to the position I’ve taken earlier in the year of making them an absolute last resort.

There’s no fixed pricing.

Every dealer (and here I want to add ‘but me’) is getting a different price.

Your volume determines your discounts; as it always does in this industry. This is something I consider a bit of a slap in the face from distributors who then have the nerve to sell “What Would Jesus Do?” products. Jesus would give the guy buying five units the deal, and tell the guy buying 50 that he can probably live with the standard discount.

I just don’t want to be a part of something that isn’t more standardized, practicing more of what I would call fairness. For that reason, I don’t go to this supplier’s industry events anymore. Frankly, I think it would be totally hypocritical of me to sit down to lunch and eat their food. The sharing of a meal has spiritual significance to people in eastern cultures, and even though I’m not actually at the table with the employees and owners, I am in fact sharing their food.

I just can’t do that. I can’t have spiritual fellowship with people who are so busy doing backroom wheeling and dealing with the top 15 bookstore accounts that they think the rest of us, the bottom-feeders, are totally oblivious to what’s going on.

It’s frustrating also because I was just warming up to the idea of using this supplier more frequently, even though they are actively selling into my market. I had softened. I was willing to surrender the fight. And then I was reminded why I was offended in the first place. The total inconsistency on pricing.

…If I can walk into this store next week and as a retail customer get 60% on a book that I’m only being given a 46% discount as a wholesale customer, then I would say something is serious warped.

Comparing The NIV Zondervan Study Bible and the NIV Study Bible

NIV Zondervan Study Bible

Opinions here are those of the author; this is not a sponsored post.

While the title may confuse some, you have to assume the publishers already sorted out that potential confusion and went ahead with the name anyway. The NIV Zondervan Study Bible is releasing later this summer, and is certain to get mixed up with the classic NIV Study Bible which has been with us for several decades. The latter isn’t going anywhere.

At a major online Christian retail site, we read:

The NIV Study Bible will remain in print. With over 10 million copies sold over 30 years, this bestselling study Bible will continue to help readers come to a deeper understanding of God’s Word.

And then it offers this chart which outlines the differences:

NIV Study Bibles compared

Looking closely at the author list above, methinks that that Zondervan is going after the same market as purchased the popular ESV Study Bible. Clearly, to some extent, the Reformed community is in view. However, by virtue of its weight, the ESV product attracted a broader audience containing features not heretofore seen in study Bibles. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but the ESV Study did contain elements worth emulating.

Zondervan is quick to point out that this new project was not adapted from the present study edition, but was “built from the ground up.” We know that like the ESV Study, it contains supplementary articles and that well known Biblical scholars were responsible for particular books, but for many of the finer details, we’re going to have to wait until the August 25th release date to see all its 2,912 pages.

Of course, if Zondervan wants to send me a review copy, they know how to reach me!

Bonus: For those of you who’ve read this far, here’s a look at some of the extras in this Bible below which is a clue to where the advance peek treasure is buried:

NIV Zondervan Study Bible ArticlesClick the image above, and then click the “preview” tab to see the full table of contents and many of the introductory articles.


CDN Dollar Continues Drop Against U.S. Counterpart

exchange rate July 8 15

The Canadian dollar continued to weaken against the U.S. dollar yesterday, which means possibly higher prices for Canadian book consumers in the future. As much as I would love to report in this space that one or more of our distributors is doing something serious to offset the situation, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Again, at risk of repeating this too many times; literary agents (i.e. lawyers) have determined that the U.S. and Canada are a single market for royalty purposes. Therein lies the problem.

You would expect that someone in the business would want to step in at some point and say, “We’re going to do something to inject life into Canadian market book sales;” but day after day, it never happens. We’re just not worth it. Maintaining the status quo is apparently in everybody’s interest. With each period of higher prices north of The 49th Parallel, readers lose interest and change habits with their discretionary, leisure-time dollars. In other words, we lose readers permanently in periods like this.

At yesterday’s closing rate, buying U.S. dollars will cost you 1.2740 CAD before the 2.5% your bank charges.


Categories: Uncategorized

90 Minutes in Heaven Movie Lands Distribution Deal

U.S. release on September 11th

This book has done quite well in our stores which should generate much interest in the film.

From today’s announcement in Los Angeles at Christian Newswire:

90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN—the stirring story of Don Piper, who died in a highway accident, experienced heaven and returned to face severe physical, emotional and spiritual challenges—has landed a distribution deal with Samuel Goldwyn Films. The faith film is based on Piper’s New York Times best-selling book of the same name with more than 7 million copies sold; the film premieres in 800 theaters across the country on Friday, Sept. 11, 2015.

90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN is presented by Giving Films. It stars Hayden Christensen (STAR WARS) and Kate Bosworth (SUPERMAN RETURNS) as Don and Eva Piper. Michael Polish (THE ASTRONAUT FARMER) directs…

…90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN is rated PG-13 for intense accident and injury images.

From the movie website,

Bookstore Analogies

This is the third time around for one of my favorite items on this blog. Feel free to print this for your staff room or employee bulletin board:

  • 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.

How To Completely Alienate People in a Bookstore

The following is a 100% true story. It happened five years ago…

Doing a two mile hike before breakfast isn’t the normal way I start the day, but these were unusual circumstances. It was already pushing 90-degrees F., and I’m sure I looked the part.

But a friend had recommended I drop by the bookstore in a large well-known Christian conference center in New York state, and since we were only a few exits away, I decided to go for it.

As soon as I walked in the bookstore, a young man met me and said something like, “The ‘wind-swept’ look really works for you.” If you know that I’ve been having a bad hair day since birth, you know that this is a kind of remark I am really sensitive to; but yes, he really said that.

A quick look around the store, and I realized the degree to which this is an ultra-conservative conference center. I think the phrase, “By their Bibles you shall know them;” was the big giveaway: ESV, KJV, NKJV and a small sampling of NASB and HCSB.

In other words, no NIV, TNIV, NCV, Message, or NLT. To me that’s like drawing a line in the sand. But the book selection only reinforced this.

The guy’s opening remarks now begged translation: “I can see by looking at you that you don’t belong here.”

And I agree. I met my wife at the car and said, “Get me out of here, fast!”

Seeker sensitive? They’d probably spit at you for using the word. This is an elite club, and they can smell you a mile away if you’re not part of it.

Sad, really.