Archive for February, 2016

Philip Yancey and Cindy Woodsmall Would Be Surprised

Poor Signage Placement at Chapters

Seems the Christianity section at Chapters in Markham has overflowed its shelf allocation, and the sign on the next shelf wasn’t moved appropriately. (Not to mention that their fiction and non-fiction sections are all jumbled up.)


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A Book Every Church Library & Missions Committee Should Own

February 27, 2016 1 comment

Today I want to recommend a book to you that was not given to me for review nor do I have a copy in front of me as I write this; but it’s one in a book genre that I feel is essential reading for any individual or family who wants to expand their prayer focus farther than their own immediate family and friends; beyond their own city or town.

Brian C StillerBrian Stiller is what I would call a Christian statesman, a phrase which I take to mean a person who is both well-versed and widely-traveled and thereby is unusually forthright when it comes to the political, economic and spiritual conditions and issues in various parts of the world. As Global Ambassador with the World Evangelical Alliance he is also the former President of Youth for Christ Canada, former President of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (the Canadian equivalent of NAE) and former President of Tyndale College and Seminary in Toronto.

I’ve had the privilege of meeting with Brian at each of these stages and he was gracious enough to allow me to interview him for a magazine when he was at EFC, and there were things he said that day which I can still quote verbatim.

His book, An Insider’s Guide to Praying for the World (Bethany House, 2016, paper) would fall into the same category as the popular Operation World which is an exhaustive index of the countries of the world and the particular challenges each presents in terms of the spread of the gospel.

However, where Operation World is exhaustive, Praying for the World is personal. Brian Stiller shares from his own experiences, having visited the various countries covered in the book. The book is thereby somewhat autobiographical, but I would argue that Stiller’s write-ups for each are both subjective and objective at the same time.

Brian C Stiller - An Insider's Guide to Praying for the WorldOf the 52 chapters, not all are about a specific nation:

  • 3 deal with prison ministries
  • 1 is a general perspective
  • 1 is about global prayer initiatives
  • 1 looks at The Pope
  • 1 looks at a religion rather than a nation, in this case Islam
  • 2 repeat a country; Vietnam and Rwanda each have two chapters

By my calculations, that means 43 countries remain; countries that most of us will never visit at all, but in this one book we’re afforded the opportunity to see these nations and their needs through Brian Stiller’s eyes. The 52 chapters may be read in any order, or consulted for reference.

Each section contains:

  • an overview of that country
  • Brian’s ‘dispatch’ from that nation; the main essay
  • a key Bible verse
  • specific items for prayer
  • a suggested guided prayer

The potential uses for Praying for the World are many, but would include everything from your family prayer time, to giving to your missions committee, to having a copy in your church library.

For booksellers: After you’ve filed a copy under prayer and biography, this can be placed additionally in your Canadian authors section.




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The Mixed Blessing of Shoplifting

While no store managers or owners want to experience shoplifting, there is sometimes the proverbial silver lining in the cloud. At this bookstore in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, they certainly weren’t seeking free advertising, but the local Crime Stoppers unit produced this:

Thanks to Wes for submitting this to us. If you have store news you’d like to share, be sure to send it.

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Thinking Out Loud Blog Network Celebrates 8th Anniversary

Blog Birthday 8

The parent blog of Christian Book Shop Talk started eight years ago today. We’ll get in to that tomorrow at Thinking Out Loud, but today, the Wednesday Link List must go on! This issue pulls out all the stops and features over 40 links, many of which are related to books and authors. Click here to read. (Be sure to check out the Publishers Weekly list of forthcoming titles, and the inside look at the mechanics of David Jeremiah’s New York Times bestseller list manipulation.)

WLL 8th Anniversary

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Criteria for Deeming a Book Imperfect

This continues where we left off a few days ago talking about poor receiving procedures that can lead to shrinkage. The picture below is from Westminster Bookstore, a large, mostly Calvinist online vendor. To most of you who are reading this, the six criteria listed seem self-evident, but do each of your shipment receiving staff know to watch for these things? It’s so easy to quickly price the titles and put them on the shelves. I’m fortunate to have a receiver who second-guesses every title and reports every damage to me. On the other hand I hate being that guy who is always phoning to complain and report problems. I try to repair some small dust-jacket tears (taping them from the inside) and removing the after-effects of price tags removed from other stores with lighter fluid (which I keep at home; not at the store). I also find that if you buy remainders and overstock, you’re more in tune with what constitutes seconds.

Imperfect Books


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One Book, Many Different Editions

I’m sure that with all the foreign language editions of Ghost Boy we could have found several more!
One Book Many Editions - Ghost Boy

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Watch for Price Anomalies

February 19, 2016 2 comments

Are your staff trained to watch for discrepancies between the U.S. price on an item and the Canadian price invoiced? This is a good time to go over the basics with the people who do the checking in and price-stickering, even if they have been working for you a long time.

Yesterday we received four boxes of Colouring Cards from Christian Art Gifts. I actually ordered them thinking they were going to be the 4 X 6 type of cards you give or mail to someone which would be a great idea for a product.

The items are marked $4.99 US, but they billed at $11.99 CDN. A simple mistake, I’m hoping, with a quick resolution expected today.

But what if I hadn’t caught it? What if a staff member blindly affixed a $11.99 price point to those boxes? What if a customer challenged it a week later and then we assumed a mistake and make the change based on the packaging without referencing the original invoice?

In the retail industry, this is called shrinkage and it comes under the category of loss prevention. When we think of that, we think of product which is damaged or shoplifted, but we don’t think of the various types of paper or document shrinkage caused by merchandise which is short-shipped or overcharged.

In today’s economy, we have to tighten up our procedures to prevent all types of losses.

If you happened to order Colorful Blessings or Creative Expressions boxes, check your invoices.

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For Your Store FB or Twitter

John Eldredge Moving Mountains


Patricia Bradley - Silence in the Dark


Whatever Is Lovely



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Baker Suspense

Screenshots of covers make great instant graphics for store Facebook and Twitter pages as well as store websites. A few years ago, these covers would have been too cool for Christian bookstores!

Baker Suspense

Two Titles for People Who Wouldn’t Normally Read a Christian Book

Because of the popularity of Thinking Out Loud, I often receive books for which I’m not able to do a full review. Today I want to mention two of them, both of which would be suitable for giving away to someone outside your faith circle, as they’re both not preachy and just the right ticket to get conversations started. Both have brightly colored covers. Both have nine chapters. But both are somewhat peripheral to the Christian Living section of the bookstore.

They are however both aimed at vastly different audiences.

Life's Too Short - David DarkLife’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious by David Dark (IVP)

Some chapters grabbed me right away, so I again committed the sin of reading things out of order. David Dark would maintain that everybody — no exceptions — has a religion of some type. The book is a series of essays relating to entertainment, literature, and popular culture in general and how these intersect with belief and faith. (I passed the Doctor Who-inspired chapter on to my wife to read, and we discussed the two episodes cited, which she has seen, but I have not.)

Dark is a professor — one of his courses is “Religion and Science Fiction” — at Belmont University. He meets his topic with wit and humor and yet enough substance to satisfy any student of philosophy or religion, or the skeptic who questions the place of faith in the modern world. This is also great reading for people who are into next generation writers. Hardcover, 199 pages, releasing now.

Hands Free Life - Rachel Macy StaffordHands Free Life: 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better and Loving More by Rachel Macy Stafford (Zondervan)

Rachel Stafford is a mom to two girls and the author of the highly successful 2014 book Hands Free Mama and the blog of the same name popular with women. (Hands free means not holding on to the wrong things.) In this second book, she continues her style which is a mix of parenting stories told with transparency and self-help principles taught with conviction.

The sub-themes (3 chapters each) are Creating Lasting Connections, Living for Today, and Protecting What Matters. Each of the nine chapters also has three principles, and then ends with a “Habit Builder” to help moms live a life of significance. File this one in family, parenting and women’s interest. Paperback, 224 pages, released September 2015.

Click the book images to learn more about each title.


Top 40 Bestsellers at Searchlight

The last time I posted one of these, we had insufficient significant numbers for a top 40 chart and ran a top 30 instead. This time around we had enough unique active titles. This is what’s selling in my store; what selling in yours? Do you do a chart?

Searchlight Chart Spring 2016

Price Match Policy Contains Some Risks

This week we’ve had to honour an internet price-match guarantee in ways we did not anticipate. Normally, we price match to CBD, but sometimes they send an Amazon or Chapters link to us. There’s always some margin to do this though, right?

Not this time. The product was LifeWay which is a short discount item. I know there’s a sliding scale, and because you sell children’s Sunday School curriculum, many of you get about 24-28% discount on your dated and undated curriculum. But as a small store, in a small market, we get the basic 20%, and that’s before factoring in shipping costs. (Fortunately, this one shipped with a larger order than we usually are able to place, bringing the freight costs down from what’s normally 4-6%.)

On a good day, the A-zon price is higher than the Canadian list, but not this time. Perhaps A-zon hasn’t caught up to the many dollar exchange-rate price increases at David C. Cook Canada which include, with great irony, product from David C. Cook U.S. In any event, their price was a relative bargain to our customer. We had to take a beating on this one; so tight was the margin that we had to make sure the customer was going to pay cash or debit; a credit card would have wiped out remaining margin.

Once again, Beth Moore is off my Christmas card list. Not her fault? In that case she has a terrible literary agent, or is just a pushover, or has no heart for the actual ministry of the people who retail her products. First LifeWay gave us the term, undated curriculum which was an insult to booksellers everywhere. But then, they refused to return any of the product to regular discount after recovering curriculum development costs. To this day, the Experiencing God Workbook is still a short-discount.

At least with choral music, you may lose on the performance track or the orchestration, but you get to sell the choir books. With LifeWay there’s no such bonus, and may I add, absolutely no incentive for dealers to recommend this product. None at all. (A few years back, I sent a Canadian LifeWay rep back to her car with all the conference flyers she thought I would distribute.)

So as a result, most Canadian dealers don’t think of actually carrying any of this product in inventory, and as for me and my store, we continue to order the rock bottom, bare minimum amount of Broadman & Holman product.