Archive for December, 2015

Probably Not Carried at the Store

We end the year with something from Not Always Right.

Fifty Shades at the Christian Bookstore

Read the full story here.

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The Bookstore as Consigment Shop for Small Business

This year we’ve done articles about stores going non-profit, pop-up stores, stores which added fair trade giftware displays, and the conversion of one store into a combination bookstore and events centre. Gone are the days when  simply adding a coffee shop was considered a radical departure from the long-established paradigm of books, Bibles, cards and giftware.

In our own store, space is very limited, but we’re tossing out an idea to see if anyone is interested. The store would get a piece of each sale, but more importantly would be the foot traffic generated. Participants would need to supply a strategy of what they would be doing to direct customers to the store.

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Let me know if you’ve tried something similar, or your general thoughts on how this could work.

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Retailers: How Was Your Year?

December 29, 2015 1 comment

First, in terms of last year were you

  • higher?
  • about the same?
  • lower?

Second, in terms of what you had projected for this year, were you

  • better than expected?
  • about the same as expected?
  • worse than expected?

Finally, in terms of 2016 are you

  • optimistic about seeing gains in the new year?
  • predicting a year similar to 2015?
  • concerned about the possibility of decline?

Send an email or use the comments section. If you want to add detail, how did your store do with colouring books?

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100 Names of God Combines Word Study, Bible Reference, and Devotional

It seems appropriate somehow that Rose Publishing, the company that manufactures over a hundred laminated pamphlets and related charts and videos should also be the publisher of a devotional book which is so equally informative.

100 Names of God Daily Devotional - Christopher D Hudson100 Names of God Daily Devotional by Christopher D. Hudson is a padded hardcover book with a hundred two-page spreads that at first look like something that could get really technical, but is in fact filled with application that really relates to the common person. It’s best described as Our Daily Bread meets Greek and Hebrew word study.

For each entry there is a keynote scripture, a devotional study that runs most of the two pages, a challenge, a prayer, and some related scriptures for further study. In the back, there is an index of themes which also connect to the word used as the devotional title for that day, its Strong’s Concordance number, another reference to the key scripture, and whether or not it’s a New Testament or Old Testament word.

While this would make a nice gift, a person might find themselves wanting to read it first before giving it away; at which point they might just want to keep it. (Maybe they should buy two!) While there are other Christian books currently on offer which also deal with the names of God — a quick search with Send the Light turned up over 50 — I found this particular approach very accessible.

Read a sample chapter posted at Christianity 201.

6 of Yesterday’s Top 15 Titles Were Coloring Books

December 22, 2015 1 comment

The overnight report this morning from Ingram showing “Spring Arbor Demand” revealed that six in the top 15 were adult coloring books. The forthcoming Gary Chapman book was #1 on this list, and also #13 on the broader Ingram list for yesterday.

Spring Arbor Top 15 December 21

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Jesus Centered Bible: Promotional Video

Page sample of NLT Jesus Centered Bible. Print bleed through from previous page is at no extra charge.

Page sample of NLT Jesus Centered Bible. Does the previous page always bleed through like that, or was the reviewer’s camera too sensitive?

Two weeks ago, Bruxy Cavey, Teaching Pastor at The Meeting House, Canada’s fastest growing church movement with 20 locations, shared this video in the middle of the Sunday morning sermon. (Link is to sermon, click video to source.)

Learn more at this link to Group Publishing.

Group Publishing (September, 2015) 1410 pages
Translation: NLT
Hardcover 978147073404 $24.99 US
Turquoise Imit. 9781470722159 $34.99 US
Slate Imit. 9781470726881 $34.99 US

Non-Profit Option Fails to Save Store

On April 11th we reported the pending closure of Faithful Servant Books in Moncton, NB. Then, just ten days later, on April 21st, we reported the store planned to restructure as a not-for-profit organization.

Yesterday morning, an announcement on the store’s Facebook page gave the sad news that even with restructuring, the store will close late January.


Dear All,

Last year, as the store faced difficult times, we transitioned to a Not-For-Profit company, and made several changes in an effort to continue the business.

Unfortunately, sales have continued to decline for several reasons and we must now close the store for good.

It has truly been a pleasure and a privilege to serve our Christian family and friends, and our Lord Jesus Christ over the past 3 ½ years. We will sincerely miss you all…

It’s sad to hear a story like this after it looked like the store closing situation had leveled off over the summer, but these are tough times for all retailers. We wish the staff of Faithful Servant God’s best in the future.

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Men’s Marriage Title Gets My Recommendation

December 16, 2015 1 comment

As a writer and reviewer who is also involved in the retail side of publishing, I am too aware that books for men can be a tough sell. Generally speaking, it’s not a well performing category, and so when a men’s interest title arrived in a stack of review books, I placed it near the bottom of the pile.

But then I decided to take a second look. Dude’s Guide to Marriage: Ten Skills Every Husband Must Develop to Love His Wife Well (Nelson Books, November 2015) is written by St. Louis pastor Darrin Patrick with substantial contributions from wife and coauthor Amie Patrick. It’s Darrin’s 4th major release and a sequel to Dude’s Guide to Manhood.

The thing that struck me about this book right away was the subject material covered. I dove right in to some sections immediately, and now I have to confess I’m working on a more sequential reading. These are the chapter titles:

  1. Dude's Guide to MarriageListen
  2. Talk
  3. Fight
  4. Grow
  5. Provide
  6. Rest
  7. Serve
  8. Submit
  9. Pursue
  10. Worship

I immediately identified some areas where I’ve often missed the mark as a husband. When we got married, the minister that did our wedding noted that it’s customary to do some marriage counseling with couples but because we both grew up in the church, he felt we “knew all this stuff” and it wasn’t entirely necessary.

Still, I wish he’d bored us to death by repeating some of it anyway. When opportunities later presented themselves to take a marriage retreat weekend, we were usually too busy to take the time, or too poor to pay the cost.

This book was well-researched, and Biblical principles were well-integrated. I saw one review that said “The Dude’s Guide to Marriage says nothing new…” but I disagree. I felt this material was fresh and the topical assortment provided much food for thought. I found chapters 5 and 9 the most personally beneficial, but your mileage may vary.

I liked what one reviewer said, “This is not just another ‘marriage book’ to check your box guys… this one pokes you in the eye.” Another wrote, “This may have been the most enjoyable and practical book on marriage that I have ever read.”

I have to admit I skip the individual/group (or in this case couples) discussion questions when reviewing a book, but several readers mentioned these as the high point of each chapter. I went back, and to my surprise the questions were rich in terms of the possibilities for husbands and wives to share their hurts, their blessings and their hearts.

This one is a keeper.

Read reviews of breaking Christian titles at Book Look Bloggers. Click on “Browse Reviews.”  

Postscript: This review was originally written for Thinking Out Loud, but I want to add here that I think as booksellers, we can get very detached from the products we vend. When a book hits you at a deeper, more personal level, it makes you realize the life-changing value in the work we do.

Worst Christian Book Covers, 2015

As end of year book lists go, lately this has become the only one to which I look forward. Did one of these hit #1? Or was there one that was worser? (Yeah, not a word; but fits in context.) Click this link to Englewood Review of Books, and start the countdown. See also the links to previous year’s winners. Hopefully none of you reading this have any of these in stock.

Worst Cover 2015 #12Worst Cover 2015 #14Worst Cover 2015 #3Worst Cover 2015 #extra

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Cook Buys Selected Brands from Standard Publishing

Trimmed Down Standard Changes Corporate Name to Christian Standard Media

CBA News:

Following its Nov. 2 acquisition of Gospel Light’s Sunday school curricula, Colorado-based David C Cook has now added Standard Publishing’s Bible lesson commentary series, Sunday school curriculum, and other church resources to its resources.

Christian Retailing:

David C Cook CEO Cris Doornbos commented on the acquisition.

“Both David C Cook and Standard were pioneers in Sunday school curriculum over a century ago,” Doornbos said. “It’s exciting to see the two organizations come together generations later with the same values and Bible-focused materials that they had at the beginning.”

Christian News Wire:

Standard Publishing Group LLC, following the recent sale of its Standard Lesson Commentary® series, Sunday school curriculum, and several other church resources to David C. Cook, is pleased to announce its corporate name change to Christian Standard Media LLC…

…The newly introduced Christian Standard Media will also continue to market and support its award-winning VBS programs, which includes the launch of Deep Sea Discovery VBS for 2016. This program features partnerships with kid-favorite worship artist, Yancy, for original VBS music written and produced exclusively for Deep Sea Discovery, as well as with Beth Guckenberger of Back2Back Ministries, who contributes real-life missions stories for the program’s hallmark “Service with a Lasting Purpose” VBS component…

Dollar Reaches Ten Year Low

The Canadian dollar continued to slide Monday, with finance experts predicting that an oversupply situation in the oil market will not be changing, impacting the dollar’s value until 2017. Canadian book distributors who insist on simply rolling over and playing dead will no doubt be raising the conversion to 1.4000 very soon; however the pricing arrangement between Baker Books and David C. Cook Canada proves that change is certainly possible if U.S. publishing houses want to support this market. 

Canadian news media continues to focus on the advantages of a low Canadian dollar to the manufacturing segment, completely downplaying the impact to consumers.

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Canadian Shipping Delays from HarperCollins Make U.S. Headlines

December 3, 2015 2 comments

It’s not just you that’s waiting forever for shipments from HarperCollins. Stores across Canada are being affected. And the article which appeared Tuesday at Publisher’s Weekly doesn’t begin to address the problems we’ve experienced with damaged books — some setting a new all-time low for the severity of the damage before the books were packed — as well as package shortages, wrong titles shipped, and shipments disappearing into thin air.

These are excerpts:

Canadian indie bookstores are facing long waits for HarperCollins titles this holiday season, causing frustration and missed opportunities for sales. Since HC closed its Toronto-area warehouse this spring, distribution to Canadian stores has been provided by Indiana-based company R.R. Donnelley. Although booksellers were promised 48-hour shipping, they claim to be waiting two weeks or more to receive their orders.

Kelly McKinnon, co-owner of Vancouver Kidsbooks, said an order she placed with HC on Nov. 13 didn’t arrive in her store until Nov. 27. The shipping issue, she noted, is impacting the bottom line; while her overall store sales are up this fall, her sales of HC titles are down 20%…

…Two other B.C.-based bookstores, Mosaic Books and the indie chain Black Bond Books, expressed similar frustrations. Michael Neill, co-owner at Mosaic Books, said sales of HC titles at his store are “way down,” with orders typically taking 10 days to arrive. One order, placed on Nov. 10, didn’t arrive at the store until Nov. 26…

…David Worsley, co-owner of Words Worth Books in Waterloo, said shipments to his store have been taking eight or nine days, and arriving piecemeal. “HarperCollins has mastered the art of shipping orders containing six boxes over three days. Box one of six and five of six on Monday, boxes four of six on Wednesday, the rest on Friday.” …

read the whole article at this link.

There are a number of ways this writer feels changes could be made for the better:

  1. Invoices in package. What the company is spending on postage alone is obscene. On Tuesday we received four separate envelopes at international first class US postage. Separate invoicing is also the norm with Hachette and Penguin Random-House, but with our Christian market suppliers, invoices with shipments is much more common and much easier on the environment. Also my bookkeeper has so many packing slips and invoices that need to be matched up. It’s often only at month-end we realize a shipment is missing.
  2. Consolidate backorder releases. There’s no need for all these small parcels to be going out piecemeal. Items can be merged into a single shipment on a single invoice.
  3. Ditch UPS. Their contract is part of an international arrangement HarperCollins has with United Parcel Service, but the so-called “Cadillac” of couriers irritates me on so many levels that it would need to be the subject of another article. We get many deliveries as late as 4:30 PM (at which point they should really be doing pick-ups) and despite dozens of requests to lay the boxes flat, they always leave the boxes lying on their sides.
  4. Have a random checking stage and remove warehouse employees who have too many errors. The formula of pick-check-pack has obviously been replaced with pick-pack which results in wrong titles, wrong quantities and books which were obviously in warehouse cartons that had been dropped or fell off the forklift truck. In one study guide shipment we got six out of thirty-six books that would never pass even as remainders, but they were all in different parts of the box. There’s no way this should have been missed unless it was deliberate, which, I have to say I do suspect.
  5. Find ways to make good on the disasters of the past year. I’ll leave that to HarperCollins’ imagination.

This article was updated at 9:00 AM with point 2 above added.