Archive for June, 2017

Mother Seeks Christian Bookstore Job for Her Wayward Daughter

This appeared last March on the Facebook page of an American Christian bookstore we have frequently visited. I’ve chosen not to link to the comment, but can authenticate it for you offline if need be.

I was a fan of this store until my prodigal daughter wanted me to pick her up a job application. The person who gave me the application questioned me about my daughter’s faith and how her being prodigal would make her basically unemployable to the store, because she would not be knowledgeable of the stores content.

In my mind I was thinking don’t they train you to do the job? I felt she was being biased and prejudiced because my daughter was not a practicing Christian. This is not only not what I expected from a supposedly Christ centered ministry, I felt the Holy Spirit telling me that this was not at all acceptable as well, in His eyes! Jesus would NEVER turn away someone who was away from Him, especially if their was even a hint of Him being able to reach the person, especially through a ministry!

I was even more appalled when I got home and read through the application! The first thing that stood out to me was what was written just below the company logo. ” We are an equal opportunity employer “. Are you kidding me! You discriminated against my daughter in the store and there was further discrimination in the application under references, ” name a pastor or church leader “, give me a break! That’s out right bias right there! Oh and they conveniently left out ” We do not discriminate against race, color, sex, RELIGION etc. etc. etc “. , how convenient! To me that further proves more bias!

Oh and yet they want the person to agree to having their life scrutinized in-depth way more than I would ever tolerate, in the applicant statement and agreement section! I would not be employable just on that section alone! If a job or a landlord or a bank or anybody wants to use my credit score against me that’s not acceptable under any condition!

For reasons why, check your bibles under how Jesus treated the poor, if you think it’s OK to deny someone just because of their credit score (which may not even be their fault IE identity theft etc. )! As far as the last paragraph in that section, it needs to be eliminated that’s not acceptable to me either ! I am totally appalled by this whole thing ! I will never shop at the store again ! I can see Jesus being infuriated by this Companies policies as well, shame on you guys! I would have given it zero stars, but it would not let me write the review but did. So technically a big zero from me sorry to say. I know you will delete this when you read it, because your even bias in what reviews you allow visible, but know Jesus has already seen it!

So how would you reply to this?

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I Could Build This!

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A New Open-to-Order System

Starting July 3rd, I will be ordering from my suppliers in direct proportion to the eco-friendliness of their packing materials.

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Factors Beyond Your Control

Today the street on which our business sits was closed for four hours due to flooding. So no business, except for one creative customer who found a route and made a significant purchase, somewhat rescuing the day.

End of day report: 4 transactions, 3 customers, 1 email order, no phone orders; $247 in sales.

Sigh! This can be more tiring than when it’s actually busy.

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It’s all in the Thumbnail

You’re looking at a supplier’s website and you’re not sure about a particular item. You think you might click through to see if there’s a larger image than what you’re seeing.

My advice is don’t click.

If it’s a t-shirt, a painting, or a gift bag, or anything else; the power of the image should convey through the thumbnail. That sounds a bit unfair, but it’s not that different from the millisecond your customer will give that item, so the artwork has to engage you. It should look professional, but it can also be unique in terms of what you already have in inventory.

The only reason to click through is to verify the text. It’s easy to fall in love with the artwork, and not realize the text has the intention that the item is for a funeral or a memorial and you’re looking for something for a birthday party. Many publishers and giftware companies will in my opinion squander a great image because someone in marketing decided that at least one SKU has to be in a particular category, and not the category for which the image is best suited.

You got into this because you felt you could manage a business and connect people with products that minister. You didn’t train to be an art critic. But guess what? Now you’re an art critic. Use your eyes to examine the products closely. Just because a major vendor has their name on it doesn’t mean that they use good judgment in bringing products into their catalogue.

Ask yourself, “Can I picture myself reducing this 12 months from now because it didn’t sell?” Better to be in a position of, “I think this item is great, and I hope it’s still available when I run out 60 days from now!”

Another good question is, “Can a customer basically buy this anywhere, or is this something one would expect to be in a Christian bookstore?” Unless you’ve got unlimited floor space and shelf space, avoid vague inspirational messages or sentimentality. When it comes to texts, stay old-school; look for scripture quotations or scripture-inspired messages.

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What’s New? For Stores Without Sales Reps or Catalogues, the Answer is Elusive

I think largely at our suggestion, Anchor/Word Alive started a new release page. It’s one of four windows in the carousel when you arrive at their home page. When first opened, it featured new releases for January and February, a 60-day window, just as STL had.

It still does.

It was never updated.

If they are going to impose a $250 net minimum order for Canadian accounts to get the 3% freight offer, stores need to be able to know what is available to fill out those orders. Remember, all the major publishers — Nelson, Baker, Tyndale, Cook, Zondervan, IVP — are already covered here so we really need to know $250’s worth of products which are unique to Anchor/Word Alive.

That’s easy if you’re dealing with a normal supplier. But with the intracasies of their backorder system — which we’ve already covered here — it gets much more complicated. Even the owner or manager of the largest stores reading this may have reason that they need to pad out an order to get particular items through.

…However, the problem is more systemic. As Parasource prepares to wrap up — and presumably is going with it — one of my key backup sources for knowing about new releases is going to be gone.

The Forthcoming feature at Ingram is probably the most accurate, but in order to make sure I covered July, for example, I need to read it by June 29th, or the data disappears.

CBD — normally a great source of information — is rather random in how it applies its ‘Sort by Publication Date’ feature. You get a mixture of forthcoming titles and things already in their warehouse.

The rundown sheets (Book 1, Book 2, etc.) at Parasource are also helpful, but as the company grows, there are pages and pages of .pdf forms, and no way to refine the data if I just want to look at books, or Bibles or giftware.

I know the Top 100 stores in Canada probably see sales reps regularly, but even there, I would suspect there are titles which get lost in the presentations.

I just want to know what’s new.

Cathedral Art Purchases Abbey Press

CA Gifts, a company long known as Cathedral Art, has purchased Abbey Trade. Canadian distribution will stay with Parasource Marketing which will also pick up the full CA Gifts line. This story is hardly new. Many of you have known about this for many, many weeks; however, finding online corroboration — an item we could link to — proved elusive.

A press release at Saint Meinrad Archabby reads:

Abbey Press Trade Marketing has been purchased by CA Gift (formerly Cathedral Art), a wholesale gift manufacturer located in Rhode Island. The company will continue to produce a wide range of best-selling Abbey Press products under the name “Abbey Gift.”…

…Abbey Press Publications is currently considering options for the future publication and production of the popular CareNotes line…

A news item last week at Providence Business News [Rhode Island] reported:

CA Gift and parent company, Cathedral Art Metal Co. Inc., purchased the wholesale gift division of Abbey Press, a press operated and owned by a 160-year-old Benedictine monastic community, the company announced Monday.

The Saint Meinrad Archabbey of Indiana had decided to shut down Abbey Press, a wholesale gift manufacturing, trade marketing and printing operations company in December 2016. CA Gift purchased the gift and trade marketing divisions known as Abbey Press Trade Marketing and will retain its creative and sales staff, who will now produce and market products under the name Abbey Gift.

“We expect a seamless transition, as we retail both the creative and sales teams and move forward with this iconic brand,” said CA Gift President Leo A. Tracey in a prepared statement.

In a conversation with PBN, Tracey said that the Abbey Gifts employees would remain in Indiana, expanding the company’s domestic staff from 35 to about 50 employees, who mostly will focus on sales and creative elements of the business.

The move to acquire the Abbey Press brand allows CA Gift to expand its product base, Tracey explained, from the metal-based products the company currently builds in the company’s factory in El Salvador to materials that include ceramics, glass, resin and wood. He estimated that 80 percent of the manufacturing that Abbey Press’s gift division engaged in would remain in factories in Asia, while about 20 percent of manufacturing would migrate to CA Gifts’ El Salvador location.

An item posted by a company which does sales representation for Abbey in the U.S. noted:

1) The following product lines will be discontinued: Publications, Counter Cards, Prayer Cards and Christmas Cards
2) Approximately 270 of the bestselling Abbey Press gift items are now available from CA Gift.
3) CA Gift will be selling the (above) Abbey Press product line under the name of Abbey Gift.

Parasource already has CA Gift catalogues available for Canadian stores. It is currently running a clearance of its existing Abbey inventory; a seven-page list is available.

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The Role that Books Can Play in Revival

Some Canadian Christian bookstore staff will know of Darryl Dash. He’s a Toronto church-planter and pastor who has also been a regular contributor to Christian Week, the Winnipeg-based national Christian news source. Each Saturday he publishes a short list of links which I always check in preparation for my own Wednesday list at Thinking Out Loud. I was quite taken with this article by Jared Wilson at For the Church, and decided to share the first half of it with you here. Click the title below to read the whole thing at source.

Bring the Books!

“When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.” – 2 Timothy 4:13

One thing we see looking back at great movements of God (revivals and reformations) prompted by gospel preaching is that the preachers weren’t usually themselves “wakened” by preaching but by reading.

For some it was rich, gospel-drenched books:

– For George Whitefield, the greatest preacher in American history, it was Henry Scougal’s The Life of God in the Soul of Man. “Though I had fasted, watched and prayed, and received the Sacrament long,” he wrote, “yet I never knew what true religion was, till God sent me that excellent treatise by the hands of my never-to-be-forgotten friend.”

– For George Thomson, influential 18th century Anglican rector, it was William Law’s A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life.

– For Howell Harris, one of the great leaders of the Welsh Methodist Revival, it was Richard Allestree’s devotional work The Whole Duty of Man.

– For Charles Wesley, it was Martin Luther’s Commentary on Galatians.

– For John Wesley, it was Martin Luther’s Preface to Romans.

For some, it was in beholding Christ’s glory in the biblical text itself — not just the books, but the parchments:

– For Jonathan Edwards, it was 1 Timothy 1:17 that awakened his soul to the beauty of God’s sovereignty and caused him such delight that he wished he could be “rapt up to God and be, as it were, swallowed up in him forever.”

– For Martin Luther, (partly) it was the way Romans 1:17 and Habakkuk 2:4 fit together.

– For Augustine, it was Romans 13:13-14 which flooded his heart with light, ended his carousing, answered his mother’s longsuffering prayers, and began the most influential post-biblical theological ministry in Church history.

…click the article’s title above or here to continue reading…

Stores Need Digital Marketing Materials

Today was a newsletter day. With Mail Chimp, I can watch as customers open the emails and click on things. They love publisher videos (book trailers) and they like it when we include bold, professional graphics promoting new books.

And we can’t get enough of them.

But I’ve said that before.

The latest trend, if you haven’t noticed, is that publishers, instead of producing Facebook-ready and Twitter-ready graphics with a cover of the book and a link to the author website have migrated toward quote cards. Haven’t heard of them? They’re basically quotes set against a photographic or textured image that are totally made for Instagram.

You can add images to Twitter.

You can add images to Facebook.

But Instagram exists solely for pictures.

It’s nice that at least they’re quotations from books — we are in the business of reading still, last time I checked — but Instagram, like spellcheck, auto-correct, Tumblr, 140-character limits, and the erosion of attention spans known as YouTube is simply another contributor to the whole loss of language we’re experiencing right now.

We’re moving from literacy to orality.

So many bloggers have just given up using their ten fingers on a keyboard and are simply making podcasts. Less work. Less attention to editing. Less quality, if you don’t mind me saying so.

We’re moving from words to pictures.

And the pictures are not worth 1,000 words, either.

Reading separates us from the animals. It’s what makes us distinct. And we’re losing it…

…Back to my original theme. You can’t judge a book by its cover, but you also can’t envision it with nothing but a quote card. This is not a good move. The social media/IT/communications/publicity people have got Instagram on the brain and they’ve forgotten their true purpose: To show people books coming to market.


Parasource Revolutionizes the Store Flyer Program

On Friday, Canadian retailers received this announcement from the country’s largest supplier of Christian products:

Parasource Marketing & Distribution is thrilled to offer a new way of doing flyers and catalogues. This Fall and Christmas we’ll be offering 4 different flyers or catalogues that are FREE – filled with the best product from all suppliers – and energized by retailer input and guidance. As well – you don’t pay for your product until after it is returnable after your sale is complete. We have also engaged a new designer to give our flyers and catalogues a fresh new look!

Check your email for the announcement.

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CASL Transition Period Ending

Got this in my email box this morning from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

July 1, 2017 marks the end of CASL’s initial three-year transition period. During this time, you should have brought your marketing emails up to CASL’s standards. But if you are not compliant by July 1, your email recipients can sue if you violate the rules.

Oh boy! Something else to look forward to. Anti spam or anti business?

When we started using our present list server (Mail Chimp) we imported our existing list which was in the form of raw addresses. Some of those names belong to regular customers and others to people who I have no clue who they are. We have an open rate of about 38% right now.

Should I simply discard inactive names? I can’t contact people for verification if they don’t open the emails to begin with.

This is just another headache I don’t need right now.


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Missed Opportunities

I finally got around to reading Henri Nouwen’s The Wounded Healer this weekend. It’s only 100 pages and consists of four chapters of approximately equal length.

The third chapter should be required reading for Christian bookstore owners. In it, a young theology student visits a man in the hospital. The man is facing some critical surgery but while he’s not wanting to die, life doesn’t hold good prospects for him either.

The theology student provides a transcript of the exchange to his supervisor and all at once there is the awareness of an opportunity lost by not truly hearing what the man was saying.

We are placed in a unique setting where we can bring life to people who need it, but we

  • can get lost in the busy-ness of doing store things;
  • make assumptions based on what we think about how the person presents themself;
  • can be listening to the person’s words but not hearing their heart;
  • are often afraid of committing ourselves to being there for the person in the future.

If you have this book on your shelves, read the third chapter in full; the exchange with the hospital patient and the analysis which follows.

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