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Parasource Distribution to Close in May

Canada’s largest wholesale distributor of Christian books and resources, Parasource Marketing and Distribution of Paris, Ontario, announced yesterday (1/31) that will cease operations as of May 31st.

In an email letter to stores, President Greg Tombs wrote,

Parasource Marketing and Distribution has had to make a very difficult decision to close operations on May 31, 2023. We have notified our vendors and we have their complete support to work with us and keep the flow of product moving until the end of May.

Parasource will be here to continue to service and supply you with the product lines you have come to rely on us for, until the end of May. We want to assure you that any outstanding orders we have at that time will be properly dealt with in consultation with both you and our suppliers.

Until then, we are carrying on “business as usual” until we see ourselves well past the Easter period. And we will certainly communicate with you throughout the next 4 months to keep you informed…

Parasource was formerly known as David C. Cook Canada, and before that as Beacon Distributing. The company also included Augsburg-Fortress Canada, and many years prior, Christian Music Canada (CMC Distribution). Of the big three distributors (the other two being HarperCollins Christian Products, and Anchor/Word Alive) it was the only remaining company actively warehousing product on the Canadian side of the border.

It represented basically all of the major Sunday School curriculum lines, serviced store greeting card displays on behalf of Dayspring Cards, and was both a distributor and publisher representative for major lines such as Baker Book Group, Broadman and Holman, Moody Publishers, InterVarsity Press (IVP), David C. Cook, Destiny Image, Charisma House, and many, many others, including publishers from the UK and several giftware lines.

The announcement concludes:

For our part, it has been a privilege to come along side of you to help you resource your customers with quality Christian publishing, music, entertainment, and gift products.

HarperCollins Christian Publishing: Is Logistical Chaos God’s Judgement?

OPINION

This is an opinion piece and should not be treated as a news item.

 

It’s easy to fall into the dichotomy that church is church and business is business, and that, while the content of the books Christians publish is definitely related to understanding and applying the ways of God, the business practices should not be over-spiritualized.

But lately, I’ve listened to a couple of podcasts from journalist Julie Roys and wondered if I can connect some dots. First, let’s look at the problems that we, as Canadian stores are facing getting resources from HarperCollins Christian Publishing.

  • A single order can result in four different types of shipments with each one having a separate invoice generated and mailed separately, resulting in
    • an onslaught of mail, each invoice bearing a $1.30 US cost, plus printing; creating another statement line item
    • individual shipping costs and packaging costs; this in an age where “green” consciousness is constantly rising
  • long delays getting books back on press, sometimes six months
  • useless, one-time corrugated shipping cartons, which need to be recycled immediately after opening and thereby can’t be used to re-ship/deliver larger product orders to customers; again, strange in a world where “green” awareness is so important
  • insistence that “monitored” or “golden” bestseller product be released manually, sometimes resulting in a delay of an extra week; incongruous considering that these are bestsellers
  • insistence that orders as small as one or two copies of “monitored” stock not be released with small orders
  • invoices bearing what are sometimes retail prices, and sometimes are net prices
  • a website option which promises “invoices and statements” but is incapable of showing account statements
  • statements which cut off early in the month, only to re-classify invoices from the 27th to 31st of the month as overdue in subsequent statements
  • website product listings which do not immediately indicate the difference between a key product and its study guide, or a key product and its Spanish equivalent
  • invoices and packing slips sent with shipments which are for other stores in Canada and the U.S.; or there is simply no paperwork

So is all this simply, as they would have you believe, a result of staff-shortages, bad weather and a worldwide pandemic?

This is where it gets spiritual. Is God withholding his hand of blessing from Zondervan and Thomas Nelson? I’m sure they would disagree and would have us know that everything is moving up and to the right. Which of course, with the recent tidal wave of price increases, it would be.

This morning I looked again at the Tower of Babel narrative in Genesis 11:

NIV.Gen.11.5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” 8a So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth…

Maybe that’s an unusual case in terms of God’s dealings with us. Perhaps a better analogy is God simply allowing Israel to wander for 40 years for what, as Deuteronomy 1:2 tells us, could have been an eleven-day journey.

What might call God to withhold his blessing, or, as above, do more? This is where the Julie Roys podcast fits in. I want to suggest you listen two specifically,

These are but two of many examples of situations where HCCP stands “weighed in the balances and found wanting.” In the case of Carey Scott whose content was plagiarized by Christine Caine, there was a settlement of a lawsuit in 2018, but there has never been a formal apology from Caine or the publisher. Dennis Swanson’s print acknowledgement of writing/editing material for John MacArthur was removed and for over a year, the publisher simply keeps saying “we’re still looking into it.”

Consider also the HCCP authors whose brand was damaged in 2020. We listed many of them in this article. Ravi Zacharias, Eric Metaxas, Dave Ramsay, John Ortberg, Franklin Graham, MacArthur, etc. were all high-profile authors with Nelson or Zondervan.

It’s important that we not think that because bookstore staff are “in the ministry” that our publishing partners, as with every human endeavour, are not free from corruption. If you’ve been associated with Christian publishing for any length of time, you probably have stories, too; some of which perhaps even I am not aware of.

But when problems are systemic over a prolonged period of time, you have to wonder if God is “confusing the movement” as he did at Babel; or simply withholding blessings which we normally experience everyday without realizing the degree to which God is orchestrating events to make “things work together for good;” and the times God “makes your paths straight.”

 

American Faith and Politics Relationship is of Interest to Canadians

When the 2016 U.S. election results were more or less finalized, many Canadians shook their heads in bewilderment. For booksellers in Canada, it’s easy to bypass U.S.-interest titles, and for some the minutiae in the details in this book may be a bridge too far, but living so close to the border, we find ourselves frequently immersed in the story, even as five years later, the former President is still making the headlines.

With its conversion to paperback last year, many Canadian stores are carrying this title, and the spirit of patriarchal Christianity is alive and well here, too. This book also demonstrates an awareness of the role that Christian bookstores have played in the advancement of certain key voices in that movement, and you might personally recognize more people in the story than the average Canadian reader.

With that in mind, here is my review, written for Thinking Out Loud.


Review of Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation by Kristin Kobes DuMez (Liveright Publishing, 2020)

This is a very American story. As I type this, I’m reminded that over three-quarters of my Thinking Out Loud readers are in the U.S., and almost from the beginning, I’ve written to an American audience using American spellings and vocabulary. But I also write this sitting one country removed, north of the 49th, where Evangelicalism wears a different face.

Nonetheless, to say “Evangelical” is similar to saying “Hollywood.” Both are two significant U.S. exports. While Americans didn’t invent The Great Commission, they certainly defined it in unique terms.

While visiting Nuremberg in Germany a few years back, my wife and I had an impromptu meeting with some Evangelical leaders there who, while they used the adjective themselves, mostly rolled their eyes as U.S.-style evangelists and ministries were rolling over Europe staking their identity on social issues, rather than theological constructs.

I would argue that after reading Jesus and John Wayne, it’s necessary to pick up a copy of something like Evangelicals Around the World: A Global Handbook for the 21st Century by Brian Stiller, Todd M. Johnson, et al to remember that the shape and form of those who take the name Evangelical in other parts of the world is quite different, and far less politically-affiliated than what the term has come to mean in the 50 states.

Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation is the work of a historian. Kristin Kobes DuMez teaches History and Gender Studies at Calvin University and since the book’s release both it and she have gained significant attention. If you wanted to catch up on the last 20 years of American Christian blogs, tweets, podcasts and magazine articles, this is the place to do so, with some previous decades thrown in for good measure. It’s a “who’s who” and “what’s what” of the major writers, influential pastors, and high profile organizations, and high profile politicians who have shaped U.S. Christianity or been shaped by it.

This is not a theological book.

While DeMez knows the value of a well-placed adjective, time and space do not allow for much beyond the rapid unraveling of the basic timeline, and while I haven’t counted, the stage version would involve a cast of hundreds and hundreds, often with a great many occupying the stage at the same time. So it is also that time and space do not allow for her to inject commentary or opinion or theological reflection on the events in Christian America. This treatment might be seen by some as rather sterile, but a glimmer of the writer’s personal perspective does get through in the way the material, much of which is direct quotations, is arranged and presented.

Christianity in America, so it seems, is unable to operate without either intentional or unintentional political ramifications. Yes, the body of frequently-attending Evangelical churchgoers influences the course of elections, but it would appear that just as often, the U.S. church is influenced by the political process itself which hangs over the U.S. church like a low-hanging thundercloud touching the church steeple. American Christians — Evangelical ones at least — have lost the plot on having an apolitical Christianity. (It might have been worth mentioning that Jesus never once directly addressed the Roman occupation, though ‘if someone asks you to go one mile…’ and the coin illustration certainly hinted at it.)

I am often reminded of 2 Timothy 2:4 “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.” If Christ is our commander, our desire ought to be to build his Kingdom, right? But I’m also aware of vivid personal memories of Pat Robertson encouraging television viewers on the importance of having Christians “in the public square” and being willing to engage in that context. For Americans, a House of Representatives or Senate Chambers (or Supreme Court or even White House) devoid of a Christian presence is seemingly unimaginable, but if the expression of Christianity is light years removed from the everyday application of the teachings of Jesus, is it worth calling it a Christian presence at all?

So where does John Wayne fit in to all this? Surprisingly, he’s more than just a motif, but turns up all through the book as an example of the rugged masculinity of the wild, wild west, from California actor-turned-President Ronald Regan, even to the point of President Trump standing next to a wax figure of the celebrated actor. (The book is peppered with relevant news file photos.) Given the choice between someone who shares Evangelicalism’s values and someone who is simply a strong leader, American churchgoers seem to prefer leadership qualities over faith pedigree. If anything, that was my top takeaway from reading the book in full.

Those things, in a nutshell, are my two primary takeaways from reading Jesus and John Wayne. American Evangelicals have conflated Christianity with various types of hyper-masculine imagery and role models; and that sadly, given the choice, American Evangelicals have often chosen power over principles.

Professor DuMez, much like the anchors on the network newscasts, does not inject much in the way of commentary or personal opinion. Toward the end, she does allow one bias to emerge, a longing for a significant course correction. It seems overly idealistic however, and perhaps she and the rest of us may have to wait for a day when churches in other parts of the world take the lead roles in Evangelicalism.


Thanks to Martin Smith at Parasource Distribution in Canada for an opportunity to finally get my hands on a copy of J&JW. Much appreciated.

Addendum for Christian Book Shop Talk readers: The publisher’s own website describes the book, “Jesus and John Wayne is a sweeping, revisionist history of the last seventy-five years of white evangelicalism…” I disagree with two assumptions here. First, while the perspective is unique, I find revisionist history to be a pejorative term for works which change the facts to suit the biased conclusion. J&JW isn’t revisionist at all. Second, while white evangelicalism is in plain view, there is ample space given to black evangelicalism where appropriate. There is racial intersection throughout the story. I’m not sure why the publisher website would appear to sabotage their own book, but at least the sentence didn’t make it into the paperback’s back cover blurb.

 

 

 

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.”

 

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.

Toronto Author Tim Huff’s 8th Title with Castle Quay; 5th for Children

From Canadian Christian News Service:

Just in time for Christmas, a new beautifully-illustrated children’s book by author Tim Huff focuses on the “true meaning of Christmas” in our highly secular and materialistic age.

Following the successful pattern of Huff’s previous best-selling and award-winning books, this special book is a vibrant and artfully crafted jewel, using excellent storytelling and colourful illustrations, interlaced with a call and challenge to children and adults alike to return to celebrating the true meaning of Christmas. Themes are knit together in a perfect mix of contemporary Christmas motifs and traditional old school charm.

Readers will quickly discover that Christmas Hush is more than just a “what” is Christmas, but is likewise a “who” is Christmas. While Huff’s lively storytelling skills and vibrant illustrations make this unique children’s book great fun, the true magic is in the tender reminder about the importance of quiet moments spent thinking of and caring for others, in the truest meaning of Christmas.

Huff’s story introduces several new, intriguing and fun characters as readers follow adorable little Hush on a wild journey through a panorama of festive scenarios…

Castle Quay notes:

Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Tim has spent his life combining his love of creative arts, writing, and music with social justice endeavours. He has been in full-time front-line social justice work for over 30 years, serving, learning, and teaching across North America and around the world.

Tim is a much sought-after national speaker in addition to a best-selling author of books for adults and an award-winning author-illustrator of children’s books.

  • 8½ x 8½ saddle stitch paperback $12.95 ISBN: 978-1-927355-89-3
  • 8½ x 8½ hardcover $18.95 ISBN 978-1-988928-29-6
  • Not mentioned on the cover: Includes a downloadable audio performance link to a special “Christmas Hush” song written and performed by award-winning jazz great Mike Janzen
  • Tim Huff is both the author and illustrator of this book
  • Distributed in Canada by Parasource; Ingram/Spring Arbor in U.S.

Previous titles include: Bent Hope: a Street Journal, Dancing with Dynamite: Celebrating Against the Odds, which won Best Canadian Book of the Year award in 2011; The Yuletide Factor: Cause for Perpetual Comfort and Joy; and his previous illustrated children’s books, The Cardboard Shack Beneath the Bridge: Helping Children Understand Homelessness; It’s Hard Not to Stare: Helping Children Understand Disabilities; The Honour Drum: Sharing the Beauty of Canada’s Indigenous People with Children, Families and Classrooms; and his most recent release Am I Safe?: Exploring Fear and Anxiety with Children, all published by Castle Quay.


Also at Canadian Christian News Service

A great celebration is planned for the launch… Parents and children are invited to a fun afternoon on Saturday, November 16th at Kings Christian Collegiate in Oakville (528 Burnhamthorpe Rd. W), between 2 and 3 p.m., in the new state-of-the-art thrust stage.

The launch event is sponsored by Marantha Foundation and will feature a live show with special original music by award-winning and renowned jazz pianist great Mike Janzen and a performance by acclaimed stage actor/producer Jason Hildebrand.

The event is free but seating is limited, so pre-registration is required. For more information send your name and number of guests to Allison at the email address contained in the linked article.

Thomas Nelson Offers 30 Editions of the NET Bible Translation

All of the editions of the NET Bible are plain covers with only the small logo in the upper left corner. Release date for all 30 editions is October 1, 2019.

For its 3rd Cycle in 2019, Thomas Nelson has picked up the NET Bible which it will offer in various Thinline, Thinline Large Print, Journal and ‘Full Notes’ editions with all using the new Comfort Print font. Wikipedia provides some history:

The [New English Translation] and extensive notes were undertaken by more than twenty biblical scholars who worked directly from the best currently available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. The NET Bible was initially conceived at an annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in November 1995 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The translation project originally started as an attempt to provide a digital version of a modern English translation over the Internet and on CD-ROM without cost for the user: “The NET Bible project was commissioned to create a faithful Bible translation that could be placed on the Internet, downloaded for free, and used around the world for ministry.” Many of those involved in the project’s initial discussions eventually became part of the translation team. The translation itself claims to be non-sectarian, “inter-denominational” and evangelical.

The NET Bible’s approach to copyright is self-summarized as:

The Bible is God’s gift to humanity – it should be free.

If you’re wondering about the ‘Full Notes’ edition, this article offers five features, the first of which is that the

NET Bible includes extensive notes with the translation, notes created by the original translators as they worked through the issues and options concerning the translation of the original language texts of the Bible. These notes operate on more than one level – a technical level for pastors, teachers, and students of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek who are interested in the grammatical, syntactical, and text-critical details of the translation, and a more popular level comparable to current study Bibles offering explanatory details of interest to lay Bible students.

You can read the text online at this link.

Thomas Nelson has a history of snapping up distribution of new, innovative translations. Looking back over the years, one remembers,

  • The Everyday Bible (New Century Translation)
  • The Voice Bible (a translation using dramatic script)
  • The Expanded Bible (an alternative to the Amplified Bible)

but sadly, within 2-3 years the company loses interest and suspends marketing and the printing of new editions; often flooding the remainder/overstock market with more varieties than it lists in its own catalogues.

But there is a market for new Bible editions, if the consumer can be convinced that there’s something to be gained in owning a copy. Prices listed below are in Canadian currency:

9780785224648 NET Bible, Full-notes Edition, COB Gray 61.99
9780785225096 NET Bible, Full-notes Edition, Leathersoft, Teal 86.99
9780785225102 NET Bible, Full-notes Edition, Leathersoft, Teal IDX 98.99
9780785225164 NET Bible, Full-notes Edition, Leathersoft, Black 86.99
9780785225089 NET Bible, Full-notes Edition, Leathersoft, Black, IDX 98.99
9780785225119 NET Bible, Full-notes Edition, Genuine Leather, Brown 135.99
9780785225126 NET Bible, Full-notes Edition, Genuine Leather, Brown IDX 148.99
9780785224716 NET Bible, Thinline, COB, Gray 36.99
9780785224921 NET Bible, Thinline, Leathersoft, Stone 36.99
9780785224969 NET Bible, Thinline, Leathersoft, Stone IDX 49.99
9780785224976 NET Bible, Thinline, Leathersoft, Teal 36.99
9780785224983 NET Bible, Thinline, Leathersoft, Teal IDX 49.99
9780785224907 NET Bible, Thinline, Leathersoft, Brown 36.99
9780785224914 NET Bible, Thinline, Leathersoft, Brown IDX 49.99
9780785224884 NET Bible, Thinline, Leathersoft, Black 36.99
9780785224891 NET Bible, Thinline, Leathersoft, Black IDX 49.99
9780785224730 NET Bible, Thinline Large Print, COB, Gray 49.99
9780785225010 NET Bible, Thinline Large Print, Leathersoft, Brown 49.99
9780785225027 NET Bible, Thinline Large Print, Leathersoft, Brown IDX 61.99
9780785225034 NET Bible, Thinline Large Print, Leathersoft, Stone 49.99
9780785225041 NET Bible, Thinline Large Print, Leathersoft, Stone IDX 61.99
9780785225058 NET Bible, Thinline Large Print, Leathersoft, Teal 49.99
9780785225065 NET Bible, Thinline Large Print, Leathersoft, Teal IDX 61.99
9780785224990 NET Bible, Thinline Large Print, Leathersoft, Black 49.99
9780785225003 NET Bible, Thinline Large Print, Leathersoft, Black, IDX 61.99
9780785224655 NET Bible, Journal Edition, COB Gray 55.99
9780785224808 NET Bible, Journal Edition, COB Coral 55.99
9780785224877 NET Bible, Journal Edition, Leathersoft, Teal 55.99
9780785224860 NET Bible, Journal Edition, Leathersoft, Brown 55.99
9780785224693 NET Bible, Pew and Worship, Hardcover, Black 21.00

 

How They See Us: Literary Hub Looks at Christian Publishing

The Quiet Revolution in Evangelical
Christian Publishing

The article begins:

How does one begin to describe the world of evangelical Christian publishing? It’s an industry whose target consumers make up a percentage of annual book sales ($600 million) that’s smaller than annual worldwide sales of Garfield merchandise, but still occupies a powerful place in its target demo’s consciousness. It’s replete with its own set of niche presses, academic imprints, literary agents and Big Five-funded publishing houses that exist apart from the New York City’s publishing scene. It’s an insular economy whose power players are nestled into the suburbs of cities like Grand Rapids, Michigan; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Nashville, Tennessee; where book proposals are evaluated not only by their sales potential, but by their broadest theological implications. Here we have a sect of the publishing world where women have held much of the buying power, but proportionally, precious little social capital in their own homes and in their churches.

Author Kathryn Watson spends the rest of the article continuing this theme, looking at the women authors in the field.

Continue reading the whole article at Literary Hub.

Zondervan to Differentiate Sections of Its Brand

Baker has Baker Academic. InterVarsity has IVP Academic.

Now Zondervan, which has always been a leader in scholarly and high-level Bible reference publications is going to clarify what readers of its Zondervan Academic Blog have long-known, by making Zondervan Academic a distinct publishing imprint. The academic division’s tag line has been: “Equipping biblical scholars since 1931.”

The official media announcement was posted on March 11th.

“As a leader in Christian higher education and digital learning, Zondervan Academic seeks to show the breadth and diversity—both theologically and globally—of Christianity in its broadly evangelical expression,” says Katya Covrett, executive editor. “As a publisher of textbooks, reference books, and monographs, we consider ourselves both a broker of ideas and an equipping partner for our readers, wherever they are teaching and learning.”

…Upcoming titles in the Zondervan Reflective imprint include Clay Scroggins’ How to Lead in a World of Distraction (September 2019), a follow-up to the bestselling How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge. Lead titles this fall for the Zondervan Academic imprint include The New Testament in Its World by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird and America’s Religious History by historian Thomas S. Kidd (both November 2019).


In the same announcement, the publisher launched Zondervan Reflective,

…a new imprint featuring the familiar voices of Christian leaders, pastors, and leaders in ministry like Andy Stanley, Clay Scroggins, J.D. Greear, and Peter Scazzero. Books in this imprint aim to spur readers toward insight and responsible action in their personal lives and in the public realm. Zondervan Reflective focuses on deep, yet applicable content, and will address topics related to leadership, the intersection of faith and culture, and growing and exploring a reader’s ministry.

Zondervan, Thomas Nelson and Vida are part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing. The parent company also publishes faith-interest books under the HarperOne imprint.

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.

 

 

 

When Publishers Deny Graphic Artists and Photographers An Opportunity

Because of the nature of this blog, I am constantly getting requests for help from people who want to see their book get published. These days, the only way to get your foot in the door with any of the major houses — whose products then land in bookstores like yours — is to have profile. You need to have a dramatic story or pastor a large church or… well, there aren’t a lot of ors since those two seem to be the major factors in getting a manuscript read, no matter good and unique it is.

In addition to aspiring writers, clamouring to get their title released, there are a number of what I would call “sub-trades” which, on the creative side, consist largely of graphic artists and photographers. Many of the major publishers have their covers designed in-house. (The staleness, repetitiveness, and complacency shows. Without knowing the title or author background info, I can usually tell whether a particular book is published under a particular imprint in seconds.)

Doing an illustration or supplying the cover photo for a Christian book might be a major career break for a Christian illustrator or photographer.

The big opportunity is the genre we refer to as “gift books.”

These (usually hardcover) books are filled with room for pictures or intricately lettered call-outs.

So you can imagine my disappointment to pick up a copy of such a book from Thomas Nelson — a 2015 title by Judah Smith — only to read that all the photographs in the book were stock photos from Shutterstock. (I don’t spend a lot of time on copyright pages; I’m a book nerd for sure, but not to that degree.)

Seriously, Thomas Nelson; that’s the best you could do? You had a great opportunity to really bless some up-and-coming creative person, and don’t tell me you don’t have the resources to track down a few dozen of these for a short list. (I’ll be you get queries sent rather consistently.)

To me, this just serves as a reminder how corporate Christian publishing is. One big corporation sourcing stock photos through another big corporation. Re-purpose the material from one of his books, and crank the gift book out as efficiently as possible.

You know, I’ll bet there’s a photographer right in Judah Smith’s church who would have jumped at the opportunity to have his or her work, plus that of a few colleagues, shared on a national scale in print.

Didn’t happen. 

If Thomas Nelson won’t support the sub-trades, why should I support them?