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Parasource Distribution to Close in May

Canada’s largest wholesale distributor of Christian books and resources, Parasource Marketing and Distribution of Paris, Ontario, announced yesterday (1/31) that will cease operations as of May 31st.

In an email letter to stores, President Greg Tombs wrote,

Parasource Marketing and Distribution has had to make a very difficult decision to close operations on May 31, 2023. We have notified our vendors and we have their complete support to work with us and keep the flow of product moving until the end of May.

Parasource will be here to continue to service and supply you with the product lines you have come to rely on us for, until the end of May. We want to assure you that any outstanding orders we have at that time will be properly dealt with in consultation with both you and our suppliers.

Until then, we are carrying on “business as usual” until we see ourselves well past the Easter period. And we will certainly communicate with you throughout the next 4 months to keep you informed…

Parasource was formerly known as David C. Cook Canada, and before that as Beacon Distributing. The company also included Augsburg-Fortress Canada, and many years prior, Christian Music Canada (CMC Distribution). Of the big three distributors (the other two being HarperCollins Christian Products, and Anchor/Word Alive) it was the only remaining company actively warehousing product on the Canadian side of the border.

It represented basically all of the major Sunday School curriculum lines, serviced store greeting card displays on behalf of Dayspring Cards, and was both a distributor and publisher representative for major lines such as Baker Book Group, Broadman and Holman, Moody Publishers, InterVarsity Press (IVP), David C. Cook, Destiny Image, Charisma House, and many, many others, including publishers from the UK and several giftware lines.

The announcement concludes:

For our part, it has been a privilege to come along side of you to help you resource your customers with quality Christian publishing, music, entertainment, and gift products.

The Parenting Book I Never Knew Was Needed

On a warm fall day a small box arrived containing a book I had requested to review, and alongside it was an advance copy of Parenting by Andy and Sandra Stanley. Since our guys are late 20s and early 30s respectively, I immediately thought if there was someone to whom I could simply pass the book on.

But then I read the first chapter. And that led to the second. And then I was hooked…

Review — Parenting: Getting it Right by Andy and Sandra Stanley.

As someone who spent nearly 15 years glued to my computer at 2:00 PM on Sunday to watch the full church service from North Point Community Church in Atlanta, I was no stranger to the writing and speaking of Andy Stanley. When he mentioned his kids, I kinda already knew them from years of exposure to his ministry.

So I was in familiar territory here.

What I wasn’t expecting was the familiarity the book seems to show toward readers like me, as if we’re friends sitting down to coffee.

Like his book Deep and Wide, this is an insight into what’s in ‘the secret sauce’ only instead of being a behind the scenes look at how the church operates, it’s a backstage pass to how their family operates, or perhaps operated, since his kids are now adults as well.

Also I wasn’t prepared for how much I would enjoy Sandra’s contribution.

Sandra Stanley has appeared on the platform at North Point before and in some other video content, but they share the writing responsibilities for Parenting equally, a format that is occasionally interrupted — as real couples do in real life — by the other interjecting something into the content of the primary author of that particular chapter.

The three Stanley kids themselves don’t have a direct voice in the book, but they were apparently involved in interviews leading to the making of the video curriculum based on the book.

So what did I learn?

Avoiding spoilers here, there is this really unexpected mix of Sandra and Andy allowing the kids to assume responsibility for their own actions, combined with what some would call a rather strict or anachronistic approach to mealtimes. The latter makes you think there’s going to be a strong, controlling philosophy of parenting, but then the former type of narrative makes you think they take a laissez-faire approach to raising children and teens.

Which is it?

There are also echoes of Andy’s relationship with his parents — one of whom is a person you may have heard of — and Sandra’s relationship with hers.

The book is divided into chapters covering different ages and stages of parenting. You could skip to relevant chapters, but I think that would cause you to miss the larger context. I also need to say that in addition to raising three of their own kids, Andy and Sandra are major proponents for fostering, and have had at least a dozen foster children in their home. 

Finally, chapters 10 and 11 are a very timely approach to raising Children with a Christian faith which is not prone to deconstruction. They took a very rational, balanced approach.

…In a teaser tweet about the book, I remarked in the Fall that I wish this book was publishing earlier… about 30 years earlier. I’m not saying I would have adopted 100% of their parenting style, but reading the book, I would have been aware of it and had it as a looping soundtrack in the background of decisions we had to make with our children in sometimes very different circumstances.

At the outset I stated that I thought this book was sent to me for someone else, but it was something I truly delighted in reading, even though I can’t put it all into practice.

I also can’t overstate that while parents are in the thick of the battle, they often don’t get around to purchasing parenting resources. This is a book that the rest of us need to buy with the sole purpose of passing it on to someone in your sphere of influence.

I can guarantee that if they will read the first couple of chapters, they will definitely want to read it to the end.


Parenting: Getting it Right is officially publishing by Zondervan on January 17th in a 240-page hardcover in the United States, and in paperback in other parts of the world. Thanks to Mark H. at HarperCollins Christian Publishing Canada for a surprise copy of this great resource. This review first appeared at Thinking Out Loud.

I No Longer Have the Perspective of Other Canadian Stores

I find myself beginning the year in a very different place from the rest of the longtime readers here; a place that leaves me wondering if my own store is now significantly atypical as to disqualify me from writing about industry events and trends.

If you’re not part of the Facebook group, basically in mid-December I decided it was time to cancel all of my backorders with Parasource and pursue a different route. I didn’t want to burn my bridges with them entirely, but their senior management took it all to mean I was running out on my account balance; a thought which, truthfully, had never occurred to me.

When I saw that the account balance was the sum total of their concern for the issue I raised, I realized there was probably no turning back. And yes, days later, just to show that we’re made of better stuff, we paid the balance in its entirety, including invoices which had not yet become due.

I am not in any way advocating something as radical as this for other readers here. There are three reasons I was in a position to make this decision.

First, I don’t have the same commitment to Dayspring greeting card racks as the rest of you. At one point, with 13 racks — eight of which were on a control program — we had the third largest greeting card store in Brockville. But the two racks I have left in Cobourg aren’t all that necessary, and there’s an entire younger demographic which doesn’t send cards at all.

Second, it’s been about a decade since I had any standing orders for curriculum or dated Christian Education supplies. Many churches in our area either use denominational curriculum, or use other resources to improvise. In this area, I had no business to lose.

Third, it had been a long, long time since we worried about doing printed sale flyers. Our entire approach has involved an email newsletter, Facebook, our website, and in-person shopping. We asked — several times and several different publisher distributors — if we could have the HTML elements from the flyers to do an entirely virtual — if slightly abbreviated — version of the catalogues, but it never happened.

By abbreviated, I meant that I was willing to take a fair mixture of the three categories represented in most flyers, (a) loss leaders, (b) major releases, (c) secondary and tertiary level titles the publishers are trying to introduce; but maybe just not so many, i.e. eight of each type with a limit of 24 titles. Personally, I think the future of this type of promotion does not lie in printed materials.

One thing I was not prepared to do moving forward was negotiate or be granted discounts of up to an extra 10% on goods that I could buy from the other distributor with 50% less freight costs.

I made the decision somewhat both impulsively and after thinking about it since the end of the summer. If I’d planned it more carefully, I might have bought some “70th Birthday” cards, but otherwise, I have no regrets so far. Our customers were made aware of the decision in a newsletter item which ran over two weeks.

Since I don’t do direct buys from Dicksons, Kerusso, Precious Moments, etc., and because my Canadian Bible Society account has been inactive since before the pandemic started, it means I’m operating with just HarperCollins, WordAlive, PenguinRandomHouse, and SpringArbor. (I seem to like companies without spaces in their names!)

There’s a name for running on such a tight supplier base: Efficiency.

For most of you, ‘Don’t try this at home.’

Calgary Author Confronts ‘Christian Materialism’

Wesley Hynd is a church planter and pastor in Calgary. He holds an MDiv from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando and according to his bio, “loves to think deeply and challenge the status quo.” He is involved there with a cross-cultural Christian organization serving new Canadians.

His book, Jesus Take All of Me: Learning to See God as Beautiful in Every Part of Life, is self-published an available to retailers through Ingram at full trade terms. The back cover blurb describes its aim:

What does it really mean to follow Jesus? Is it just a set of intellectual facts about the cross, forgiveness of sins, and an afterlife? Or is it something more than that? Why is it that the lives of Christians and those who are not Christians seem to look so similar at times in the Western world? If someone followed you around live-tweeting your daily decisions and values, who would they say that you follow? These are some of the questions Wes Hynd has been wrestling with for 15 years as he has sought to identify some of the ways in which Western culture has subtly influenced our Christian faith, including in our:

Time
Career
Family
Friendships
Money
and Emotions

Released date: December 1; 284 pages, paperback; 9781738717019; $21.99 US; 90-second book trailer on YouTube. Book website: jesustakeallofme.com.

This Year’s Best Book on Prayer

November 28, 2022 1 comment

I frequently share the book reviews I’ve done at Thinking Out Loud with readers here, and this one, although there’s no particularly Canadian connection, is no exception. This is a book I have already recommended many, many times…


I hear Jesus saying, “Pray with the heart of a lover and the discipline of a monk” – Praying Like Monks (p193)

If the Bible tells us anything about how to pray, it says that God much prefers the rough draft full of rants and typos to the polished, edited version. – Praying Like Monks (p21)

Two years ago, when I reviewed Tyler Staton‘s first book, Searching for Enough, I commented that a book about the apostle Thomas was fitting since it is a recurring theme in Tyler’s preaching. Given the available instances online of Tyler speaking in his own church — Oaks Church Brooklyn and later Bridgetown Church Portland — and as guest speaker in various venues, that was an accurate reflection of his go-to theme.

In hindsight however, this sophomore book project, Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools: An Invitation to the Wonder and Mystery of Prayer (Zondervan, 2022) lands the plane on a topic that is more central to Tyler’s heart and by which his current ministry is more defined.

You could deduce this partly from the fact he’s done not one, but two teaching series on prayer in this calendar year alone; one series, Teach us to Pray in January; and a second “Vision” series which began in September. (Click here for Bridgetown’s teaching page.)

But you could also discern it from a look at Tyler’s life: Even before entering his early teens, prayer became a defining part of his spiritual journey, to the point of doing early morning prayer walks around his middle school to pray for the students in his year. Those prayers bore fruit. Today, he’s National Director of the United States chapter of the 24/7 Prayer Movement, an organization founded by Pete Greig.

Full disclosure: I am a somewhat rabid fan of Tyler’s teaching. It meets my current need for sermon content that is both informative, illuminating and pastoral. I would start to read a fresh chapter convinced I must have already read it the day before, because many of the illustrations had stuck with me; a sort of situation where you’ve read the book before seeing the movie, only the other way around.

I also deeply respect him not only for the breadth of sources and influences that shaped the book, but also for the personal anecdotes where the principles taught have been brought to life through interactions with people both in and outside the church, and on both coasts of the U.S. Honestly, I could write about prayer, but it wouldn’t emerge the same as someone like Tyler Staton who is practitioner of the things described; someone who lives the lifestyle taught.

For the cynics who say that there are already too many books about prayer in a crowded Christian publishing market, I would answer, “I agree, but you need to read this one.” I’m not overly emotionally, but several times I had to rub my eyes, if you know what I mean. At the same time, there are some more lighthearted references. In a podcast, I think Tyler referred to letting people breathe after particularly heavy moments.

Some churches end the sermon time with the pastor saying, “Today, for your homework, I want you to…” At Bridgetown, the language used is “practices” and each chapter of Praying Like Monks contains action steps you can take. The ten chapters lend themselves to small group study — I’d even say take twelve weeks — and it’s good if you can listen to a few sermons online so that you’ve got Tyler’s voice in your head as you’re reading.

It’s hard for new voices to find an audience, but I really hope you’ll take my recommendation and consider this one.


As an example of Tyler Staton’s writing style, I offer this short excerpt which I ran at Christianity 201 a few weeks ago.

Link to: Publisher’s book information page

Zondervan, 272-page paperback, 9780310365358

 

The Government of Canada’s Solution for Bookstore Competitiveness

For several months there has been talk about the “Support for Booksellers” component of the Government of Canada’s Canada Book Fund. The idea was to create funding to help booksellers expand their online book sales this season and next season. The funding, announced November 9th totaled $12 million, and went to 177 small chains and independent stores and three large chains, representing a total of 467 brick-and-mortar stores. Chapters/Indigo with 178 locations received $3.5 million and a large Quebec-based chain, Librairie Renaud-Bray, received just under $1.9 million.

Christian stores, not so much. As in almost not at all. One business, Kennedy’s Parable Christian Bookstores, with locations in Red Deer, Saskatoon and Kelowna received — wait for it — a grand total of $1,000, the smallest amount available. No other Christian stores received anything. (For a link to the full list of stores click here.)

And that, my friends, is the Government of Canada’s solution to our inability to stay competitive against the giant behemoth that starts with the letter “A,” the one which has put thousands and thousands of stores out of business in North America.

Meanwhile in France, last month the government there imposed a minimum shipping charge of €3 (3 Euros or about $4.15 Canadian) for book shipments which applies to all vendors, including the behemoth’s France counterpart. It is expected this puts independent stores in that country on a more even footing.

On behalf of the 60-or-so Christian stores in Canada that got nothing, I think I prefer France’s solution much better.

Store Demographics: Filling the Gaps

With 378 followers (whatever that means) Facebook says this is the demographic breakdown of people who come to our page. It’s really not at all different from the store itself. Yes, I know someone will say this is more about Facebook and who uses it than it is about my store, but anecdotally, it lines up perfectly.

For those who come, we’re thankful. But we’d love to see greater activity in the age ranges that aren’t as well represented here. 

And as for the follower thing, it’s meaningless. If we had half that number of views for each post I’d be really happy. Plus we’re getting a lot of out-of-town followers who are more in a “friends and supporters” category, and aren’t likely to shop with us in any given six-month period. 

What we covet more than anything is young families. And also getting kids in that 10-15 range in the store to see — while they still can — the wealth of Christian resources which are produced at an age when they might be able to begin to appreciate their value.

Categories: Uncategorized

Nova Scotia Writer Wins Book Award

Jonathan Geoffrey Dean, author of  Salt & Light: The Complete Jesus has been awarded as the winner in the Christian Nonfiction category for the 2022 NYC Big Book Award

He is a New Testament scholar, researcher, award-winning author, political leader and thought leader. Salt & Light; The Complete Jesus is his reaction to Jesus. He is a partner in an investment advisory firm and lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, with his wife Lynn.

He won in the category of Christian Nonfiction. From the press release:

The competition is judged by experts from different aspects of the book industry, including publishers, writers, editors, book cover designers and professional copywriters. Selected award winners and distinguished favorites are based on overall excellence.

For the first time ever, after years of research using the complete body of early Christian literature and new and exciting discoveries by modern scholarship, the real Jesus emerges. Dean offers an eminently readable yet powerful portrait of the authentic Jesus full of astonishing facts for both believers and skeptics alike. So come along for an utterly fascinating journey and meet the historical Jesus, learn about his mission, and discover his teaching!

Salt & Light contains numerous colour pictures with captions, complete footnotes, and a bibliography for further study.

Publisher marketing:

What did Jesus do?
What did Jesus say?
Who was Jesus?

Salt & Light is the highly acclaimed and award-winning definitive statement concerning Jesus of Nazareth, history’s most compelling figure. The single most important book about the Historical Jesus in the last 30 years, more comprehensive than Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict and more powerful than C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity.

However, even today, there is still general confusion surrounding Jesus:

Was (Is) Jesus God?
Did Jesus even exist?
Did he rise from the dead?
What are we to make of the miracles?
Is he Peter’s Jesus or Paul’s Christ? Or both?
Is there evidence for Jesus outside the Bible?
Should we still believe? If so, believe what?
What does all the evidence point to?

Salt & Light does not shy away from addressing these and other tough questions. For the first time ever, after years of research using the complete body of early Christian literature and recent modern scholarship, including new and exciting discoveries in many areas such as early manuscripts, science, New Testament studies, archaeology, and history, the real Jesus emerges.

Dean offers an eminently readable yet powerful portrait of the authentic Jesus full of astonishing facts for both believers and sceptics alike. So come along for an utterly fascinating journey and meet the historical Jesus, learn about his mission, and discover his teaching!

Available from Ingram using ISBN 9781778250408; $36.99 US, 240-page paper.

Bestsellers in a Local Community

Most of you know that I take a few hours at least twice a year to compile a chart of bestsellers in my store. It appears on our store website, in our store newsletter, on Facebook, and is posted in two places in the store itself, one of which is the store window. The reason for the window is that I want people who peer in when the store is closed to still get an idea of a representative sample of our books, and in the event it resonates with them, they will come back.

I know a lot of you don’t bother doing this, and frankly, I hope it’s because your store keeps you busy doing other things that more relevant to your situation. But I’ve done it for 27 years now.

It’s not entirely scientific. Adjustments are made for bulk orders, and yet I still try to squeeze them in. And our #4 is a local pastor, though I have recommended the book to you a few months ago and hope you’ll consider it, as it’s available through Ingram. 

What’s performing well at your store? I’d love to see even a top ten, and include a few of them here.

Christian Book and Record Celebrates 50 Years

Edmonton’s Christian Book and Record celebrated 50 years of serving the Alberta city with an in-store celebration on Saturday, September 17th. The store is located in a strip mall, and customers lined up across the length of the mall waiting for the opening, entertained by radio hosts from 105.9 Shine FM. Guests also enjoyed an outdoor tent with coffee, doughnuts and popcorn, while the inside was adorned with a retro theme featuring record albums hanging from the ceiling.

There are pictures on their Facebook page, where they also wrote,

We were absolutely blown away by your support during our 50th anniversary celebration on Saturday. Staff who’ve been with us for 15, 20, and 30+ years had never seen such a turnout! We are truly blessed with the best customers and we cannot thank you enough for your overwhelming support and kindness.

To our valued customers, our hardworking staff, our esteemed alumni, our supportive Plaza 82 neighbours and partners at 105.9 ShineFM, our beloved families, and our faithful God, thank you for 50 years.

We’ve loved serving the Edmonton area for the last 50 years and carrying on Douwe & Joan Postma’s legacy. It truly has been God’s great faithfulness that has carried us through these 50 years.

The store is currently owned by Carolyn and Darcy Doorten and anniversary sale specials will continue through October.

A former staff member wrote:

My favourite part was seeing a lot of familiar (staff and faithful customer) smiling faces! It brought a tear to my eye to see Douwe and Joan’s legacy being carried on; what a testament to God’s faithfulness! Thank you for your Christian service and for being like family while I was away from mine during my university years

A customer wrote:

The atmosphere… It certainly felt like a party with all of the decor and swag and treats and draws… We are proud to have you in our community and are thankful to have a place that loves Jesus and shelves books that we can thumb through!!

Congratulations to all who have served there faithfully for 50 years on a job well done.

Book Probes our Need for Heroes and Celebrities

Other than a couple of references to Justin Bieber, and a few instances where the Canadian aspect of the Ravi Zacharias story is mentioned, there are not a lot of Canadian angles to this book, but I’m including my review from Thinking Out Loud here at Christian Book Shop Talk in case your store did well with A Church Called TOV or Jesus and John Wayne, and you have customers wanting to delve into the events of the past decade one more time.

Review: Celebrities for Jesus: How Personas, Platforms, and Profits Are Hurting the Church by Katelyn Beaty (Brazos Press, 2022)

Katelyn Beaty is one of a number of writers who has been part of the Christianity Today (CT) orbit, as I was briefly, and generally speaking, I find that people who come out of that environment have a healthy and balanced perspective on issues facing the church, and are often granted access to information which provides for additional insights.

Celebrities for Jesus is very much (almost) equal parts

  • history lesson
  • analysis
  • memoir

As a (recent) history lesson, because of my involvement over the years with this blog and its attendant attention to Christian news stories, there was a sense in which Katelyn and I had much of the same information. As soon as she stated something, my brain would signal ‘Yes, but you really need to mention ___________,’ only to find her doing so in the very next sentence.

My wife reminded me that not everyone has the same knowledge. While it’s true that some of the stories she covers in this book were part of Jesus and John Wayne by Kristen Kobes Du Mez and A Church Called TOV by Scot McKnight and Laura Barringer (which we reviewed here and here respectively) there was coverage of situations and people that were beyond the scope of both books, and at least one name that caught me off guard given the context.

Generally speaking, the context was American, which left me wondering as to the preponderance of superstar pastors in other places. (We do hear occasional stories from South America and Africa; but these were not mentioned.) Is the case of Christian celebrity somewhat unique to the United States?

This brings us to the next part, analysis. This is where I felt the book shines the brightest, especially when the author compared the present state of Christianity to its Biblical ideals.

We do fall short in various ways. Our willingness to confer celebrity shows a flaw in our character, long before the man or woman in question has a misstep. Our stories are looking for heroes.

In each chapter, I never questioned Beaty’s qualifications to offer us some of her perspective. My only wish is that she had explored some of these things further and deeper, which would have resulted in a welcomed longer book.

Finally, there was memoir. On page 158, speaking about the high rates of deconstruction and “faith detox” among her peers, “I sometimes wonder why I am still a Christian.”

That could be said about so many that work or have worked at CT or similar environments such as Religion News Service or Relevant, and get to see the spectacular crashes of individuals and ministry organizations close-up.

And yet, she celebrates that something “about that early faith… that could blossom into an orientation that could withstand doubt, the loss of dreams and cultural pressures.” Absent the more progressive identification of an author such as the late Rachel Held Evans, she still shares that honest vulnerability as she’s wrestled with all she has seen and heard.

Celebrities for Jesus covers its topic well. I even wonder if this needs to be required reading for those younger leaders whose desire to do something great might materialize more about building their kingdom instead of God’s kingdom?

It might have helped a few people not trip up.


Celebrities for Jesus is published by Brazos Press, a division of Baker Publishing Group, for which its author is also employed. A review copy was made available through publisher representative Graf-Martin Communications who provide publicity, marketing and brand development for clients from their base in Elmira, Ontario, Canada.

Toronto’s “Media Nuns” Staying Put

When Religion News Service (RNS) carried an article one week ago about the Daughters of St. Paul, and their bookstores, which operate as Pauline Books and Media, there were a couple of references to Toronto, and after reading the article, some might have had the impression that the Toronto store was going to be closing.

The article, ‘Media nuns’ say goodbye to sweet home Chicago after more than 40 years stated that,

After six years of prayer and outside consultation, and a shove from the COVID-19 pandemic, the order has decided to reconfigure its presence across the United States and Toronto, according to Sister Tracey Matthia Dugas, director of Pauline mission advancement. That means closing four locations in the U.S., including the Chicago book center and the convent above it.

So in addition to Chicago, was the Toronto location at 3022 Dufferin Avenue also closing?

I reached out to them for clarity and Sister Margaret Moran replied,

We have no intention of closing our presence in Toronto. Our Book Centre is very busy and we are serving many people here.

That’s better news.

Generally, Roman Catholic bookstores in the Toronto metropolitan area have fared much better than their Evangelical counterparts across the wider GTA. Stores like Joseph’s Inspirational in northeast Scarborough, and Broughton’s along the 401 corridor in North York while undoubtedly feeling the pandemic pain we all have, continue to serve their constituency.  All three stores have a strong online presence and ship across Canada.

Only one east-end GTA store, Cherub’s Cupboard, has cut back to a ‘mobile’ presence as well as a more severe cutback in hours, along with a move of its base from Oshawa to Courtice.

Cherub’s Cupboard now operates from a mobile location, currently in the parking lot of the Roman Catholic Church in Courtice, Ontario.

Further into the RNS article, there was this clarification,

The Daughters of St. Paul have about 120 sisters across 13 locations in the United States and Toronto. In total, about 1,900 sisters, affectionately known as the “Media Nuns,” serve in more than 50 countries around the world.

The other closings are in Texas, South Carolina and Hawaii.

A reader comment on the RNS article also noted,

In English-speaking North America, stores that will remain in operation are in Alexandria, Virginia; Dedham, Massachusetts; Culver City, CA; Manhattan, New York; Menlo Park, California; Miami, Florida; New Orleans, Louisiana; St. Louis, Missouri; and Toronto, Ontario.