|New publisher signs deal with EMI CMG Distribution|
|Wednesday, 15 June 2011 02:27 PM EDT|
Worthy books’ unique cross-category partnership
A Christian publishing veteran is marking his return to the industry with what is believed to be an unprecedented cross-category partnership.
Byron Williamson’s new Worthy Publishing titles are to be distributed by EMI Christian Music Group (EMI CMG) when they are released in September. The Sky is Not Falling by Charles Colson and a faith study of teen pop star Justin Bieber lead the nine releases that will mark the debut of the new imprint.
EMI CMG will handle fulfillment to all physical retail channels and market the books to independent Christian retail stores, while sales to national, international and digital accounts will be handled by Worthy.
Formerly president of Word Publishing and the Thomas Nelson/Word Publishing Group and who later founded Integrity Publishers, Williamson said that he was “thrilled” to be back in publishing after a few years away due to contractual issues.
Although music and book company partnerships had occurred previously, he was not aware of any of the scale and scope of the Worthy-EMI CMG agreement, he said. EMI CMG had “a wonderful reputation” for excellence in shipping and customer service, he added.
Bill Hearn, president and CEO of EMI CMG, said that adding books to the company’s distribution service was “a natural extension” of its founding as “a platform to support and develop communicators of the gospel.”
Williamson said that the arrangement with EMI CMG could lead to further joint initiatives such as live events featuring authors and artists. “There are a number of things that could eventually come from this alliance.”
Joining Cathleen Falsani’s Belieber! Fame, Faith and the Heart of Justin Bieber in the first Worthy list are Stephen Arterburn’s Walking Into Walls, John Townsend’s How to Be a Best Friend Forever and Bill and Gloria Gaither’s A Homecoming Family Christmas.
Though the first list does not feature any fiction, the category will be included in future releases, with about 30 titles scheduled for next year.
Williamson said that he was not troubled about launching a new publishing venture at a time when the industry was being rocked by the impact of e-books. “I think it’s a great time,” he said. “The only way is up.” Recent indicators pointed to growth “so the industry is actually pretty healthy right now. It’s an exciting time.”
Christian retail was central to Worthy’s success, he said. “We don’t consider ourselves a crossover publisher, we consider ourselves a Christian publisher that will distribute some of our titles, some more than others, in some mainstream outlets, but many of our books will sell far more in Christian retail stores.”
Greg Bays, senior vice president, sales and marketing for EMI CMG, said that the Worthy partnership was another way that the distributor was broadening its service to help independent Christian stores in the wake of softening physical music sales.
Since EMI CMG had started offering DVD distribution four years ago, that part of the overall business had grown from 3% to around 25%. “We are always on the lookout for what might be available,” Bays said. “We have been in the video game business. We have looked at apparel.”
Providing books to stores, too, could help streamline supply-chain demands for many independent owners who increasingly were having to handle buying duties in addition to other responsibilities. “They need suppliers who really know the store and understand their business to come with streamline solutions, to help with a lot of different product categories.”