I try to get to Chapters at least once every 60 days. I think it’s important to track the titles that our suppliers are recommending to them. Things have improved there greatly. While we’ve written about the problem some customers could experience because there are not the same filters as one finds in a Christian store, and about the discernment customers need to have in that environment; though things are definitely improving.
Three things dominated at Chapters’ store in Markham.
One was the new packaging of the KJV Bibles. I suppose that if there’s one market where I would not want to encourage KJV purchases, it would be selling the most difficult-to-read translation to a broad cross-section of consumers. Wouldn’t it be better to steer customers in the general marketplace toward the NLT, Message or NIV? However, I got thinking about this more and decided that Chapters stores probably have a strong market demand for KJV that most of us neither understand nor experience in our stores.
Second, was the shelf of Joyce Meyer titles, which I suspect do well there:
Third, and not surprising was the C. S. Lewis collection. I liked the uniform look of the HarperOne covers and saw a few things I need to add to my own store.
Every time a new Joyce Meyer title releases in hardcover, I am reminded of the discussions I had with Hachette Book Group’s people in New York City about five years ago concerning the use of International Trade Paper Editions (ITPEs) in the Canadian Christian market. I don’t know who set up these talks, and of course it was all done by telephone, but I know one of the calls was nearly an hour in length as I explained how Thomas Nelson and Zondervan and a number of other publishers make it a regular practice to offer A-list titles in ITPE in the Canadian market, as they do in Europe and Australasia and South Africa.
The books do exist. Joyce Meyer’s forthcoming title is listed at Koorong at $18.99 Australian dollars and a paperback edition of You Can Begin Again is currently on sale there for $15.99 Australian.
My belief is that the U.S. first-edition hardcovers cut into the sales potential here in a big way. Yes, some people are willing to pay, but my guess is that this could be as little as a quarter (25%) of what the sales would be if the ITPEs were available. Of course, there are royalty issues and the whole problem whereby literary agents have deemed Canada simply an extension of the U.S. market, hence the price fluctuation with changing currency rates. But sales are sales, money talks, and I have a hard time believing that HBC would rather stand their ground and let sales dollars evaporate that do the logical thing.
Hachette Books, Joyce Meyer Ministries, if you’re reading this; you’re shooting yourselves in the foot. Canada is not the 51st state. This is its own market with its own spending patterns. Joyce, you have a reputation of having books that are always too expensive for many of the people you say your ministry exists to serve. It’s an absolute travesty.
And if asked, in my humble opinion, it’s a travesty on both sides of the border.
In the meantime, if you care, open the Canadian market to these titles. Better yet, pick just one of Joyce’s forthcoming titles and see the difference for yourselves. I dare you!
Several months ago I shared with an executive at Hachette Book Group in New York the secret known all too well to our friends at Zondervan and Thomas Nelson and to a lesser extent, Gospel Light and Tyndale. International Trade Paper Editions (ITPEs) are a necessity in a country caught between the British paradigm and the American ‘first editions in hardcover’ paradigm. Or are we just basically cheap?
At issue was Joyce Meyer, who possibly needs those hardcover revenues to pay for her jet airplane. (Fairness compels me to mention however that Meyer just became the first of six TV ministries under investigation to become certified by the ECFA, a financial watchdog organization.)
But now the issue moves beyond Meyer, who obviously isn’t interested in boosting her international sales. In a few weeks, Ted Dekker will release his first fiction title, The Boneman’s Daugter, with Center Street, and right now, there’s no ITPE on the horizon. Will Canadian stores stock the title nonetheless? Experience says that customers north of the 49th Parallel would rather wait for the lower price.
I confirmed this morning that Hachette Book Group is going to be doing its own general market distribution to Canada as of January 1st, though an official trade announcement has not yet been made.
Hachette Group imprints, which include the Christian imprints FaithWords and Center Street, have been distributed for many years to general market stores by H. B. Fenn of Toronto.
Center Street is the imprint for a line of Karen Kingsbury titles including the new This Side of Heaven in January; and has a new novel by Ted Dekker, BoneMan’s Daughter scheduled for April.
FaithWords is best known to Christian retailers for a vast line of products by Joyce Meyer.
The new arrangement is not excpected to change the present Christian distribution of both lines by Word Alive in Canada; or the distribution of The Shack and other Windblown Media titles by Crown Entertainment of Edmonton.