Posts Tagged ‘Christian book market’

Literature Professor’s Critique of Christian Publishing

Karen Swallow Prior is a professor of English literature, but she’s not an outsider to our industry, in fact, you may have some of her books on your shelves.

In a recent episode of The Phil Vischer Podcast, she is interviewed by Skye Jethani and covers material from a recent address she gave to the Evangelical Press Association about “Christian publishing’s addiction to celebrity and lack of integrity. But who’s really to blame—Christian book publishers, or Christian book consumers?”

To respect your time, and save you from a lot of silliness, skip (fast-forward) past the banter to 46:00 or use this YouTube link. Audio-only of the podcast is available from the usual podcast sources. (Total time from that point is 36 minutes.) 

This will also be of interest to the aspiring writers who sometimes drop by Book Shop Talk.

News and Notes

■ Some of your customers may be on a journey, and you can have a part in helping them reach their destination. Not everyone has a Damascus Road experience. “A study done among a group of 500 churchgoers in England who had come to faith in the previous twelve months found that almost seventy percent of them described their conversions as a gradual experience that took an average of four years. Only twenty percent described their salvation experience as dramatic or radical.”

■ A single brand: Discovery House Publishing is now Our Daily Bread Publishing. (The organization has been moving toward a single brand identification dating back to it’s ‘Radio Bible Class’ days.)

■ Nick Vujucic’s Life Without Limits reaches the 1,000,000 sales mark! It joins five other titles receiving recognition by ECPA. (see ‘Milestones’ toward the end of the January 6 update.)

■ Recommending Podcasts etc. I think sometimes we can be afraid to recommend sermons streaming on demand, podcasts, and resources like The Bible Project on YouTube. But anything that helps new Christians put things in perspective is not going to be detrimental to our retail efforts. The 41-minute Christmas series kick off sermon from December 1 by Andy Stanley to his congregation makes good back-tracking for anyone in your sphere of influence unclear as to what the incarnation is all about.

■ Thanks to Jaret at Agape Marketplace in Toronto for letting us know on the Canadian Christian Retail Insights page that P. Graham Dunn product continues to be available to Canadian retailers through Edenborough a company in Elmira, Ontario “created & founded by president, Doug Edenborough in 1983.” Jaret says they also carry Carson (many of you have purchased some of their pieces through Word Alive) but you need a login to see the catalogue…

■ …and Eerdman’s Publishing is now distributed through Fitzhenry and Whiteside. (Their website has not yet been updated to reflect this.)

■ Seven local church concerns. Thom Rainer reports on feedback from church consultants noting seven trends. Sample: #5 – “The issue of deferred maintenance is a crisis in many churches. Our consultants are reporting a number of churches that simply don’t have the funds to maintain their deteriorating facilities.” Churches in your community could be one major repair away from closure.

■ ICYMI: Our summary of the top Canadian-interest faith-related stories of 2019 which appeared at our parent blog’s weekly Wednesday Connect feature.

■ Global News reports that “Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist and professor of political science at Texas Tech University, disclosed that she is both a climate scientist and an evangelical Christian, things often thought to be mutually exclusive.”

■ When people come in your store quoting from an article that you know is meant to be satirical, you need to let them down gently. Babylon Bee articles look like the real thing. And they’re quite funny. So they get shared. A lot. And people read them who don’t know it’s satire. Why that’s a problem for them, for the people referenced in their stories, and for all of us.

■ Finally, a Lent course based on Mary Poppins. (see image below) “Where The Lost Things Go is a ‘practically perfect’ Lent course for small group study – or for reading on one’s own – based on the popular film Mary Poppins Returns. Poet and minister Lucy Berry skilfully (sic) draws out some of the themes of the Oscar-nominated movie (which stars Emily Blunt, Ben Whishaw and Lin-Manuel Miranda) and shows how we can consider them more deeply alongside passages from the Bible.”


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.