Written by Christian Retailing Staff
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 10:51 AM EDT
Former Zondervan president and CEO lauded for influence that ‘has permeated the industry for decades’
The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) presented the 2013 Kip Jordon Lifetime Achievement Award to publishing industry veteran Bruce Ryskamp at the 2013 Christian Book Awards banquet. Held April 29, at World Outreach Church outside Nashville during the ECPA Leadership Summit, the banquet also saw the presentation of multiple book awards, including the 2013 Christian Book Award.
Ryskamp was honored for his impact on the publishing industry in his role as president and CEO of Zondervan and as one the longest-serving members of ECPA’s board of directors.
“His influence has permeated the industry for decades,” ECPA President and CEO Mark Kuyper told Christian Retailing.
Serving Zondervan first as vice president of the company’s new Bible division in 1983, then as leader of its book division in 1987, Ryskamp was named president and CEO in 1993. Under his leadership, Zondervan saw publishing success with best-sellers by Rick Warren, Philip Yancey, Oliver North, Dave Dravecky, Lee Strobel and John Ortberg.
He also led Zondervan to see the long-term viability of digital publishing; to maintain a commitment to publishing resources for pastors, ministry leaders and academics; and to serve children’s needs by establishing the Zonderkidz group, which targets kids age 15 and under.
“With his marketing instincts and common-sense business principles, Ryskamp was adept at spotting new and unknown talent that had long-term potential,” ECPA officials said. “And his character was on full display when interacting one-on-one with mentally and physically challenged persons who worked at Zondervan daily through a partnership with the Hope Network.”
In retirement, Ryskamp and his wife, Jeri, have devoted their time and resources to the nonprofit Bruce and Jeralyn Ryskamp Orphan Assistance Foundation, providing funding for families who wish to adopt international orphans with special needs.
The award is presented by ECPA to an individual for his exceptional contribution to the Christian publishing industry. It is named in honor of Charles “Kip” Jordon (1945-1997), Christian publishing veteran of more than 25 years, and former publisher of Word Publishing.
Written by Christian Retailing Staff
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 10:50 AM EDT
Find It Local Today is ‘a win-win-win’ for shoppers, publishers and stores
Christian retailers unhappy with publishers selling directly to consumers now have an advocate.
Covenant Group has announced a new online, industry-wide initiative that aims to “leverage the consumer traffic” from Christian publishers’ websites towards Christian stores.
Available to Christian independents and chains, not just Covenant-member stores, Find It Local Today (FILT) was slated for official launch last month—coinciding with the International Christian Retail Show in St. Louis. Retailers who join FILT must pay a one-time set-up fee of $100 per account, and a minimal ongoing subscription fee of $10 per month or $100 annually.
“This program, which we have asked our supporting publishers to list as the first or primary ‘where to buy’ option on their websites, will give our retail stores a key position before consumers’ eyes on those publisher sites,” said Chuck Wallington, Covenant Group founder and president who came up with the idea for FILT earlier this year.
“With the title of our link focusing attention on the ‘shop local’ appeal, as well as the instant gratification aspect, we feel it will give us a strong opportunity to be ‘in the game’ in terms of competing with other options including major online competitors,” added Wallington, who is also owner of Christian Supply in Spartanburg, S.C.
CBA President Curtis Riskey told Christian Retailing that FILT is “a good concept,” and the association will help promote it.
“CBA will provide information and publicity about the program,” he said. “All of retail is trying to adapt to technology-enabled consumers, and CBA supports innovative experiments that keep brick-and-mortar stores in the technology loop. Christian stores must be able to connect with customers through technology at all points of the customer’s purchasing process.”
FILT has already enrolled leading publishers, including Thomas Nelson, Zondervan, Baker Publishing Group, Tyndale House Publishers, David C Cook, Abingdon Press, Barbour Publishing, Harvest House Publishers, Moody Publishers and Whitaker House.
“The response from the publisher community has been both immediate and overwhelming,” said Wallington, noting that there is no cost for publishers. “Almost every publisher we have approached has not just agreed to participate, but readily agreed. I think our publishers are increasingly seeing the benefit of helping strengthen the Christian retail channel, and the ones we have enrolled are certainly stepping up to the plate to do so.”
David Lewis, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Baker Publishing Group, told Christian Retailing that the publisher supports the initiative.
“We don’t have the actual number of referrals to online stores since we have changed our website during the past year, but based upon the last quarter, our estimate is that we have made over 100,000 referrals to online stores over the past year,” he said.
“In areas where local merchants and their local government have worked together to promote ‘Buy Local,’ the smaller retailers in those locations have actually grown,” Lewis added. “We hope that this campaign will continue to have the same impact in 2013 for the CBA stores. We strongly encourage every retailer to participate because we think is will help their sales, and their continued success is important to us and the book industry.”
Stephen Koenig, vice president of eCommerce for HarperCollins Christian Publishing, parent company of Thomas Nelson and Zondervan, said both publishers also support FILT.
“Thomas Nelson and Zondervan are always looking for ways to help our independent retail partners,” he said. “We see supporting the Find It Local Today initiative as another way to do that. We are proud to say that we refer thousands of customers to our retail partners each year.”
Bill Nielsen, chief operating officer of Berean Christian Stores, part of the Covenant Group, said FILT is a good idea.
“Berean will be participating and we hope to see two to four incremental transactions per store per month,” he said. “This is a program we are pleased to support and would encourage others to as well since it represents a great marriage or retail and supplier. In times like this, we need to come together as an industry whenever possible. Berean has seen strong comp store increases since November and we hope this will help us continue this positive trend.”
Wallington said enrolling in FILT should be “a no-brainer” for retailers.
“The annual fee is less than you’d pay for a decent-sized ad in a local high school annual, and you have the potential to have your store available as a shopping option to literally hundreds of thousands of consumers visiting publisher websites each year,” he said.
“This is a win-win-win situation” Wallington added. “The consumer wins because they are offered the viable option of shopping local and getting their requested product immediately if they choose. The Christian retailers win because they can now demonstrate to potential customers in their trading area looking on publisher sites, not only their store location, but the availability of the very product that customer is seeking. The publishers win because they are both offering a local, immediate purchasing option to the customers interested in their products, but also lending their practical support and vital endorsement of local Christian retail as well.”
Written by Christian Retailing Staff
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 10:47 AM EDT
CBA supports the online sales tax law because it ‘levels the playing field’
CBA, the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) have praised the Senate passage of the Marketplace Fairness Act on May 6. The bill, S. 743, now moves to the House, where it is expected to face opposition.
Sponsored by Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY) Richard Durbin (D-IL), Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), the legislation—which would allow states to require and collect online sales tax—passed the Senate by a more than two to one margin.
“CBA has been advocating along with other retail groups to pass this legislation that helps our members compete fairly in the marketplace,” said Curtis Riskey, president of the Christian retail association.
Riskey said CBA supported the legislation for three reasons:
“This is not new taxation. This is specifically taxation already on the books, but not enforced. CBA is not for increases in taxes, just fairness in collection.
“This will help level the playing field for small business. Again, when an online competitor is not required to collect sales taxes, brick-and-mortar retailers who follow the law can face as much as a 10% disadvantage.
“Small online-only retailers will be spared. Any small online-only retailer will not have to report sales under $1 million in revenue. This legislation also would simplify the tax administration process so online retailers only have to work with one agency and not 50-plus.”
NRF issued the following statement from NRF Chairman of the Board Stephen I. Sadove of Saks and NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay on the bill’s Senate passage:
“We applaud Senators Enzi, Durbin, Alexander and Heitkamp and the entire U.S. Senate for standing with local retailers and America’s small business owners in a strong, bipartisan vote for final passage of the Marketplace Fairness Act, despite a highly funded misinformation campaign by the legislation’s opposition,” Shay said. “Today’s action in the Senate is a significant step for sales tax fairness and we look forward to a robust debate in the U.S. House of Representatives.”
The Retail Industry Leaders Association also issued a statement on the passage.
“The Senate’s overwhelmingly bipartisan passage of this legislation foreshadows the end of the special treatment of big online businesses at the expense of retailers on Main Street,” said Bill Hughes, senior vice president for government affairs.
“After such a resounding vote in the Senate, we look forward to a constructive debate in the House to level the playing field for all retailers this year.”
Written by Christian Retailing Staff
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 10:45 AM EDT
U.S. government’s retreat called ‘an encouraging step,’ but publisher says ‘the court case isn’t over’
Tyndale House Publishers has been handed a gift by the Obama administration in its abortion-pill mandate case. On May 3, at the U.S. government’s request, a federal court dismissed the Obama administration’s appeal of a preliminary injunction in the case.
The administration’s retreat marks the first total appellate victory on a preliminary injunction in such a case.
Based in Carol Stream, Ill., the world’s largest privately held Christian publisher filed a lawsuit against the administration in October because the publisher specifically objects to covering abortion pills. A month later, a federal court temporarily halted the abortion pill mandate as litigation in the case continued. The government filed an appeal in January.
“The government dismissed its appeal because it knows how ridiculous it sounds arguing that a Bible publisher isn’t religious enough to qualify as a religious employer,” said Matt Bowman, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which represents Tyndale. “For the government to say that a Bible publisher isn’t religious is outrageous, and now the Obama administration has had to retreat in court.”
Tyndale House President and CEO Mark Taylor told Christian Retailing that “this was an encouraging step in the process, but the court case isn’t over.”
“We appreciate the legal support of ADF, but it’s discouraging that we have to spend so much time and energy in defending our right to operate our Christian business, according to the implications of our religious beliefs,” he said.
The administration argued that Tyndale House isn’t religious enough for an exemption from the mandate, a component of Obamacare that forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraception under threat of heavy penalties. The publisher is subject to the mandate because Obama administration rules say for-profit corporations are categorically nonreligious.
Following the government’s request, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dropped the administration’s appeal, which means the preliminary injunction issued by a district court in November will stand, while the case, Tyndale House Publishers v. Sebelius, moves forward.
The Obama administration required most businesses to comply with the Health and Human Services mandate by August 2012. Some faith-based organizations, including hospitals and universities, have a so-called safe harbor until August, but Tyndale does not qualify for the extension.
ADF said 59 lawsuits are challenging the mandate, and courts have issued orders in 25 of the cases involving for-profit companies. Injunctions were granted to temporarily halt the mandate in all but six of those cases.
In a separate case, Hobby Lobby Stores and sister retailer Mardel Christian and Education were schedule to have their health care case heard before a full court, instead of the usual three-judge panel, May 23 in Denver.
Written by Christine D. Johnson
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 10:43 AM EDT
Plan to join us at the Town Center Stage to find out if the products you voted for were chosen as best of the year
The Christian products industry is putting on its shine this month for CBA’s International Christian Retail Show (ICRS). Christian Retailing will also be a part of the show—with the Charisma Media booth (#2138) and with our Christian Retailing’s Best awards.
Jonathan Cahn, best-selling author of The Harbinger (Charisma House), has graciously accepted our invitation to present the 2013 awards Tuesday, June 25, 10-11 a.m.
And for the first time, we have moved our awards event to the Town Center Stage to involve more retailers and other show visitors. Even if you can’t stay the full hour, we invite you to take a break and stop by to celebrate with the authors, artists and companies who won this year—many whom you may have voted for by online ballot.
During ICRS, the Christian Retailing team also will be covering many events and visiting with retailers and exhibitors. We always look forward to finding out what’s happening in your world and to hear feedback on the job we’re doing. Hope to see you there!
Written by Ann Byle
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 10:37 AM EDT
Liz Curtis Higgs credits Christian retailers as helping to establish and disciple her as a young believer
When Liz Curtis Higgs came to know Christ in 1982, she quickly found herself alone in her faith walk—but Christian retailers became her biggest encouragers.
Higgs’ mentors moved away almost immediately after she was saved, and, although she knew a few people at the church she attended, she was virtually alone as she began her walk with God. Still, Christian retailers who kept her supplied with the best books on the topics she sought, including her first Bible, a Ryrie Study Bible, became her steady helpers.
“The first time I walked into a Christian bookstore I felt like I was in a parallel universe. I said, ‘Wow! This is a whole store about Jesus,’ ” said Higgs with her signature hearty laugh. “They became my go-to source. They filled my arms with books and I was so grateful.”
Today Higgs is author of 30 books with more than 4.5 million in print, from her perennial best-selling “Bad Girls of the Bible” series to children’s books to award-winning historical fiction. Within months of her salvation, she began teaching, and not long after that sensed God was calling her to write. Thomas Nelson published her first book, “One Size Fits All” and Other Fables in 1993, and WaterBrook Press released one of her most popular titles, Bad Girls of the Bible, in 1999.
WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group is reissuing Bad Girls of the Bible this month, and has retooled the book’s DVD curriculum.
To mark the release of the refreshed book and curriculum, Higgs is launching her Bad Girls thank-you tour July 22 in Boston. She’ll be in Oklahoma City, Okla., Nashville and Grand Rapids, Mich., the following week visiting Christian retail stores and the headquarters of Mardel Christian & Education, LifeWay Christian Stores, Family Christian Stores and Christian Book Distributors. She’ll lead devotions or Bible studies at the stores and headquarters.
“Christian retail has been so good to me,” Higgs said. “They keep my books on the shelves from those in the early 2000s right up to the most recent. When I moved into historical fiction, Christian retailers just went for it. They have my back and have been there year after year.”
Rachel McRae, book buyer for adult trade books for LifeWay Christian Stores, said: “Liz is one of our top authors in fiction and nonfiction for the whole chain.”
McRae is quick to call Higgs an evergreen seller and a top-selling author in women’s and fiction categories.
“Her fiction fans continue to grow with each new release. We love to promote Liz and keep her in front of customers,” she added.
Stephen W. Cobb, president and publisher at WaterBrook Multnomah, remembers Higgs as one of the earliest contracted authors with Bad Girls of the Bible when WaterBrook Press started.
“The message of that book is outstanding and timeless, and we’ve made every effort to refresh the packaging,” Cobb said. “It’s been a spectacular performer, and the other books in the series have done well, too.”
Others in the series include Really Bad Girls of the Bible, Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible and Unveiling Mary Magdalene.
WaterBrook will release her newest book, The Women of Christmas: Experience the Season Afresh with Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna, in September. Higgs created the original content for an online Bible study on her blog, which had about 5,000 signed up for the study.
“Her online Bible study was so popular that we all decided it needed to be a book,” said Beverly Rykerd, publicity manager for WaterBrook Multnomah. “Liz is smart, easy to work with, very talented, and boy, can she pull the meat out of a Bible verse!”
Cobb calls Higgs unique in a publishing sense because she writes outstanding nonfiction, but is also a best-selling novelist with her historical series set in Scotland and her contemporary fiction. She has been nominated for numerous Christy Awards and has won several. Her historical fiction includes Thorn in My Heart, first in a four-book series; Here Burns My Candle, first in a two-book series; and the Victorian Christmas novella A Wreath of Snow, a 2013 Christy Award finalist.
Her four “Parable” books for children are Gold Medallion Book Award winners. Awards aside, though, Higgs represents the core of the Christian publishing industry, “being engaged in personal relationship with God and in disciplined study of His Word,” Cobb said.
“She is a Bible teacher who is not bound by format or genre,” he added. “Her novels lend themselves to Bible study, and her nonfiction is deeply rooted in Scripture and certainly fit for study.”
Add to that her full speaking and travel schedule and her personal touch.
“Most every time she travels she makes time to visit Christian bookstores to meet their frontliners, visit with customers in the store and sign books,” Cobb said. “She makes a great effort to maintain the touch.”
Higgs happily confesses that one of her favorite things to do is what she calls “a drive-by signing.”
“I just stop in at a Christian bookstore and say ‘hi’ and ask to sign books,” she said. “I’ve often thought that if I could convince a store to let me be a worker, I would learn so much.”
She commends Christian retailers for their wisdom in getting to know authors and see their hearts, to ask questions, and for their personal service and wisdom in stocking good books.
“I’ve always understood Christian retail to be a ministry, and ministry happens because people hand-sell those books,” said Higgs. “I want Christian retailers to see who I really am and that this is a woman they can stand behind. They have the right and responsibility to examine those who write.”
Higgs is reaching a new audience, thanks to her “Righteous Ruth Rap,” a live recording from her appearance in Little Rock, Ark., that is taking YouTube by storm. Based on her book The Girl’s Still Got It: Take A Walk with Ruth and the God Who Rocked Her World (WaterBrook, 2012), Higgs offered the rap as a summary to those who hadn’t heard her previous teaching on Ruth. She’s also working on a music video to go with the new edition of Bad Girls of the Bible.
The key, according to Higgs, is helping readers however she can, whether through rap, discussion questions, video teaching, study guides, meeting readers in stores or at speaking events, or encouraging the Christian retailers who stock her books.
“I grieve every time I hear that a Christian retailer has to close its doors. It hurts,” she said. “They offer personal service and knowledge of the books on the shelves—something no online retailer can. The bottom line for me is that it’s always about ministry rather than promotion. I’ll do anything to let our retailers know they make a difference.”
Written by Christian Retailing Staff
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 10:01 AM EDT
Seeing ‘an unprecedented opportunity,’ Christian micropublishers are taking advantage of the digital wave
Former news reporter Fiona Veitch Smith didn’t plan to start a publishing company.
“It just happened,” she said.
Now Smith has a print series of picture books for children and a range of e-novels for adults. She’s part of the growing phenomenon of “micro-publishers” in the United Kingdom.
Smith realized recession’s impact on the publishing industry and the rise of e-books offered “an unprecedented opportunity” for authors to write their own destinies, so she set up Newcastle-based Crafty Publishing (www.craftypublishing.com) in 2011 with her computer-whiz husband, Rod.
Her colorful kids’ books on young King David are now in Christian bookstores across Britain.
The e-book process of writing and uploading has its drawbacks.
“Everyone’s doing it––and most are doing it badly,” she said. “It’s hard for people to take you seriously because there’s so much rubbish floating around.”
Yet the digital realm does offer opportunities for low-cost marketing.
Another husband-and-wife team, Mark and Mary Fleeson, have created a subculture of “coffee-table monasticism” with graphic-rich books on prayer from their Northumbria-based art and publishing house Lindisfarne Scriptorium (www.lindisfarne-scriptorium.co.uk).
“When Apple produced its free software for producing iBooks, that allowed us to produce a version of our photographic prayer book,” said Mark Fleeson.
To crack the Kindle code, he downloaded a sample e-book and split it into its components.
“Once I understood the structure, I started building a Kindle version of our book Woven Words,” he explained.
The title became their most popular e-book.
Challenges include the abundance of digital formats and customers expecting e-books to be free or a “substantially lower” price than print. The Fleesons still put out print products, too, such as The One Day Creative Retreat Book, selling more than 600 copies since its April launch.
London-based Manoj Raithatha also never intended to become a publisher. But he believed God drew him into the industry while co-writing a book called Building the Kingdom Through Business. He set up Instant Apostle (www.instantapostle.com), publishing “new voices” for web and print.
“There are so many voices that need hearing—and don’t get heard,” Raithatha said.
So Raithatha takes that risk with such titles as Potholes and Belly-flops by former glamour model Susie Flashman Jarvis and I’m A Christian, So What Do I Believe? by Anglican priest Ken Gardiner.
Raithatha has only positive things to say about his experience with electronic publishing. Focusing on new writers is paying off––a number of their titles are on their way to the 1,000th-sale mark, which is reasonable progress in the U.K. market.
With e-publishing still in its infancy, some wonder if the bubble will burst. Only time will tell. But creative Christians are among the pioneers on the digital frontier. As Smith said, “The rules have yet to be written.”