Posts Tagged ‘David C. Cook’

I No Longer Have the Perspective of Other Canadian Stores

I find myself beginning the year in a very different place from the rest of the longtime readers here; a place that leaves me wondering if my own store is now significantly atypical as to disqualify me from writing about industry events and trends.

If you’re not part of the Facebook group, basically in mid-December I decided it was time to cancel all of my backorders with Parasource and pursue a different route. I didn’t want to burn my bridges with them entirely, but their senior management took it all to mean I was running out on my account balance; a thought which, truthfully, had never occurred to me.

When I saw that the account balance was the sum total of their concern for the issue I raised, I realized there was probably no turning back. And yes, days later, just to show that we’re made of better stuff, we paid the balance in its entirety, including invoices which had not yet become due.

I am not in any way advocating something as radical as this for other readers here. There are three reasons I was in a position to make this decision.

First, I don’t have the same commitment to Dayspring greeting card racks as the rest of you. At one point, with 13 racks — eight of which were on a control program — we had the third largest greeting card store in Brockville. But the two racks I have left in Cobourg aren’t all that necessary, and there’s an entire younger demographic which doesn’t send cards at all.

Second, it’s been about a decade since I had any standing orders for curriculum or dated Christian Education supplies. Many churches in our area either use denominational curriculum, or use other resources to improvise. In this area, I had no business to lose.

Third, it had been a long, long time since we worried about doing printed sale flyers. Our entire approach has involved an email newsletter, Facebook, our website, and in-person shopping. We asked — several times and several different publisher distributors — if we could have the HTML elements from the flyers to do an entirely virtual — if slightly abbreviated — version of the catalogues, but it never happened.

By abbreviated, I meant that I was willing to take a fair mixture of the three categories represented in most flyers, (a) loss leaders, (b) major releases, (c) secondary and tertiary level titles the publishers are trying to introduce; but maybe just not so many, i.e. eight of each type with a limit of 24 titles. Personally, I think the future of this type of promotion does not lie in printed materials.

One thing I was not prepared to do moving forward was negotiate or be granted discounts of up to an extra 10% on goods that I could buy from the other distributor with 50% less freight costs.

I made the decision somewhat both impulsively and after thinking about it since the end of the summer. If I’d planned it more carefully, I might have bought some “70th Birthday” cards, but otherwise, I have no regrets so far. Our customers were made aware of the decision in a newsletter item which ran over two weeks.

Since I don’t do direct buys from Dicksons, Kerusso, Precious Moments, etc., and because my Canadian Bible Society account has been inactive since before the pandemic started, it means I’m operating with just HarperCollins, WordAlive, PenguinRandomHouse, and SpringArbor. (I seem to like companies without spaces in their names!)

There’s a name for running on such a tight supplier base: Efficiency.

For most of you, ‘Don’t try this at home.’

Bill Hybels’ Teaching Pastor Steve Carter Launches First Book

This Invitational Life - Steve CarterOne of the highlights of my week is watching the weekend services from Willow Creek Community Church in Northwest Chicago. It doesn’t matter to me whether Bill Hybels or Steve Carter is teaching; either way it’s a win. Furthermore no two Willow services are like each other. Each begins with a fresh vision; each is an event.

So sight unseen, I want to recommend Steve Carter’s This Invitational Life. It’s available now from David C. Cook as a paperback book, audio book, study guide and curriculum kit. If I have an opportunity to review it, I’ll mention it again here. In the meantime, here’s the book trailer:

Publisher marketing:

Willow Creek Community Church Teaching Pastor shares the story of how he learned to “dominate life.” Are you afraid of being seen as “that” type of Christian? The person people avoid because they think you’ll try to “sell” Jesus? Challenging you to step out and risk your faith, Carter helps you overcome your fears, initiate non-threatening conversations with seekers, and sensitively share your beliefs through Scripture and your own story. 224 pages, softcover from Cook.


Free Samples Whet Appetites for Christian Books

5 Ways to Get Customers As Excited About Books as You Are

That water looks so good... and getting your customers to satisfy their thirst for Christian reading isn't rocket science when you know a few tricks.

That water looks so good… and getting your customers to satisfy their thirst for Christian reading isn’t rocket science when you know a few tricks.

by Paul Wilkinson

There’s a saying that “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink;” to which the response is, “True, but you can put salt in its oats to make it thirsty.”

Getting customers — and people you would like to see return as customers — into the books you stock is always a challenge. These days, it seems like there are so many things competing for our attention. But there are some things you can do:

YouTubeI’ve mentioned this before but I’ll say it again. Let a customer listen to N.T. Wright or Francis Chan, and they will literally hear those authors in their heads as they are reading. I’ve directed many customers to an obscure clip from Chan titled “Balance beam” many times. These links create familiarity and intimacy with the authors and drive customers back to get their books. Of course, there are also book trailers. I wish the publishers would help us find out about them better, and have something to direct our customers to find them.

MagazinesMost stores say their magazine program is dying or has already died, but these resources were great for allowing people to read excerpts and reviews of current products. We’re currently doing a giveaway program with Faith Today magazine from the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, to help people who want to be better connected stay in the loop. Our regional Christian newspaper, The Christian Herald, contains book reviews in each and every issue. For stores still playing the magazine game, Relevant, Christianity Today, various women’s magazines and Focus on the Family are examples of periodicals that can drive sales, though with Focus you’re competing with their in-house product sales.

Church LibrariesMany stores see the local church libraries as competition, but nothing could be further from the truth. Besides being among your best customers, they get people excited about books, authors and series, and I like to encourage some of the local church librarians to make sure the library is frequently mentioned in the announcements or the bulletin. With one or two churches, I’m going to take some pictures of the library myself, send them to the church office, just so they have an image to go with a mention in the weekend announcement slides, and mid-week e-mail blast.

Thrift ShopsSomeone made a point of tracking me down when Bibles for Missions opened a store in my town, to inform me that this would spell certain doom for my bookstore. Quite the opposite. People get a couple of titles in a 4-book set and come to us hoping to find the rest. I don’t have room to start a used department, so I see the thrift store as complementary to what we’re doing in the retail bookstore. Besides, the book departments at Value Village or The Salvation Army are testimony to the fact that book reading is alive and well.

Excerpts OnlineI recently asked an author for 6 or 7 paragraphs from his recent book. You would think I had asked for a share of his royalties. Publishers and distributors and literary agents couldn’t make it happen. I just don’t have time to transcribe from each and every book, or I would; and I can’t copy and paste excerpts from fuzzy .pdf pages. Christian publishers are totally dropping the ball on this one and they don’t get it. Fine. I understand that budgets don’t allow for printed samplers anymore. But it costs nothing to post sample chapters and then let retailers know where the heck they’re buried online. It’s the bookstore equivalent of handing out samples at the grocery store or Costco. Give me a little bit on a toothpick, and if it tastes good, I’ll probably throw the package in the shopping cart.

  • Another way publishers can help retailers with HTML elements for store newsletters, store websites and store Facebook and Twitter pages. But we’ve said that over and over again here. And here.

Cook Buys Selected Brands from Standard Publishing

Trimmed Down Standard Changes Corporate Name to Christian Standard Media

CBA News:

Following its Nov. 2 acquisition of Gospel Light’s Sunday school curricula, Colorado-based David C Cook has now added Standard Publishing’s Bible lesson commentary series, Sunday school curriculum, and other church resources to its resources.

Christian Retailing:

David C Cook CEO Cris Doornbos commented on the acquisition.

“Both David C Cook and Standard were pioneers in Sunday school curriculum over a century ago,” Doornbos said. “It’s exciting to see the two organizations come together generations later with the same values and Bible-focused materials that they had at the beginning.”

Christian News Wire:

Standard Publishing Group LLC, following the recent sale of its Standard Lesson Commentary® series, Sunday school curriculum, and several other church resources to David C. Cook, is pleased to announce its corporate name change to Christian Standard Media LLC…

…The newly introduced Christian Standard Media will also continue to market and support its award-winning VBS programs, which includes the launch of Deep Sea Discovery VBS for 2016. This program features partnerships with kid-favorite worship artist, Yancy, for original VBS music written and produced exclusively for Deep Sea Discovery, as well as with Beth Guckenberger of Back2Back Ministries, who contributes real-life missions stories for the program’s hallmark “Service with a Lasting Purpose” VBS component…

Graphics for Newsletters or Facebook

There really should be a repository for social media graphics connecting bookstore owners and Christian publishers. If there is such a thing, someone is keeping it a big secret. We find ourselves constantly having to reinvent the wheel so now we simply create our own from scratch. Here’s one we did tonight. Feel free to use it, and let me know if you need anything else, as I know some of you are computer challenged. Also, my wife has a more advanced image program and can produce more complex graphics if you need them for your website, etc., for a small fee.

Action Bible product range

David C. Cook Canada Cancels Music Loyalty Program with Only Six Weeks Notice to Consumers

The company that controls distribution of well over 90% of the recorded Christian music sales in Canada, David C. Cook Canada, has canceled its Buy-5-Get-1-Free loyalty program, a staple of music sales and every bit as much a tradition in this country as Hockey Night in Canada. The company claims that “changes in the marketplace” force this and that “some of the record labels we represent no longer support the program.”

But in a letter which begins, “Dear Retail Partner,” the company is asking us to spread this word to customers, who have only until April 30th to redeem the stickers. With a diverse, scattered customer base, it is totally impossible to inform the number of people who will be impacted by this, and they will in turn vent their frustration on us, the front-liners. Retail partnership indeed.

Dealers are going to have people coming in all summer and into the fall, walking up to the counter with CDs and reaching in their pocket for coupons which were obtained and retained in good faith.

As of mid-week, our bookkeeper informed we have about 48 such coupon sets sitting in a drawer, and absolutely nothing urgently needed that would cause us to redeem them anytime soon. But we’ve already given away the product. Even at a lower price of $14.99, that’s nearly $750 in retail tied up in little bits of paper and plastic, not to mention the cost of shipping the original units we gave away, plus the cost of shipping replacements.

This sudden move lacks grace, and grace is the hallmark of our faith.

Furthermore, with stores known to “buy around” the Canadian distributor, eliminating the consumer loyalty program effectively ends any hope of vendor loyalty. But that’s if you decide to stick with music at all. The second time around redemptions are actually a Buy-4-Get-1-Free because the customer kept the coupon from the free item. That means it’s at least a 25% saving in the mind of the customer, even more so, if they bought less expensive discs, but redeemed the scrip for a more costly one. So basically, you’re eliminating the advantage at a time when physical music sales already face fierce competition.

Christian music sales in Canada will drop significantly.

Any company that would do this to the very consumers who have stuck with and supported physical music shows absolutely no respect for the people who have supported it all these years. While I know I will be told, “you don’t know all the factors that went into this,” I do know that the manner in which this is being carried out is just mean.

You can hurt me, do anything you want to me; but when you hurt my customers, you cross a line. Six weeks is insufficient notice.

…Tonight we started the information process:

Our customer notification of music program cancelation

UPDATE: With no previously published expiry date, or any posted terms of service, pulling the plug on this program without actually shutting down the company may contravene Canadian consumer law.



October 10, 2014 1 comment

If any store doing the Christmas Joy catalogue is interested in an extra 500 unimprinted catalogues, please let me know as our staff are debating dropping the catalogue in view of the price changes.   

This is one of the ridiculous situations that emerges when Canada’s book prices are indexed to the U.S. dollar. Decades ago, literary agents (i.e. lawyers) forced this situation where Canada is a extension of the U.S. book market.

However, Canada is distinct where they choose not to give us U.S. SuperSaver items, while at the same time allowing us to have the foreign ITPE editions of key bestsellers, which to this writer, represents an admission that we are indeed a foreign market. 

Still, the production of an advertising flyer or catalogue creates an implied contract to provide the items to the dealer at the specified price. I think that would stand up in court. No judge would accept, “The U.S. dollar changed by one cent since we printed the catalogue and we can’t absorb the difference.” 

And why do the dealers take the hit? Should not the U.S. publishers be propping up the distributor in light of the benefit of being in the catalogue in the first place?

Furthermore, my order didn’t get placed until after the price change, but before the extra 1% discount was granted. And what’s with that? They upped the prices by 5% but only changed the discount by 1%.

When our staff finalizes a decision on Tuesday morning, I’ll be pushing for tossing the catalogues into recycling.


ESV-Only Movement Emerging

Important Editorial

The people who read the NLT, NIV or the NKJV may have their preferences, but they generally aren’t the type of people to tell you that their translation of choice is the only game in town. But increasingly, we’re seeing ESV readers of various ages and denominations being adamant, dogmatic and even militant about their choice. It’s easy to see an ESV-Only group emerging and emerging quickly, with most coming from Reformed or Calvinist Baptist backgrounds.

Action Bible ESVThat whatever market forces have compelled David C. Cook Publishing to release The Action Bible, a comic-book format Bible for children in an ESV format, available this January, is genuinely disturbing.

One of the joys of operating a children’s book department is that the story of Noah’s Ark is Noah’s Ark regardless of your particular doctrinal slant. We have Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness customers who aren’t too enthusiastic about the rest of our store, but will gladly embrace just about anything in our kids book section. I always tell customers that, “The distinctions really disappear as you browse these shelves.”

For Cook, obviously there is enough profit at stake to justify striking a new edition. But where does this end? How many of Christian publishing’s top titles now have the potential to be offered in ESV-friendly editions with all the references changed?

Retailers need not worry about this. Increasingly, Reformed and Baptist customers are buying through their own channels. In some markets, such as ours, they abandoned mainstream Christian retail a long time ago.

Are there circumstances under which I might stock the new edition in January? Yes, if there were repeat inquiries I might do this, but it would be at the sacrifice of inventory levels on the regular edition — the one that heretofore has been good enough for everyone else — so the publisher is going to be no further ahead.



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 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.


David C. Cook Canada Introduces Direct Sales to Christian Schools

Seeds Flyer David C. Cook

Christian schools in Canada are no strangers to direct marketing fundraising programs by companies such as Scholastic. So it’s no surprise that a Christian distributor, David C. Cook Canada should be trying a pilot program for SEEDS, featuring Christian books from “a wide variety of Christian publishers.”  The program is completely invisible online, but we were able to get the following from the newsletter of a Christian school in Hamilton.

Seeds Fundraising David C. Cook

Needless to say, not every retailer is thrilled with this latest development. As one said, “Many of the items in the flyer, when you take into account the 25% that they give back to the school, are below our cost.” Another wrote, “They’re not actually selling this product to the school — a faceless institution — but the individual families who attend the school many of whom are already our customers.”

As distributors get more desperate to retain jobs, you can expect to see more of this type of thing; but the distributors fail to take into account that retailers are facing similar challenges from eroding markets. There is only so much consumer capital available and only so many products that people feel they need to purchase.

Distributors and retailers should not expect to maintain the status quo, but neither should they poaching sales from each other.

UPDATE: We now have access to the actual flyer and the cover materials that went with it. If you wish to see a copy, please request it on your store’s email address using the contact page on this blog.

David C. Cook: Who’s Dave?

David C. Cook - Who is Dave   L

A weekend article in the Colorado Springs Gazette focused on the corporate identities of ministry organizations based in the area, including HCJB (now called Reach Beyond), David C. Cook and Focus on the Family.

The section on David C. Cook is of interest to readers here:

David C Cook, a major Christian publishing house that was founded in 1875, changed its name to Cook Communications Ministries in 1994 following a series of acquisitions. But after a 2007 leadership transition, the company returned to the David C Cook name.

Designer Thom Hoyman has been helping to tweak Cook’s image ever since. The “Who’s Dave?” campaign summarizes and humanizes the company, which is little understood by millions of people around the world who use its resources. Even its local employees have struggled to articulate its work clearly.

Cook, which moved to the Springs in 1995, is a big company, selling $80 million worth of resources a year from its three major divisions: curriculum published in 150 languages for churches and Sunday schools; books on Christian living by authors such as best-seller Francis Chan; and music that includes Integrity Music, one of the world’s larger Christian labels.

“When you have too many identities, you have no identity,” said Hoyman in a recent presentation about the long-running rebranding project.

The company’s new slogan, “Transforming lives together,” was partially inspired by campaigns for The Home Depot and Lowe’s.

“We see ourselves as a partner, not a peddler,” Hoyman said.

The “Who’s Dave” campaign explains that unlike many local nonprofit ministries, Cook is a for-profit company that uses profits to support a non-profit foundation that works around the world. CEO Cris Doornbos said Cook will donate $5 million to its foundation this year.

Hoyman’s campaign explains this complex arrangement with an illustration about hybrid cars that run on both gasoline and electricity.

“This is part of what really inspires me to work for David C Cook,” Hoyman said. “I love the fact that I work for a company that sells to the rich so it can give to the poor!”

Read the entire article by clicking here.

I laughed when I read this because it reminded me of a music artist who had their album picked up by Cook for distribution and, wanting to impress me that she had an inside track, told me that “Dave” was looking after her marketing, and spoke as if she and “Dave” had talked just that morning.

The “Who’s Dave” motif plays out on the ‘about’ page of the corporate website:

David C. Cook - Who is Dave

David C Cook is a nonprofit organization dedicated to publishing and distributing leadership and discipleship resources to help Christians all over the world grow in their faith and pass it on to the next generation. We call this “DiscipleShaping”. We were established in 1875 by David Caleb Cook in Chicago, IL. Since that time, we have published numerous bestselling books from The Picture Bible to Crazy Love by Francis Chan, developed over ten lines of Sunday school curriculum, and published many of today’s most popular praise and worship songs through our music division, Kingsway.

Read the whole page by clicking here.

In the end, “Dave is a ministry of regular people, like you, with a passion to transform lives around the world.”

Canada’s Don Pape Joins NavPress as Publisher

Christian Retailing Magazine reported this week that Canadian Don Pape would be joining NavPress as Publisher, a position he has held previously at Waterbrook, Random House, and more recently David C. Cook where he was also Vice President of Trade Publishing.

Don PapeDon was born in Brazil and after moving to Canada received a BA from Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo before working with Women Alive, a Canadian charity founded by Nell Maxwell. In 1999 he went to Waterbrook/Multnomah where he stayed until 2004, leaving to work two years with Alive Communications, a literary agency whose A-list roster today includes Terri Blackstock, Emerson Eggerichs, Karen Kingsbury, Anne Graham Lotz, Eugene Peterson, Philip Yancey and Billy Graham. In 2006 he moved to David C. Cook. He has published five titles which reached the New York Times list. Alive Communications, Cook, and NavPress are all located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Recently, NavPress signed a marketing, warehousing and fulfillment deal with Tyndale House Publishing of Carol Stream, Illinois.