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ICRS Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Christian Retailing Staff   
Wednesday, 09 July 2014 01:34 PM EDT

Thumbs up:

  • Convivial atmosphere—friendly retailers, vendors and publishers at the show.
  • Many publishers were eager to meet and work with international companies.
  • Meet the Authors of Our Daily Bread: The well-planned and well-advertised event gathered more than 500 guests.
  • Plenty of high-profile authors to draw lines at book signings.
  • Christian Fiction Trends—Interesting presentation and a nice touch to have authors meet directly with guests for a half-hour.
  • To kids’ gift company Oodles World for introducing “His Armor,” a line of products for tween and teen boys, an underserved demographic. The line debuted titanium sports necklaces, carabiners, sports socks and other fun products.
  • To Dr. Mary Manz Simon for 20 years of educating retailers on the latest trends in children’s products, for always recruiting lots of suppliers to send retailers home with free products and for receiving honors from CBA and Logos Bookstores.
  • To Dusty Wells, senior vice president of national accounts for Word Entertainment, for 32 continuous years at CBA shows—and for still having every one of his name badges!
  • To CBA for hosting several events that went beyond retailing, including a filmmakers summit and a pastors’ gathering in partnership with RBC Ministries that saw great attendance from the surrounding area.
  • To Dr. James Dobson for receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from CBA for his groundbreaking work through Focus on the Family and for his sense of humor as he posed with his life-sized standee on the show floor.
  • To Affirm Films for creating a comfortable screening suite that offered groups of up to 20 retailers screenings of upcoming films, not to mention the fun take-home favors like T-shirts, mini footballs and snacks.
  • To publishers, distributors and film companies for bringing more personalities to the show. It is important for retailers to meet their customers’ heroes, and ICRS 2014 had plenty of “star power.”
  • To Good Works Make a Difference owner Helena Cho for making her CBA debut with wrap bracelets and soy candles that are fashion-forward, priced competitively and displayed on modern fixtures. Even better, the Los Angeles-based Cho donates 25% of her net profits to charity.

Thumbs down:

  • Convention center location—Hall C was far enough away as to be a problem for some show attendees getting there at times.
  • Shuttle service—Shuttle didn’t ever show up at one hotel supposedly on the ICRS route.
  • Unattended workshops—The Selling Christian Rap workshop had no one in attendance--except two reporters. Too early? Too far from the exhibit hall? No interest?
  • Overwrought security: Good security is crucial at a convention, but when security doesn’t let in ticketed attendees to events and replies with gruff “no’s,” perhaps it’s a bit too much.
  • One new product showcase presented the history of Gospel Light. Where was the new product?
  • To a couple of the Christian films that still look, well, pretty cheesy. Just because the door has opened at the box office doesn’t mean that we should subject the public to sub-par plots and production quality.
  • For exhibit floor stages that were stuck in the corners of the exhibit hall. These stages offered everything from valuable workshops to award programs to fashion shows—and would have generated show excitement had they been placed in the middle of the floor.
  • To slightly overzealous CBA workers who scolded children’s character Rippy for standing in the aisle just outside his booth.
  • For poor social media promotion about the show. Correct hashtags and Twitter handles were not promoted adequately.
New films, music build excitement among Christian retailers PDF Print E-mail
Written by Natalie Gillespie   
Tuesday, 08 July 2014 03:25 PM EDT

Word Entertainment executive believes ‘retail is getting it’ when it comes to promotion of faith-based films

ShaneHarper-DavidARWhiteUpcoming faith-based theatrical releases and new DVDs were front and center at ICRS, with retailers treated to screenings, trailers and DVDs, and celebrity signings.

Producer and star of God’s Not Dead David A.R. White signed copies of the DVD with co-star Shane Harper on the floor and spoke about the film’s success at a breakfast event. To date, it is the No. 1 independent film of 2014, with the DVD released Aug. 5.

“We are very excited about how well it has done,” White said. “It will help pave the way for us to make even more films that we believe in.”

Sony’s Affirm Films hosted retailers at a suite away from the convention center at the Omni Hotel, inviting them to screenings of its two upcoming theatrical releases, the supernatural horror thriller The Remaining, due out this fall, and When the Game Stands Tall, the story of the De La Salle Spartans high school football team and its legendary Coach Bob Ladouceur, played by Jim Caviezel and due in theaters Aug. 22.

“Both films were received very well,” said Rich Peluso, senior vice president of Affirm Films. “People seemed to really enjoy them.”

City on a Hill Productions invited key retailers to a private reception, followed by two convention-wide screenings of The Song, an adaptation of the Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes. Richard Ramsey, Louisville, Kentucky-based screenwriter and director takes the biblical King Solomon and portrays him as a modern-day singer-songwriter who succumbs to sins of the flesh.

Nashville-based actors Alan Powell (in the role of Jed King) and Caitlin Nicol (Shelby Bale) were on hand for the reception and screenings and played and sang the title track from the movie for an audience of several hundred.

Small group curriculum and other church resources will release at the same time as The Song, which opens in about 400 theaters Sept. 26.

Convention-goers also were invited to a public screening of One Media and Millennium Entertainment’s July 18 political thriller Persecuted, starring James Remar, singer Natalie Grant and former Senator Fred Thompson and written, directed and produced by Daniel Lusko. In the movie, a senator frames a popular evangelist for murder because he is standing in the way of sweeping religious reform.

Life-sized images of actor Nicolas Cage greeted retailers on the exhibit floor, as he is starring in the fall remake of Left Behind, based on the blockbuster novel by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Producer Paul Lalonde and his brother Peter produced the original film that released 14 years ago, starring Kirk Cameron. Now Paul returns solo with Left Behind: The End Begins, also starring Chad Michael Murray and Jordin Sparks. The $16 million Oct. 3 release focuses only on the rapture.

“Our approach this time is completely different,” Lalonde said. “We’ve upped the cast and upped the budget a lot.”

Suppliers and distributors hope that generating excitement for films will propel DVD sales, which can help offset the decline in music sales.

“I think retail is getting it,” said Dusty Wells, senior vice president of national accounts at Word Entertainment. “Some of our key retailers seemed much more excited about films this year.”

Wells said that music still has some legs and pointed to the success of bands like For King and Country who performed Sunday.

“I loved hearing all the buzz about them,” Wells said. —Natalie Gillespie

Abingdon stands out at Christian Retailing’s Best PDF Print E-mail
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Tuesday, 08 July 2014 03:20 PM EDT

Methodist publisher wins dozen ‘Best’ while Christy Awards celebrate debut novelist with Book of the Year

AbingdonPress-AwardFrom Christian Retailing’s presentation of its product awards to the Christy Awards for Christian fiction, there was no shortage of honors presented at the 2014 International Christian Retail Show (ICRS).

The Christian Retailing’s Best awards ( were announced Tuesday morning, June 24 at the Creative Pavilion stage. Todd Starnes, author of God Less America (FrontLine/Charisma House) and host of the “FOX News & Commentary” daily radio show, presented the awards.

Abingdon Press was the runaway winner with 12 awards this year, including both Bible categories won by the company’s Common English Bible editions, one for author and pastor Adam Hamilton, and two—fiction and nonfiction—for Cynthia Ruchti.

Tyndale House Publishers and Baker Publishing Group each took four awards. The winning authors from Tyndale were David Platt, Beth Moore, Karen Whiting and Ann Voskamp. Baker won in two fiction categories, one of which was a tie; Charismatic; and Bible Reference/Study. The company’s winning authors included Dani Pettrey, Beverly Lewis, James W. Goll and Tremper Longman III (editor).

At the 15th annual Christy Awards on Monday evening, June 23, Lori Benton was honored with three awards for the best in Christian fiction. Not only was Benton’s Burning Sky: A Novel of the American Frontier (WaterBrook Press) given the top honor as Book of the Year, but the title also won in the First Novel and Historical categories. Benton was not able to attend, however, for health reasons.

Benton is only the second debut novelist to receive the Christy Awards’ highest honor.

“To say that I’m honored and humbled by this recognition for Burning Sky would be to understate things,” Benton said upon hearing the news. “I’m stunned, I’m rejoicing, and though it may sound strange to some, I’m terribly chuffed for Willa, Neil and Joseph, the story’s main characters.”

“We are so pleased by Lori Benton’s achievement and the three Christy awards Burning Sky has been honored with,” said WaterBrook’s Senior Fiction Editor Shannon Marchese. “It is no surprise that the years Lori spent researching Iroquois and Colonial history, her extraordinary characters and the spellbinding story she crafted has been so fittingly recognized.”

Davis Bunn was master of ceremonies for the awards, held at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. With four of his works Christy winners in past years, Bunn was inducted into the Christy Hall of Fame. Marcia Z. Nelson, Publishers Weekly’s associate religion editor, was keynote speaker.

The other winning authors were Lisa Harris, Christa Parrish, Susan May Warren, Tessa Afshar, Anne Elisabeth Stengl and Ted Dekker. See the winning titles at —Johnson

ICRS Bibles-Scripture publishers focus on retail PDF Print E-mail
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Tuesday, 08 July 2014 03:13 PM EDT

MEV translation travels while companies revisit top brands

MEV-StarnesBusBible publishers at the International Christian Retail Show were helping Christian retailers capitalize on their uniqueness in the marketplace with new Scripture offerings. Passio, an imprint of Charisma House, brought the only new Bible translation—the Modern English Version (MEV)—while multiple companies varied their Scripture offerings with new approaches and styles.

Charisma House came to the show in a big way, bringing a tour bus that not only featured Todd Starnes’ book God Less America, but also the MEV Bible, releasing this fall.

The consensus on the MEV is that “it’s going to be well-received,” said Jason McMullen, director of ministry services and publishing director of the Modern English Version. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm about it. Obviously we’ve promoted it heavily here with the goals of raising awareness and driving engagement. We are encouraged by what we see so far and look forward to a strong launch.”

McMullen said he believes the MEV—a new, modern translation in the spirit of the King James Version (KJV)—“will benefit the church.”

Just before ICRS, B&H Publishing Group announced its plans for The Rainbow Study Bible, the best-selling color-coded, themed Bible acquired from Standard Publishing.

Launching in September, the Holman Rainbow Study Bible, KJV Edition features an all-new page layout that includes the unique color-code key across every spread.

The NIV edition will release in February 2015, and then the RVR 1960 Spanish edition will follow in April 2015.

B&H is also helping retailers maximize the effectiveness of their presentation of text Bibles. About a year ago, the company began to offer the KJV in a merchandising program with seven Bible sizes and 14 styles and designs. B&H is now rolling out the New King James Version (NKJV) in the same program, and from fall 2014 to spring 2015 will be doing the same with the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB).

“We have three pretty sizable translations in the market,” Tim Jordan, Bible marketing manager, said. “We felt like we needed to move that into plain text Bibles to help bookstores, help consumers walk in and make just simplified decisions—1, 2, 3. There’s no reason for customers to leave.”

Sharon Heggeland, director of sales operations, at Tyndale House Publishers, said that the company’s significant One Year Bible “anchor brand” has been refreshed with full-color imagery for each day’s reading. The One Year Bible Illustrated comes in the New Living Translation and the New International Version. Tyndale also introduced HCSB version of its popular Life Application Study Bible.

Several publishers had women’s Bibles to promote, including B&H (The Study Bible for Women, HCSB), Charisma House (SpiritLed Woman Bible, MEV) and Crossway (ESV Women’s Devotional Bible, English Standard Version).

The end of August will see the release of Crossway’s ESV Women’s Devotional Bible with a “Word-centered” devotional for every day of the year, said Anthony Gosling, vice president of sales at Crossway. “This is not just sort of a helpful thought for the day.”

HarperCollins Christian Publishing was promoting The Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible (Thomas Nelson, Oct. 28), continuing the popular brand, and the NIV First-Century Study Bible (Zondervan, Sept. 9), which guides the reader in Scripture study through the eyes of a first-century disciple.

Abingdon Press was promoting October’s The Step Stone Bible, which focuses on the people and places of the Bible. It includes extended introductions, sidebar articles and is described as “a full Bible with an in-depth reference handbook in one.”

Kingstone Comics continues work on The Kingstone Bible, releasing the installments of the 12 graphic-novel metanarrative as they are completed. —Johnson

ICRS Attendance flat at Christian retail show PDF Print E-mail
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Tuesday, 08 July 2014 03:09 PM EDT

CBA to revamp convention strategy for 2016

DobsonAwardThe 2014 International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) convened in Atlanta, June 22-25, with the number of attendees essentially flat, but with significant discussions on the future of Christian retail.

The number of attendees at this year’s convention was essentially flat, with CBA reporting buyer attendance up 2.4%. In St. Louis last year, professional attendance for ICRS was down 15% to 1,485 buyers.

Some exhibitors changed their strategy for the show, seeking to rein in costs. Gardenfire and African American Expressions (AAE) opted out, while InterVarsity Press (IVP) just had a table in the international rights area.

“Knowing that CBA is attempting to right-size the event and its costs (much of which are borne by exhibitors), I wanted to pull way back and gauge the impact, knowing that IVP would return in 2016 and beyond when CBA’s legacy contracts with convention centers reflecting a very old set of realities were fulfilled and a new model was in place,” said Jeff Crosby, IVP’s associate publisher and director of sales and marketing.

“The impact was negligible, and what I did feel was largely positive, even beyond the financial,” Crosby added. “My colleague in international sales, Diana Verhagen, and I had a very full dance card of strategic meetings.”

AAE Sales Manager Ron Gilmore said options are “still open” for 2015, but the company’s new approach didn’t pan out.

“AAE originally planned to fly me in to walk the floor and visit with some of our vendors there off site for lunch or dinner,” Gilmore said. “However, as an exhibitor company, I was not able to accomplish that through CBA. Also, as we looked at our calendar and realized that the Atlanta gift show was right behind this show, we thought we needed to be good stewards of the resources and opted to just go to Atlanta once rather that twice.”

Apparel maker Gardenfire, usually a big presence at the show, opted for a pair of gift marts this year, but plans to return to ICRS.

“We chose to spend our budget at the Dallas Market and at a show in Las Vegas this year,” Gardenfire owner Jayme Brandt said. “We have a small staff, and I could not do both the ICRS show and Dallas at the same time.”

Much of the planned discussion at ICRS focused on reaching millennials as the industry is seeing significant shifts in shopping habits and fluctuations in church attendance, especially in the 18-33 age group.

“Group Publishing’s Jeff Michaels said it in an ICRS training session: The market has shifted from boomers, driven by price, to millennials driven by branding, local loyalty and relationship,” said Curtis Riskey, president of CBA. “And small Christian stores are in that sweet spot.”

Monday’s general session panel invited authors Ravi Zacharias, Philip Yancey and Ryan Dobson to address an important question: “Where is Christianity going?”

In that session, the association presented Family Talk’s Dr. James Dobson with the ICRS Lifetime Achievement Award.

“His radio interviews alone drove tens of thousands of people to Christian bookstores,” Riskey said.

In addition to retailers and vendors, CBA tailored parts of ICRS to the public and to ministry leaders, the latter in conjunction with RBC Ministries.

The new Change A Life Festival, free to the public, saw some big names, including Phil, Alan and “Miss Kay” Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame, and show-stopping band For King & Country. The festival benefited Buckhead Christian Ministry.

ICRS 2015 will be held June 28-July 1 in Orlando, Florida. Arrowhead Conferences and Events, a ministry of Cru, is assisting CBA with revamping its show strategy to lower costs and add greater value. —Johnson

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