Using the movie Silence as a springboard for the discussion, The Phil Vischer Podcast looks at the perplexing situation whereby the Christian populace tends not to respond to movies or books which are thoughtful, instead seeking sentimentality and wish fulfillment. Part of this is why there is a disconnect between Book of the Year award lists and bestseller charts. They suggest that the market rewards shallowness.
The video link below joins the podcast in progress at the point where the discussion focuses in on our industry and the products we sell.
If the customized link isn’t working — and WordPress doesn’t seem to like it because it works everywhere else — then FF->17:20; books discussed specifically at 20:30; the discussion runs to approx. 30:00
This is a reflection of all books sold, not the Christian/Religious market specifically.
From Publisher’s Weekly,
…Nielsen found that e-book unit sales from reporting publishers were down 16% in 2016 from 2015. Units fell the most in the juvenile fiction segment, where e-book sales dropped 28% in the year and accounted for 10% of total category unit sales in 2016, down from 14%. (E-books have never been a big factor in juvenile nonfiction and accounted for 1% of units sold in 2016.)
Unit sales of e-books in the adult fiction segment fell 15% in 2016, and, while the format accounted for 49% of all units sold last year in the category, that was down by three percentage points from 2015. E-book unit sales fell 13% in 2016 in adult nonfiction and accounted for 12% of all units sold in the segment last year, compared to 15% in 2015. In total, e-books’ share of trade unit sales was 23% in 2016, down from 27% in 2015…
Read the full report at PW.
Clicking the image below will take you to the full Top 50 list. We print this and keep it posted by the door to our store. It’s interesting to see the domination by HarperCollins Christian Publishing’s Thomas Nelson and Zondervan. Take a closer look and break the full list down by Canadian distributors; it’s rather surprising.
A few weeks ago a friend loaned me a book which he thought I would enjoy, and I was so impressed I wrote the following review on my other blog even though it was a borrowed copy and not exactly recently released. The story has a strong faith connection though it falls outside the realm of “Christian publishing” and would be rejected by many of our stores because of language issues and adult situations. Still, I think I would have some customers who would want to read this inspiring story. We already stock books with customer advisories (warning stickers) on the back and they do sell. Do you have things in your store that fall outside the normal parameters of what Christian retailers are expected to carry?
Today’s a bit of an exception: A book that’s not new (published in 2012) and not carried by Christian retailers. Rather, it was loaned to me by a friend who met the author at a work-sponsored event several months ago and thought I would enjoy it. I need to return the book to him now, so I don’t even get to keep it, which means I really didn’t need to bother to write anything about it but the fact is, I’m really pumped (a pun which will you’ll get in a minute) about this and want to share it in the hope some of you might track it down.
Wine to Water: How One Man Saved Himself While Trying to Save the World (Avery) is the suspense-filled autobiographical account of how Doc Hendley went from bartender in a college town to founding his own charity and being sent carte blanche to Darfur, Sudan by Samaritan’s Purse to develop a program to bring fresh water to people there regardless of their religion or politics.
Ever watched or read an appeal for a third-world charity and wondered what the people on the ground actually do when they wake up each morning? It’s possibly the polar opposite of what you imagine. As the story unwinds, Hendley is basically an actor in a play in which he has to write (and re-write) the script daily. There is guaranteed opposition and no real promise that you’ll live to the same the next day. In one harrowing tale, he is at a loss to understand how a bullet fired directly at his head could possibly have missed.
If you haven’t figured it out, the book’s title relates to how Hendley the Bartender begins a series of pub-based fundraising events with the aim of helping with the world water crisis. But he does so not knowing where the money will be used. When he first connects with Samaritan’s Purse, they actually turn down his donation and invite him to see the situation firsthand before he spends the first dollar.
I mentioned at the outset that Wine to Water isn’t sold at Christian retail, but perhaps it should be. On a personal level, Hendley strongly identifies with his religious upbringing as a preacher’s kid. His personal faith in God and the power of prayer ought to be a challenge to the rest of us who perhaps have the dotted the is and crossed the ts when it comes to doctrine and theology, but may be missing out on actual real faith.
Truly, there are no atheists in foxholes.
Once again, the Christian satirical news website couldn’t leave us alone!
Thomas Nelson Announces ‘The Purpose Driven Jesus Calling Adult Coloring Book Featuring Tim Tebow’ By Joel Osteen
NASHVILLE, TN—In its latest push to capitalize on popular Christian book trends, religious publisher Thomas Nelson hurriedly announced upcoming book The Purpose Driven Jesus Calling Adult Coloring Book Featuring Tim Tebow Tuesday to much fanfare.
The book will reportedly feature forty days of purpose-driven devotionals written as if Jesus were talking directly to the reader, with inspirational images of Tim Tebow captioned with encouraging Joel Osteen quotes for believers to color during their read-through.
“This book is everything Christians want to read right now, all wrapped up into one,” a Thomas Nelson representative told reporters…
Many years ago at the MissionFest event in Toronto we encountered the people from Good Seed’s Quebec branch, who introduced us to some rather unique titles. They were essentially the same book but each edition was tailored to a particular audience: People who grew up aware of traditional Christianity; people whose influences were largely Eastern; people whose background was more atheist, agnostic, pantheist or New Age; and children. As a lover of apologetics, I probably would have bought just about anything they offered, but the shared characteristics of these books intrigued me. As I usually do, I purchased conservatively, but the following year at MissionFest I topped up the inventory to replace sold copies.
These aren’t new titles. So why share them here today? (Besides coming across the original brochure in a box of papers?) I think the idea behind this set of books is exactly what’s missing right now in Christian publishing. We generally publish books for Christians. The already on-side. Preaching to the choir. Imagine having a resource that you could place in the hands of two vastly different contacts that was written specifically for each of them. Everybody in Christian publishing should be copying this concept to some degree.
Check out the graphic image below. You can learn more at the Good Seed Canada store or see more at their ministry headquarters home page. There’s also an edition of By The Name available in French as well as a number of other resources en français. Wholesale prices available to stores. Retailers need to be prepared to hand-sell these titles or include them in a newsletter or Facebook post or use shelf-talkers (what we did at first) to draw attention to them. (See also the link after the graphic for our original article in 2012.)
■ We covered this product range at the time we discovered them! For more, read this article from April, 2012: Evangelism Product Targets Different Worldviews.
This is a very balanced look at an often thorny subject, What is the best Bible translation? This is must-watching for new staff and veterans alike.
Perhaps I missed something, but Parasource seems to have stopped doing monthly chart posters, so I don’t believe the usual Top 100 data compilation is available.
Meanwhile, the U.S. consumer site, ChristianCinema.com has an excellent Top 100 list for 2016. Click this link, and then scroll down past the long article until you arrive at the DVD cover images.
In Canada, spread out across a large geographic span, it’s easy to feel isolated or feel like perhaps you’re missing something; so access to data — wherever you find it — is critical.
Given that’s Sunday, I wasn’t going to post anything here today, but on my general blog, I decided to take the subject we looked at yesterday and expand it into a general survey of things I want to discuss there in a future article. If you want to weigh on this I’ve closed comments here, but there’s a link in the closing paragraph here that will get you there if you wish to say something, either as a regular reader or in your capacity as a Christian bookstore manager, owner or employee.
…I need to ask for your help with something I’m working on for a future article; and this possibly applies more to those of you who have been a Christian for a longer period of your life, or even grew up in the church.
I want you think about a Bible in physical (print) form that you once owned, or that you own now, and ask if you have any reservations or feelings about one or all of the following questions. (i.e. pick one and focus on it, or attempt to answer a few…)
- Is it okay to leave a copy of the Bible lying on the floor? (Either flat or upright.)
- Is it okay to have your Bible in a stack of other books with other books piled on top of it?
- Is it okay for stores to sell Bibles in damaged condition? (Especially if pages are slightly torn?)
- If a Bible becomes damaged, what is the proper method of disposing of a Bible? (Regular garbage / recycling / never dispose of … Consider the possibility of water damage if your home is flooded, for example.)
- Parents: Do you lean toward letting your kids use their Bible at whatever cost to its physical condition, or do you encourage greater reverence for the physical copy? (Keeping it in a special place, etc.)
- Finally (here’s a tricky one) what about underlining, circling, highlighting or the current fad of coloring in Bibles; is that appropriate? *
I don’t get a lot of feedback here despite the number of readers, but I really need your help on this one. Please use the comments, not the contact page, so everyone can see your response. And feel free to share the short-link for this article http://wp.me/pfdhA-8HS on social media. (Tell your friends it’s an open-ended survey about the care and feeding of Bibles.)
* The coloring Bible samples were already in my picture file; please don’t focus entirely on that particular question.
Please note that this article contains several keywords which may result in WordPress adding advertising below which does not originate with Thinking Out Loud or Christianity 201.
As a store which sells a high percentage of outlet-priced merchandise, I’m all for hurt books if it saves the customer money, though we try to focus on recent remainders and publisher overstock which is in good condition.
To me, Bibles are another matter altogether. I don’t mind some scuffed covers or dinged corners, but when it comes to the actual text, I don’t think there should be any issues. I recently ended my relationship with Book Depot entirely over the condition of two children’s NIrV Bibles we received. I wrote about that on November 21st, and we haven’t made a purchase since, which is most unusual for our store. The picture below shows one which was used (see the underlining) and one page which was quite torn (which I’ve highlighted by placing something dark underneath.)
Recently we did a sale of some slightly damaged NLT Bible inventory from FDI. You do get some interesting things in there. The LifeWay security tags are a good example.
There was one Bible (that we’ve found so far) which totally crossed the line. One page wasn’t properly trimmed. That’s fine, we often do this ourselves and make a note on the price tag so the customer knows going in what they’re getting. But this time one page was ripped into the text. This is God’s word we’re selling, isn’t it? I think at some point the retailer needs to be able to say, “I know I agreed to buy ‘slightly damaged’ but this isn’t what I was expecting.”
Furthermore, what do I do in that case? Do I tape the page with invisible tape? Or let the customer work it out to their satisfaction. Do I try to take a profit on that item? Or just sell it for cost? Or do I just offer it to a staff member to take home for free?
So back to the question, should stores sell damaged Bibles? I remember when I worked for the Canadian Bible Society, they had very rigid policies on what they would allow to go out the door. I think the other suppliers should take a cue from what they do. Even remainder marks on Bibles bother me in ways they don’t on other print literature. So what do you think?
If you also bought the FDI deal and did a rather hasty check-in, you might want to get a sales associate to go through the boxes and sleeves more carefully and find issues before your customers find them.