2016 Brought Some Changes; Some Things Stayed the Same
For Canadian stores the two most significant events of the year were losing an extremely Canada-friendly supplier (Send the Light Distribution) but also, in a sense gaining a new distributor (Parasource) as David C. Cook Canada and Augsburg-Fortress Canada merged under a new Canadian ownership.
We also saw the reverse, where a longtime Canadian distributor was purchased by an American company as Word Alive became part of Anchor Distributing. Stores gained rapid order turnaround times, but for those who had already been using a U.S. Anchor account, the new situation meant lost access to extra discounts on Whittaker House as well as bargain books. However, for a greater number of stores the timing meant that Anchor somewhat replaced Send the Light, and there was simply no comparison. Canadian stores also lost dozens and dozens of small publishers as well as access to so many types of giftware and apparel.
The Canadian dollar didn’t rally at the end of the year as some expected it would, but we must always take into account that some of the worst calamities in our industry during the past decade have occurred when the Canadian dollar was low, not high.
The announced closing of Abbey Press was a real blow to stores for whom their products resonated so well with customers, but there are still hopes that the business or the products will be picked up by another entity between now and the summer.
Some authors tried new genres. Francine Rivers released a non-fiction hardcover, while Beth Moore issued her first novel. Some companies were remaindering adult colouring books at the same time as they were issuing new ones.
For some of our authors, 2016 was a tough year. Nabeel Qureshi’s illness became the focus of much worldwide prayer; Jen Hatmaker’s books were pulled from LifeWay; Pete Wilson’s wife filed for divorce. At the same time, it was a breakout year for new authors such as Steve Carter and Bryan Loritts.
HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Zondervan, Nelson) continued to offer us International Trade Paper Editions while Hachette (Faithwords) Simon & Schuster (Howard) and Random House (Waterbrook) continued to refuse to do so, even while offering them to booksellers in England, Australia and the rest of the world. Tyndale and Baker continued the practice as well, much to the delight of Canadian customers and retailers alike.
On the print-on-demand front, fiction readers trying to complete their series were more frustrated as Bethany House and Tyndale seemed to be deleting titles faster than ever and not offering them in P.O.D., while Bethany seemed to be greatly limiting the availability of large print fiction.
In Canada, we experienced far fewer store closings this year, as conditioned stabilized considerably from 2014 where at least 20 stores closed, and 2015 where another dozen closed in the first half of the year. Foundation extended its retail run in Ottawa selling its own products as well as selected items from other suppliers in the 3-level location formerly occupied by Salem Storehouse.
Tomorrow we’ll look at what’s expected for 2017. So far we’ve only heard from Parasource, but we invite other contributions.