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Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Nelson’

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.”

 

More Social Media Graphics

NavPress – Canadian author – See our review on January 13

Baker/Bethany – Journal and Study Guide also available

Donna VanLiere (Christmas Shoes author) – Harvest House – Book 3 is March release

NIV Artisan Collection Bibles

NIV Artisan Collection Bibles

The Wonder of Creation – Room in lower centre/left to add store info

Tyndale: See previous graphics for alternative image

Order from Goodseed

CA Gifts – Mugs with matching fabric coasters (Some graphics here appearing to be cut off on the right margin are in fact intact when copied.)

Wall/Tabletop plaques – approx 8 designs – Word Alive

Scented candles from Abba – approx. 10 different styles – Word Alive

Harvest House Kids – mid February release

Canterbury Classics journal – Book Depot – blue one may be sold out

Books for Seekers – Nelson/Zondervan

Word Alive Press – Eastern Ontario authors

Revell – New Release Tuesday – January 2022

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  • None of these graphics were created specifically for this blog post, but I do appreciate hearing about where you are using them.

Books About What We Do and Where We’ve Come From

December 4, 2020 2 comments

Last summer I was able to get my hands on The House of Zondervan, released in 2006 when the company was celebrating 75 years. As someone who has been in this business for awhile, I really enjoyed this, and once they got to around the mid 1980s, there were names and organizations in the story which I recognized. Besides, it’s always valuable to reconnect with the original vision.

I was told that a year or two ago a similar book about Baker Book Group was in the works. I was even given a working title, and it occurred to me at the time they ought to send it out free to people who’ve been at this a long time. But if the book ever existed — and perhaps it was just about Chosen Books or Bethany House — I can’t even locate the title anymore. (This is another example of why Google completely fails at certain types of searches. It latches on to key words to the detriment of what you’re actually seeking.) If you have one, please send me the proper title and/or ISBN.

In looking, I discovered Leap of Faith by Norman Grubb (who wrote Rees Howells: Intercessor) which is a history of Christian Literature Crusade (CLC).

I mention all this today because I just picked up a remainder copy of Heart, Soul, Mind, Strength: An Anecdotal History of InterVarsity Press, 1947 – 2007. Having worked for IVP at both the Leslie Street location in Toronto and the Denison Road warehouse in Markham, I know I’ll recognize some of the players, at least from the late 1970s.

I’m also fairly certain there’s a history of Thomas Nelson, and if not, Michael Hyatt wrote some helpful online articles which are still available.

If you really want to go deep, the periodical The Christian Librarian has an 84 page history of Christian publishing that’s free to read at Digital Commons.

Are there any books about NavPress? David C. Cook? Anyone else? Feel free to mention them to me in an email or in the comments.

Toronto Author Blends Historical Fiction with Romance

After a series of murder mysteries with Harvest House (The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder, A Lesson in Love & Murder) and a similar series with Thomas Nelson (Murder at the Flamingo, Murder in the City of Liberty) Toronto author Rachel McMillan has decided to tackle some stories which don’t have murder in the title. The London Restoration released late summer with Thomas Nelson.

On her website she writes,

I am also delighted to be writing historical romance set amidst the beautiful architecture of London and Vienna in the post-war years. The London Restoration releases in Fall 2020 and introduces readers to the gorgeous Christopher Wren churches blitzed during the War as well as the enigmatic codes of Bletchley Park.

Enjoying the relationship with Nelson’s parent HarperCollins means that she works with their general market promotion and publicity team on interviews and in-store events which works because she says, “the spiritual aspects of my books are a tad more subtle.” So she might turn up at a mainstream bookstore as she is in my town, albeit a Facebook virtual event in these challenging times for authors.

The Canadian connection might be more overt depending on the series. She notes that, “My first series with Harvest House is set in Edwardian Era Toronto and features a female Sherlock Holmes character and my first series with Harper Collins featured a young lawyer from Toronto who moves to Boston. When possible, I love to include a Canadian component to my work.”

The London Restoration‘s page at Thomas Nelson describes the book in detail:

The secrets that might save a nation could shatter a marriage.

Madly in love, Diana Foyle and Brent Somerville married in London as the bombs of World War II dropped on their beloved city. Without time for a honeymoon, the couple spent the next four years apart. Diana, an architectural historian, took a top-secret intelligence post at Bletchley Park. Brent, a professor of theology at King’s College, believed his wife was working for the Foreign Office as a translator when he was injured in an attack on the European front.

Now that the war is over, the Somervilles’ long-anticipated reunion is strained by everything they cannot speak of. Diana’s extensive knowledge of London’s churches could help bring down a Russian agent named Eternity. She’s eager to help MI6 thwart Communist efforts to start a new war, but because of the Official Secrets Act, Diana can’t tell Brent the truth about her work.

Determined to save their marriage and rebuild the city they call home, Diana and Brent’s love is put to the ultimate test as they navigate the rubble of war and the ruins of broken trust.

Her website bio begins,

There is nothing better than exploring the world –near and far: whether with a notebook and passport at the ready or in the pages of a book.

so it’s not surprising she’s also authored a travel guide. Dream, Plan, and Go: A Travel Guide to Inspire Your Independent Adventure was released in hardcover last year by Harvest House. 

Although she calls Toronto home, she grew up in Orillia, Ontario where she worked for the local bookstore, as she told Orillia Matters:

She worked for a year at Manticore Books in downtown Orillia, when it was owned by Don Ross. That was more than a decade ago, but she is still inspired by Ross and often thinks about the long chats they had about books and history.

“When I’m writing, I still think, ‘I hope Don Ross likes this,’” she said.

Reading The London Restoration need not be a solo experience either. Last month, Rachel reported on Facebook that a discussion kit is now available for book clubs and she offered to do a virtual meeting with club members to add to their discussion.

Her next historical romance, The Mozart Code releases May, 2021.

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

 

Book Review: The Baggage Handler

I am reviewing a fiction title for the first time in many years.

The Baggage Handler actually released a few weeks ago. I had read the book in February, but never wrote anything at the time because it wasn’t releasing until March 26th. Then, that date simply flew by unnoticed.

Michael, David and Gillian all pass through the airport on the same day and no, they don’t end up with each other’s luggage. But there is a luggage mix-up to be sure, with varying degrees of consequences. There is a baggage handler, who seems to work two locations at once; the airport itself and the downtown lost-luggage facility.

And the key to the story is in that word baggage. Don’t think luggage or suitcases, rather this is all about the metaphorical baggage we all carry around, a moment of discovery for all three characters in the story when they try to retrieve their belongings.

Not surprisingly then, author David Rawlings describes himself as a writer of “stories for those who want to dive deeper.” (His follow-up, releasing in December is about a couples’ counsellor.)

It must be said that both the cover design and the decision to release the first edition in hardcover leaves the book bearing a striking similarity to similar titles by David Gregory; Dinner with a Perfect Stranger, A Day with a Perfect Stranger, etc. These titles, as well as similar ones by Andy Andrews, ask us to temporarily suspend belief as to plausibility and accept certain plot contrivances in order to learn a greater lesson.

Bouncing back and forth between the three central characters means the book moves along at good pace, and for those who want to “dive deeper” in a book club setting or even on a personal level, there is a short collection of discussion questions breaking the book into five sections.

My personal disappointment with the book was that as a longtime reader of Christian books in general, I kept waiting for God to show up. Somewhere. On a single page, perhaps.

There’s no real definition for what makes Christian fiction and I suppose that on the spectrum of books that preach and books ‘written from a Christian perspective;’ this one is in the latter category. At least I hope so. 

On the other hand, as someone with much exposure to both Andy Andrews and David Gregory, I see the value in this novel, and already recommended it to someone. 

We all have things in our past we need to deal with.

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?

 

Thomas Nelson Title Enjoying Mainstream Market Chart Success

When my Saturday edition of The Toronto Star arrives, I always make a point of checking their bestseller lists, not because I’m necessarily familiar with (or even interested) in the books named there, but because I have a nerd-like interest to see how the major publishing houses are faring.

This time around, a Thomas Nelson title, released in February caught my eye. The book is Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis which was #3 on the Self-Help list for Canadian sales. I knew the book had been doing well, but I was surprised to see it on a list for this country.

At Publisher’s Weekly, it was listed yesterday as:

  • #2 overall
  • #1 for religious non-fiction
  • #2 for hardcover non-fiction

On The New York Times lists, it is

  • #1 for advice/how-to/miscellaneous (where The Five Love Languages is #6 in its 254th week on the list; and Everybody Always by Bob Goff is #8)

Here’s some of the publisher description:

Do you ever suspect that everyone else has life figured out and you don’t have a clue? If so, Rachel Hollis has something to tell you: that’s a lie.

As the founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Rachel Hollis developed an immense online community by sharing tips for better living while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own life. Now, in this challenging and inspiring new book, Rachel exposes the twenty lies and misconceptions that too often hold us back from living joyfully and productively, lies we’ve told ourselves so often we don’t even hear them anymore.

With painful honesty and fearless humor, Rachel unpacks and examines the falsehoods that once left her feeling overwhelmed and unworthy, and reveals the specific practical strategies that helped her move past them. In the process, she encourages, entertains, and even kicks a little butt, all to convince you to do whatever it takes to get real and become the joyous, confident woman you were meant to be.

With unflinching faith and rock-hard tenacity, Girl, Wash Your Face shows you how to live with passion and hustle–and how to give yourself grace without giving up.

About the author:

Lifestyle expert Rachel Hollis is the founder of the popular website TheChicSite.com and is the CEO of Chic Media. She is a regular contributor for HuffPost and PopSugar, and she has appeared on Today, Rachael, The Talk, Extra, and many other programs. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and four children.

A review at CBD answered one of my main questions about the book:

…While not scripturally based, Girl, Wash Your Face tackles the lies that hold us back from physical, mental, and spiritual health. The principles that Rachel Hollis uncovers point the reader to a better understanding of who we are created in Christ. Furthermore, she writes in a very down to earth style, making her quite relatable. This book stands out in the Christian world for the author’s willingness to write on hard topics and not hold back in some brutal truths…

There is no ITPE for this book; it is selling in hardback in foreign markets as well as the US and Canada.

9781400201655 | Released 2018-02-06 | 240 pages | $22.99 US

 

You Can’t Sell a Bible Edition You Don’t Respect

Gift and Award Bibles, regardless of translation, have one thing in common: They’re cheaply produced (and they look it.) Fortunately, there are better options.

Thankfully, one of the elements of the Bible publishing industry that seems, from my vantage point at least, to be fading is what is called “Gift and Award Bibles.” Most of the translations on the market have a contract with a publisher to produce these combined Old-and-New Testaments which, like the name implies, are usually given out by churches to visitors or awarded to Sunday School children as prizes.

These Bibles have one factor which unites them all: They’re cheap.

And while a child of 5 or 6 may be honored to receive one, for anyone else, closer examination proves how cheaply they are made. Here’s the way it works:

  1. Newsprint is the cheapest paper available
  2. Newsprint is thicker, meaning the Bible would be “fat” if printed normally
  3. Type-size is therefore reduced to some infinitesimal font size.

So basically, we’re talking about a hard to read Bible printed on cheap paper which fades after a few years.

To be fair, a few companies have tried a better paper stock, but this only resulted in the price going up, defeating their purpose.

I have two observations about these Bibles:

  1. I think that in some respect, these are Bibles churches give away to people that they’re not always sure they’re ever going to see again.
  2. I think that, at least in how it appears in 2018, this genre was developed by people who had little respect for the Bible to begin with.

The only way to avoid giving these away without breaking the church budget was to use pew Bibles (produced in mass quantities and therefore still quite affordable) as giveaway hardcover/textbook editions. But for some reason, people like the appearance of leather when choosing a Bible for giveaway. Also, if your church uses the same Bible edition in the pews, the “gift” can look like you just went into the sanctuary/auditorium and grabbed something off the rack to give away.

The good news is that many churches can afford to do better, and many publishers are now making this possible.

♦ The NLT Bible (Tyndale) introduced some “Premium Value Slimline” editions several years back including both regular print and large print, retailing at $15.99 and $20.99 respectively. (All prices USD.)

♦ Then the NIV (Zondervan) entered the race with their “Value Thinline” editions, again in two sizes at $14.99 and $19.99, with five different covers.

♦ Next, The Message (NavPress) created three “Deluxe Gift” editions in regular print at $15.99.

♦ Then, back to NIV for a minute, Zondervan upped the game by discontinuing their existing editions and replacing them with new ones using their new, much-easier-to-read Comfort Print font. Pricing stayed the same.

♦ Because of their expertise and success with the NIV product, HarperCollins Christian Publishing recently introduced the similar editions in NKJV, using the same Comfort Print font.

♦ Finally, ESV (Crossway) is also in the game, with “Value Thinline” and “Value Compact” editions. I have to be honest here. These are in no way up to the binding standard of the others, and frankly owe more to the old-school, aforementioned Gift and Award Bibles, albeit with better paper stock. The sleeve — from which the Bible is difficult to extract — claims this is “bonded leather” but in my opinion, that’s a stretch. While the others get an A+, I’d give the ESVs a D at best.

These Bibles look like something the church isn’t ashamed to give away, and the recipient is proud to own.

Further, for customers on a budget, there’s nothing stopping these from being purchased individually and becoming someone’s primary Bible.

Foundation Shipping Product for Which it Has No Canadian Rights

On Thursday, February 1st, I accidentally miscopied an ISBN into a Foundation pending order file which was intended to go into a HarperCollins pending order file.

The item I wanted from Foundation Distribution was an NIV Life Application Bible in hardcover. (They own the rights to the hardcover, Zondervan does the leather editions.) Instead, I copied the number for the NIV Listener’s Bible, a $99 product audio product.

So my order actually read:

1 9780310444343 Life Application Hardcover

the ISBN and description not even matching.

Back in the day, when I worked for InterVaristy Press Canada, and later for the Canadian Bible Society, and finally when I worked for CMC Distribution (with fulfillment from Beacon Distributing/David C. Cook) when a customer placed an order like this, it would appear on the customer’s invoice with the notion “NOP” which stands for “Not Our Product.” As someone who has also been a wholesale customer in this industry for 43 years, I also know this as the correct way to handle this.

Or make a phone call to clarify the order.

That’s the proper way to do things.

That’s the type of principle which guided our industry for years.

That isn’t what happened here.

Foundation filled the order. That’s right. They filled the order for a $99 item for which they have no Canadian rights to do so with complete disregard to industry protocol.

Has anyone else had something like this happen?

Furthermore, I did obtain the product from HarperCollins, and at my non-returnable discount, not 40%. I would never buy Thomas Nelson or Zondervan product from Foundation.

For years, Foundation Distributing, which distributes product for Tyndale House, NavPress, Standard Publishing, P. Graham Dunn and Christian Art Gifts has been in the habit of buying large quantities of HarperCollins — usually Zondervan — product from liquidators such as Book Depot, and including those titles in its marketing catalogues. But those products are sold to dealers at a discounted price.

This is the first time we’ve had tangible, physical evidence of the company selling a HarperCollins frontlist title as if it’s their own. I now have proof. There are simply too many steps that need to be taken to obtain this product for this to happen accidentally. There is no excuse. Foundation owns stores, but the ISBN number shouldn’t exist in their wholesale system.

I know many reading this are good friends with the management of Foundation. I am not. I have never been. Either way, someone needs to call this out for what it is, the desperate act of a company so hungry for sales that it’s prepared to sacrifice all moral authority to do so, even to the point of stealing sales from HarperCollins. This is the action of a company which is, as I have been saying privately for years, indulges in practices which are difficult to justify ethically.

One should expect better of the leadership in our industry.

Furthermore, can you imagine their reaction if Parasource started selling Tyndale product? Do you think they would stand for that for even a minute?

The invoice was not marked sales final.

UPDATE: We got a return authorization, though no apology or explanation. Now I want to know how widespread this is, how many other stores who are friends of FDI are getting their HCCP product through them. I cannot accept this was a one-off event, only that they picked the wrong guy.

UPDATE from HCCP: We had a follow-up discussion with HCCP in Nashville on Friday (23rd) and while this situation is considered unusual to them, it’s not exactly a crime in progress from their perspective. They’re making a sale either way. So you and I may see this occur in the future. Hopefully FDI would inform the store that it’s not a regular wholesale item but they’ll get it if there’s a need and let them know it will take longer than if they ordered direct. That’s just the decent thing to do. And of course in our case, it was mis-matched ISBN, so there should have been contact. I still think that unusual is an understatement. To me, it’s wrong, but if the affected party isn’t as offended as I am, then I don’t know what to say. I was simply looking out for HCCP’s best interests and they certainly appreciate this. I also think it’s important that companies don’t get so hungry for sales that they act in desperation.

A Book for Christians in the Margins

I promised we would return to take another look at this book. Official street date is tomorrow. I’m guessing about 50% (or more) of your customers sometimes feel like they just don’t fit in at church. For whatever reason.

Show them this book! (I had a lot of fun doing this review!)


I could probably give you a number of reasons why Brant Hansen shouldn’t have a book with W Publishing, an imprint of Thomas Nelson, let alone two books.1 He’s not a pastor. Not a professor. Not someone who’s made it in the field of sports or business or entertainment and coincidentally happens to be a Christian.

He’s a radio announcer.

That’s it. But Blessed are the Misfits, his second major book release confirms what listeners to The Brant Hansen Show2 and The Brant and Sherri Oddcast podcast3 have known all along: There’s a heck a lot of us out there who feel we just don’t fit in.

The subtitle of the book — which appears above the title, meaning it’s actually a surtitle4 — is Great News for Believers Who are Introverts, Spiritual Strugglers, or Just Feel Like They’re Missing Something.5 Insert deep breath here.

Brant not only sees himself as a misfit, but he’s even been diagnosed with a few things just to make it official. The radio show and podcast contain frequent announcements to new listeners that the show may take some time to figure out.6

Brant’s life story would make a book like this interesting enough; but the fact he also does the requisite research, includes Bible quotations and writes well simply adds to the appeal.

I see myself and others I know quite well in the pages of this book. People

• who are introverts
• who deal with social anxiety; mental health issues
• who are diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (or something similar)
• who feel they are failures
• who are lonely
• whose personality type is melancholy
• who feel they are just different; they don’t see the world like everyone else does

As I wrapped up the final pages of the book, I thought of a song recorded eons ago by The Altar Boys, a Christian band.

To all the hearts who have been broken;
To all the dreamers with abandoned dreams;
To everyone in need of a friend;
You are loved, You are loved.
To all the rebels wounded in battle;
To all the rockers that have lost that beat;
To all the users all used up now;
You are loved, You are loved.7

Henri Nouwen has called the capital-C Church “the community of the broken.”8 When you think of the misfits at your local church, take some time to also look in the mirror. I see myself repeatedly in these pages.9

Have you ever been to a concert only to find out that the performer is also an official representative of Compassion, Inc., or some other similar charity and you feel like you’ve been ambushed somehow?10 Brant is actually a spokesperson for CURE International; which means there are frequent references to CURE hospitals doing amazing things for kids whose situations looked hopeless.

Personally, I like my books to be books and my charity appeals to be charity appeals; but trust me, you wouldn’t want this book without the CURE stories.11 They are a part of who Brant is, and therefore they deserve the space they get to act as mind-stretching illustrations of the points made in various chapters.

The solution to feeling excluded? This is important because Brant is not speaking to solutions here so much as he’s saying to his fellow-misfits, “You’re not alone.” His personal revelations of classic awkwardness aren’t enumerated here as self-deprecation, but rather I see Brant in the pages of this book as a positive role model for people who feel they just don’t fit. There is very wide swath of people covered in this book. He comes alongside people who are hurting.

That we are also Christians makes the struggle all the more complex in one way, but our identification with Jesus also means that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses.”12

We need to remember that Jesus was a misfit, too.


1 Click here for my review of Unoffendable, click here for a sample segment.
2 Link to Brant’s website. The show may have a different music mix in different markets.
3 Specific link to the podcast. Warning: Sherri’s laughter is infectious.
4 This is the type of distraction Brant lives for.
5 Spellcheck wants to change Strugglers to Stragglers which might work as well.
6 As true as this is, the part about “listener uniforms” should be taken with a grain of salt.
7 Listen to the song at this link.
8 I can’t prove this is an actual quotation, but Nouwen did say that we are all “wounded healers.”
9 The title of this review, We Have Met the Misfits and They is Us is a reference to the Pogo comic strip.
10 Like that time you’re friend invited you over for the evening, and it was actually an Amway meeting.
11 Learn more at cure.org
12 Hebrews 4:15 NIV
13 There is no corresponding sentence to this footnote. Brant actually only uses one footnote in the book and then in typical ADD fashion, abandons the form.

Thanks to Kimberley at HarperCollins Christian Publishing for an advance copy of Brant Hansen’s book.


Review bonus: The Misfits Tour! (They should pay us for including this.)

Date City Info
11/27/17 West Palm Beach, FL Journey Church
11/28/17 Vero Beach, FL Christian FM
12/2/17 Hagerstown, MD Word FM
1/4/18 Lynchburg, VA The Journey
1/5/18 Louisville, KY WAY FM
1/6/18 Cincinnati, OH Star 93.3
1/11/18 Hazel Green, AL WAY FM
1/12/18 Tallahassee, FL WAY FM
1/13/18 Panama City, FL WAY FM
1/18/18 Indianapolis, IN Shine FM
1/19/18 Chicago, IL Shine FM
1/20/18 Ft. Wayne, IN Star
1/25/18 Riverside, CA KSGN
1/26/18 Bakersfield, CA KDUV
1/27/18 Visalia, CA KDUV

By the way, does anyone else think it strange that an introvert wants to go on tour where everybody will be looking at him?

A Great Book for Guys Who Don’t Read Books

Godly men have been growing facial foliage since the beginning of time and church history is filled with Christians who glorified in male-pattern magnificence.1

Jared Brock and Aaron Alford’s book Bearded Gospel Men is about… well I think you’ve got it figured out. Every book needs a premise, right?

Your humble authors have experienced a vast array of diverse Judeo-Christian traditions and have discovered one powerful thing that unites the Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox worlds: Follicle faithfulness.2

At first glance, the book is a collection of 31 extremely short biographies of 31 men — oddly not one single woman3 — who belong to the brotherhood of the bearded. Each is followed by a contemporary article with subjects ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Billy Graham…preached the gospel to millions, famously ending every stadium-filled gospel crusade with the old hymn “Just as I am.” We love you, Billy, just as you are. But a Billy beard! What a sight to behold such a thing would be. Perhaps, however it was better this way. Thousands would have come forward at your meetings just get a closer look at the beard and may have caused confusion with the numbers of those getting saved.4

These short pieces are written mostly, but not entirely by the two authors. You may have seen the title before this as a web address.

The book’s history began with a Tumblr blog and Facebook page by Pastor Joe Thorn. It was a joke, really. Mainly memes about beards and good-natured barbs about the superiority of the unshaven.5

There are also a number of pictures with captions that I can only surmise either were are could have been the website’s memes, though the text font is different (see below).

Those biographed — hey, if I say that’s a word — include D.L. Moody, William Booth, Saint Patrick, Charles Sheldon (the original WWJD guy), G.K. Chesterton and Keith Green. There’s no time in those brief accounts to comment on the beards themselves. There’s even a chapter for Zacchaeus, but then didn’t all the males in the gospels have beards? The short synopses are followed by 3 questions for contemplation and a short prayer. In the case of Zacchaeus:

  1. Have you ever wronged anyone, even unintentionally? How might you make that right today?
  2. Is there anything in your life that me obstructing your view of Jesus? How might you see past these things to catch a glimpse of Jesus?
  3. Is there anything Jesus may be asking you to give up, specifically in regard to material possessions or money? 6

So with 31 biographies, 31 additional articles, various memes, etc. this reads more like a magazine than a book. Which is perfect. Because as of late, guys don’t read books. They will read this however, and Christmas is coming. (Hint!)

…The publicist who sent this book suggested it might be timely for No-Shave November.7 Perhaps, although the 11th month only has 30 days and the book has 31 sections. I still see this as a better Christmas gift, though the subtitle, The Epic Quest for Manliness and Godliness is a bit over the top! Consider this one; the guys will thank you for it.

W Publishing, 276 pages, paperback; 9780718099305; page at Thomas Nelson Publishing


1Back cover blurb
2Introduction, p. xiii
3Unless you count Agnes Bojaxhiu in chapter 20, which apparently we didn’t
4p. 41
5Intro, p. xix
6p. 123
7I guess I’m a couple of weeks late. Sorry!