Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Distributors Should Accept Photographic Evidence of Product Received Damaged

Generally speaking, it isn’t efficient to be packing up and returning small quantities of defective product, even if the supplier is willing to pay the return freight.

Most of the time, the Canadian distributors don’t need to return the book to the U.S. publisher. If the problem is a printing (or CD/DVD) defect, they are often already aware of it, and the publisher will simply tell the distributor to dispose of them anyway.

If the books were packed too tightly, or not protected enough, they can’t get any redress from the publisher anyway, since the problem happened north of the border. A frequent problem in this category is shippers opening up a fresh carton of a title with a knife which cuts through the front or back cover.

So…since we’re all walking around with cameras (in our phones) anyway, it seems to fair that photographic evidence of the damaged or defective item ought to be sufficient. (In many cases, the store’s word is trusted.)

There are a couple of instances where you might need to return the product.

Situation 1: The item was damaged in transit by the carrier — UPS, Canpar, Purolator, FedEx, etc. — in which case they’re going to want to see the product returned in the original box it was shipped in, so that both shipper and distributor can assess what happened.

Situation 2: Bibles; simply because of the dollar value of high-end Bibles, I would be fully understanding if a supplier asked me to return the product. These are usually boxed anyway; which means they are double-boxed for shipping. That means whatever went wrong needs to be looked at more closely so that it’s not recurring.

Situation 3: A DVD or CD contains the wrong movie or music. I can understand — even though stores are told to destroy these — a supplier not wishing to risk something bearing the name of a Christian film company or record label somehow ending up in a customer’s hands with inappropriate content.

(My favorite defective item — which I insisted on keeping — contained two equal parts of two different books from two different publishers printed on two different types of paper stock. One was — I think — a Baker group title and the other was IVP. They must use the same printer!)

When you’re told to destroy or give away product what can you do?

First of all do not give these to customers. Even your favourite customer.

Better options, if the integrity of the product is intact, include:

  • Christian Salvage Mission
  • “Gift” to an employee 
  • Review copy for a local pastor
  • Take the book home and read it yourself

But first, ask if you can simply send a picture and then ask the book in question to smile and say, “Cheese!”

Categories: Uncategorized

Author’s Personal Story Confronts Loss, Grief and Depression

Prince Edward County, Ontario’s Andrea Calvert has just released Not Alone: How God Helped Me Battle Depression through Word Alive Press. She’s also the daughter-in-law of some close friends who shared some of her story with me. I’ve been following her on Twitter and also just became aware of her blog, Inspiring Life Chats, where she’s been writing for nearly a year.

The 118-page paperback is just the right size for those who find themselves in the aftermath of a traumatic loss that is causing stress and depression. Priced at only 11.99 CDN it’s also affordable to give away to someone in the middle of such a situation.

Publisher Info:

Angry and hurt, Andrea didn’t want to have anything to do with God. How could she when, one day shy of her eighteenth birthday, she had to watch her mother being wheeled into the operating room of Toronto General Hospital to receive a liver transplant? How could a God that “loved” His people allow them to suffer so badly? Why did she have to spend so much time in and out of hospitals, watching the strongest woman she knew endure test after test? Watching this happen, Andrea came to the conclusion that no god would do that.

Then, on April 27, 2011, it was time to say goodbye. After ten long months of waiting for a second organ donation, Andrea’s mother made the decision to let go-it was the hardest thing Andrea had ever dealt with up to that point. The loss of her mother led her into a downward spiral of depression, PTSD, and anxiety. Andrea lost years of her life and still battles to this day with keeping her depression under control.

Jesus reached down and opened Andrea’s eyes at the darkest point of her depression. Searching for a way to deal with her pain, she called out to Jesus, who answered her prayers and called her back into His loving arms. What He has done in her life is nothing short of amazing-Jesus gave her purpose again!

This is her story…

ISBN 9781486616107 | 11.99 US / 11.99 CDN | Anchor Distributors and Spring Arbor (US), Word Alive (Canada)


More Graphic Images

The above image requires you to add your store’s selling price in the circle in the middle, as this is a net price item from Foundation. I’ve left it a larger size for ease of editing, you can then resize it to 500 or 504 px for newsletters and Facebook.

I’m thinking the new edition of The Blue Parakeet might be a suitable alternative to How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth for some readers. Facebook will try to stretch this image, so you might want to add a background to fill it out to 504 px.

The above image was slightly “borrowed” from an overseas restaurant.  Just so ya know!

source unknown

Can you tell I did this one in a hurry?

Hope these are helpful!

Categories: Uncategorized

What’s Popular at Our Store

We’ve been producing a chart for our customers for as long as I can remember. The last twelve months we got busy and instead of doing it quarterly, it had been almost a year since the last one, so I wanted it to reflect what’s been happening since that last chart, but with extra weight given to current bestsellers.

A list like this is highly subject to customer purchasing in one small(er) town, where the data set is small enough that it only takes a few customers to get excited about certain titles to skew the results. We do a partial correction for that, however. We sold 60 copies of a Sheila Walsh study guide to one church that didn’t make this list. But there are other churches where members are encouraged to pick up their copies individually.

It also doesn’t apply recommendation. Sometime soon, I want to create a chart of the books I would recommend, the ones which appear on my bookshelf at home which are so very different from the purchasing I do for the store.

We’ve posted some of my store’s charts here before. Click this link to see about seven of them. Do you have a local store chart you’d like to share? Send it and we will!

Foundation Imposes Minimum Orders on P. Graham Dunn Low Price Points

This was a shock. These low-price point items are great for impulse purchases, but we prefer to go wide on these and offer as many product captions as possible, rather than go deep and have multiple copies of a single item. We’ve found that customers really resonate with these, but in a small(er) market, we need to buy carefully in order to preserve the sustainability of our store.

Today we were told that the minimum on these is now four units when purchased from Foundation. If I were the wholesaler, I would consider this a significant policy change and would have sent a notice to dealers. I’m going to assume this applies to low price point merch across the spectrum.

Too bad. There are many, many under-$10 items available from Word Alive if you’re willing to take the time to ferret them out on their site.

Guess we’re done with Dunn.

Categories: Uncategorized

Publishers Adding Morality Clauses to Author Contracts

After John Ortberg (pictured left) took concerns about sexual impropriety concerning Bill Hybels (pictured right) to the Chicago Tribune, the dominoes started to fall leading to Hybels’ resignation from one of America’s largest churches last month.

From Bill Cosby to Bill Hybels, 2018 has so far been a year that has placed sexual misconduct in the spotlight. Each year, publishers are forced to withdraw product from their catalogues, or cancel pending publication of forthcoming titles. Sometimes, there’s nothing in the book itself that is harmful, but the authors have become tainted and publishers want to avoid the spectre of large numbers of returns if the public gaze intensifies.

Rachel Deahl covered this recently at Publisher’s Weekly. The following is only a small excerpt, so read the piece by clicking the title below:

In the #MeToo Moment, Publishers Turn to Morality Clauses

Until recently, the term “moral turpitude” is not one that crossed the lips of too many people in book publishing…

A legal term that refers to behavior generally considered unacceptable in a given community, moral turpitude is something publishers rarely worried themselves about. No longer.

Major publishers are increasingly inserting language into their contracts—referred to as morality clauses—that allows them to terminate agreements in response to a broad range of behavior by authors. And agents, most of whom spoke with PW on the condition of anonymity, say the change is worrying in an industry built on a commitment to defending free speech…

…Another agent, who admitted to having concerns about some of the morality clauses he’s seen, said he nonetheless understands publishers’ rationale for using them. “There are obviously a lot of very complex things going on here,” he said, speaking to the way publishers are reacting to the shifting social climate. He also noted that most publishers he’s dealt with have been open to changing these clauses. “When you go back to [publishers] and remind them that authors are allowed protected speech, political or otherwise, my experience is that they’ve been very responsive.”…

…Mary Rasenberger, president of the Authors Guild, who has seen some of the morality clauses publishers are using, said she also understands why houses are moving in this direction. “There are instances where it is appropriate to cancel a contract with someone—if, say, they are writing a book on investing and they’re convicted of insider trading.” But Rasenberger has concerns about the new boilerplates she’s been seeing. “These clauses need to be very narrowly drawn. The fear is that clauses like these can quash speech that is unpopular, for whatever reason.”

Another agent admitted to being distressed by the fact that some of the morality clauses she’s seen “are going very far.” She said that though she and many of her colleagues think it’s “not unfair for a publisher to expect an author to be the same person when it publishes the book as when it bought the book,” she’s worried how extreme some of the language in these new clauses is.

“If you’re buying bunny books or Bible books, these clauses make sense,” said Lloyd Jassin, a lawyer who specializes in publishing contracts, referring to deals for children’s books and Christian books. He wondered, though, about a publisher trying to hold authors of any other type of book to a moral standard. Noting that morality clauses are about money, not morality (specifically, they’re about a publisher’s ability to market an author), he posed a hypothetical. “Is the author of The El Salvador Diet, which touts a fish-only regimen, allowed to be photographed eating at Shake Shack? That goes to the heart of the contract.” He paused and added: “This is definitely a free speech issue.”  …

again, you’re encouraged to read all this in the context of the full article



Categories: Uncategorized

Peterborough Author Blends Faith and Astronomy

Think of this as Joe Amaral’s Story in the Stars meets Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey. Judith is a customer at our store and the book uses colour process on several pages showing the meanings of star names.

Sky Scrapers
author: Judith Kaye
publisher: Christian Faith Publishing
format: Paperback, 218 pages
ISBN: 9781641146180
pricing: US 22.95
availability: Ingram

Sky Scrapers is about the adventure of a lifetime for Sam and Josh, who are doing research for a high school science fair on astronomy. The information comes to them by a mysterious teacher, who takes them zooming through the universe in a unique way to learn about the purpose of stars, comets, and more that inhabit the heavens.

Later when at university, they have another series of adventures that finds them moving through time from Adam’s arrival on earth to Abram’s tent in the desert. Both of these thrilling events have a purpose to reveal how the heavens declare the glory of God and how this information has changed down through the ages.

This is a story for all ages to enjoy, and maybe even to look at the stars in the heavens in a different way.

Categories: Uncategorized

A Christian Bookstore Owner’s Income Tax Return: A Year in 300 Lines

Actually, I don’t know if it’s 300 lines —  I certainly did not fill in all of them — but writing them manually on both good and working copies made it feel like 300. Having come through another income tax season, and being self-employed, it is especially tortuous to try to sum up an entire year’s work in a series of numbers, added together and subtracted apart in seemingly random ways to come up with things like “Total Income” and “Net Income” and “Taxable Income.”

I held a U.S. Form 1040 in my hand once, and it seemed far less complicated than Canada’s T1, but then I wasn’t looking at the time through the lens of self-employed business owner.

We lost money last year. That’s all that matters. I tried to rework the figures several times, because my brain contested the conclusion my arithmetic was stating, but I finally figured out that the numbers weren’t lying. I hadn’t forgotten anything. We lost money last year.

This attractive store exterior ain’t us. Maybe in our dreams. Small town ministry is not as glamorous, though it’s certainly rewarding in intangible ways.

We’re a ministry to the community; perhaps some day we’ll have the distinction of being the last Christian bookstore standing. I doubt that however. There are, as of today, 2 years left on the present lease. I’m prepared to run that lease out, but not renew it. I have 24 months to come up with homes for thousands of books. I’ve tried selling to other stores, but every bookstore in the country wants to buy their own stock, make their own mistakes, wallow in their own buying failures.

Either that, or they want a distress sale. One store in particular was rather disappointed to hear I was not going out of business that day, that week or that month. You’d think this news would be encouraging to them in their ministry, but instead, they were taking a vulture-like approach. I’m prepared at some point to let the books go cheap, but this is a curated collection and you don’t get an assortment like this at fire sale prices.

So we’ll soldier on but now, with 730 days left, we’ll try to do it with an eye on the calendar. This is the saddest part of all because my forté if you will, is purchasing. Careful buying in the last decade is what has kept us going. (The previous ten years however, left us with a storage unit full of past buying errors, and because we had three locations, every error was compounded by a factor of three.)

Right now I feel I could keep doing this beyond May, 2020, but I really don’t think I will.

There is no succession plan. Neither are there buyers lining up at the door wanting to step in and take over. But God can do amazing, impossible things. I’ve seen stores sell in my part of the world just when the existing owners had given up.

I should also note that while the balance sheet for the year places us in negative territory, the business did contribute to the life of others through staff salaries and support of our industry through generous wholesale book buying. The government still gets money from payroll taxes and sales taxes, and generally, I think our contribution is both to the spiritual life of the community as well as economic.

The operating and financial burden falls to one family; one couple; us. Churches don’t work that way. Christian charities don’t operate in that fashion. In one sense, it’s a bit unfair. But we have eight months remaining in 2018 to see if we can turn that red ink to black.

Footnote: This is not a cry for help. We have other resources that make living possible. Thankfully. Don’t start a tag day — or the modern equivalent, a crowdfunding page — for us. We’re good.

Categories: Uncategorized

Free Samples!

If I could spice up my store a little, I’d have this woman in the blue apron from COSTCO handing out free samples. Well now, thanks to Baker Book Group, it’s possible to give out some free chapter links:

► Your Best Year Ever – Michael Hyatt…/Excerpt_9780801075254…

► Raising World Changers – Kirsten Welch…/Excerpt_9780801075797…

► Dreaming with God – Sarah Beth Marr…/Excerpt_9780801072994…

If anyone knows of more, leave a comment or send an email.

Will Interest in Humour/Satire Site Translate to Sales?

The year was 2010, and a popular Christian humor and satire blog, Stuff Christians Like by Jon Acuff was a must read on a daily basis when a book of the same name released, Stuff Christians Like. Today the satire site of choice is The Babylon Bee, and it was only a few weeks in that we finally learned that the creator of the site was Adam Ford, known to that point as the artist behind the Adam4D comic.

The Bee has a massive following online. Chances are you have customers from very different demographics who check it out regularly if not daily. If it’s trending in Evangelicalism, they lampoon it well. So how does this translate into a printed book form?

Cracking the pages open of How to be The Perfect Christian: Your Comprehensive Guide to Flawless Spiritual Living, it was hard not to make comparisons to Stuff Christians Like, although about halfway through I had bought in to the premise of How to be… enough to enjoy it on its own merit.

For the record however, Stuff… took material from the daily blog and incorporated it into a collection of columns, whereas How to be… offers all-original material which has not appeared on the blog, in this form, to this point. So to get the comparison out of the way, I think the Babylon Bee material, like Jon Acuff’s blog before it, has more bite to it in the short-form rather than long-form format, and I also think the How to be…’s long-form moved it away from some of the references de jour, which make it so amusing. Ford, and (we’re told) a team of writers scour the Christian headlines, all too familiar to Wednesday readers here, and extrapolate fictional (i.e. fake) news stories taking those headlines to extremes.

The book instead tries to be more timeless though names are named. For the first few chapters, I pictured this book falling into the wrong hands, such as some neophyte convert in a Third World country where satire doesn’t exist. I longed for a page at the front, blank except for the words, ‘Warning: This book is satirical and should not be taken seriously.’ Now we might have to wait a year or two for some missionary to return with stories of a tribe where the book is being followed to the letter.

The book is published in hardcover in North America; 193 pages, of which 19 are blank, 12 are simply chapter titles and 12 are half-blank by virtue of the page formatting. So more like 156 digest-sized pages for $20 US or $26 Canadian. Forgive me for saying the book would be funnier in paperback.

What I did especially like is that Ford and co-author Kyle Mann offer some solid Biblical quotations to offset the farce, including an entire page (8 verses) from The Sermon on The Mount. This, plus allusions to other scriptures stand in contrast to the way they can be misused by churches (and satire writers) to produce unintended interpretations. There’s definitely a point to all of this.

This is a book about learning how to assimilate into Evangelical culture. Like the Acuff book, it also reminded me of Games Christians Play which was published in the 1940s by Harper & Row, which we mentioned a few months ago in a general article on the Christian use of humor.

This book will resonate well with people who are informed as to the people, places and things which make up Evangelicalism. (Though one review suggests some names in the advance copy were excised from the final printing.) There were a few laugh-out-loud moments for this reader, but often what comes across isn’t satire, but rather sarcasm, and there is a difference.

On the other hand, if you decide to fully buy-in — if you live in the aforementioned Third World country, for example — there is a Holiness Tracker at the end of each chapter by which you can gauge your spiritual progress. Reading those brief sections, I do get the feeling that some will try to take the book literally, or, that many are already following the same steps to Evangelical conformity.

Categories: Uncategorized

Christian Author Flaunts Use of Expletives

The new book The Very Worst Missionary by Jamie Wright had the potential to speak to issues such as ‘short-term mission trips as seen by a full time career missionary,’ along with other topics. Over the years I’ve read her takes on short-term missions and I think she has some very valid things to say.

Unfortunately for all, she’s somewhat sabotaged her prospects for this book with gratuitous use of profanity, vulgarity and expletives; and what’s worse, she’s proud of it. I’m not sure what this says about where she is currently at spiritually, or what it says about Convergent, a division (like Waterbrook) of Penguin Random House (PRH).

CBD does not carry the book, and it’s not one of the PRH titles available to CBA stores in Canada through Parasource, at least not at present.

She writes,

“I have no interest in pandering to a larger crowd for the sake of a bigger audience, even if it means I won’t get my message to as many people. This may shock you, but it’s not my purpose in life to tell the whole church and everyone in it my thoughts on God and faith and ministry and all that stuff. My goal here was to write a memoir, not a thesis, so my job was to write my story, my way, and that’s what I did. For any number of reasons, the language being only one, the book I released into the world isn’t gonna appeal or be palatable to a lot of people, and I’m 100% cool with that.”

“I don’t really care if some hyper conservative blowhards don’t hear those messages from me. If someone’s eyeballs are too righteously delicate too see “bad words” in print, or their earholes are too religiously tender for a little Audible profanity, then a book that uses the word “f**k” to talk about f**ked up missions obviously isn’t the right vehicle to get the message to them. Like, I’m just not their people and my book is not their book — and that’s cool…”

Then, in the same blog post she totally flaunts her choice by listing all of the instances of swearing and invites readers to censor the book with a black sharpie if giving it to someone more sensitive. I’m including this here only to show those reading this the sheer volume of these which occur, though, in the spirit of the topic at hand, I’ve made a crude (pun intended) attempt to redact the words themselves:

I don’t want to seem hypocritical about this, but years ago we did decide to carry the testimony of Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix, which has the f-word in the very first sentence. I think the packaging of that book and the fact it would only appeal to those who knew her limited the possibility of accidentally being purchased by the wrong person, and we also added  — and continue to add — a small warning sticker of our own to the back cover.

I’m not sure why I’m willing to give Nadia a pass and not Jamie, but each bookstore has to decide what works for them. I did have a white-haired grandmother rather deliberately purchase Nadia’s book and come back later to order multiple copies of it, and her book which followed. 

The publisher writes:

The Very Worst Missionary is a disarming, ultimately inspiring spiritual memoir for well-intentioned contrarians everywhere. It will appeal to readers of Nadia Bolz-Weber, Jen Hatmaker, Ann Lamott, Jana Reiss, Mallory Ortberg, and Rachel Held Evans.” 

That’s a rather narrow list.

It’s too bad that, a time when Christian authors, publishers and bookstores are struggling, an author would choose to deliberate his or her audience.

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
 – Ephesians 4:29 NLT

Nor is it fitting for you to use language which is obscene, profane, or vulgar.
– Ephesians 5:4a GNT



Huntley Street: Share Your Playbook

As soon as the customer says, “They’re offering it on 100 Huntley Street, but I don’t want to send a donation just now,” I reply with, “Okay, but it will probably be on backorder for a couple of weeks.”

It just goes without saying that the both the demand Crossroads Christian Communications has for the book, and the wider demand that they have created by giving the book publicity have wiped stock out at distributors on both side of the border.

If the book in question is an International Trade Paper Edition (ITPE), then it means that there is really only one source for Canadian stores, and that’s the Canadian distributor.

So why can’t Huntley Street publicize their feature books ahead of time so bookstores can order? It would be nice to have a heads-up. Obviously, stores being unable to meet demand for the product works in their favour. “Oh, it’s going to be 3 weeks? Maybe I’ll send them a donation after all.” But the donation in the example above is $50, and the ITPE lists for only $17.49 in Canada.

But there’s no guarantee that the ministry organization actually has sufficient stock, either. One customer, who obviously avails herself of most of the book offers from Crossroads, said to me in all seriousness, “It’s taking a lot longer to get the books since Lorna took over.” I think she believed that CEO Lorna Dueck runs down the shipping department and packs books once the show is off-air.

Nonetheless, it does, at the very least, show that people are still reading and that people are still interested in books. Huntley Street gives its key broadcast offer titles very high exposure, including a daily teaching feature. Overall, with everything considered, the program is a Canadian Christian retailer’s best friend.

So why do the distributors themselves run out? I think they’re simply being cautious, thinking in terms of long-term sustainability of their companies. There’s no guarantee that a given title is going to perform well. It’s a gamble for them at wholesale just as it is for us in retail. I’m sure they could share examples of titles which simply didn’t perform all that well after a 100 Huntley appearance.

Ministry organizations buy books like this in what is called the premium market. There is the trade market and the remainder market, and this one is a bit of a hybrid. The premium books are sold much, much cheaper, but are usually new titles, just off the press. The authors accept greatly reduced royalties in exchange for the publicity and exposure that the ministry organization has to offer through its channels. Radio and TV are still the most popular customer-type of buyers for premium books, but there’s really nothing limiting the possibilities. Many author contracts also include reduced royalty provisions for bulk sales to organizations where promotion and publicity is not necessarily going to be a factor.

To repeat, 100 Huntley Street is a Canadian Christian retailer’s best friend. But the relationship works two different ways. For every book like the one pictured in the example above, there are program guests whose self-published books are either not available to trade stores, or are available with great difficulty. You have to live with the realities of both types of publicity. 

Finally, somewhere out there is someone who can access Crossroads’ upcoming guest list and see that this reaches retailers at least two weeks ahead so retailers who are keen to respond can order and receive product.