Collecting Your Word Alive Stories
This article concerns Word Alive Distribution, the company formerly based in Winnipeg which was recently acquired by Anchor Distributing. If you’re looking for information about Word Alive Press, that is outside the scope of this article; please stop reading.
Because this blog has been going for many years now, I am frequently contacted by publishers, authors and agents looking for an up-to-date assessment of the Christian book distribution scene in Canada. When it comes to HarperCollins, Parasource and Foundation, I think my opinions are relatively accurate; and any product placed with those three has the potential to perform well in this country.
However, when it comes to Word Alive, my experience is far too subjective to form an accurate description. When I contacted some of you individually, I found a variety of topics came up related to marketing, logistics, product availability, accounting practices, etc. With the takeover, some of these may no longer apply.
I guess I really want to focus on product availability, fill-rates, speed of special-order fulfillment etc. for an upcoming article here that I’ve already spent some time working on. I’d also like to know the answer to this question: In your mind, did Word Alive fill the gap created by the closure of Send the Light (STL) or did you not see the two events as related? If you were a regular Word Alive customer, you might have simply continued buying from them as you did before; if not you might have been looking for Word Alive to provide you with some of the products (and information services) that you got from STL.
Much depends on your perspective on this.
There’s two ways I’d like to hear from you: (a) by email to email@example.com being very careful to specify if your comments are anonymous or if you are willing to be quoted to directly; or (b) with a comment here which may or may not be anonymous depending on what you say and how you identify.
Why does this matter? With only the three primary distributors (listed in the first paragraph) many Christian retailers in Canada have an all-their-eggs-in-one-basket type of situation. There are still dozens of domestic Christian product sources in Canada, but for essentials our situation is quite limited. My personal thesis that Anchor Distributing is a great company in a large market (the U.S.) that serves retailers and consumers well; but that when you try to layer that model on the map of Canada, it is only fulfilling about 50% of its potential in terms of what is needed here. Again, the subjectivity of that situation north of the border can (and does) look like mismanagement. This may not matter to you today, but it might tomorrow when you find store inventory gaps for things you once obtained through STL.
I’ve touched on the various factors contributing to that opinion, but I’ll flesh them out more fully soon, along with a few examples. And yes, in the spirit of Matthew 5 and Matthew 18, I have brought some of these concerns to various people there, but sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees.
So again, I earnestly solicit your evaluation of how this particular supplier helps you in your mission and/or causes you some frustrations. And again, confidentiality is assured if noted.