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Lynda Schoffro on Transitioning from Retail Management to Sales Rep

With seven Gospel Lighthouse stores in Ontario, you would think Lynda Schoffro had her hands full. But for 2020, she took on a new challenge as the new sales representative for True North Marketing, representing Dicksons, Cottage Garden, Legacy, Brownlow and Kerusso.

We sat down together (virtually speaking) over a cup of coffee (now I’m just making stuff up) and I asked her about her new position.


How are the first few weeks going?

Lynda Schoffro

It’s been really great being on the road and seeing the different stores this season. Each one is unique in their approach of how to best position themselves in their community but all sharing a common goal.

You are busy running stores; so how did this opportunity come about?

I didn’t go searching for this opportunity, it found me. A friend heard about the available position and contacted Bruce Wilson, who was hiring for the position, to let him know that I might be a good fit for the job. I’m not sure I would have ever sought it out on my own but it came at the perfect time for me and felt like a natural transition.

How has working in Christian retail helped you in this position?

I feel perfectly suited for this job because of my past experience in the industry. After years of being a buyer for the Gospel Lighthouse stores I understand the issues that retailers face and because of this have an objective view of how to help. Gift buying has been one of my strengths in operating the stores. It is an area we have expanded into and continue to grow. I have taken the time to follow new trends and am careful to watch for value when purchasing. This experienced eye helps me to be able to offer advice when customers ask.

What lines do you carry, and what excites you about any collections or lines?

As a sales representative for True North Marketing, I am carrying Dicksons, Cottage Garden, Legacy, Brownlow, Kerusso and Magnolia Garden. I am also representing Shomali Inc gifts which compliments my other lines well.

I am still buying for the Gospel Lighthouse stores so enjoy looking at the lines I represent from the buyer’s perspective. There are lots of great new products available in the new Dicksons supplement and they have put a focus on designing new looks for the classic lines; Footprints, Serenity prayer, Lord’s Prayer.

There are also some great promotions going on this Spring from suppliers, offering extra discounts and freight reduction for qualifying orders.

What have you learned so far?

I spent a week in Indiana at Dickson’s for a sales conference in December and learned so much about the integrity of the company. They are really focused on the Christian Retailer and though they have had to expand in different areas to keep abreast of changes in the market, their primary commitment is to the independent stores. I was also impressed to see the way they treat their employees, in all levels of business.

I have found that they are very transparent about the issues that they are facing; ie. tariffs, shipping costs, price increases. As a retailer, I had a limited view of the reasons that go into these decisions but it has opened my eyes to see that they have to protect their bottom line while maintaining good relations with the customer. It’s a delicate balance.

What are the challenges you have faced?

Pricing and shipping are definitely the issues that customers have raised with me so far. I don’t believe this is specific to the companies I represent. Businesses are dealing with higher costs and less volume, just like retailers. There are often freight caps offered, depending on the order size and prices are increasing everywhere. Buyers have to be careful when purchasing to make sure they are buying products that they will be able to sell at full margin. I aim to help my customers get the best deal possible and provide them with suggestions to help them be profitable.


We wish Lynda all the best in this new venture. Current and prospective Canadian stores which have not yet made contact can connect with her through Gospel Lighthouse, or us, if they’d like to go through a sales presentation or just ask questions.

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.”

 

“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

The Newest NIV Study Bible is Actually a Rebranding

I hate to say, “I told you so.”

At the time of its original release, I said the name, “NIV Zondervan Study Bible” would be too easily confused with the flagship “NIV Study Bible.” Time and the marketplace proved this correct.

So when the time came to convert the Bible to the new Comfort Print font — a change still in progress involving every Bible product sold by both Thomas Nelson and Zondervan — they decided it was a good time to change the name to “NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible.”

They also moved D. A. Carson’s name to the top which is both in keeping with what is seen on academic books in a series, and also creates resonance for the all important Reformed/Calvinist market, which Zondervan would love to lure from the ESV back to NIV.

The other bonus was that with comfort print, people who formerly needed large print can get away with the regular edition. The large print version of the older title was simply huge. So they’ve effective killed two birds with one stone. I actually proved the truth of this yesterday with one satisfied (I hope!) customer.


The original advertising from a few years ago highlighted many of the Reformed/Calvinist contributors. I’m sure they would argue this isn’t, strictly speaking, a Reformed product.

NIV Zondervan Study Bible

And a comparison chart showed the main differences in chart form:

NIV Study Bibles compared


Appendix One: People who feel they are in the market for larger print in a Bible are actually looking at five factors:

Font Size – To meet expectations, “large” should be at least 10.0 point and “giant” should be at least 12.0 point; but the key phrase here is “at least.” Ideally, I’d like to see “large” at about 11.5 and “giant” at about 14.0.” Also, generally speaking large print books are much more generous in font size — as well as the other four factors listed below — than large print Bibles. Some readers who have purchased large print books before question the application of the term when it’s applied to Bibles with smaller fonts. If you’re in a store and they have a font size guide posted, that gives you the language to express what you’re looking for, but don’t go by online guides, as they are sized at the whim of your monitor settings.

Typeface – This consideration is the basis of Zondervan and Thomas Nelson’s move — started last year and continuing throughout 2018 — to “Comfort Print” on all their Bible editions. Some typefaces are simply fatter than others. Personally, I like the clean look of a sans serif font (think Arial/Helvetica) such as Zondervan was using on its Textbook Bibles. But others like the look of a serif font (think Times New Roman) instead. But Comfort Print is a great innovation and I find when it’s available that people who think they need large print don’t, and other who think they might need giant print (with other publishers) can work with Comfort Print’s large print. You can think of this in terms of the difference between regular and bold face.

Leading – This one is actually quite important, and we’ll leave the definition to Wikipedia: “In typography, leading (/ˈlɛdɪŋ/ LED-ing) refers to the distance between the baselines of successive lines of type. The term originated in the days of hand-typesetting, when thin strips of lead were inserted into the forms to increase the vertical distance between lines of type.” One Bible publisher which I won’t name is notorious for using a large font but then crowding their lines of type together. The issue here is white space. If you look at the Wisdom Books of the Bible (which are typeset as poetry with more white space and wider margins) and compare to the History Books or Gospels (which are typeset as prose, both right-justified and left-justified) you see the advantage created by white space.

Inking – Some Bibles are not generously inked. There are sometimes also inconsistencies between different printings of the same Bible edition, and even inconsistencies between page sections of a single Bible. Text should be dark enough to offer high contrast to the white paper. Furthermore, some older adults have eye problems which make reading red-letter editions difficult. If that’s the case — and you don’t always know ahead of time — use a page from the Gospels as a sample.

Bleed Through – On the other hand, you don’t want to see type from the previous or following page. Bible paper is usually thin paper, which means the potential for bleed-through is huge. On the other hand, holding Bibles up to the light isn’t a fair test. Rather, the place where you check out the Bible should be well-lit and then pages should be examined in the same context you would read them at home. It is possible that an individual simply needs a better quality reading lamp.


Appendix Two: An edited list of features from the publisher marketing includes:

• 28 theological articles by authors such as Tim Keller and Kevin DeYoung; over 60 contributors.
• 20,000 verse-by-verse study notes
• 2,560 pages!
• Hundreds of full-color photos
• Over 90 Maps and over 60 Charts
• Book Introductions
• Cross-references and Concordance
• Single-column, Black Letter


Note: This is a news article. Zondervan didn’t supply a review copy — I already have the original which I traded for the large print I desired — and did not sponsor this blog article.  

Retailers: The graphic which heads the article is proportioned for store Facebook pages.

with files from Thinking Out Loud blog

 

Word Alive Announcement Rattles Other Distributors

February 25, 2019 2 comments

Christian Book Shop Talk Exclusive – Not Available for Reprint

This image from the cover of an old Petra album is an apt descriptor for the state of Canadian Christian product distribution after an aggressive announcement from Word Alive.

We returned from holidays last week to discover that a February 12th email from Word Alive, titled “Important and exciting announcement for 2019!” was still being greatly discussed at the distributor level. The opening paragraph of the announcement includes:

Word Alive / Anchor are proud to announce that we have partnered with numerous companies (see list below) to provide greater distribution options for you in Canada for the coming year. Some of the Publishers listed are already represented by other Canadian Distributors and some will be exclusive to us. We have been specifically asked by these “non-exclusive” publishers to sell, market and distribute their resources. It’s been sometime since the Canadian market has seen this type of competition but, in the end, I believe it’s necessary for a healthy industry.

When I worked for Triwel (G. R. Welch) in the late 1980s, even though the company already had a significant roster of distributed publishers, there was a corporate push to get other distributors to renew contracts with U.S. companies on a non-exclusive basis. At the same time, R. G. Mitchell was vigorously protecting its exclusive contracts, to the point of sending threatening-sounding letters to dealers reminding them that violating the terms of RGM’s exclusive contracts — i.e. buying from other sources — was punishable under Canadian law.

The retail practice of buying from other sources is often called “buying around;” since you’re going around the Canadian distributor. It happens every time a store needs something right away for a customer, and the Canadian distributor doesn’t have it, but Spring Arbor does. Or the freight would be prohibitive with supplier “A” but it’s easy to throw it in with an order to supplier “B,” often helping to meet a minimum order set by supplier “B.” [As one of several stores which have been cut off from full trade discount by Spring Arbor for failing to meet their $5,000 annual purchase minimum, I no longer have the option of doing this efficiently.]

When Send the Light Distribution (STL) rose to prominence, the situation changed. This was a case of a U.S. one-source distributor selling into Canada, so their entire database was at the disposal of Canadian stores.  Buying around was easy, since STL’s freight costs weren’t as high as Spring Arbor’s. [Again, on a personal note, three years ago in a conversation with the head of one of the Canadian distributors he unexpectedly said, “What do you care what we do, you buy all your books from STL.” That simply wasn’t true, and I demanded an apology I have never received. I immediately halved my purchasing from that company, and it remains today at less than 50% of what it could be had he worked to repair the damage.]

With the buyout of Word Alive by Anchor Distributors things took on an added dimension. Some of us had already used Anchor in the past for bargain Whitaker House books (no longer available) and resources from small Charismatic publishers. Word Alive created a separate Canadian website and capped the freight at 3% on orders over $250. Despite this, everything in the Anchor database was available to Canadian stores including titles for which Foundation, HarperCollins and Parasource have had exclusive marketing and distribution rights.

[There are exceptions. I tried to buy The Case for Christ DVD a few weeks ago. The “Canadian stores only” copies were sold out, but the U.S. copies were in-stock, but they were locked out. To make matters worse, the U.S. price was converting to $19.99 Canadian, but the Canadian copies were still at the their original $24.99. On top of that, the U.S. price from Universal Home Video is currently only $9.99 U.S. That means U.S. stores buying from Anchor are overpaying as well. In Canada, we should be paying no more than $13.99.]

Here’s our take on what the February 12th email changes:

  • It announces that Anchor will now provide publisher services (i.e. expedite shipping) for Provident Label Group (CDs and DVDs) resulting in an exclusive distribution deal for Canada. “Provident has shifted the warehousing and distribution of their business over to Anchor in the U.S. As part of this transition, Word Alive will be the exclusive seller of their products in Canada. From an inventory perspective, this is a great advantage as you will now be pulling from the hub where all Provident inventory will be warehoused for North America so the stock levels will be an upgrade from what you’ve seen in the past. The Provident discount structure for Canada will be announced shortly and at this point it looks like we will begin shipping in April, 2019.” Correction [04/Mar/19 – Parasource announcement]: “Parasource will continue to distribute Provident Label Group product in Canada on a non-exclusive basis, as will Word Alive/Anchor Distributors.”
  • It verifies the acquisition of Worthy Publishing by Hachette Nashville (parent of FaithWords) grants Word Alive exclusivity. This was expected.
  • It offers Broadman & Holman books and Bibles at 45%. This is moot, since Parasource matched it.
  • It offers 45% on Baker Book Group (Baker, Spire, Baker Academic, Bethany House, Revell, etc.) Again, this is moot since Parasource currently offers 50% on these.
  • It promotes an extra 2% on Rose Publishing and Hendrickson. Not sure why this is here, as there is no claim of exclusivity in that paragraph. Hendrickson travelled from New England to the diagonal opposite end of the country in its purchase of Rose. I haven’t heard if activities will be consolidated.
  • It promotes an extra 2% on City on a Hill small group resources. There’s a hint of exclusivity here — “Word Alive has been asked to represent this line…” — but it’s not overtly stated.
  • It announces a 20% discount on LifeWay. Many Canadian stores were already doing better than this because of Parasource’s tiered curriculum discounts, and compared with the supposed “list” prices at CBD, the Canadian prices from Parasource on the curriculum seemed to be subsidized.

Back to the introductory paragraph in the email:

It’s been sometime since the Canadian market has seen this type of competition but, in the end, I believe it’s necessary for a healthy industry.

The “I” in the email is Jeremy Braun, Director of Canadian Operations. The truth of the matter is that the trade market for Christian books in Canada is constantly shrinking and desperate times call for desperate actions. It’s a strategic move, but if I worked for Parasource, it would be hard not to see the announcement as a declaration of war.

 

 

 

Price Matching Amazon

Below is an amended version of some suggestions offered in a longer article at CBA Online. I didn’t want to steal the entire piece, so I encourage you to read it there, including the full introduction.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em; right? Some of you are immediately thinking that if you start cutting prices you won’t survive. I would argue that if you don’t respond you won’t survive. We can’t pretend what we jokingly refer to in our store as “the A-word” doesn’t exist. Perhaps instead of worrying about our stores “showrooming” for them, we should see them as “creating awareness” of products for us.

Click the title below to read the article in its original form, with the full introduction.

How to Make Amazon Price-Matching Work for You

 

  • …Sue Smith, store manager of Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and current CBA chair: Don’t send away empty-handed a customer who is standing right there. “I always say to my team that it’s not about the transaction in front of you,” she explains. “It’s about the next one, and the next one, creating an experience where you are inviting them to come back again.”
  • Erik Ernstrom, manager of business intelligence at Parable, agrees that trying to price match is vital, without giving away the farm. Plus, he notes, making a sale even at a discount provides the opportunity to sell something else such as a case and highlighters for a Bible purchase.
  • “Take a 50 cent hit and upsell,” agrees [Christian Supply’s Zach] Wallington. “That’s something Amazon won’t do.” It’s also part of the appeal of the Get It Local program to suppliers…
  • When it comes to showrooming—when in-store shoppers use their phones to price match online deals—Baker Book House’s staff is encouraged to engage shoppers who are on their phones by asking if they can help and telling them that the store can match anything they might find.
  • One independent retailer who found he couldn’t price match an online Bible deal “shifted gears and discussed Bible cases, tabs, and other stuff, which she did purchase from me,” he says…
  • “You have to play the game,” says Smith. “Call the publishers and see if you can get a discount.” Many times suppliers are willing to work with stores as much as they can because of the potential additional in-store sales.”
  • An additional card that indies can play against Amazon is the community buy-local one. If you have a good relationship with a local church, Ernstrom says, you might be able to point out that your store not only supports it by resourcing its members, but sometimes indirectly employing them and making it possible for them to tithe.
  • Good merchandising is another effective anti-Amazon strategy because it can counter the perception that the online retailer is cheaper on everything. Actually, it’s usually only the top 150 or so frontlist items, notes Wallington.
  • “You always have to have things on sale; if everything is full price you’ll never win,” says Ernstrom. “You have to have sales throughout the store—every section, every endcap. If they get the impression everything is full price, they’re going to think they can get it cheaper somewhere else.”

Read “To Price-Match Amazon or Not to Price-Match:” Part 1 in the December issue of Christian MARKET, and Part 2 in the January issue.

The one thing I would hasten to add to this is:

  • Amazon has no built-in spiritual discernment. There are no filters; no vetting of what might be included in their religious, inspirational or Christian categories. It would be relatively simple for a customer who is just browsing to end up with Mormon or New Age content. (We recently had a case where a book ended up in a church library for just that reason: No discernment.)

and also:

  • The Christian store offers the opportunity to physically examine the product before purchase.
  • Your store offers simple over-the-counter returns or exchanges in the case of duplicate gifts, product not desired, or factory defects in printing or CD/DVD manufacturing.
  • Christian store associates can offer better informed suggestions of other products the customer might appreciate; rather than the “other customers also bought” generated by an algorithm.
  • Conversely, as we get to know our customers well, we can warn customers off titles which are not as suitable to their doctrinal position as something else might be.
  • Whether it’s on sale, or even full price, we don’t change prices every hour. There is a measure of price stability in our stores.
  • We’re customers of the products we sell. We read the books, we listen to the music, we watch the movies. We’re better informed. Many of us have had our lives changed by Christian books and music.
  • You never know who’ll you meet at the Christian bookstore. It’s a social gathering place, not like the isolation of purchasing online.
  • We support local events by creating awareness; we hang posters for church events; we sell tickets for Christian concerts; we donate prizes for Christian fundraisers.
  • Our profits are poured back into Christian causes. Our employees give to their local church and provide volunteer help or lead small groups.
  • We support and display books by local and regional authors.
  • We have products that online vendors simply don’t carry.
  • We refer people in the broader community to local churches, and refer Christians for Christian counseling.

We have a lot to offer. I would suggest that owners and managers go through both lists above at your next staff huddle, so that everyone is on point and passionate about what we can offer. You may even wish to post this list; there’s a store website version of many of these points that some of you have used. I don’t know which store I ‘borrowed’ it from, but it’s on mine and I’ll post it here if enough people ask.


The graphic at the beginning of this article is part of an infographic that is available for free distribution from the Institute for Local Self Reliance. I’ll post the full infographic here tomorrow, but if you want to jump the gun, click this link.

“Inspirational” Products are Ambiguous and Lack Reference Points

For at least the past decade you’ve seen them. In various types of stores. Perhaps in your own store. Plaques, frames and wall décor that simply say “Believe.” Recently my local hardware store circulated a flyer that had the piece at right. To me it begs all manner of questions:

  • Grateful to who?
  • Grateful for what?
  • Love directed to whom?
  • Love received from whom?
  • Believe in who or what?
  • Thankful to whom?
  • Faith in what exactly?
  • Blessed by whom?

I think it was Philip Yancey who quoted G.K. Chesterton: “The worst moment for an atheist is when he feels a profound sense of gratitude and has no one to thank.” I’m glad the hardware chain’s buyers recognized the world of faith and spirituality, but I generally find that piece of wall art devoid of meaning; too lacking in specificity.

Does that mean everything decorative in a Christian’s home should contain a Bible verse or nothing at all? Not at all. If anything, we can be overrun with “Be Still and Know” and “I Can Do All Things” products. Furthermore the piece of merchandise shown might be a great compromise in a home where one spouse is a believer and the other is not.

But with limited wall space, I am determined to focus on the products that the hardware store isn’t carrying. The things you come into a Christian store expecting to find.

You can “Believe” just about anywhere. Why should I duplicate what others are carrying?

 

Canadian Pastor Offers Strong Apologetics Title

Mark Hildebrand from HarperCollins Christian Publishing Canada just called to tip me off about new title by a new author which is performing extremely well. The Problem of God: Answering a Skeptic’s Challenges to Christianity by Mark Clark is released through Zondervan in paperback and retails for $21.99 

Publisher marketing:

The Problem of God is written by a skeptic who became a Christian and then a pastor, all while exploring answers to the most difficult questions raised against Christianity. Growing up in an atheistic home, Mark Clark struggled through his parents’ divorce, acquiring Tourette syndrome and OCD in his teen years. After his father’s death, he began a skeptical search for truth through science, philosophy, and history, eventually finding answers in Christianity.

In a disarming, winsome, and persuasive way, The Problem of God responds to the top ten God questions of our present age, including:

  • Does God even exist?
  • What do we do with Christianity’s violent history?
  • Is Jesus just another myth?
  • Can the Bible be trusted?
  • Why should we believe in Hell anymore today?

The book concludes with Christianity’s most audacious assertion: how should we respond to Jesus’ claim that he is God and the only way to salvation.

Mark Clark is the founding pastor of Village Church in Vancouver, Canada. Starting in 2010 out of a school gym, it is now one of the fastest growing multi-site churches in North America. Mark combines frank and challenging biblical preaching with real-world applications and apologetics to speak to Christians and skeptics, confronting questions, doubts, and assumptions about Christianity. His sermons have millions of downloads per year from over 120 different countries.

Zondervan | 272 pages | 9780310535225 | 17.99 USD 21.99 CDN

Eric Wright Completes Mystery Trilogy

I’m not accustomed to the place where I grew up figuring into books in my store, but there it was, a Toronto reference to a character “driving down the Don Valley Parkway.” But the story gets even closer to home because author Eric Wright is also a customer at my store and his daughter and her husband attend the same church as we do.

After a series of non-fiction works, Wright switched to fiction and while the three stories have quite different settings, they are linked through Toronto reporter Josh Radley. Here’s how our local paper introduced Rust Bucket, the latest book in the series:

The very real issue of human slavery is told through the fictional adventures of protagonist Josh Radley in Eric E. Wright’s new novel Rust Bucket.

Interviewed recently from his home, Wright pointed out this is the third story in a Josh Radley trilogy, following The Lightning File and Captives of Minara.

In The Lightning File, Radley is a reporter for a Toronto paper.

“In the course of it, he gets fired, so he goes on to work freelance,” Wright said — and this freedom gives him ample scope to get involved more deeply in the adventures he encounters.

In Rust Bucket, he puts off urgent cancer treatment in order to pursue the story of a beached freighter that contains not only an alarming cache of explosives and drugs but also a human cargo bound for enslavement in factories, farms and brothels.

The press release for Wright’s book said that an estimated 24-million people worldwide are exploited by unethical businesses of all kinds. The human cargo in the freighter Josh Radley investigates includes a tribal girl from Pakistan whom Josh and his wife happen to know.

As it happens, Wright and his wife lived in Pakistan for 16 years, while he worked as a missionary teacher.

“Although we normally think of Pakistan as a Muslim country, there’s a minority of Christians who need ministry,” he said.

“I started an extension training program and, in the course of that, I learned more about their culture.”

The slave-labour problem seems to be much more widespread than one would like to think, Wright said. “Probably not as much in Canada, although criminal elements are realizing — you sell cocaine, you sell it once. With human beings, you can use them again and again and again, and it’s very profitable for business owners and brothels. There was a lot of it in Pakistan, landlords taking advantage of poor people who were sort of enslaved.”

His dedication is “to all those who struggle to end human trafficking as well as the victims of this horrific crime.” …

…continue reading the second half of the story at Northumberland Today

For order information visit www.countrywindow.ca


We previously covered releases of other books by Eric Wright here including Riptide and Captives of Minara.

When White House News Leads The National

Some days it’s hard to tell if you’re watching a Canadian newscast or have accidentally switched to a U.S. channel. Several times this month, a story pertaining to the White House and the American President have led The National on CBC. I am quite sure they agonize over whether to choose developments there over Canadian or overseas stories, but clearly we can’t get enough of the continuing developments south of the border.

As a bookseller, whenever a product is presented to me that would be considered “U.S.-interest” I instinctively pass. It’s hard to sell a book with the U.S. flag or the Capitol building on the cover, certain Joel Rosenberg fiction titles notwithstanding.

This time it’s different.

I think there might be a considerable interest in these parts for a book releasing by Baker in early October, Choosing Donald Trump: God, Anger, Hope and Why Christian Conservatives Support Him by Stephen Mansfield, who has considerable experience writing the biographies of U.S. Presidents. My reading has been constantly interrupted, but the introduction alone is probably the most succinct summary of Trump’s rise and conquering of the White House I’ve seen in any media, print or electronic.

This is a faith-focused story, not about the faith of the man himself — another book is tackling that topic for a January release — but an understanding of how Trump was able to galvanize support from the Religious Right after eight years of President Obama. In that sense, it’s a summary of how things work in a land where Evangelicalism is inextricably linked to politics.

And in that, there are many parallels and many lessons for us in this country.

I’ll have more to say to about the book when I finish it, but if you’re a Canadian store considering this title, don’t be too dismissive because it’s someone else’s political story. Order carefully, but my bet is that this is a story that some of your customers will want to read.

9780801007330 | 208 pages | hardcover | October 3, 2017

What’s New? For Stores Without Sales Reps or Catalogues, the Answer is Elusive

I think largely at our suggestion, Anchor/Word Alive started a new release page. It’s one of four windows in the carousel when you arrive at their home page. When first opened, it featured new releases for January and February, a 60-day window, just as STL had.

It still does.

It was never updated.

If they are going to impose a $250 net minimum order for Canadian accounts to get the 3% freight offer, stores need to be able to know what is available to fill out those orders. Remember, all the major publishers — Nelson, Baker, Tyndale, Cook, Zondervan, IVP — are already covered here so we really need to know $250’s worth of products which are unique to Anchor/Word Alive.

That’s easy if you’re dealing with a normal supplier. But with the intracasies of their backorder system — which we’ve already covered here — it gets much more complicated. Even the owner or manager of the largest stores reading this may have reason that they need to pad out an order to get particular items through.

…However, the problem is more systemic. As Parasource prepares to wrap up YourMusicZone.com — and presumably YourChurchZone.com is going with it — one of my key backup sources for knowing about new releases is going to be gone.

The Forthcoming feature at Ingram is probably the most accurate, but in order to make sure I covered July, for example, I need to read it by June 29th, or the data disappears.

CBD — normally a great source of information — is rather random in how it applies its ‘Sort by Publication Date’ feature. You get a mixture of forthcoming titles and things already in their warehouse.

The rundown sheets (Book 1, Book 2, etc.) at Parasource are also helpful, but as the company grows, there are pages and pages of .pdf forms, and no way to refine the data if I just want to look at books, or Bibles or giftware.

I know the Top 100 stores in Canada probably see sales reps regularly, but even there, I would suspect there are titles which get lost in the presentations.

I just want to know what’s new.

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.