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Posts Tagged ‘Baker Book Group’

Christian Publishing Companies Took an Enormous Loss on Family Christian Closing

In a presumably recent article dated “June 10th, 2017” World Magazine recounts the end of the Family Christian Bookstores closing in this article:

The news earlier this year that Family Christian Stores would close its more than 240 retail shops startled many of its customers. But it didn’t surprise anyone familiar with the company’s recent history. Despite receiving forgiveness for more than $80 million in debt two years ago, the company still couldn’t pay all of its bills.

The article later goes on to say:

Family Christian lost about $16.6 million over about 17 months during the bankruptcy, according to court documents.

That’s a million per month. The story continues:

In February Family Christian representatives called both Baker and Tyndale publishing groups. Lewis said they asked Baker Publishing for more time to pay invoices and for a 15 percent price discount, and Baker said yes.

But others, including Tyndale, had gone as far as they could to help the struggling retailer. “They asked us for humongous increases in the discount at which we were selling to them, and we just said, no, we’ve already given you our best deal,” Tyndale CEO Mark Taylor said…

…“This is the second time in three years that we’ve taken a big hit in bad debts because of Family,” Taylor said. (He declined to name the dollar amount of Tyndale’s loss.) Lewis said Baker Publishing expected to lose between $350,000 and $400,000.

Basically, Christian publishers bailed out Family not once, but twice.

Furthermore, the article doesn’t mention that many of those same publishers — in 2016, the year in-between the two crises at Family — took similar losses on the closing of Send the Light Distribution. Nor does it mention the many write-offs which a part of everyday commerce in dealing with individual bookstores that have closed in the Amazon era.

In this writer’s opinion, those losses might be represented by authors who were never signed, books that were never fully marketed, and development of new projects that were possibly curtailed. It’s entirely possible that publishing company staff were let go in belt-tightening at these various companies.

It’s a big loss for us all.

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Revell Signs Ted Dekker

We don’t normally report signings here, as many of you subscribe to various trade newsletters anyway. But this one from Publisher’s Weekly (PW) got our attention.

Ted Dekker, the author of over 40 novels including Thr3e, Obsessed, and the Circle Series, signed a multi-book deal with Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. The acquisition signals a growing interest in the suspense category, according to Andrea Doering, executive editor at Revell.

“We publish all genres, but we made a collective decision two years ago to ramp up all suspense acquisitions, including romantic suspense,” she told PW…

…Dekker, who has sold over 10 million copies of his mystery, thriller, and fantasy novels worldwide according to Revell, has been published by Worthy, Thomas Nelson, Center Street, and others over the past two decades. The world rights deal with Revell is for two books with the option of two more by Dekker…

Read the full article at Publisher’s Weekly.

HT: Tim Underwood

 

Lynette Eason on Writing

Without WarningLynette Eason fields questions on her writing process from an interviewer who has already read Without Warning which releases August 2nd.

Sample:

  • Without Warning begins with a twist in the very first chapter. Was the first scene the most difficult one to write?

Believe it or not, the first scene is usually the easiest scene out of the entire book for me to write. I think it’s because I visualize it in its entirety before I even type the first word. That’s not to say I don’t go back and tweak as needed, but my first scene generally stays the first scene. I’ve only had a couple of books where I’ve scrapped the first scene and started over. Not too bad considering I have almost forty stories under my belt!

Click here to read the interview.

Baker Suspense

Screenshots of covers make great instant graphics for store Facebook and Twitter pages as well as store websites. A few years ago, these covers would have been too cool for Christian bookstores!

Baker Suspense

New Titles Update

Upcoming Christian Books

One of the blessings of doing Thinking Out Loud is that increased readership has led to increased generosity on the part of several Christian publishers. I probably got more books in the year after the blog started growing than in 36 previous years on the retail side of things.

Unfortunately, not every book gets reviewed there, but I wanted to mention several.

Before we begin, you’ll notice four books for men in this list. Men’s books don’t sell well in the Christian marketplace, so this emphasis is a bit of a surprise especially when you consider that all four are from HarperCollins Christian Publishing group. Hopefully the men’s-interest market can sustain all this activity happening at the same time.

The Hope Quotient – Ray Johnston (Thomas Nelson) — More than just a motivational or self-help book, this California pastor has packed this book with charts and graphics as well as supporting scripture references and comes at a time when many people feel hope is lacking. The HQ test allows readers to test their own Hope Quotient.

Rare Bird – Anna Whitson-Donaldson (Convergent) — The real life memoir of a mother whose 12-year old son was washed away in a nearby creek following a freak rainstorm. This book releases in September from Convergent. To get a taste of this, check out this post on her blog, The Bridge: One Terrible Night. Releases in September.

Small – Craig Gross (Nelson Books) — The founder of XXXChurch.com writes celebrating the ordinary and the insignificant. While the book is general in nature, Gross incorporates story from his rather unique ministry. This book is releasing in August, and unlike the others listed here, I’m already one-third of the way in, so we may end up doing a full review on this one. (Trivia: This is a must-gift book for anyone who serves their local church as a greeter!)

Overrated – Eugene Cho (David C. Cook) — I didn’t list this one on another version of this article at Thinking Out Loud earlier in the week because I intend to do a full review on it. If you had a market for Pursuing Justice by Ken Wytsma, this book by the founder of the One Day’s Wages charity will fit into that same social justice/social concern category. This book connected with me on a number of different levels.  September release.

7 Ways to Be Her Hero – Doug Fields (W Publishing) — The author of the classic Purpose Driven Youth Ministry and teaching pastor for the last 22 years at Saddleback is back with seven steps men can take to improve their ability to be a husband. He’s already got my attention with Step #1: Don’t Say Everything You Think. Oh, oh!

The Dude’s Guide to Manhood – Darrin Patrick (Nelson Books) — The chaplain of the St. Louis Cardinals names twelve different characteristics that can be developed in any man of various stages in life.

Be The Dad She Needs You To Be – Kevin Leman (Thomas Nelson) — One of the foremost experts on family dynamics, prolific author and speaker Leman really needs no introduction as he delves into the relationships between fathers and daughters. There is much practical advice here; fathers of girls might want to keep this book handy.

The Good Dad – Jim Daly (Zondervan) — The President of Focus on the Family comes into many of your homes via radio each and every day, though often while the Dad in the family is at work. (I’m betting at least 70% of Focus listeners are female). The book is somewhat autobiographical as Daly didn’t have the benefit of great role modeling.

Love Well – Jamie George (David C. Cook) — The subtitle is Living Life Unrehearsed and Unstuck and encourages the reader to move beyond the paralyzing effects of fear shame and hopelessness. This book releases in August.

Losing Your Faith, Finding Your Soul – David Robert Anderson (Convergent) — This book is releasing through the “edgy” imprint of Waterbrook/Multnomah, so it is no surprise that it deals with going through that period of life when lifelong faith assumptions start to unravel and beliefs about God, faith and church are in flux. The Connecticut Episcopal pastor deals with times we experience a “shift in our spiritual foundation.”

Nobody Knows: The Harry T. Burleigh Story – Craig von Buseck (Baker) — That this book is in hardcover adds to the mystery here. The book is subtitled, The Forgotten Story of One of the Most Influential Figures in American Music. In this case, we’re talking about the original American music form, Negro Spirituals.

Crash the Chatterbox – Steven Furtick (Waterbrook) — After getting downright giddy about Furtick’s first two books on this blog, you would think I would have done anything to get my hands on an advance reader copy of his third book. But alas, I’ve allowed myself to become jaded by all the online attention being given to Furtick’s $1.75 million (U.S.) home. I may get to this book yet, or read it privately without doing a review. I guess I’m just too disappointed in how this author’s journey is playing out, and it’s unfortunate because I had high hopes.

 

Weirdest Book Mash-Up Ever

November 1, 2013 2 comments

We’ve all had books with sections upside down, or in the wrong sequence, but the errant section of this book wasn’t even from the same publisher, and the paper quality would seem to indicate it wasn’t even running on the same press.

I’m forfeiting the credit in order to keep it as a souvenir.

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Social Media Publicity Gambit Floundering

February 15, 2013 7 comments

John (not his real name) gets about six visitors to his blog every day. Despite some rather dismal stats, John is currently reading book number ninety-four as a member of numerous blog book review programs he’s signed up for. It’s doing wonders for his personal library, though the manager at his local Parable store is kinda wondering what happened to him.

Nobody ever really asks for stats. Only one organization, Graf-Martin in Canada had the good sense to ask bloggers to share the size of their readership. There isn’t a single book publicity program for bloggers that teaches them how to ‘tag’ their stories to attract additional readers, or how to register their URL with search engines. So bloggers of all shapes and sizes enjoy a bounty of free stuff in the hope that it will do something to spark sales, including people like John who intersperse the book reviews with pictures of his new truck, which isn’t really new, but is new to him.

As someone who has benefited greatly from these programs in the past five years, I wish to herewith advise Christian publishers everywhere that you are totally wasting your money.

Meanwhile, as I’ve mentioned here many, many times; retail frontliners have an almost zero chance of every getting one single free book in the course of a year, unless they attend a trade convention. (Though in fairness, David C. Cook Canada has a program with Baker Books that allow staff to share advance copies, but sadly — for me anyway — the program is almost complete devoid of non-fiction titles.)

But things are about to get worse — far worse — for blogs like my own Christianity 201 (which publishes excerpts of books I’m sent ) and Thinking Out Loud (which publishes reviews of books I’m sent) and Christian Book Shop Talk (which concentrates on the trade and marketing angle on new titles) as the programs are cutting back.

First of all, it’s becoming just about impossible to get an actual print book sent to a Canadian address. Since I don’t have any interest in reading electronically, I’ve already told a couple of the publishers to take a hike. Shelf-naked I came into the book business 37 years ago, and shelf-naked I shall leave.

But now Thomas Nelson’s Book Sneeze program has handed me the greatest insult of all. They suspended my account because I haven’t reviewed any of their books in over 90 days. Here’s a suggestion, Thomas Nelson: Publish some decent books every 90 days. Seriously. (I did in fact offer a title I would be willing to be consider, but was told yesterday, basically, ‘Tough luck, you missed out;’ despite my attempts to parade out my reader stats as a kind if trump card.)

You know what? The social media promotion gambit was an idea that had merit. And my store is filled with dozens upon dozens of titles that I would never have carried were it not for the buzz that was created in the Christian blogosphere. Furthermore, many of the authors were originally nothing more than bloggers like myself, and through their various iterations online — blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. — I feel like I really know these people, even though we’ve never met. Heck, I can name their spouses, their children, their favorite restaurant.

And now, as the industry contracts, industry hirelings who know neither the publishing industry they work in nor the Christian blogosphere where they are paid to toss out freebies are suddenly all busy shooting themselves in their collective feet.

So to the golden age of social media publicity in the Christian publishing industry — 2007 – 2012 — I say, Rest in Peace.  You were Christian publishing’s last great idea, and last great hope; and your loss is about to be reflected by sales at both physical and online sellers.

~Paul Wilkinson, former book reviewer


For the record, Thinking Out Loud is currently ranked #7 out of all Christian blogs in North America for incoming links from Google, the number one search engine.

No Fiddlin’ Around at Our Stores

Once again, I refused to sign an affidavit that I wouldn’t display the new Beverly Lewis title, The Fiddler before the street date of yesterday.  It’s not that I was knowingly intending to display it sooner; goodness knows I usually forget to put the new books and CDs out on the date anyway until someone reminds me around 4:00 PM.

I just absolutely disagree with the idea that a person’s word is not sufficient in our industry. I am prepared to sign a blanket statement. I’m not prepared to jump through these hoops over every single title.

The order containing the books was processed on the afternoon of Friday; but Baker Book Group’s Canadian distributor David C. Cook still wouldn’t include my copies in that shipment. Some bureaucrat at Baker in Grand Rapids will be happy to know that.

Frankly, I’m not sure that Beverly Lewis deserves this special treatment. At the end of the day yesterday we had zero requests for the book. She may be a major author with Bethany House Publishing, but in the larger scheme of things, this simply wasn’t the big event that, for example, Book 4 in the Karen Kingsbury series was just days earlier.

I happened to meet with Cook’s sales manager on Saturday, and she reminded me that with three streams — online, big box, and Christian retail — the rules are necessary to ensure that it’s a level playing field. 

I smiled and said nothing.

It’s not a level playing field — not even close — because online vendors have been pre-selling the title for months now; locking in orders with comparable mechanisms not available to brick and mortar stores.

It’s not a level field — not even close — because big box stores have been granted discounts that, if independent retailers knew about them, they wouldn’t carry the title at all.

Still, I’d be willing to sign a blanket promise of compliance with Baker because I (a) believe the principle of fairness is there, and (b) don’t want to risk not getting future titles.

But Christian retailers simply don’t need the additional paper burden. And we serve God through our stores under covenant not under contract.

If stores have indicated once that they understand the street date principle, just ship them the books with a reminder, okay?

Names of God Bible

January 6, 2012 1 comment

I poached this review from Rick Apperson who blogs at Just a Thought and who has a heart for interviewing the authors we carry and reviewing the books we sell.  Rick is in full time ministry in Smithers, BC and his wife Sarah has worked in Christian retail for several years.  We steal stuff from each other’s blogs all the time, so don’t sweat it; but if you prefer, you can read it at source.

I have never reviewed a Bible before, so when I received The Names of God Bible in the mail I thought I should ask for some help.

I went to my teenaged daughter who checked it out and gave this heartfelt endorsement: “Awesome Bible!” Not receiving much help there, I went to my more articulate wife who looked through the Bible and said, “Cool Bible!”

So being left to my own devices, I decided this needed a more mature review.

I really love this Bible.

OK that wasn’t it.

The Names of God Bible was like a breath of fresh air. I sat down and turned to Genesis Ch. 1 and right away I was drawn in by the beauty of the Hebrew names of God in the midst of the test. The Bible is advertised as restoring to the original Hebrew more than 10,000 occurrences of specific names of God–like Yahweh, El Shadday, El Elyon, and Adonay–to help readers connect with the Hebrew roots of their Christian faith and experience a deeper understanding of God’s character.

I believe it achieves its goal. My daughter is reading the Bible when we drive to town and my wife and I are both wanting to dig into the numerous features found in the Names of God Bible. I love the idea of following the use of El Shadday throughout the text.

Among the features found in this Bible include:

  • background information associated with the most important names and titles of God
  • key Scripture passages in which the name is revealed
  • devotional readings for each of the featured names
  • specific Bible promises connected to each of the featured names

If you get the chance to pick up one new Bible this year, I would highly recommend The Names of God Bible. You won’t be disappointed.

~Rick Apperson

“Bible has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group”.

Thanks, Rick.  Missing from the review, and impossible to see in the cover image (even when it is larger) is the fact this Bible uses the God’s Word translation for its base text.  But being Baker Books, some of you had that figured out, right? I wonder if the muting of the translation name is somewhat intentional. And isn’t Ann Spangler an acquisitions editor for Zondervan?  

Godliness Without Religiousity

Couldn’t resist the wordplay with the title of Andrew Farley’s new book, God Without Religion (Baker).  Rick Apperson interviewed Andrew as part of his “Five Questions With…” series.  Here’s a couple of the Q&A exchanges, followed by a link to this piece, and a previous one Rick did when Farley’s earlier book published:

2. As in your previous book, you tackle topics that many churches would consider to be untouchable. In your new book you touch on the Law, pre-destination, communion, baptism, forgiveness, etc. How are people responding to this book?

It’s love it or hate it.

I basically get two kinds of email – the kind that says “God used this book to refocus my life back on Jesus” or another kind of email laced with anger, accusation, and name calling.

Fortunately, I’m surrounded by encouraging friends who remind me that not everyone will be happy with the idea of “God without religion.” And the book is doing really well – it has already hit three bestseller lists (on Amazon, Christian Booksellers Association, and The Washington Post). These are early signs that loads of people love Jesus but have been burned by the performance mentality of religion.

3. Throughout God Without Religion you seem to be point out the context the Scriptures were written in. Do you think, as believers, we tend to forget to read the context?

Absolutely. Whether it’s wrestling with eternal security in Hebrews, or faith and works in James, or some other theological concern, I’m finding that many of us have grown accustomed to looking at Scripture in tiny chunks, void of any context at all.

At my website, AndrewFarley.org, I dialogue with dozens of Christians from all over the globe every day, and I’d say that more than half of the Scriptural questions I receive can be answered simply by looking to context – the surrounding verses.

In my own study, I have to continually remember that, because I grew up with a lot of Scripture memory and recitation of single verses. I have to remember to slow down, read a paragraph or a page surrounding an idea, or even begin back at the beginning of an epistle.

Getting the bird’s eye view is essential.

Read the full interview here at Rick’s blog, Just a Thought.  Also check out this May, 2010 set of five questions relating to Andrew Farley’s The Naked Gospel.

Cambridge Debuts FlipBack Edition of KJV

This doesn’t turn Bible publishing on its head, but definitely turns it on its side.  Phil at UK Christian Book Shops Blog had this item in his July 4th News Roundup:

Cambridge Bibles publish first English Language flipback®

CONGRATULATIONS to Cambridge Bibles on becoming the publisher of the first English language flipback®, the Transetto: a new, ultra-compact edition of the King James Version Bible that breaks with tradition by opening vertically rather than horizontally. Published, of course, with the much-publicised 400th KJV Anniversary in mind, the Transetto is available in special trade packs of nine copies plus one free if you request the POS display tower: orders via Lion Hudson.

For those who are beginning to feel that they’ve already seen more editions of the KJV this year than their sanity can handle, don’t panic: more English language flipbacks have just emerged hot off the press from Hodder:

Click here for many detailed photos of the Bible at Bible Design Blog

Detailed page view at New and Interesting Bibles Blog

STL Changes the Terms for Canadian Stores

Breaking news 10:00 EST —

Canadian customers of STL got a rude awakening to the new year if they happened to add any Baker/Bethany or Tyndale titles to their January order that may have been out of stock at Cook or Foundation.

Titles from those publishers have been clipped back to a short discount of 35%; even though they are currently appearing in online order carts at 40%.   It is only after the invoice has processed that the true discount is revealed.

Here is the explanation from Terry Draughon, STL VP of sales for the CBA market:

I am very sorry for this New Year’s surprise. Bethany and Tyndale have never supported our deeper discount to Canadian customers and we held out as long as we could with little to no margin. Unfortunately, the time came that we had to make the change.

You are correct in the fact that such a change should have been announced in advance of the action. Obviously, that did not happen and I am very sorry.

To my knowledge, all the rest of our vendors from which you have been receiving the 40% discount have continued to support our Canadian efforts. So, I don’t know of any additional surprises in the foreseeable future.

Betcha didn’t know that when Tyndale sells STL a carton of Bibles it has any further interest in where STL sends them.   The illogic of this is problematic in so many ways.  On the other hand, one very large publisher once was able to tell me the exact number of units of a particular title his company publishes that shipped to Canada from STL.  So I suppose anything is possible.

We wrote back,

40% is and has always been the standard trade discount. There was no “deeper” discount on those publishers to Canadian customers; at least none that I have ever received. 40% is not “deeper.” But 35% is definitely “short discount.”

This is a deal-breaker. You’ve also put yourself in the awkward position where Spring Arbor is now the better price.

We decided the best avenue for us moving forward was to cancel existing backorders, regardless of publisher.   Each store will have to decide for themselves what works for them.

It also raises the question of where Baker Book group is coming from in all this.  Their attitude several years ago was clearly, ‘We want Canadian stores to keep buying our products from whichever source works best.’  Stores were encouraged to buy from them direct, from Cook, or from U.S. distributors.   This represents a major change in attitude.

It also raises the question as to whether “bait and switch” discounting is legal under Tennessee law.  At the time the customer places the order, they are clearly seeing 40%, not 35%.

For the past two years STL has been buoyed by its success in Canada, much of which occured in the fall of 2008 following the closure of R. G. Mitchell.  While its free freight deal with 15 units ordered — I’ve always felt that should be 15 units shippable — remains a good deal for small stores who want to consolidate orders, it begs the quesiton: Will stores continue to order with a short discount?

Time will tell if this is a mis-step on STL’s part.   The issue here is not 5%.  The issue is a breach of trust.  (a) You can’t trust the website anymore to be the bearer of correct information.  (b) You can’t trust the company not to advise of changes like this in future.

Prices are subject to change without notice.   Basic terms of purchase are not.

UPDATE 1/7/11 5:45 PM — see comment # 3