Christian Retailing

Bloggers build brands through product awareness Print Email
Written by Natalie Gillespie   
Tuesday, 28 May 2013 05:37 PM America/New_York

Community engagement through the popular journaling and product-reviewing sites creates buzz—for good or bad

People around the world began posting their thoughts in journal format on the World Wide Web starting in the late 1990s. Short for “weblog,” the “blog” format grew in popularity, and today Wikipedia claims there are close to 200 million blogs in existence.

By the Book: Empowering Christians to live the abundant life Print Email
Written by Ken Walker   
Tuesday, 28 May 2013 05:50 PM America/New_York

Biggest book category may be ‘crowded’ but does much more than take up shelf space

One of the Christian publishing’s most wide-ranging and prolific categories, Christian Living is taking on a grittier edge, symbolized by select New Hope Publishers’ titles tied to a new anti-pornography campaign.

Getting behind a cause Print Email
Written by Lindsay Williams   
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 09:31 AM America/New_York

Every link in the Christian retail chain is needed to serve a world in need

Christian retailers are realizing more and more that they can be change agents in their communities and beyond. Several have found success in leading movements to evoke change, especially at the local level, as they foster support for community engagement with ministries and charitable initiatives.

Show with a mission Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 09:56 AM America/New_York

CBA INT13 show logo_CMYKSt. Louis event to emphasize outreach efforts, understanding future customers

Two significant outreach efforts by best-selling author Max Lucado and renowned evangelist Billy Graham will be emphasized at the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS). A second major focus—understanding the future customer—will have major emphasis during CBA’s marquee summer event, held June 23-26 at the America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis. 

Appealing to the kids’ book buyer Print Email
Written by Rhonda Sholar   
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 10:05 AM America/New_York

Publishing quality children’s books that sell demands considering all shopper motivations

Getting parents to exchange their hard-earned cash for a kids’ book can be a challenge in a down economy, but moms and dads will still plunk down the money if they are motivated.

Make your store a destination Print Email
Written by Deonne Lindsey   
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 10:17 AM America/New_York

Unusual events draw new and longtime customers to the place-to-be location

Planning and getting the word out about a special promotion or event takes no small amount of time and money—as many Christian retailers can attest. If an event goes well, it can drive new and returning customers into your store, generate sales and get some positive word-of-mouth going in your community. But, if things don’t go so well, it’s extra clean-up and back to the drawing board. So what does it take to make a solid event? 

Christian Retailing talked with six retailers who gave their take on the answer to that age-old question.

By the Book: Audio formats enrich reader experience Print Email
Written by Ken Walker   
Tuesday, 30 April 2013 02:52 PM America/New_York

eChristian-VisioneeringValue-added versions of books encourage family togetherness and engage commuters

While Heaven Is for Real’s 8 million in print sales far outdistance the audio version, author Todd Burpo considers dramatized readings an important extension of the book’s ministry. The audiobook prompts considerable conversation at book signings and product tables, including tales of families listening while on vacation.

“I am impressed that these ‘family moments’ are shared with us repeatedly,” said Burpo, a Wesleyan pastor. “I expected and still appreciate the ongoing conversations with commuters headed to work or the elderly who have difficulty seeing enjoying the audio, but this new twist for family trips has surprised us.”

Jonathan Cahn’s The Harbinger, which continues to sell strongly more than a year after its release, is another example of a best-seller whose influence has extended via audio.

ICRS 2013: Learning the trade Print Email
Written by Natalie Gillespie   
Tuesday, 30 April 2013 04:14 PM America/New_York

Product Intelligence Tours Bibles 1editPrepare to take in training opportunities at the International Christian Retail Show

Retailers headed to CBA’s International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) in St. Louis may think that this year’s theme—Your Show, One Mission—means they should see all the new products they can and place upcoming orders for their stores at show discounts. But organizers of the June 23-26 show say there’s a lot more to ICRS than just the exhibit floor. In addition to opportunities to network and worship together, ICRS offers educational sessions designed to help stores boost their business and increase their ministry in their communities and beyond.

“The workshops offered at ICRS are important because CBA is trying to educate on best practices related to the topics that our retailer members are telling us are the most important to them,” said Curtis Riskey, president of CBA.

Reaching Women With Story-Based Nonfiction Print Email
Written by Ken Walker   
Tuesday, 02 April 2013 04:37 PM America/New_York

No matter the genre, authors appeal to readers interested in learning through relationship

When the digital image of a three-story-high book cover appeared recently in New York City’s famed Times Square, it seemed to represent the emergence of women’s nonfiction in the Christian market—and beyond.

Zondervan-OneLightStillShinesOne Light Still Shines: My Life Beyond the Shadow of the Amish Schoolhouse Shooting (Zondervan, Oct. 1) is by Marie Monville, whose husband shot 10 Amish girls at a Pennsylvania school in 2006 before turning the gun on himself. At the onset of the shooting, his wife had just returned from leading a weekly prayer group.

“I think there’s a deeper interest in stories in general in our culture,” said Wes Yoder, whose Ambassador Agency represents Monville. “I think that people want stories that somehow inspire them and connect them to the real world.”

Although many women gravitate to Christian fiction, they also are exerting a stronger presence in nonfiction.

Serving the Hispanic Customer Print Email
Written by Production   
Tuesday, 02 April 2013 04:55 PM America/New_York

SagemontChurchSpanishConsidering why—or why not—Christian retailers should carry Spanish products

With the Spanish-language market growing—as evidenced by the Expolit show in Miami this month—many Christian retailers have tried carrying Spanish products in their stores. We asked several whether or not they carried Spanish products and, more importantly, why or why not. Here is what they had to say:

JohnDesaulniersJr“We have a very modest Spanish language section. We have about 8 linear feet (two shelves on a 4-foot fixture) of Spanish Bibles, and a 16 linear foot section of books, music and other Spanish materials. Our store is not near the Spanish-speaking neighborhoods, so we are all the more a destination site for those customers. We also do not have anyone who is fluent in the language—I know a few words and phrases, but that’s about all. Those two reasons are primary as to why we do not carry more, but we do serve some customers periodically who can navigate bilingually.”

—John DeSaulniers Jr.
owner, Wellspring Christian Resources
Des Moines, Iowa

By the Book: Family & Parenting Print Email
Written by Ken Walker   
Tuesday, 05 March 2013 11:44 AM America/New_York

Meeting family needs in a ‘self-absorbed’ era

Authors advise moms and dads on raising children in today’s hyper-connected culture

BHBooks-TheLoveDareForParentsWith 25 million copies sold of his more than two-dozen titles, Family Talk’s Dr. James Dobson remains the most visible Christian parenting author a decade after he left Focus on the Family. While no other authors have assumed a similar mantle, there is a continuing need for parental guidance.

Perhaps the biggest challenge parents face is hyper-connected culture’s “more, faster” effect, said Brian Hampton of Thomas Nelson, now under the HarperCollins Christian Publishing umbrella.

“Many parents find themselves nurturing their families and dealing with the natural conflict and mistakes of daily life on the public stage of social media,” said Hampton, senior vice president and publisher.

Thirty years ago parents didn’t have to grapple with video games, the Internet, cyber-bullying or escalating violence, said Claudia Volkman, product development director of Servant Books, part of Franciscan Media.

Meeting today’s connected shopper Print Email
Written by Enzo Capobianco   
Thursday, 07 February 2013 10:57 AM America/New_York

Retail 2D captures and employs customer insight and product information

Honeywell’s Enzo Capobianco, EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) industry marketing manager, discusses the value of a two-dimensional retail strategy employing customer insight and product information. In Retail 2D, stores utilize information about products and consumers, while store associates become more customer centric and service focused.


Retail2DRetail Challenges With a Product-focused Strategy

The current retail model is being challenged. It is a system based mainly on one dimension: the product.

According to this model, products are manufactured, distributed and sold to consumers who buy what they find on the shelves at local retail stores, stimulated by traditional promotional activities communicated using mass marketing media. It is a linear, push-based process, centered on the one-dimensional (1D) EAN/UPC bar code. Over the last 40 years, the standard adaptation of the EAN code by the industry has played a key role in the huge improvements achieved by retailers in their supply chain optimization. Still, retailers today lose millions of dollars due to two main issues:

  • ?excess stock of unsolicited merchandise, which leads to increased discounting and lower margins and
  • ?stock-outs on requested merchandise which leads to reduced sales and market basket size.

Over-discounting and empty shelves are the main consequences of a retail model focused on products, where sales forecasts are based on past sales results, rather than on what consumers expect to find in their favorite stores. 

Helping couples become ‘relationally wiser’ Print Email
Written by Ken Walker   
Thursday, 07 February 2013 10:53 AM America/New_York

Publishers of love and marriage books ‘speak life, truth and hope’ into relationships

HarvestHouse-ACoupleAfterGodsOwnHeartWhile societal attitudes towards love and marriage may be shifting, the category remains one of the strongest in the Christian products industry. However, cultural debates don’t drive interest in this topic as much as the number of hurting people in society, said Lawrence Kimbrough, who edits Christian Living materials for B&H Publishing Group. 

“In no other publishing category do we have the opportunity to counteract this much personal pain or to cultivate this much personal joy than by speaking life, truth and hope into people’s marriages,” Kimbrough said.

B&H Books released the second edition of its best-selling The Love Dare in January—now with a free online marriage evaluation, new preface and reader testimonials—and will follow May 1 with the Love Dare Day by Day devotional. Associated with the film Fireproof, The Love Dare by movie-making brothers Stephen and Alex Kendrick has sold 5 million copies.

Kenneth Petersen, vice president and editor in chief of WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, said the central role of marriage in relation to theology, spiritual life and the church makes the subject extremely important.

Innovative Bibles fill the market Print Email
Written by Natalie Gillespie   
Thursday, 07 February 2013 10:11 AM America/New_York

Marketing to niches and meeting the needs of everyone from seeker to saved

AbingdonPress-CEBLifeGearForGradsWhile consumers straddle the fence between print and digital books and publishers struggle to find the right fit for the market, Bibles remain a bright spot in sales, Christian  publishers and retailers report. Downloading a Bible app on a smartphone or reading the Bible on an iPad may be the latest technological trend, but plenty of Americans are still buying what some may deem to be an old-fashioned kind of Bible. 

“I do see some iPads and phones in the sanctuary now,” said Jan Gilson, manager of Chapel Books, the nonprofit ministry bookstore of Calvary Chapel St. Petersburg in Pinellas Park, Fla. “But that hasn’t slowed our Bible sales. Bibles account for 20% to 25% of my total sales, and I see a steady increase each year.”

“Bible sales were at least even if not up for us this past year,” said Rick Lewis, owner and manager of Logos of Dallas. “Bibles sold like crazy. Why? Because people are looking for God, I think. We had a number of first-time Bible buyers in the last year.”

Finance books meet needs in a down economy Print Email
Written by Ken Walker   
Monday, 14 January 2013 03:35 PM America/New_York

Tough economic times encourage readers to get answers on money matters

With unemployment still high five years after the onset of recession, the U.S. Congress struggling to resolve the nation’s continuing deficits and worldwide financial instability, books on finance are of more interest than ever.

ThomasNelson_TheTotalMoneyMakeover“Getting solid resources to struggling families is a seriously important ministry,” said Joel Miller, vice president of editorial and acquisitions for nonfiction at Thomas Nelson, now part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, which this September will release the 10th anniversary edition of Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover.

Regal Books Publishing Director Stan Jantz said there is no question that recent challenges have led to increased interest in what the Bible says about money, and it goes beyond authors like Ramsey who dispense financial advice.

“Christians want to know two things,” Jantz said. “First, what does it mean to be the recipient of God’s provision in a time of economic uncertainty? Second, they want to know what generosity looks like in this current economic environment.”

Donielle Alicea, audience development manager at Moody Publishers, believes that debt, high-interest mortgages and failing marriages due to financial pressures have taken such a huge toll that people are clamoring for answers to age-old questions.

Last month, Moody released Living in Financial Victory, the first in Pastor Tony Evans’ “Kingdom Agenda” series of eight small books (64 to 112 pages) that address money matters. A standard-size trade title will follow this August, along with a 10-week companion curriculum from LifeWay Christian Resources.

“We trust this resource will be used by churches and ministries across the country,” Alicea said.


Some publishing executives see a spiritual crisis behind the economic one. Christian Ophus of Harrison House Publishers—whose money-oriented titles released in the past year include Think Like a Billionaire, Become a Billionaire by Scot Anderson—said the uptick in this category comes from people turning to God in desperation.

“Returning to the Bible for godly advice on financial matters is sometimes our last resort,” said Ophus, the publisher’s director of marketing. “It is interesting that Jesus taught more on the subject of finances than any other single topic.”

Believing that good stewardship requires a balanced approach, Jon Farrar, senior acquisitions editor for nonfiction at Tyndale House Publishers, said his company’s most successful authors focus more on life than money. For example, Today We Are Rich by business consultant Tim Sanders (softcover, November 2012) encourages readers to realize that no matter what their circumstances, they are rich in God’s blessings. 

Tyndale_Fred2.0Tyndale’s 2013 releases include a March 5 title by leadership development expert Mark Sanborn, whose Fred 2.0 discusses how to create unusual service. Fred 2.0 is a sequel to 2004’s The Fred Factor (Crown Business), which sold more than 1 million copies.

“We find our best nonfiction authors in this category addressing how to manage oneself first in order to deliver extraordinary results,” Farrar said. “The money will inevitably follow the results.”

The elements of stewardship create an inevitable crossover with spiritual topics, such as Regal’s Fasting for a Miracle by Elmer L. Towns (December 2012) Among other things, it looks at how to fast in the middle of a financial crisis.

RegalBooks_TheGraceOfGivingRegal’s forthcoming The Grace of Giving (March 18) by Ché Ahn, senior pastor of the unusually named HRock Church in Pasadena, Calif., points out that the Bible’s emphasis is on developing a generous heart, not on amassing personal wealth. 

In Regal’s Feb. 18 release, A Time to Prosper, Chuck D. Pierce and Robert Heidler show Christians how to order their lives according to God’s seasons—which will help them walk in God’s blessings.


Speaking and broadcast platforms have long given certain financial authors the kind of visibility that drives sales. Examples are Howard Dayton, the former Crown Financial CEO who now leads a ministry called Compass, and Atlanta investment advisor Ron Blue.

Russ Crosson, president and CEO of Ronald Blue & Co., has written several money-oriented titles. Last month Harvest House Publishers released an updated edition of his 8 Important Money Decisions for Every Couple.

Two of the top authors in this category are published by Thomas Nelson. John C. Maxwell touches on financial topics in his 2-million-copy best-seller The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, which was revised in 2007, and Ramsey has seen his flagship title, The Total Money Makeover, reach 4 million copies sold.

“Maxwell and Ramsey are the biggest in this (genre),” Miller said. “Their success comes from service. They are showing people how to be more effective in leadership, relationships and personal finance.”

However, authors don’t have to command major organizations or present complex formulas to attract readers. Vicki Crumpton, executive editor at Baker Publishing Group, said syndicated columnist Mary Hunt has sold more than 1 million books.

“Financial experts sometimes speak a language we don’t understand, which just increases our stress,” Crumpton said. “Mary takes complex topics and explains them in everyday language.”

Revell_CheaperBetterFasterHunt, whose Cheaper, Better, Faster (Revell) released in December, said: “Good stewardship walks hand in hand with frugal living. Books that are easy to follow and help readers simplify their finances and stretch their dollars to the max will always be in high demand.”


Publishers offer mixed opinions on whether there are enough titles to justify a separate section in Christian retail stores. Thomas Nelson’s Miller said it depends on the store and its customers.

“Personal finance should certainly be promoted on family and relationship shelves,” he said. “What sinks families faster than bad finances?”

Even a store with limited space can group books on finances and highlight them through effective signage, said Regal’s Jantz, who also suggests promoting the category via websites and social media.

“With all the attention being given to the economy by the media right now, there is an amazing opportunity to bring the principles of God’s Word into the conversation so Christians know how to be generous in all they do while living in a financially sound manner,” Jantz said.

Paul Engle, senior vice president of church, academic and reference resources at HarperCollins Christian Publishing, thinks only larger retailers can afford the “luxury” of devoting a section to finance. But he says that titles like Zondervan’s annual tax guides for ministers and nonprofits (January) should move to the front of the store during tax season.

“I think any retailer who wants to maintain good relationships with church leaders and wants them to visit their store can start by providing books like this,” Engle said.