Posts Tagged ‘Christian book market’

Fresh Fiche Weekly

For some of you, this is like a picture of an old friend. If you’re new to the business, you’re thinking, ‘What the heck is this?’

If you’ve been around Christian bookselling for awhile; time to gather the younguns around the screen — already halfway to recreating the experience — and unravel the story of using a fiche reader to look up products for customers.

The Spring Arbor microfiche arrived in the mail weekly. As I remember it, Title (sets; usually 3 – 5 sheets) was weekly, Author was every other week, Music and Video were monthly, and I had a long wait for Category coming once every quarter. Actually, the Category sheets were one of my favorites.

Believe it or not, a small store like ours didn’t think we needed that data with great immediacy. So we shared a subscription with another store. They got them first and mailed them to us. Then we took our set and sent it off to one of our other stores. (We were a chain of three stores at the time, and libraries were always selling off fiche readers cheap.)

The ability to search online made the fiche redundant, as the ability to order online made the Spring Arbor Telxon unit redundant. But we’ll save that one for another day, since the kids probably won’t believe we placed a suction cup on our phone to place orders.



HarperCollins Timeline Integrates Its Christian Publishing Divisions’ Histories

In 1817, James and John Harper open the modest printing establishment of J. & J. Harper, Printers, in New York City; which means this is an anniversary year. A BIG anniversary year!

To celebrate, the company has created a special website which is divided into five sections. Of special interest to readers here is the Timeline page, which includes histories of divisions added through mergers and acquisitions, such as Thomas Nelson and Zondervan. As you’ll see however, Thomas Nelson goes back a long time too, with a history that’s not so shabby. And Zondervan isn’t exactly a new kid on the block.

Title page from the Collins King James Bible, circa 1839.

Canadian Dollar Continues Slide

January 17, 2014 2 comments

David C. Cook Canada Increases Conversion Factor to 20%

The Canadian dollar closed Friday just shy of 90-cent territory, closing at .9111 to the U.S. dollar.

David C. Cook has increased many prices to a 20% conversion rate, though the change is not across the board. At 5:30 PM on Friday, The Action Bible had jumped from 28.99 to 31.99; while Francis Chan’s Multiply and Forgotten God, with a U.S. list price of $14.99, were now pegged at $17.99. However, Chan’s Crazy Love, which also has a $14.99 US MSRP was only $15.99 as of 5:30 PM on Cook’s B2B website. Broadman & Holman titles were also converting at the same rate with The Love Dare an example at the same price point.

For months Cook’s conversion rate had been an attractive feature for stores. With a U.S. dollar costing 1.0976 at Friday’s close, the disparity between that and Cook’s 20% conversion is significant. Canada is considered an extension of the U.S. market for royalty purposes, you can blame literary agents (lawyers in disguise) for that. Historically, Christian publishers did not put U.S. prices on the books themselves until about a decade ago. That change caused customers to be more aware of the pricing differences, and basically drove Canadian customers in the Christian market in droves to buy books from Christian Book Distributors (CBD), Amazon, or a number of denominational niche online vendors.

While a more expensive U.S. dollar does have the potential to bring some online customers back to Canadian brick-and-mortar retailers, a 20% difference has the opposite effect, and drives other customers — and some retailers — to make their purchases in the U.S.

With most bookstores reeling from depressed 4th quarter results and a poor showing in December, the Canadian price hike simply couldn’t come at a worse time. Stores looking to survive in the long-term need to exercise extreme caution in buying; the days of “stack ’em high” mass-quantity displays are over. If the dollar continues on its present trajectory and Canadian distributors can’t or won’t get subsidized pricing from their U.S. partners, the days of free-standing, brick-and-mortar Christian bookstore in Canada are numbered.

Consumer Advocate Notes eReader Glitches

Ellen Roseman is a consumer advocate for The Toronto Star, Canada’s largest circulation newspaper.  She hears from readers who have all manner of consumer complaints, and as an avid reader herself, she devoted two columns recently to electronic books.  The first, on October 30th, noted a number of issues some consumers have encountered.   While she was generally positive about the devices, the following anecdotes are worth noting:

  • A Kobo owner got a book with the chapters out of sequence.  She was told she was wrong, but a friend with the print edition assured her she got a defective product.  It took an intervention from The Star to get her a refund.
  • A customer’s gift card payment went through, but 12 days later, still no books.
  • Another customer got the right “cover” but the internal contents of the electronic file were something totally unrelated.
  • Ellen herself got a completely wrong book, and then waited a year for the title she really wanted.

You can read her article by clicking the link above, and also check out her follow-up article from November 1st, where she talks about the incompatibility of different devices, and incompatibility of cross-border issues with the same device.