Christian Retailing

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Faith-Based Comic Book Market Continues To Grow PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 15 August 2011 10:23 AM EDT

Digital options fuel interest in pictured-based editions and let Christian artists bypass 'publishing gatekeepers'

Fueled by the latest big-budget Hollywood release based on a comic book hero, interest is growing in Christian graphic novels.Kingstone-Media-booth

As Captain America debuted at No. 1 in the box office in July, creators of faith-based comic books were reporting heightened openness to titles with spiritual themes and topics.

Among those seeing business growth is Kingstone Media Group (KMG), whose titles are now being distributed to secular stores by Diamond Comic Distributors, the biggest provider to comic book retailers.

Kingstone Comics titles are also increasingly popular with church and other Christian stores, said the company’s publisher and CEO, Art Ayris. Kingstone has even opened its own 600-square-foot bookstore at its Leesburg, Fla., church campus-based headquarters.

With new imprints coming in early 2012—Chronicles Media for historical and educational titles, Valor for military themes and Classix for adaptations of classic literature—Kingstone has exhibited at several recent major publishing events, including a heightened presence at the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) in July.

“We want to become the Marvel (Comics) of the faith market, and so we really just wanted to make a statement that we are here,” Ayris said of the ICRS booth. “We have grown to the point where we are really serious about the market. Adding to Kingstone’s current 25 titles will be a series that will build towards a complete graphic Bible.”

Meanwhile, the company has also seen success with its Bay Forest Books imprint of novels. Recent release The Disappearing Man by Doug Peterson—based on the true story of a slave who mailed himself to freedom in a large box—has been optioned for a movie. Another new title promoted at ICRS was 1 Step Away, a modern-day retelling of the story of Job by Eric Wilson, author of the best-sellingFireproof novelization (Thomas Nelson).

KMG also had a presence at Book Expo America in May and Comic-Con International in July in San Diego, which drew more than 100,000 comic book and movie fans. Kingstone President and COO Steve Blount was among the panelists for a discussion on “Christian Comics: The Calling of the Artist” at Comic-Con.

Also taking part in the presentation was Sergio Cariello, the former DC Comics and Marvel Comics artist who illustrated The Action Bible, an updating of David C. Cook’s successful The Picture Bible, released last year.

The discussion was part of a series of events organized at Comic-Con by the Christian Comic Arts Society (CCAS), in partnership with Chalice Press. The publisher’s Marvelous Myths: Marvel Superheroes and Everyday Faith by Russell W. Dalton, was handed out to attendees by CCAS representatives.

Another Comic-Con exhibitor was Robert James Luedke, with a limited edition of his The Collected Eye Witness Slipcase Set, bringing together his Christian-themed graphic novels that have won five independent book awards.

Luedke attributed the growing openness to faith-based comic books in part to digital publishing developments. 

“I’d been approached by several well-known comic pros over the years who expressed their admiration for what I was doing and who confessed they’d always wanted to tell a faith-based story, but there just wasn’t a vehicle or publisher to whom they could bring the idea,” he said. “That’s where the digital age comes in. 

“Even more creators can bypass the publishing gatekeepers—many of which who are not friendly to anything with an 
evangelical slant to it—and self-publish their projects with distribution directly to the end users through digital platforms,” Luedke added. 

“This allows them to publish their works digitally or as a Web comic and build a fan base, where eventually they can then publish graphic novels or collections of their works in the traditional sense.”

 
Renowned Author, Theologian John Stott Dies PDF Print E-mail
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Monday, 15 August 2011 10:21 AM EDT

Books, Bible studies and commentaries sold more than 6 million copiesStott_John

 

John Stott—renowned pastor, theologian and author of numerous best-selling books—died July 27 in London, his hometown. He was 90.

Stott is best known for writing more than 50 books, including Basic Christianity (InterVarsity Press, IVP), which has been translated into more than 60 languages since it was originally published by IVP-UK in 1958. 

Some of his other books include Why I Am a ChristianThe Cross of ChristChristian Mission in the Modern World and Your Mind Matters (all IVP), as well as Through the Bible, Through the Year (Baker Books/Baker Publishing Group). 

Last year, IVP published the biography Basic Christian: The Inside Story of John Stott by Roger Steer. More than 6 million copies of Stott’s IVP books, Bible studies and Bible commentaries have been sold in the U.S., company officials said.

Besides writing the “John Stott Bible Studies” series (IVP), Stott was also a major contributor to and New Testament editor for the IVP Academic commentary series “The Bible Speaks Today.”

“We are deeply grateful for this long publishing partnership and friendship with one of the most influential and beloved evangelical leaders for the past half-century,” said Bob Fryling, publisher of IVP, Stott’s main publisher in the U.S. “Stott was not only revered, he was loved. He had a humble mind and a gracious spirit.”

IVP Associate Publisher for Editorial Andy Le Peau said that Stott’s works were embraced for their “clear, balanced, sound perspective on Scripture and life. He was filled with a grace and strength that will be dearly missed in this era of extreme viewpoints and harsh rhetoric.” 

Scott Bolinder, president of global publishing for Biblica, who spent more than 20 years as Zondervan’s executive vice president and publisher, said that he developed a friendship with Stott during his career in the industry.

“His writings took on even greater impact in my life because now I was able to experience the man whose walk fully matched his talk,” Bolinder wrote on a tribute Web site for Stott. 

“There is hardly a week that goes by in my work at Biblica where I don’t think of John and his encouragement to me to help the church grow deep and not just wide.”

As a principal framer of the Lausanne Covenant in 1974, a defining statement for evangelical Christians, Stott was at the heart of evangelical renewal in the U.K. for more than half a century. 

In 2005, Stott, who retired from public ministry in 2007 at age 86, was recognized by TIME magazine as part of its 100 "world's most influential people."

 
Christian Store Week Campaign Is Set To Double In Size PDF Print E-mail
Written by Production   
Monday, 15 August 2011 10:16 AM EDT

Leading publishers and distributors to support expanded retail channel awareness effort in October

Riskey_CurtisThomas Nelson Publishers, Tyndale House Publishers, Zondervan, Baker Publishing Group and Abingdon Press are among the sponsoring vendors for this year’s Christian Store Week. 

Also supporting the CBA-sponsored Oct. 1-10 event—intended to build awareness of Christian retail stores and draw new customers—are EMI CMG Distribution, Provident-Integrity Distribution, Spring Arbor Distributors and Word Distribution.

Organizers anticipate the number of stores participating in this year’s event will double that of the 2010 launch, when 475 stores signed up. LifeWay Christian Stores was the only chain to take part in last year’s Christian Store Day. Others that had expressed interest did not have the time to prepare merchandising and promotional plans, prompting organizers to bring preparations forward for this year.

All chains and marketing groups are due to take part in this year’s event, which will start on Columbus Day—typically a busy retail day. There will be a special benefit CD for the promotion, as well as more in-store appearances by artists and authors.  

In its debut effort Oct. 23 last year, Christian Store Day raised $60,000 to aid Compassion International, Samaritan’s Purse and World Vision in relief efforts for Haiti through a compilation benefit CD. 

“The expanded campaign allows retailers to better merchandise their stores and provide more opportunities for consumers, author and artists to participate,” said Curtis Riskey, CBA’s executive director. 

Christian humanitarian organization World Vision also has been named as the ministry partner for this year’s event “for the purpose of bringing Christian stores and their customers together around a central mission,” said Andy Peterson, vice president of Propeller Consulting, who is coordinating Christian Store Day on behalf of CBA. “We want Christian Store Week to be about more than products.”

Riskey added: “Part of the whole process has been to do a recap of what was successful and what didn’t work last year, and then to improve and bring those elements in this year to see we have an even more successful event.”

 
Christian Store Week Campaign Is Set To Double In Size PDF Print E-mail
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Monday, 15 August 2011 10:16 AM EDT

Leading publishers and distributors to support expanded retail channel awareness effort in October

Riskey_CurtisThomas Nelson Publishers, Tyndale House Publishers, Zondervan, Baker Publishing Group and Abingdon Press are among the sponsoring vendors for this year’s Christian Store Week. 

Also supporting the CBA-sponsored Oct. 1-10 event—intended to build awareness of Christian retail stores and draw new customers—are EMI CMG Distribution, Provident-Integrity Distribution, Spring Arbor Distributors and Word Distribution.

Organizers anticipate the number of stores participating in this year’s event will double that of the 2010 launch, when 475 stores signed up. LifeWay Christian Stores was the only chain to take part in last year’s Christian Store Day. Others that had expressed interest did not have the time to prepare merchandising and promotional plans, prompting organizers to bring preparations forward for this year.

All chains and marketing groups are due to take part in this year’s event, which will start on Columbus Day—typically a busy retail day. There will be a special benefit CD for the promotion, as well as more in-store appearances by artists and authors.  

In its debut effort Oct. 23 last year, Christian Store Day raised $60,000 to aid Compassion International, Samaritan’s Purse and World Vision in relief efforts for Haiti through a compilation benefit CD.ChristianStoreWeek-logo

“The expanded campaign allows retailers to better merchandise their stores and provide more opportunities for consumers, author and artists to participate,” said Curtis Riskey, CBA’s executive director. 

Christian humanitarian organization World Vision also has been named as the ministry partner for this year’s event “for the purpose of bringing Christian stores and their customers together around a central mission,” said Andy Peterson, vice president of Propeller Consulting, who is coordinating Christian Store Day on behalf of CBA. “We want Christian Store Week to be about more than products.”

Riskey added: “Part of the whole process has been to do a recap of what was successful and what didn’t work last year, and then to improve and bring those elements in this year to see we have an even more successful event.”

 
Stores Thanked For Their ‘Vital’ Role In ‘Courageous’ Campaign PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 15 August 2011 10:13 AM EDT

Highly anticipated movie release from 'Fireproof' makers is backed by multiple tie-in book releases

 

Courageous-posterChristian retail stores could find themselves at the center of a widespread social movement if expectations are realized for a major release campaign launching this month.

Many are hoping that the Sept. 30 debut of Courageous will produce the kind of personal impact and big sales generated by the DVD release of the makers’ previous movie Fireproof and its tie-in book, The Love Dare (B&H Books/B&H Publishing Group). Both were credited with saving many marriages from breakup—and stores from closing.

Several books and licensed gift products have been produced to coincide with the theatrical release of Courageous, which is set to open on more than 1,000 screens nationwide. There is also to be a theatrical release in Canada and the U.K.

Following the lives and struggles of four police officers, Courageous addresses the problems caused by fatherlessness and has been applauded by North American leaders of Worldwide Marriage Encounter as “a must-see movie for all those who believe in a strong commitment to fatherhood.”

The organization is just one of several ministries that is offering support for the film—due to be released on DVD early next year—and related books from the producing team at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga.

Senior Pastor Michael Catt—whose Courageous Living: Dare to Take a Stand (B&H Books/B&H Publishing Group) comes out this month—said that the team behind the film did not want to measure Courageous against previous releases. “Our job is to present the message He has given us,” he said. “It is His job to multiply it—we have to be faithful to trust Him with the results.”

Filmmaking brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick—who co-wrote The Love Dare, based on a plot device in Fireproof—have teamed up again for The Resolution for Men, released this month by B&H Publishing Group. The book looks at what it means for men to pursue God’s role for them in their homes and families—a commitment made by characters in Courageous. B&H is also bringing out a companion title, The Resolution for Women, by Priscilla Shirer.

Moody Publishers released Rite of Passage: A Father’s Blessing by Jim McBride—executive pastor at Sherwood and the fourth member of Sherwood Pictures’ leadership team, along with Catt and the Kendricks—last month. Drawing from personal experience as a father of four, McBride shares ideas on how to create a coming-of-age ceremony to pass on values.

FamilyLife Publishing has released Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood by Dennis Rainey, FamilyLife co-founder, president and CEO. The book looks at the challenges facing men during their different life stages, from boyhood through to becoming a patriarch and how they can help others.Kendrick_Alex

Alex Kendrick said that Christian retailers had an important role in the Courageous campaign. “The retail community is the pipeline to get resources into the hands of people,” he said. “We can’t do what we do without them. Yes, there is a business side to this, but first we see the ministry impact on a culture, so to say we are grateful to retailers for their support is an understatement. They are of vital importance.

“The greatest thing that happens to us is when someone in Christian retailing tells us a life-changing story that happens from somebody that has bought a DVD or a book, when they feel like they haven’t just sold product, but they have had a part in seeing lives changed,” Kendrick added.

 
Retailers, Suppliers Rally Around Industry Pledges PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 15 August 2011 10:08 AM EDT

'Christian Retailing' drive aims to encourage and support greater unity

Retailers and suppliers have welcomed a Christian Retailing initiative to promote support for and unity in the industry.CRretailers-suppliers-pledge

They have signed rallying point pledges committing to the ministry of Christian bookselling and helping to ensure that it continues. The effort has spread overseas, with store and publisher representatives in the U.K. promoting the pledges.

The drive was launched last month by Christian  Retailing Publisher Steve Strang as part of a move to help stores in the face of ongoing changes in the industry, “to encourage and equip and support them as they renew their faith and vision.”

Store owners, managers and frontliners are urged to renew their calling to Christian retailing, while suppliers are invited to recognize their unique partnership with Christian retailers and support them in any way they can.

Among the first retailer signatories was John Desaulniers Jr., who with his two sons recently took over Wellspring Christian Resources in Urbandale, Iowa. “The pledge is a positive statement to and by our industry,” he said. “More than half the battle for independent Christian retailers is attitude. We must not lose sight of why we did what we did years ago; it’s the same reason why we do what we do today. 

“The niche which independents fill is distinct, and it’s worth reconsidering periodically.”

Desaulniers said that he planned to hang a copy of the pledge—available online for printing—in his store. “I want it to be a reminder to our employees and an encouragement to our customers,” he said. 

Rick Tocquigny, president of card company Artbeat of America, said that he had signed the suppliers pledge because it resonated with the company’s mission and vision. The pledge “works as rallying point as long as we stay authentically centered on recognizing God’s voice amid the din of leadership,” he said.

Both pledges are open for signing at www.christianretailing.com/signthe pledge.

 
End Of Borders Stores Could Open Up Book Market PDF Print E-mail
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Monday, 15 August 2011 10:02 AM EDT

Christian retailers look to ‘step in and fill the gap’ as chain shutters remaining outlets; CBA offers action steps

Borders’ liquidation presents a “great opportunity” for Christian retailers—both chains and independents as well as marketing groups, according to industry leaders. They say the Christian retail channel could see a boost in business following the second-biggest U.S. bookstore chain’s seeking court approval in July to sell off its assets and shutter its remaining 399 stores.Borders-002

CBA Executive Director Curtis Riskey said that the liquidation offers a “great opportunity” for local Christian stores, especially markets where Borders operated. “Christian stores have an opportunity to add to their customer family by engaging former Borders patrons who are avid readers and like the physical store environment,” he said. 

At CBA’s Web site, it has compiled tips and techniques to “inspire retailers to take proactive action now to reach out and capture new customers,” Riskey added.

“We are saddened that Borders’ liquidation will mean lost opportunities for the sale and distribution of Christian books and Bibles to a world in desperate need of them,” he said. “At the same time, hundreds of store closings present opportunity for others, including independent retailers, to step in and fill the gap.”

Mardel Christian & Education President Jason Green said Borders’ liquidation presents “many opportunities for Christian retail stores to be discovered” by customers who may have shopped Borders.

“We see this as an opportunity to serve those customers who previously shopped Borders’ stores that may not have been a customer or regular customer of ours,” he said. “Our hope is that we encounter new faces that we can win over with our selection and service.”

Munce Group President Kirk Blank said that Borders’ closing “opens up some additional selling and service opportunities” for member stores of the marketing group. This summer, Munce Group sent a market-by-market summary to suppliers of the Borders stores that were closing and to Munce retailers located in the area.  

“We encouraged our vendors to contact those Munce Group stores and provide additional support and information to them,” Blank said. “The response was favorable and we had received feedback from some of the Munce Group stores. There was some increase in store traffic, and even a few customers who mentioned they had been customers at Borders and now would shop more frequently at the Munce Group member store.”

  Parable Group CEO Steve Potratz said that Borders’ liquidation provided “some opportunities.” “First, it provides an opportunity to purchase some great equipment at low cost,” he said. “I went to our local Borders and put my name on their sale cart, some endcap carts and book carts for my store. Second, this removes a major competitor from our market and gives us an opportunity to re-acquire customers. I plan to increase my Internet banner advertising to remind those customers that we are here and can serve them well.”

Jerry Bloom, president at Wholesale Christian Books, said that his discount company would not be impacted since he did not do business with Borders.

“Other bargain book dealers will feel some impact, but it’s better to have no customer than a customer that cannot pay its obligations,” he said. “Since Borders has been financially strapped over the past several years, many bargain book dealers have stepped back from offering them product.”

 Bloom added that there would not be millions of returns flooding back to publishers because products from Borders stores were to be liquidated to the public through discounted sales.

“The liquidation will probably impact the local markets for a short time,” said Bloom, noting that he was interested in buying Borders store fixtures. “Retailers such as Half Price Books will feel it more than others (due to reduced pricing from the liquidation). Christian retailers may feel a short pinch in the liquidation period, but nothing huge because Borders isn’t that strong in the Christian book market.”

Christian publishers were among many publishing houses owed at least a total of $230 million by the chain when it filed for bankruptcy in February. 

Tom Knight, senior vice president of sales for Thomas Nelson, said that the company did not discuss financial details from any its customers. “This process has been going on for quite a while, allowing us to effectively manage our internal business with Borders,” he said. 

Owed $1.9 million, Zondervan was among the top 20 publishers on Borders’ creditors’ list. The parent company of Zondervan, HarperCollins was owed $25.8 million. “Over the short term, we will do what we need to work through the liquidation, while focusing on ensuring that Zondervan products are available wherever the consumer is shopping,” said Tara Powers, spokesperson for Zondervan.

Baker Publishing Group Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing David Lewis said that Borders owed the company less than 1% of its annual sales. “Baker sold to Borders on a cash-on-delivery basis after the (bankruptcy) filing,” he said. “That amounted to a few hundred thousand dollars (worth) of books.”

 
Concordia provides back-to-school supplies PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 12 August 2011 03:50 PM EDT
For the 16th consecutive year, Concordia Publishing House (CPH) recently provided south St. Louis residents with more than 700 backpacks full of school supplies, hot lunches and activities in an effort to unite the community and share the gospel.
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