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Posts Tagged ‘Christian book marketing’

Redeemer University Bookstore Hopes to Serve All of Hamilton

With enrollment at an all time high, Ancaster’s Redeemer University (formerly Redeemer University College) has re-branded their campus bookstore and hopes to be able offer services to the broader Christian community of greater Hamilton.

The store is named 21Five, which is “a reference to Revelation 21:5: “He who is seated at the throne said, ‘I am making all things new.’””

In a story in Resound, the university’s quarterly magazine, store manager Kristel Forcier said,

As a university store, we’re the place to find textbooks but also items such as apparel, diploma frames and giftware. At the same time, we’re also a Christian bookstore where our customers can purchase Bibles, Bible studies, devotionals, books on Christian living and Christian storybooks for children. This will help us build relationships with local churches and schools by giving them a place to buy books and other products for their students and congregants.

That would be an ideal worth pursuing, especially after Hamilton’s only remaining Christian bookstore, a Gospel Lighthouse store, closed a few years ago, and the much larger Family Christian store in Burlington closed more recently.

However, having visited many times before the renovation, space is limited and school supplies, campus branded merchandise and course textbooks will always dominate.

Would remaining space intended to appeal to the broader Christian market resonate with all of them? The interim president, Dr. David Zietsma, is quite clear on this: “At a university anchored in the Reformed Christian tradition, 21Five will reflect the depth and riches of Reformed Christian theology and philosophy as well as scholarship from a Reformed Christian perspective across many disciplines…”

To this end, in a separate story, it was also announced the store would feature a shelving section dedicated to past and current faculty.

A look at the store website points to a selection with a bent toward scholarly and academic titles.

Over time, the store will need to evolve policies and procedures determining its willingness to serve the broader Christian populace, especially when special order requests are born out of a desire to support the school, or avoid purchasing from large corporations.

With over 1,000 students current registered, and factoring in friends and family, the store’s long-term success is assured at a time when other Christian retailers are struggling.


based on articles originally reported by

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.

Of the Writing of Book Review Requests, There is No End

To be fair, that’s out of 30,535 emails, and some of them were read on another device.

The number of emails in my in-box is increasing.

I’m not sure if it’s because of Christian Book Shop Talk, or because of Thinking Out Loud, but the volume of mail asking me to promote books is noticeably increasing.

Most if not all are self-published titles. I think it’s ironic that these authors are begging me to mention them, while on the other side of my email app, I’m begging major publishers to let me review their books, with a promise of a trifecta consisting of a trade mention here, a review at Thinking Out Loud, and a chapter excerpt at Christianity 201.

They aren’t interested.

In the meantime, I’m left with a collection of indie authors who, while they may be sincere and doctrinally orthodox, haven’t been vetted by a process that includes acquisition editors, proposal meetings, first draft editing, final editing and more. And decent graphic art. So much I could say about the last one. Yes you can judge a book by its cover.

Much of this mail includes a link to the book’s page on Amazon. I don’t know about you, but I think that sending an Amazon link to a trade bookstore is insulting and triggering. There. I said it.

If I have the time and inclination to pursue that, I always look very carefully to see if there is an ISBN embedded in the URL of the page. Often, there is a just a B-number and that means the book doesn’t have an ISBN and any other searching is going to prove futile. It can also mean the book isn’t in print at all, but they’re asking me to promote an e-book. To an audience of trade bookstore owners. Go figure.

Then I apply the ISBN to Ingram or BookManager to see if there is any trade distribution. Often the books have no availability to the trade bookstores. At that point, it’s game over as far as I’m concerned.

If the book is part of Ingram Publisher Services or Baker and Taylor’s equivalent (which often are listed at Parasource) I then check three things.

First, Is there a decent trade discount? Books which are 10% or NET are never going to get stocked in inventory in our stores. Shelf space is too precious. Orders, maybe. On a NET price item, maybe not. 20% or 30%, possibly.

A 25% discount at Ingram is an interesting case. It often means that the book has been published by an Amazon subsidiary. For some reason, a lot of their titles land at 25%. Do I want to support them indirectly? I take these on a case-by-case basis.

Second, I check the BISAC cateorgy or Ingram category or Dewey category. Is this even a Christian book? You’d be surprised at the requests I get — and now we’re including customer special-order requests — for books listed as new age or parapsychology with no reference to Christianity at all. Unless it’s for a pastor or seminary student doing research, this item isn’t going to find its way to my shelves.

Third, assuming discounts and categories work, I check the page count. It’s amazing how many books are doing well up to this point and then fail the content test. Generally I’m not legalistic about this, but I consider 10-cents US per page to be reasonable. $19.99 US for 106 pages means the book is overpriced. Or $14.99 US for 72 pages. It’s too high, and we haven’t even done the conversion to Canadian dollars. This particular check is often the reason why the discount is generous. Conversely, some books with shorter discounts offer a good volume of reading and assuming the US list price is not printed on the back, will sustain a higher-than-normal markup for a special order.

In terms of my email however, there is often a sixth sense that comes into play. Call it discernment. The book checks all the boxes, but I still have red flags in my head. A look into the online life and other works by the author often supplies clues that this isn’t a book I want our store to be associated with.

Having said all that, for some of you it’s a different process that involves customer reviews. For something you’re considering in inventory, that’s a good thing to research if you have time.

Another good question to ask is, What other Christian retailers are carrying this product? I have some go-to websites for this including Parable or ChristianBook in the US and Koorong and Eden Books overseas, especially if it’s a writer from outside North America whose books have impacted in far away places. North American Christianity can get really myopic.

Finally, I know there are some people who are thinking, ‘Don’t open the emails.’ Yes, the cream rises to the top, but only in a fair distribution system. Finding a hidden gem or two that will really work in your market gives you a competitive edge against anyone else your customer buys books from, but you need to follow up your decision to inventory the book with mentions on your store Facebook page, your store newsletter, and your store blog. Differentiating a genuine ‘find’ such as these titles is harder to do on BookManager where every book gets the same treatment, and that’s why I recommend having a store blog and using a newsletter and social media to especially create some buzz for a unique title.

 


Today’s title with apologies to Solomon in Eccl. 12:12

HarperCollins to Re-issue Thompson Chain Reference Bible

HarperCollins Christian Publishing seems to think there is some life yet still for the Thompson Chain Reference Bible. That surprises me. I never did get into the concept of having to flip pages back and forth to follow the word study chain of references. I had very rare requests for them at our store and I felt it was the study system of a passing generation of readers.

Study Bibles, with their notes on the bottom of the page, had already spoiled me for how I got thematic information. Not to mention the online world of hyperlinks and drop-down menus; You Version, Blue Letter Bible, Bible Gateway, etc.

Then there’s the tension in some churches over whether teaching and study should be thematic in nature, drawing from a variety of selected texts, or expository (verse-by-verse) examination of a single text. Expository preaching has its advantages, but in the extreme, it can draw away from word study.

Harper bought the product line from Kirkbride and plan to release new versions in 2021, adding their Comfort Print® editions in 2022. The official announcement is here. There are currently editions available in five popular translations.

How Things Shaped Up at My Store

Usually when I publish a top 40 chart, I have to fudge the last 4 or 5 entries because the data doesn’t support a strong list of titles. But this time around, some things which did well (Dream Big by Bob Goff, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer, Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado, Chasing Vines by Beth Moore) actually got cut from the list for lack of space.

Also, it was interesting that we did our Spring 2020 list before the lockdown, and only 12 books that were there appeared here. Combined, it’s a healthy collection of about 70 great titles.

You’ll probably see titles that didn’t do as well where you work, but also have some that didn’t make our list at all. Feel free to compare notes in a comment here or in the dealer Facebook group. (By the way #1 was a complete surprise when I added up the numbers; it was really a tie with David Jeremiah, but I figured David gets enough encouragement; why not put a Canadian author at the top spot?)

Correction: Our #34 book was actually various editions of The Book of Enoch, though The Book of Jasher did well, too.

One of the Year’s Best Kept Secrets: Every Moment Holy

November 18, 2020 2 comments

Spring Arbor currently has an additional 7,000 copies on order.

Though I’ve only had one order for this title, it made me aware of it and I’ve been tracking its success since it released this summer. The book is Every Moment Holy, Volume 1, Pocket Size. It’s described as:

…a book of liturgies for the ordinary events of daily life–liturgies such as “A Liturgy for Feasting with Friends” or “A Liturgy for Laundering” or “A Liturgy for the First Hearthfire of the Season.” These are ways of reminding us that our lives are shot through with sacred purpose even when, especially when, we are too busy or too caught up in our busyness to notice. Includes over 100 liturgies for daily life (including liturgies for meals) in a beautiful leather-bound flex-cover…

It is apparently a reissue of a previously published (no longer available) hardcover edition.

Who is the author?

From the book’s website:

Douglas Kaine McKelvey grew up in East Texas and moved to Nashville in 1991 to participate in the early work of Charlie Peacock’s Art House Foundation, an organization dedicated to a shared exploration of faith and the arts. In the decades since, he has worked as an author, song lyricist, scriptwriter, and video director. He has penned more than 350 lyrics recorded by a variety of artists including Switchfoot, Kenny Rogers, Sanctus Real, and Jason Gray. He and his wife Lise have three grown daughters and two sons-in-law. Douglas has served for the last four years as the sexton at St. John’s Anglican Church in Franklin, Tennessee.

The 302-page book is available from Ingram/Spring Arbor using ISBN 9781951872021 and has a $24.99 US list price.

■ See a complete list of the contents and watch a 90-second video for A Liturgy for the Ritual of Morning Coffee.

“Authors Similar To” Provides Good Suggestions

Many of us in our web browsing tend to steer clear of consumer websites, but in doing some research for a customer, I discovered that GoodReads offers a feature suggesting comparative authors for readers looking to discover writers similar to ones they already enjoy.

Someone asked us, “Who is similar to N.T. Wright or Timothy Keller?” The website Goodreads offered these suggestions among others, and I was able, by telephone, to tell my sales associate to recommend the authors I knew we had in stock:

If you like N.T. Wright:
Eugene H. Peterson
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
John H. Walton
Scot McKnight
James K.A. Smith
G.K. Chesterton
John R.W. Stott

If you like Timothy Keller:
Lee Strobel
Richard J. Foster
A.W. Tozer
J.I. Packer

Arguing Hachette ITPE Restrictions on a Basis Other Than Price

December 27, 2019 1 comment

If you scroll this blog, you will see frequent references to the need, in the Christian book market at least, for Canada to be considered International Market, not American Market. Regular readers here will know that when it comes to International Trade Paper Editions (ITPEs) stores in Canada receive cooperation from HarperCollins (affecting Thomas Nelson, Zondervan and occasionally HarperOne titles) Tyndale House, and Baker Book Group. That means we’re forced to take hardcover first editions from Simon & Schuster (Howard), Hachette (FaithWords) and Penguin Random House (Waterbrook and Multnomah).

In my personal experience, customers in Canada would rather wait a year, and when that year passes and the title undergoes a trade paper conversion, the momentum is lost and the customer has forgotten their original impulse.

But scrolling through a UK website over the holidays I realized something which is particular to Joyce Meyer. While I’ve long argued the foreign titles have better cover art — just look at Timothy Keller as an example — it would appear that the foreign market may not be as enamoured with having a full jacket picture image of Joyce Meyer on the cover. Consider these:

Her picture appears on five of these, but in a much reduced form.

I know that her sales are strongly personality-driven, and I’m sure her literary agents insist on the bold portrayal on her U.S. editions. But they scale back on the image for these overseas editions, and I would argue that whatever decision(s) led to that graphic change, it needs to happen here to offer greater appeal to the Canadian customer as well.

I could better sell the books pictured above than the books I currently carry. With several decades in the business, I am most convinced of this.

Canadian customers have a different personality and don’t always appreciate that in-your-face style of marketing which is so common with FaithWords titles by authors such as Joyce, Joseph Prince, Joel Osteen, etc.

So there you have it: An ITPE argument for Canada that isn’t based on price.

What are the odds that anyone at Hachette Book Group or FaithWords is listening?

Industry News and Notes

Here’s a few items that were seen and heard in the wider Christian marketplace this past week:

■ The 2019 Christy Awards for Christian fiction were announced last week. (See image above.) Patti Calahan’s Becoming Mrs. Lewis was Book of the Year.

■ Parenting Place: Using the new, third edition of the NIV Life Application Bible with your kids. “Overall, if someone knew nothing about the Bible’s background, this study Bible has more than enough information to get by while still not getting lost in the weeds with theology or historical information.” 

■ Scot McKnight kicks of a series of looking closely at Introducing Evangelical Theology by Daniel J. Treier (Baker Academic), which is organized differently from other books of this type. “Here theology is not forced into one biblical author that mutes the voice of other biblical authors, but instead it is shaped by the fundamental categories of the great tradition that forms the Apostles’ Creed and the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.” Don’t miss this introductory article.

The most talked about Christian news item in the past week concerned Christian comedian John Crist. We don’t have product by him in our stores, but in a few months, the book pictured here was to be released through Waterbrook. Here’s the whole ugly story about his indiscretions.

■ Won’t you be my neighbor? The Mr. Rogers movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood opens US Thanksgiving weekend. (FYI: Fred Rogers was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1963.)

■ Just as coastal regions put up beacons and lighthouses to warn passers-by of immanent danger, just to be clear, Harvest Bible Chapel has declared to the world that James MacDonald is presently unfit for ministry and “biblically disqualified.” 

■ Zondervan announces Zondervan Thrive, it’s latest non-fiction imprint. “The new imprint will equip readers with in-depth, practical solutions for thriving mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually in today’s world. Zondervan Thrive’s readers are seeking big, brave ideas on how to approach everyday life, discover informed solutions, live authentically, sustain their personal health and wellbeing, and make a difference in their world.”

■ Christian Education: J. Warner Wallace, author of Cold Case Christianity isn’t a fan of dumbing it down or trying to make it exciting and dynamic. He says we need to stop treating kids like kids because “this new generation is ripe to hear the word of God.” 

■ Prominent Southern Baptist Russell D. Moore explores the writings of Frederick Beuchner in all of his books and a new overview from InterVarsity.

■ From our Anglican/Episcopal friends, “Songs for the Holy Other includes almost 50 ‘queer hymns’ by and for individuals who identify with the LGBTQ+ community and their allies.” An article describes it as “…an amazing resource for music directors and for priests who are looking for hymns that are affirming for the LGBT community.” “There are songs about our created belovedness—how God created us, God loves us, and our sexuality, our gender doesn’t change that.” For worship leaders, they’re covered by your church’s CCLI license.

■ Names to Note: Addison Bevere is the son of well known authors John and Lisa Bevere, has a book coming in January with Revell, is the COO of Messenger International (his parents’ organization) and is the cofounder of Sons and Daughters.

■ New Music ♫ — These three all originated in the same place. I went to confirm an event date on the website of Life100.3, a Christian ‘superstation’ (not ‘superstition,’ spellcheck) in central Ontario, and found these three — none of whom I was familiar with — on their daytime Top 10 list.

♫ The band: We Are Leo; the song: Your Voice.
♫ The artist: Charlie Rey; the song: Undeniable Love.
♫ The artist: Joel Vaughn; the song: I Look to You.

■ Where Anne Graham Lotz turned up on television: Speaking about Donald Trump’s withdrawl from Syria as a fulfillment of Ezekiel 38. This is the sentence where the writer lost me: “…Lotz appeared on “The Jim Bakker Show” last Wednesday to promote her new best-selling book…” Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows.

■ Following the death of his 21-year old son, TobyMac has established a foundation to allow kids who can’t afford it to pursue music education. The Truett Foster Foundation is accepting single and monthly gifts.

■ Roger Olson lists (and laments) the many Christian leaders and authors who have landed on the Fundamentalists’ blacklist: “Tony Campolo (one of their first targets way back in the 1980s), Jim Wallis, Clark Pinnock, Stanley Grenz, Beth Moore, Rob Bell, John Sanders, Greg Boyd, Andy Stanley, Richard Foster, Carl F. H. Henry, Bernard Ramm; I could go on and on.” He wonders when “moderate evangelicals going to come out of hiding and condemn the vituperation of the neo-fundamentalists?”

Josh Harrisfirst public interview since renouncing his faith. It’s only 3 minutes, so there must be more somewhere.

■ The Vatican is behind a high-tech rosary. “However, unlike its traditional predecessor, the eRosary links to a ‘Click To Pray’ prayer app of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network. The device is activated by making the sign of the cross

■ They’ve got nothing to say: Sadly, the Twitter feed of David C. Cook consists almost entirely of links to job postings within the company. It’s been that way for several years.

■ Finally, something lighter for you: Did you ever laugh so hard you cried? That was the question posed to Brant Hansen (Unoffendable, Blessed are the Misfits) recently. Click on Podcast #1023, and jump to 12:28 and listen to the end. (Had to listen to it twice.) (5 minutes total.)

When Mainstream Book Dealers Become the Default Christian Store

Editorial

Every time a bookstore closes it hurts, even if it’s three provinces away from where you live.

In many cities, a mainstream bookstore might find themselves picking up a few extra orders for titles from Christian publishers. The ones I’ve talked to are aware of this phenomenon, but say the impact isn’t significant. In other cases, the customers are forced to educate themselves how to order online from CBD or other online vendors.

But in a great many cases, the sales never happen. The books never find their way into a consumer’s hands.

I’m committed to Christian books reaching people in families, neighbourhoods, workplaces and schools. I don’t have a personal succession plan for what’s going to happen to my own store — we currently have 4,000 fiction titles alone, and over 1,000 Bible products — but I do have a succession plan for continuing to promote the reading of Christian authors and reference materials. I still hope to keep writing reviews, and personally promoting the efforts of remaining booksellers.

I would greatly miss that connection if it all ended tomorrow.

And so, here in Canada, we find ourselves in a situation where stores like Chapters/Indigo have taken up the slack, offering in many cases a fairly decent selection of Christian non-fiction, fiction, and Bibles. (In some U.S. cities, if there isn’t a Barnes and Nobles, there’s the option of discount chain Ollies, which carries Christian remainders from B&H, Harper and other publishers.)

It wasn’t always this way. For well over two decades, it appeared that Barnes and Noble in the U.S. knew the secret that Chapters didn’t. I even offered my services to Chapters once, but never heard back. But eventually suppliers — especially Hachette and HarperCollins — were able to convince the stores to stock the Evangelical authors they had always been lacking. Hopefully, they see return on these products. Today at Indigo you’ll find a mix of good titles; not just the cases where authors have found their way to FaithWords or Howard or Waterbrook (being distributed to mainstream stores through Hachette, Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House respectively) but also titles from David C. Cook, Baker Group, or Tyndale House, which don’t have an affiliation with a major publishing house.

So it pained me to hear that Indigo is continuing to face the challenges we all deal with on a daily basis.

An opinion piece by Jennifer Wells in the Business section of The Saturday Star this week noted second quarter revenue dropped by just under $13 million. Online sales were down 12.2%. She writes, “…Not that long ago, the CEO was counting on a $20 and up share price and further U.S. expansion…On Thursday, Indigo shares closed at $4.26…”

On the upside, the article notes that “…bookseller James Duant, who really does sell books and has his own nine-store chain of bookstores in the UK…has run Waterstone’s since 2011, returned the UK chain to profitability in 2016 and is now trying to work the same turnaround at Barnes and Noble.”

Writer Wells concludes that 4th quarter profitability at Indigo, necessary to offset money-losing quarters, is key. Christmas is a make it or break it time. But she adds, “Heather Reisman hasn’t yet fixed the recipe for Indigo; that ‘curation’ she refers to in staging books amid a studied lifestyle.”

In many cities and towns that have already lost their Christian bookstore, losing that “Religion: Christianity” section at Indigo would be the end of a physical presence for Christian authors and publishers in those locations.

Read the full article at The Star.

Foundation Folds Distribution into Anchor Distributors

October 22, 2019 2 comments

Canadian stores will consolidate ordering through Anchor/Word Alive

This is major news for Christian booksellers in Canada. Earlier this week we heard rumours of this, but today we received the official announcement. Rather than comment further, I want to run the press release exactly as it was sent to industry news outlets. I’m sure the finer details will play out over the next few weeks.

Bob Wood, Bob Whitaker, Pat Chown, (back) Jeremy Braun, Karen Fulton, Director of Operations Anchor Distributors

Foundation Distributing Inc. and Anchor Word Alive Inc. combine to improve efficiency and strengthen the Christian product supply chain

New agreement moves distribution of Foundation vendors to Anchor Distributors

ORONO, ON – October 22, 2019 – Pat Chown, Claire Prodger and Bob Wood, owners of Foundation Distributing Inc. (FDI) are pleased to announce an agreement moving all distribution and operations to Anchor Distributors in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, effective December 1st.

“We see this agreement as one that will aid current and new retailers in Canada in being more competitive against the growing online giants.  It allows for more cohesive marketing opportunities.” — Bob Whitaker, president of Anchor Distributors 

“Sourcing more product from a single location can provide better fill rates, save time, reduce freight costs and simplify day to day business. This agreement will strengthen the Christian Product supply chain and provide efficiencies that will benefit retailers in Canada.” — Pat Chown, partner, Foundation Distributing Inc.

“Anchor Distributors’ mission is to serve retailers by providing Christian and Inspirational resources to the market.  Anchor Word Alive and FDI share this mission and we’re working for a seamless transition. The 72 Hour Sale, 2 Day Sale and other sales and marketing programs will continue uninterrupted.” — Claire Prodger, partner, Foundation Distributing Inc.

“Bob Whitaker is a straightforward, forward-thinking person of integrity. There’s a common mission and purpose shared by the entire Whitaker, Anchor Word Alive team that made us confident this was the right path forward. This agreement is a progressive step for the Canadian market.” — Bob Wood, partner, Foundation Distributing Inc.

“Our customers in Canada are vital to the lifeline of our mission and business and this exciting change will allow us to continually improve to serve them better.” — Jeremy Braun, managing director for Canadian operations – Word Alive.

Anchor Word Alive Inc. is a Canadian subsidiary of Anchor Distributors (“Anchor”), which is a division of Whitaker Corporation established in 1970.

Tim Challies on Amazon’s Control Over Christian Publishers

An article released Friday by Canada’s Tim Challies on the influence that Amazon now has on the Christian publishing market has been making the rounds, and I wanted to wait a few days before responding. You can find The Power Over Christian Publishing We’ve Given To Amazon by clicking this link.

He begins dramatically,

A few days from now, or maybe a few months, or even a year, Amazon will pull a book from its site. One day it will be there available for purchase with all the rest, and the next it will be gone. One day people will be able to order it and have it shipped to their homes, and the next day it will have ceased to exist, at least as far as Amazon is concerned. This will inevitably be a book that Christians have embraced as orthodox but that the culture has rejected as heretical…

We’ve seen some of this already, so it isn’t prophetic. He then sets the stage defining the challenge for the future:

…[W]e inadvertently handed Amazon a near-monopoly over the sale of Christian books. We did this with the good-faith assumption that they would continue to sell whatever we published. But times have changed and are changing and it seems increasingly unlikely that Amazon will continue to sell it all. It seems increasingly likely that they will cede to cultural pressure—pressure that exists both within and outside of the company—and begin to cull their offerings. And then what? It’s not like these books cannot be sold by the Christian retailers that remain. But will publishers even be willing or able to publish them if they cannot be sold at the world’s biggest marketplace? Will you and I even be able to find out about them if Amazon isn’t recommending them to us? And will we be willing to pay a premium to have them shipped to us from smaller retailers with higher prices and no ability to offer free shipping?…

In a way, this is nothing new. Spin the search engine wheel and you’ll find many articles from the past accusing Christian publishers of only selling things that will do well at Family Christian Stores or LifeWay. But now FCS is gone, and LifeWay is phasing out its physical presence in America’s cities and towns.

Why publish something which retail won’t carry? That’s been a challenge, but now that in many parts of North America there is no retail (in the traditional sense) indie-published books compete with those from the larger, established publishing houses. The online behemoth is in many respects now calling the shots. Brick and mortar retail stores don’t matter as they once did; we’ve lost our influence.

What is new is the people to whom that power has been ceded. While dealing with a different aspect of this, Tim Challies correctly notes that, “Amazon is hardly a company founded by Christians or run according to Christian principles. To the contrary, it is a company founded by worldly people and run according to worldly principles.”

And beyond the social issues Tim mentions, it bothers me that Amazon has no filters. A Jehovah’s Witness title, New Age title or an LDS title is just as likely to turn up in the search results as something from Baker, Zondervan or David C. Cook. Already, I’ve heard stories of people who unwittingly bought inappropriate books based on search engine results. This in and of itself highlights the value of Christian bookstore buyers and proprietors.

So what if those Christian publishers said to Amazon, “Since you now advertise as ‘the world’s largest bookstore,’ it would be nice if you would carry our titles exhaustively instead of selectively” or even dared to suggest that, “If you won’t carry everything, we won’t sell you anything at all.” If A-zon called their bluff on that, it would be devastating both to authors and consumers, since if a book’s A-zon listing doesn’t appear in search results, the book, for all intents and purposes, ceases to exist.

Again, to read the article at challies.com, click this link.