In 1817, James and John Harper open the modest printing establishment of J. & J. Harper, Printers, in New York City; which means this is an anniversary year. A BIG anniversary year!
To celebrate, the company has created a special website 200.hc.com which is divided into five sections. Of special interest to readers here is the Timeline page, which includes histories of divisions added through mergers and acquisitions, such as Thomas Nelson and Zondervan. As you’ll see however, Thomas Nelson goes back a long time too, with a history that’s not so shabby. And Zondervan isn’t exactly a new kid on the block.
On October 4th, Zondervan is taking the rare step of releasing a new devotional by a top author immediately to a small hardcover format, not dissimilar to, and no doubt following on the heels of the popular Jesus Calling.
Joni Eareckson Tada’s A Spectacle of Glory: God’s Light Shining Through Me Every Day is 384 pages total and will retail for $16.99 US or $21.00 CDN. It includes a short one or two paragraph reading followed by a prayer. Many of the daily entries are personal or autobiographical. Scripture references are cited, but not printed; though on a few certain days the reference specified the NASB or NLT; the rest assumed as NIV. I wasn’t sure if this was in anticipation of an expanded edition later on, or licensing the product for perpetual calendars.
Here’s the publisher marketing from the Zondervan website:
Overview: God does not choose to display His glory through burning bushes; He chooses you! This inspiring, year-long devotional by Joni Eareckson Tada, focuses on your Heavenly Father, how He cares for you every day, and how His love enables you to live as a spectacle of His glory.
Description: Do you ever wonder why God created you? The Bible spells it out plainly: God created you to showcase His glory—to enjoy it, display it, and demonstrate it every day to all those you encounter.
After nearly 50 years of living as a quadriplegic, and dealing with chronic pain on a daily basis, Joni has learned firsthand the importance of glorifying God through the toughest of situations. Through this devotional, Joni will help you discover how to put God’s glory on display—how to say no to complaining and say yes to daily following God down even the most difficult paths. Along the way, you will find great comfort and encouragement by focusing on the one who longs to lead and guide you every step of the way, every day.
Don’t ever think your life is too ordinary, your world too small, or your work too insignificant. All of it is a stage set for you to glorify God.
Thanks to Mark at HarperCollins Christian Publishing Canada for a preview copy of A Spectacle of Glory. 9780310346777
Most of you know that I like to run reviews closer to the release date, and then copy those reviews with extra trade info here at Christian Book Shop Talk. But I wanted to briefly mention this one in case you haven’t ordered it yet.
I spent my Labour Day reading Saving the Saved by Bryan Loritts, releasing in paperback through Zondervan in October. I rarely binge read like this, but like the cliché says, I couldn’t put it down. The subject is countering the belief in performance-based faith, but it also serves as a commentary on Matthew’s gospel.
This would be a great first Christian living book for someone to read, but also applicable to the rest of us who’ve been on this journey awhile. A good mix of personal stories and material from other sources. Loritts is the son of Crawford Loritts who is a pastor and frequent conference speaker whose name some customers will recognize.
The bright cover will cause people to pick it up, but you can’t sell what you don’t stock! Before I was halfway through, I’d already clicked a few copies into an order.
Thanks to Mark H. at HarperCollins Christian Publishing for this one! Really appreciated. 9780310344995
5 Ways to Get Customers As Excited About Books as You Are
by Paul Wilkinson
There’s a saying that “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink;” to which the response is, “True, but you can put salt in its oats to make it thirsty.”
Getting customers — and people you would like to see return as customers — into the books you stock is always a challenge. These days, it seems like there are so many things competing for our attention. But there are some things you can do:
YouTube – I’ve mentioned this before but I’ll say it again. Let a customer listen to N.T. Wright or Francis Chan, and they will literally hear those authors in their heads as they are reading. I’ve directed many customers to an obscure clip from Chan titled “Balance beam” many times. These links create familiarity and intimacy with the authors and drive customers back to get their books. Of course, there are also book trailers. I wish the publishers would help us find out about them better, and have something to direct our customers to find them.
Magazines – Most stores say their magazine program is dying or has already died, but these resources were great for allowing people to read excerpts and reviews of current products. We’re currently doing a giveaway program with Faith Today magazine from the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, to help people who want to be better connected stay in the loop. Our regional Christian newspaper, The Christian Herald, contains book reviews in each and every issue. For stores still playing the magazine game, Relevant, Christianity Today, various women’s magazines and Focus on the Family are examples of periodicals that can drive sales, though with Focus you’re competing with their in-house product sales.
Church Libraries – Many stores see the local church libraries as competition, but nothing could be further from the truth. Besides being among your best customers, they get people excited about books, authors and series, and I like to encourage some of the local church librarians to make sure the library is frequently mentioned in the announcements or the bulletin. With one or two churches, I’m going to take some pictures of the library myself, send them to the church office, just so they have an image to go with a mention in the weekend announcement slides, and mid-week e-mail blast.
Thrift Shops – Someone made a point of tracking me down when Bibles for Missions opened a store in my town, to inform me that this would spell certain doom for my bookstore. Quite the opposite. People get a couple of titles in a 4-book set and come to us hoping to find the rest. I don’t have room to start a used department, so I see the thrift store as complementary to what we’re doing in the retail bookstore. Besides, the book departments at Value Village or The Salvation Army are testimony to the fact that book reading is alive and well.
Excerpts Online – I recently asked an author for 6 or 7 paragraphs from his recent book. You would think I had asked for a share of his royalties. Publishers and distributors and literary agents couldn’t make it happen. I just don’t have time to transcribe from each and every book, or I would; and I can’t copy and paste excerpts from fuzzy .pdf pages. Christian publishers are totally dropping the ball on this one and they don’t get it. Fine. I understand that budgets don’t allow for printed samplers anymore. But it costs nothing to post sample chapters and then let retailers know where the heck they’re buried online. It’s the bookstore equivalent of handing out samples at the grocery store or Costco. Give me a little bit on a toothpick, and if it tastes good, I’ll probably throw the package in the shopping cart.
I always find it interesting when we get interest in backlist titles that is characterized by two things (a) There isn’t any media that we know of driving the sales, and (b) The people making inquiries seem to have more than six degrees of separation.
Such is the case right now with the Emotionally Healthy series of books by Peter Scazzero, published by Zondervan, pictured above. Full disclosure: I haven’t sold or stocked the leadership title, but I’m starting to wonder if we should carry that one as well.
We’re in a small town, so significant numbers are, well, significant. But I never know if, like the picture on the cover of the first book, I’m seeing all the demand we’re going to get, or if we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg.
(The image above is sized for Facebook, so feel free to use it on your store’s page.)
It’s not just you that’s waiting forever for shipments from HarperCollins. Stores across Canada are being affected. And the article which appeared Tuesday at Publisher’s Weekly doesn’t begin to address the problems we’ve experienced with damaged books — some setting a new all-time low for the severity of the damage before the books were packed — as well as package shortages, wrong titles shipped, and shipments disappearing into thin air.
These are excerpts:
Canadian indie bookstores are facing long waits for HarperCollins titles this holiday season, causing frustration and missed opportunities for sales. Since HC closed its Toronto-area warehouse this spring, distribution to Canadian stores has been provided by Indiana-based company R.R. Donnelley. Although booksellers were promised 48-hour shipping, they claim to be waiting two weeks or more to receive their orders.
Kelly McKinnon, co-owner of Vancouver Kidsbooks, said an order she placed with HC on Nov. 13 didn’t arrive in her store until Nov. 27. The shipping issue, she noted, is impacting the bottom line; while her overall store sales are up this fall, her sales of HC titles are down 20%…
…Two other B.C.-based bookstores, Mosaic Books and the indie chain Black Bond Books, expressed similar frustrations. Michael Neill, co-owner at Mosaic Books, said sales of HC titles at his store are “way down,” with orders typically taking 10 days to arrive. One order, placed on Nov. 10, didn’t arrive at the store until Nov. 26…
…David Worsley, co-owner of Words Worth Books in Waterloo, said shipments to his store have been taking eight or nine days, and arriving piecemeal. “HarperCollins has mastered the art of shipping orders containing six boxes over three days. Box one of six and five of six on Monday, boxes four of six on Wednesday, the rest on Friday.” …
read the whole article at this link.
There are a number of ways this writer feels changes could be made for the better:
- Invoices in package. What the company is spending on postage alone is obscene. On Tuesday we received four separate envelopes at international first class US postage. Separate invoicing is also the norm with Hachette and Penguin Random-House, but with our Christian market suppliers, invoices with shipments is much more common and much easier on the environment. Also my bookkeeper has so many packing slips and invoices that need to be matched up. It’s often only at month-end we realize a shipment is missing.
- Consolidate backorder releases. There’s no need for all these small parcels to be going out piecemeal. Items can be merged into a single shipment on a single invoice.
- Ditch UPS. Their contract is part of an international arrangement HarperCollins has with United Parcel Service, but the so-called “Cadillac” of couriers irritates me on so many levels that it would need to be the subject of another article. We get many deliveries as late as 4:30 PM (at which point they should really be doing pick-ups) and despite dozens of requests to lay the boxes flat, they always leave the boxes lying on their sides.
- Have a random checking stage and remove warehouse employees who have too many errors. The formula of pick-check-pack has obviously been replaced with pick-pack which results in wrong titles, wrong quantities and books which were obviously in warehouse cartons that had been dropped or fell off the forklift truck. In one study guide shipment we got six out of thirty-six books that would never pass even as remainders, but they were all in different parts of the box. There’s no way this should have been missed unless it was deliberate, which, I have to say I do suspect.
- Find ways to make good on the disasters of the past year. I’ll leave that to HarperCollins’ imagination.
This article was updated at 9:00 AM with point 2 above added.
In a publishing environment that has brought us Bad Girls of the Bible and Desperate Women of the Bible and Really Bad Girls of the Bible, it was only a matter of time until Wicked Women of the Bible. Zondervan author and editor Ann Spangler’s titles are usually a little bit less provocative, but as she explains it her publisher “suggested that it might be interesting to use the word wicked in both its literal and ironic sense;” or cover what the blurb calls “wicked and ‘wicked good.'” In all honesty, I see this book coming back in a year or two on my “formerly published as…” list with a new title.
Moving past that, I expected to find perhaps at most a dozen women covered, but this book takes on no less than twenty; and for each there is the story itself, followed by some background on the setting, followed by study questions. That “The Times” article follows the story is an interesting twist, that contained information that was well-researched, as were the stories themselves. (Each section’s title page also contains a related Biblical text.)
God chooses to reveal himself through narrative. The stories we grow up with — whether involving male or female protagonists — are actually telling us much about His character and dealings with His people. Some of the stories in this collection were quite familiar, and some involved women that are less frequently highlighted. The ones we learned as children are probably in the former category, yet I found both types of account to be written in a measured, informative manner.
Spangler’ present-tense storytelling style also involves bits and pieces of conjecture, but nothing too excessive. This is not what some call ‘Biblical Fiction,’ but falls more into the commentary category. Some of the best insights are in the footnotes; I never considered Jericho’s Rahab as an innkeeper. Or that Bathsheba wasn’t entirely an innocent victim of King David’s advances. Still, in one case David is singing to his wife Michal, and the sample text provided is recognizable from Song of Solomon. A footnote acknowledges this inter-generational stretch, but for some reason, this one concerned me.
Overall however, this is a great resource for small groups and an excellent catch-up for new Christ followers unfamiliar with these narratives. It also provides balance to those who feel the nature of the Bible literature is overly patriarchal.
Stores: Offer a package deal with Wicked Women and 7 Women and the Secrets of their Greatness by Eric Metaxas.
Opinions here are those of the author; this is not a sponsored post.
While the title may confuse some, you have to assume the publishers already sorted out that potential confusion and went ahead with the name anyway. The NIV Zondervan Study Bible is releasing later this summer, and is certain to get mixed up with the classic NIV Study Bible which has been with us for several decades. The latter isn’t going anywhere.
At a major online Christian retail site, we read:
The NIV Study Bible will remain in print. With over 10 million copies sold over 30 years, this bestselling study Bible will continue to help readers come to a deeper understanding of God’s Word.
And then it offers this chart which outlines the differences:
Looking closely at the author list above, methinks that that Zondervan is going after the same market as purchased the popular ESV Study Bible. Clearly, to some extent, the Reformed community is in view. However, by virtue of its weight, the ESV product attracted a broader audience containing features not heretofore seen in study Bibles. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but the ESV Study did contain elements worth emulating.
Zondervan is quick to point out that this new project was not adapted from the present study edition, but was “built from the ground up.” We know that like the ESV Study, it contains supplementary articles and that well known Biblical scholars were responsible for particular books, but for many of the finer details, we’re going to have to wait until the August 25th release date to see all its 2,912 pages.
Of course, if Zondervan wants to send me a review copy, they know how to reach me!
Bonus: For those of you who’ve read this far, here’s a look at some of the extras in this Bible below which is a clue to where the advance peek treasure is buried:
One of the blessings of doing Thinking Out Loud is that increased readership has led to increased generosity on the part of several Christian publishers. I probably got more books in the year after the blog started growing than in 36 previous years on the retail side of things.
Unfortunately, not every book gets reviewed there, but I wanted to mention several.
Before we begin, you’ll notice four books for men in this list. Men’s books don’t sell well in the Christian marketplace, so this emphasis is a bit of a surprise especially when you consider that all four are from HarperCollins Christian Publishing group. Hopefully the men’s-interest market can sustain all this activity happening at the same time.
The Hope Quotient – Ray Johnston (Thomas Nelson) — More than just a motivational or self-help book, this California pastor has packed this book with charts and graphics as well as supporting scripture references and comes at a time when many people feel hope is lacking. The HQ test allows readers to test their own Hope Quotient.
Rare Bird – Anna Whitson-Donaldson (Convergent) — The real life memoir of a mother whose 12-year old son was washed away in a nearby creek following a freak rainstorm. This book releases in September from Convergent. To get a taste of this, check out this post on her blog, The Bridge: One Terrible Night. Releases in September.
Small – Craig Gross (Nelson Books) — The founder of XXXChurch.com writes celebrating the ordinary and the insignificant. While the book is general in nature, Gross incorporates story from his rather unique ministry. This book is releasing in August, and unlike the others listed here, I’m already one-third of the way in, so we may end up doing a full review on this one. (Trivia: This is a must-gift book for anyone who serves their local church as a greeter!)
Overrated – Eugene Cho (David C. Cook) — I didn’t list this one on another version of this article at Thinking Out Loud earlier in the week because I intend to do a full review on it. If you had a market for Pursuing Justice by Ken Wytsma, this book by the founder of the One Day’s Wages charity will fit into that same social justice/social concern category. This book connected with me on a number of different levels. September release.
7 Ways to Be Her Hero – Doug Fields (W Publishing) — The author of the classic Purpose Driven Youth Ministry and teaching pastor for the last 22 years at Saddleback is back with seven steps men can take to improve their ability to be a husband. He’s already got my attention with Step #1: Don’t Say Everything You Think. Oh, oh!
The Dude’s Guide to Manhood – Darrin Patrick (Nelson Books) — The chaplain of the St. Louis Cardinals names twelve different characteristics that can be developed in any man of various stages in life.
Be The Dad She Needs You To Be – Kevin Leman (Thomas Nelson) — One of the foremost experts on family dynamics, prolific author and speaker Leman really needs no introduction as he delves into the relationships between fathers and daughters. There is much practical advice here; fathers of girls might want to keep this book handy.
The Good Dad – Jim Daly (Zondervan) — The President of Focus on the Family comes into many of your homes via radio each and every day, though often while the Dad in the family is at work. (I’m betting at least 70% of Focus listeners are female). The book is somewhat autobiographical as Daly didn’t have the benefit of great role modeling.
Love Well – Jamie George (David C. Cook) — The subtitle is Living Life Unrehearsed and Unstuck and encourages the reader to move beyond the paralyzing effects of fear shame and hopelessness. This book releases in August.
Losing Your Faith, Finding Your Soul – David Robert Anderson (Convergent) — This book is releasing through the “edgy” imprint of Waterbrook/Multnomah, so it is no surprise that it deals with going through that period of life when lifelong faith assumptions start to unravel and beliefs about God, faith and church are in flux. The Connecticut Episcopal pastor deals with times we experience a “shift in our spiritual foundation.”
Nobody Knows: The Harry T. Burleigh Story – Craig von Buseck (Baker) — That this book is in hardcover adds to the mystery here. The book is subtitled, The Forgotten Story of One of the Most Influential Figures in American Music. In this case, we’re talking about the original American music form, Negro Spirituals.
Crash the Chatterbox – Steven Furtick (Waterbrook) — After getting downright giddy about Furtick’s first two books on this blog, you would think I would have done anything to get my hands on an advance reader copy of his third book. But alas, I’ve allowed myself to become jaded by all the online attention being given to Furtick’s $1.75 million (U.S.) home. I may get to this book yet, or read it privately without doing a review. I guess I’m just too disappointed in how this author’s journey is playing out, and it’s unfortunate because I had high hopes.
It appears there is a new generation of product creators at Zondervan who missed all the excitement in the 60s, 70s and 80s over Satanic symbolism, such as the use of the Pentagram, or 5-pointed star. You can read more at Wikipedia including the present use in Wicca, Baha’i and even Mormonism. On the bright side, at least they didn’t put a picture of a goat in the middle. But seriously, what were they thinking? And doesn’t this just add fuel to the fire for those fringe groups who say that one particular translation (which I won’t name here, search engines being what they are) is the only acceptable translation? They should have asked me first, right?