Christian Retailing

Customers rally in support of scammed Christian store Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Friday, 16 January 2009 11:05 AM America/New_York

Retailer ‘humbled’ by $10,000 donation given to offset funds lost to Nigerian fraud ring

Residents of a North Carolina community have rallied around a Christian bookstore that was the victim of a Nigerian e-mail scam.

“People coming in giving us money without buying merchandise is humbling,” Lucy Morell, co-owner of Lighthouse Christian Bookstore in Jacksonville, N.C., told Christian Retailing. “I’ve been speechless, and I’m a talker.”

The Morells lost more than $10,000 in the bogus order after the couple received an e-mail in December 2007 from a man who claimed to be a pastor in Nigeria requesting help with Bibles.

Christian retailers have been targeted by Nigerian Bible scams in recent years, and CBA addressed the issue with a workshop on loss prevention during the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) in 2006.

“We did research and checked online,” Morell said. “There was a church and the pastor e-mailed a phone number. We spoke on the phone. It sounded and looked legitimate. We trusted that this man was a pastor. We had the opportunity to be able to help in another country. We didn’t even look at it that it was Nigeria with all of the scams there.”

She said the pastor ordered 200 Bibles, providing a credit card number. Morell said the order was placed and shipped after the charge cleared. The pastor ordered an additional 200 Bibles three weeks after the first order was shipped—with the two orders costing more than $10,000, Morell said.
However, the Morells received a letter in last May from their credit card company, stating that the credit cards were under investigation for fraud. The couple’s store would be responsible for replacing the funds if the charges were determined to be fraud.

A short time later, the Morells checked with their bank, discovering that their account had a negative balance as $8,000 had been removed to cover the fraudulent charges. Altogether the couple, who bought the store in 2005, was forced to pay back almost $11,000.

“Business has been slow to begin with as it was because of the economy and high gas prices,” Morell said. “For our money to be taken out of our account, it was a shock.”
The Morells’ 6,200-square-foot store typically had a staff of 12 to 15, but the scam forced them to cut back to seven employees, pushing them to the brink of closing.
“We had not mentioned anything to anyone because we thought it was a personal thing,” Morell said. “We chose to pray through.” 
Then Lighthouse customer Million Heir-Williams found out about the couple’s dire situation from her husband, Stephen, who attends a weekly men’s group at the store.

Around the same time, Morell’s husband, Eli, contacted the local newspaper about their plight at the urging of the former owner of Lighthouse.
In a newspaper article about the store, Heir-Williams challenged residents to donate as much as they could. Heir-Williams gave $100, and hoped others would do the same.

“I had righteous indignation show up,” Heir-Williams told Christian Retailing. “I just really thought that it would be horrible to drive 45 minutes to go to another Christian bookstore.”
Stephen Williams added: “We want other bookstores to know, so that this won’t happen to them.”

Since the challenge went public Aug. 31, nearly $10,000 has been donated to the bookstore, Morell said. “We are amazed at how God is still touching the hearts of His people,” she said.

Melissa Mitchell, director of loss prevention for LifeWay Christian Stores, told Christian Retailing that the Christian retail channel does not have a system in place to report Nigerian scams.

“We only get anecdotal information,” she said. “Also, victims of this type of fraud often feel as though they are somehow to blame and do not report it. … The National Retail Federation is working to help in passing legislation that addresses this and other types of organized crime.”

CBA President Bill Anderson told Christian Retailing that it was inspiring to hear that the Morells’ customers wanted to make sure they stayed in business.
“While the experience of the Morells is heartbreaking, it is also inspiring to hear that ... their customers want to make sure they stayed in business,” he said. “This is the first of such scams that we have been made aware of in a while, and it is a good reminder that stores continue need to be vigilant.

“We are currently developing a workshop for (this) summer’s (ICRS) on loss prevention, which will cover this kind of fraud as well as shoplifting, employee theft and other types of loss,” Anderson added.

Roman Inc., Cottage Garden Collections merge Print Email
Written by Rhonda Sholar   
Friday, 16 January 2009 11:07 AM America/New_York

Family-owned, inspirational-driven gift companies ‘come together and survive’ in gloomy economy

In a move prompted by the gloomy economy, Roman Inc. and Cottage Garden Collections have merged, with officials for both family-owned, inspirational-driven gift companies saying the alliance will bring stronger and more innovative products and programs to retailers nationwide.

Although both were profitable, award-winning companies before the merger, Roman and Cottage Garden officials saw that the marketplace was softening, and that partnering with another fiscally healthy company that had similar business practices and values made economic sense.

“We’re two families coming together in tough times and saying: ‘We’ve got a successful thing going, but no one knows what the future holds. Can we come together healthy and survive the downturn?’ ” Mark Timm, whose wife, Angela, founded Bainbridge, Ind.-based Cottage Garden in 1996, told Christian Retailing.
The company is considered the top manufacturer of inspirational music and jewelry boxes as well as sentiment frames.

A distributor of more than 8,000 gifts and decorative accessories, Bloomingdale, Ill.-based Roman was founded in 1963 by Ronald Jedlinski—whose son-in-law, Dan Loughman, now serves as president and CEO.
Loughman, whose wife, Julie, sits on Roman’s board, said having an inspirational product was the foundation for both companies.

“Business isn’t just about introducing product, ” he told Christian Retailing. “It’s about inspiring the employees, customers and consumers involved in bringing that product into the marketplace.”
Both the Roman and Cottage Garden brands will remain intact, with each headquartered in their respective cities. Cottage Garden will use Roman’s sales force and showroom presence.

“Not only did our 30 employees not lose their jobs, we just made the future of our staff more secure,” said Timm, noting that both companies could see an expansion in their workforce.

Cottage Garden became a division of Roman due to the merger—announced in October. Although the controlling interest will be held by the Roman board of directors, Timm will continue as president of Cottage Garden, and Loughman as president and CEO of Roman. Angela Timm and Julie Loughman will remain involved in the strategic planning for both companies.

Retailers will see packaging that’s reflective of the merger, including a new Cottage Garden logo, and art properties by popular Christian artists, including Kathy Fincher and Tammy Repp, will be featured in Roman and Cottage Garden products, company officials said.

Roman garnered the Turnaround of the Year Award in 2007 from the Turnaround Management Association Chicago/Midwest Chapter. Cottage Garden was named first runner-up for the 2008 National Small Business of the Year, which included an awards ceremony at The White House.

Christian publishers, entertainment company downsize Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Friday, 16 January 2009 11:10 AM America/New_York

Poor autumn sales, online publication push, layoffs and cutbacks prompted by ‘tough economic times’

Several Christian publishers and entertainment companies have downsized citing the economic slowdown.

Thomas Nelson terminated 54 employees last month after poor sales reports for September and October, while Focus on the Family announced in November plans to lay off 202 employees and turn four of its print magazines into online publications due to the economy.

Meanwhile, VeggieTales maker Big Idea announced it was cutting its workforce and relocating its headquarters in an effort to reduce costs.

Elsewhere, Augsburg Fortress—the Minneapolis-based publishing arm of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America—will close stores and shift its publishing emphasis as part of significant changes to its operations. The move was based on a year of market analysis and business research, the publisher said.

The Nelson layoffs were the second round of staff cuts at the Nashville-based publisher last year. Company officials said the reductions were across the board, but did not comment further. However, President and CEO Michael Hyatt wrote of the “extremely difficult” decision to trim his workforce at his personal blog.
Though April’s 60 job losses had been due to the company’s decision to reduce the number of new titles it published, the December layoffs were “purely a result of the slowdown in the economy,” he wrote.

While as recently as September, Hyatt had assured staff that further downsizing was “not even a remote consideration,” he said “final September and October sales reports changed that.”

Founded by James Dobson, Focus will terminate 149 employees and eliminate 53 vacant positions—about 18%—of its 1,150-strong staff, company officials said. The Colorado Springs, Colo.-based nonprofit organization previously announced in October 2008 that 46 employees would be reassigned or laid off in 2009.

Focus’ Vice President of Media and Public Relations Gary Schneeberger told Christian Retailing that most of the new layoffs were to go into effect in late November, but some would be phased out through early this year.

“Tough economic times require tough decisions,” he said. “The worldwide economic downturn has had a negative impact on donations—which make up about 95% of our operating expenses.”

Plugged In, Brio, Brio and Beyond and Breakaway—all aimed at teenagers—will be revamped into online versions, and their content targeted at parents instead, Schneeberger said.

Focus now has four print magazines left—Citizen, Clubhouse, Clubhouse Jr. and Focus on the Family.

Additionally, Focus’ budget will be reduced from $160 million in 2008 to $138 million this year.

The Big Idea moves were announced in December by general manager Leslie Ferrell, who said they were part of broader changes by parent company Entertainment Rights.

The owners were “like so many others, facing economic challenges that have led us to make some difficult choices,” Ferrell told Christian Retailing. Big Idea’s 30-strong staff would be trimmed, she said, declining to give details because discussions were “ongoing.”

Among those remaining with the company will be Vice President of Creative Development Mike Nawrocki, who co-founded the popular children’s brand in 1993 with Phil Vischer—no longer part of Big Idea, but still involved with VeggieTales projects. Writing at his personal blog, Vischer said that two-thirds of Big Idea’s staff had been let go.

Ferrell said Big Idea would be looking to move from its current location in Franklin, Tenn., to a new home in the area and planning to outsource production, hopefully involving existing staff.

Meanwhile, Augsburg Fortress will close nine bookstores by April 30, 2009, company officials said. A store at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., which is not owned by Augsburg Fortress, will continue to rent space there and Augsburg’s Canadian bookstores will remain open.

Additionally, Augsburg Fortress will no longer accept or sell new titles in its consumer-oriented book line, although it will continue to sell stocks on hand. Beth Lewis, president and CEO, said 55 positions will also be eliminated from Augsburg’s 242-strong staff.

Barack Obama books ‘gain steam’ Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Friday, 16 January 2009 11:12 AM America/New_York

‘Much greater interest’ in Christian titles about president-elect since his historic defeat of Republican rival John McCain

Books about Barack Obama by Christian publishers have “gained steam” since the Illinois senator made history by becoming the first African-American to be elected president.

Curt Harding, senior publicist for Thomas Nelson’s Business and Culture line, told Christian Retailing that The Faith of Barack Obama by Stephen Mansfield “started out just so-so, but has gained steam since the election.”

“We printed 80,000 and 50,000 are still out there averaging 500-700 sales per week,” he said. “What we hope is now that he is the president, people will be curious about what influences will frame his policies.”

Evelyn Curtiss—owner of Word of Life Christian Bookstores, which has two locations in Los Angeles—said The Faith of Barack Obama had been her “biggest seller” of titles about the president-elect, even outselling Obama’s The Audacity of Hope (Three Rivers Press).

“There has been a much greater interest in the Obama books since the election,” Curtiss, president of Christian African-American Booksellers Association (ABA), told Christian Retailing. “More and more people who didn’t vote for him are coming in the store saying, ‘I need to read more about him.’ It’s more of a historic thing.”
STL Distribution North America officials said The Faith of Barack Obama—released in August—was a modest seller before the election, but was now selling more rapidly. STL also distributes The Faith of Barack Obama audiobook (Oasis Audio) and Barack Obama: An American Story by Bob Carlton and Ariele Gentiles (Zondervan/Youth Specialties) to Christian bookstores.

Released in November, An American Story had a first printing of 160,000. The biography—which made the New York Times’ best-seller list in the Paperback Nonfiction category—was written specifically to inspire teens and empower them to change the world regardless of their circumstances, Zondervan officials said.
“We’re very happy with how it’s selling,” Zondervan Director of Public Relations Karen Campbell told Christian Retailing. “We are now in our fourth printing. It is continuing to sell at a very good pace.”

Youth Specialties Vice President of Marketing David Palmer added: “We have had strong support from ABA accounts from the start, and select CBA accounts have expressed excitement and support. We are hoping that as stores understand better the content of the book and its relevance and appeal to students of all stripes, that we’ll expand that base of support.”

Capitalizing on growing interest in the 44th president, Hachette Book Group USA was selling The American Journey of Barack Obama by the editors of Life magazine—released in October by Little, Brown and Company—in the Christian retail channel.

Curtiss said besides the Obama books, her store was carrying gift items bearing the president-elect’s likeness, including calendars, T-shirts and framed picture artwork. She added that Obama’s inauguration and presidency was significant for African-American Christian bookstores.

“I think this is an opportunity for the stores to really feature Black History Month in February,” Curtiss said. “I call it a defining moment to highlight it.”

Meanwhile, sales of biographies by Christian publishers about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the unexpected running mate chosen by Republican presidential candidate John McCain, slowed after Obama’s victory.

Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned the Political Establishment Upside Down by Kaylene Johnson (Epicenter Press/Tyndale House Publishers) reached the New York Times’, Publishers Weekly’s and CBA’s Top 50 best-sellers lists.

“It’s still early, but we estimate our sell-through will end up around 115,000 units from three separate printings,” Mavis Sanders, Tyndale’s corporate publicist, told Christian Retailing. “Since the election, book sales have slowed down, (but) there is still some movement with the book.”

Sarah Palin: A New Kind of Leader by Joe Hilley (Zondervan)—which had a first printing of 160,000 copies—also reached the New York Times’ best-seller list in the Paperback Nonfiction category.

“With an aggressive first printing, we remain satisfied with book sales,” said Zondervan Vice President of Marketing for Trade Books Ginia Hairston.

Meanwhile, media outlets have reported that Palin was interested in signing a book deal of her own in the near future.

Spanish industry ‘upbeat yet conservative’ Print Email
Written by Harold Goerzen   
Friday, 16 January 2009 11:23 AM America/New_York

‘No doom and gloom’ from publishers, distributors and booksellers

The global economic turmoil was the topic of conversation during the fifth annual Spanish Evangelical Products Associa tion (SEPA) Summit.

A record number of publishers, distributors and booksellers from across the U. S. and Latin America attended the event, held Nov. 20-22 in Nashville, which was hosted by B&H International.

Spanish Evangelical Products Association (SEPA) Executive Director and Editorial Unilit President David Ecklebarger said the 71 attendees were surprisingly optimistic.
“For the most part everyone seemed to be upbeat yet conservative and watching expenses,” he told Christian Retailing. “Not that the industry is seriously hurting yet, but we’re all fearful the economic problems … will have an impact.

“The credit crunch (in the U.S.) may not be felt in Latin America for three or four months,” he added. “Some people mentioned being slightly down, but sales remain steady, and we’re not deeply concerned at the moment.”
SEPA Treasurer and Editorial Portavoz Publisher Tito Mantilla said “there was no feeling of doom and gloom.”

“Everyone was still pretty positive,” he told Christian Retailing. “They mentioned the crisis and appreciating U.S. dollar, but they were more concerned about learning how to better operate their business.”

SEPA Vice President and B&H International Vice President of International Sales Jim Cook said “a lot” of the Spanish publishing houses were either restructuring because of the economic downturn or in anticipation of a looming crisis. “There’s a little bit of nervousness,” he said.

Ebett Rivera-Kading, owner of Pan de Vida, a Chicago-based Christian bookstore that specializes in Spanish products, said she was concerned about the sliding economy.
“I’m buying very carefully—and I’m not normally a frugal buyer,” she told Christian Retailing. “Now I’m thinking three times before I buy anything.”

The summit featured workshops on topics such as branding, ethics and business, reaching pastors, developing a business plan, and tips on opening a bookstore.
The gathering also allowed publishers to present their latest products “in a less hectic setting than Expolit”—the largest trade fair in the U.S. for the Spanish-language Christian literature and music world, Cook said.

“The camaraderie was high,” he added. “What happens in our industry is special. I don’t see that existing on the English side.
“We sit in on each others’ presentations,” Cook added. “We’re not threatened by that. We’re in this together.”

SEPA President and Vida Publishers Senior Director of Sales, Marketing and Client Services Peter Cerra added: “Our industry still has a lot of room for growth.”
SEPA’s 17th annual Expolit convention is set for May 14-19 at the Sheraton Miami Mart Hotel and Convention Center in Miami.

Ex-Zondervan heads join IBS-STL leadership Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Friday, 16 January 2009 11:27 AM America/New_York

Doug Lockhart and Scott Bolinder appointed to executive positions of not-for-profit organization

International Bible Society-Send the Light (IBS-STL) Global has appointed Christian publishing industry veterans Doug Lockhart and Scott Bolinder as president and CEO of its North American operations and president of global publishing, respectively.

Effective Jan. 1, Lockhart replaced David Passman, who was to retire in early 2009.  Lockhart served in the last year as vice president of communications and external affairs for the Hope Network, a Grand Rapids, Mich., based Christian human services organization. Lockhart previously served for five years at Zondervan, including two as president and CEO.

Lockhart will oversee IBS-STL’s Distribution North America, publishing, outreach, development and administrative divisions—based in Johnson City, Tenn., and Colorado Springs, Colo.

IBS-STL Global President and CEO Keith Danby said Lockhart was “God’s person to take us to the next stage of our development.”
Passman added that he had admired Lockhart’s “humility and determination as a leader for quite some time.”

Bolinder joined IBS-STL following more than 20 years as executive vice president of publishing for Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Zondervan.

Danby said Bolinder was “one of the most respected Christian publishers in the industry.” Bolinder’s work with leading authors Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Philip Yancey, John Ortberg, Karen Kingsbury and Lee Strobel “makes him uniquely qualified to lead our global publishing efforts,” he added.

“In addition, Scott is one of the main catalysts for the commercial success of the New International Version (NIV) and getting it in the hands of more than 400 million people worldwide,” Danby said.

In the November announcement for the appointment of Lockhart and Bolinder, IBS-STL also appointed Steve Johnson to the new position of vice president of Communication and New Media. Johnson is a veteran of IBS, holding numerous leadership positions within the organization and most recently serving as global publisher.

IBS-STL officially merged in March 2007 to form one of the largest not-for-profit literature organizations in the world—a move that company officials said would maximize Bible distribution around the world.

IBS is one of the world’s largest translators and distributors of Scripture, and is the copyright holder of the NIV—the world’s most widely read contemporary English translation of the Bible. Zondervan holds exclusive North American rights to the NIV.

Global sales of Christian products continue to rise Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Friday, 16 January 2009 01:47 PM America/New_York

Distribution of ‘life-transforming products’ is increasing despite the widely sliding economy

Despite the global sliding economy, Christian product sales continue to grow in double digits in many parts of the world, according to Christian Trade Association International (CTAI).
One major Nigerian distributor told CTAI that his company’s sales were up 40% over 2007.

“We see the world economic news and are amazed how little it is impacting sales of Christian resources in Nigeria,” the businessman said. “That’s why I and many of my fellow Nigerians will be at Marketsquare International. We are ready to buy the products that we are selling out of.”

The positive overseas outlook comes as buyers and suppliers from more than 20 countries prepare to meet in the U.S. for CTAI’s second annual Marketsquare International, to be held Jan. 15-17 in Atlanta.

A South African publisher told CTAI that his company’s sales were up 30% this year, while a large Brazilian publisher said his company’s sales were up 26% for 2008.

“Certainly the current economic struggles have impacted the world,” said CTAI President Jim Powell, who was told of the businessmen’s reports. “But Christian product sales can be anti-cycle—rising when secular sales fall. For many, domestic sales are slowing, but (international sales) represent a growing segment in the market. … God is increasing the distribution of life-transforming products and resources that honor Him.”

Marketsquare International, which drew 300-plus attendees from 22 countries to Toronto last January, will offer inspirational events, training for publishers, distributors and booksellers, as well as an exhibition area for products and translation-rights sales. The event was launched to provide a North America buying platform after CBA scrapped its Advance winter show after several years’ falling attendance.

Meanwhile, CBA Indonesia’s Indonesian Christian Retail Expo 2008 drew about 10,000 attendees and nearly 225 exhibitors to the first-ever event of its kind in the world’s largest Muslim country.

Held Sept. 12-13 in Jakarta, the expo featured music, book and media presentations for the public as well as times of testimony, and praise and worship. The show also featured children’s events and seminars on media influence and filmmaking.
Themed “Gather to Grow,” the event also included “Be Light in the Marketplace,” a two-day bookseller training session. Established earlier this decade, CBA Indonesia is a founding member of CTAI.

Elsewhere, Marketsquare Asia 2008 and the Korea Christian Rights Fair had a 43% increase in attendance compared to the 2007 event, CTAI officials said.
Held Sept. 7-9 in Hong Kong, Marketsquare Asia drew more than 30 mainland Chinese publishers who attended for the first time thanks to scholarships from the Global Publishers Alliance, the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association’s sister organization.

Finding hope in God's Word Print Email
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Monday, 08 December 2008 01:52 PM America/New_York

New releases, creative marketing spur Bible sales growth 'in uncertain times'

Christian retailers and publishers are putting their hopes in the Bible to help reverse downward sales trends in a foundering economy. 

The Book Industry Study Group (BISG)—which analyzes trends in publishing—reported earlier this year a steady market gain in the Bibles category in the last few years and estimated that sales from Bibles, testaments, hymnals and prayer books reached $795.2 million in 2007. BISG predicted that the market would generate $823.5 million in sales this year.

Brisk business seen for Christian contingent at book fair Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Friday, 16 January 2009 01:51 PM America/New_York

U.S. publishers say domestic downturn has positive return at international rights gathering

Frankfurt Book Fair

U.S. Christian publishers reported brisk business during the world’s biggest annual book exhibition.

Held Oct. 15-19 in Frankfurt, Germany, the Frankfurt Book Fair celebrated its 60th anniversary, attracting a record 299,112 attendees—a 5.6% increase over 2007—and 7,373 exhibitors from 100 countries, according to organizers.
The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) has represented Christian publishers at the event for more than 20 years through its cooperative exhibit, also known as the Christian Collective.

Mark Kuyper, president and CEO of ECPA, said 18 companies representing 27 publishers went to the fair, with a particular focus on foreign language rights licensing and international sales.

Michael Covington, ECPA’s technology and information officer, said the contingent reported an extremely full schedule coming into the show with additional walk-up business during the fair.

He added that one publisher—David C. Cook—was so busy that many times the publisher’s representatives at the event met with international clients simultaneously. Cook also needed additional space outside of the company’s booth in order to conduct business.

“Some of our publishers told us that the (downturn) U.S. economy appeared to have a positive effect on rights sales at the fair,” Kuyper told Christian Retailing. “Because the dollar was weaker against most currencies, it provided the opportunity for international publishers to buy rights at great prices.

“Standard Publishing joined us for the first time, and two companies did not return (from 2007),” he added. “We expect a couple of publishers to expand their booth next year.”

Standard Publishing President Larry Carpenter said the Cincinnati-based publisher joined the group because the company “wanted to significantly increase our international presence.”

“Our first priority was to meet with international publishers to discuss the rights to publish our products in their respective languages,” he told Christian Retailing. “Second, we wanted to meet with distributors to discuss them selling our English-language products in their countries. Third, we met with individual retailers to sell them products directly.”

Carpenter said Standard would “definitely” return to the show in 2009.  “In fact, we are currently considering exhibiting at the London Book Fair also,” he said. “ECPA made it very easy for us to attend the show.”
Marilyn Gordon, director of rights and contracts for Baker Publishing Group, attended the fair for the ninth year.

“This fair is an important time to connect with current international publishers and also to meet new publishers,” she told Christian Retailing. “Our fiction titles are well-received in the European community and our nonfiction titles throughout the world.”

Audience fears for R-rated 'horror' Print Email
Written by Andy Butcher   
Thursday, 11 December 2008 02:14 PM America/New_York

'House' release reignites industry debate over content limits

 Fears that an R rating for “Christian horror” movie House could scare away some of its intended audience seemed to have been realized with a modest opening in theaters last month.

But though the film based on the book by leading Christian authors Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker finished in only the 24th spot in its opening weekend, it did reignite debate within the Christian products industry about what are appropriate boundaries for content.

Digital content focus at publishers' event Print Email
Written by Staff   
Monday, 08 December 2008 03:10 PM America/New_York

Teen panel offers young consumer insights at ECPA’s conference

Christian publishers exploring digital content opportunities were given food for thought by a group of Christian teens who revealed some of their personal media habits, last month.

Overturning some assumptions, the young participants in a panel session at the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association’s (ECPA) Publishing University (PUBu) conference in Chicago said that despite the other media formats available to them, they still enjoyed reading books and shopped at Christian stores.

But the books they chose were ones that “tell stories,” noted ECPA Information and Education Director Michael Covington.