Christian Retailing

Parable Group provides data services to CBA Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Thursday, 07 August 2014 03:41 PM America/New_York

Association members also will benefit from partnership

The Parable Group, provider of marketing services and real-time information and analytics, announced June 24 an agreement to provide analytics and enhanced insight for CBA and its members.

Under the agreement, Parable will provide CBA members and CROSS:SCAN reporting stores with enhanced analytics through the ParableConnect data platform. This base-level data partnership will deliver many benefits to CBA member stores for free, enabling them to seamlessly store and process real-time transactional data.

“We are excited that CBA asked us to improve its capabilities and provide their users with compelling and actionable analytics,” said Erik Ernstrom, manager of business intelligence for The Parable Group. “Users will enjoy expanded functionality on CROSS:SCAN, powered by our data platform, which will provide the opportunity to run best-sellers reports by quantity sold, by dollars, by receipt count, and allow filtering by product type and category, region, vendor and more.”

Parable currently powers data services for retailers affiliated with various marketing groups while safeguarding and protecting the integrity of retailers’ individual data. Data partners transmit data to Parable, which transforms it into actionable insights on ParableConnect—helping retailers improve inventory selection, drive more transactions, increase sales and optimize their marketing spend.CBA-Parable

Through the new partnership, CBA members and CROSS:SCAN reporting stores will receive enhanced analytics with zero expense but can choose to upgrade.

“Easily accessible and visible data will help our industry better understand customer trends, adapt to their needs and project need more effectively and profitably,” CBA President Curtis Riskey said. “It will be especially important as retailers try new strategies and need to monitor results in a dynamic retailing marketplace.”

Riskey said he is confident that security barriers and legal protections are in place to protect retailer data from being shared.

CBA is requesting existing CROSS:SCAN reporting companies to connect with Parable to renew data security and operational agreements. CBA Service Corp., a separate company, will be involved in providing enhanced services to suppliers offering data reports and analysis for Christian-retail channel use and application. —Johnson

Learning how to attract Hispanic shoppers Print Email
Written by Ginny McCabe   
Thursday, 07 August 2014 03:37 PM America/New_York

My Healthy Church leaders see ‘big opportunity’ for retailers

Retailers had an opportunity to learn how to expand their customer base and increase traffic and sales during a special workshop at June’s International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. Fred Ichniowski, senior sales director, and Roberto Cortez, associate, both with My Healthy Church, led the “Attracting Hispanics to Your Store” workshop.

ICRS-HispanicCortez greeted the attendees in Spanish to help stress the importance of knowing the Hispanic customer base, being able to communicate with them and the value of forging relationships in the community.

Cortez encouraged retailers to make their Spanish-language product easy to find.

“If you have Hispanic product, flaunt it,” Cortez said. “You have the products they need.”

The presenters also addressed communication, marketing investments, advertising and the resources that are helpful in reaching Hispanic customers, such as Spanish-language cable television.

“As a retailer, every customer that walks into the store is an opportunity to make a sale, and the more sales you generate, the better off you’ll be as a retailer,” Cortez said.

“I’ve been involved in the CBA industry for over 20 years, and this has been the biggest opportunity that has been untapped in the industry,” Ichniowski said. “Over the past five years, it has expanded dramatically, and it will continue to expand.”

This is “The Big Opportunity” to reach a demographic that’s not being reached right now, Ichniowski said.

Participants from among the several-dozen retailers in attendance asked questions from a retail and ministry standpoint such as, “What is the future?” and “How are we able to tap into [the Spanish market]?”

“I think the industry as a whole needs to open their eyes and wake up to the opportunity that the fastest-growing segment of our society is in the Hispanic community, and that those folks are looking to be served, and inside that community, building relationships is the most important thing,” Ichniowski noted.

“If Hispanics see they matter to you, they will shop your store,” Cortez said.

The presenters also shared beneficial data, including a 2012 Nielson report that said: “Any company that wants to develop and grow in the United States has to attract the Hispanic consumer. It’s a must.” —Ginny McCabe

Global guests interface at world-focused sessions Print Email
Written by Ginny McCabe   
Thursday, 07 August 2014 03:33 PM America/New_York

CBA honors apologist and author Ravi Zacharias with first-ever International Lifetime Achievement Award

CBA honored author and apologist Ravi Zacharias at the International Welcome dinner Sunday, June 22 with the International Lifetime Achievement Award. This is the first time CBA has presented the award for international ministry.

Guests from around the world gathered at the Hilton Atlanta for the International Christian Retail Show’s International Welcome program. Attendees took part in meetings that focused on networking, ongoing education and encouragement from top industry leaders.

Australian recording artist Peter Furler, former Newsboys frontman and son of missionaries Bill and Rosalie Furler, and The Peter Furler Band opened the morning worship with songs including “I Am Free” and “Blessed Be Your Name.”

Zacharias presented the keynote message as part of the worship session. He challenged those in attendance to “Keep doing what you’re doing,” as he spoke about the importance of staying true to one’s calling and the value of impacting the world for Christ.

“It’s always thought-provoking and good to hear him speak so clearly about the problems of the world at this time, and also since we come from the part of the world where we address these kinds of things on a daily basis,” said B. Paul William, director, Devtech Publishers and Printers from India. “His message is so relevant to many countries and to the U.S. It’s always good to know a person who addresses those issues at a higher level.”RaviZacharias-GaryWilkerson

CBA President Curtis Riskey welcomed international attendees to the luncheon and encouraged them.

“I would like to welcome you here and let you know that we’re listening, we want to hear from you, and we want to help you in any way possible,” Riskey said. “We also will be talking with you at International Marketsquare when it opens on Monday. I want to thank you for doing your part and for fulfilling your calling to all the people around the world.”

Gary Wilkerson, president of World Challenge—an international mission organization founded by his father, David Wilkerson—then spoke to a ballroom full of guests. As a worldwide leader, and lead pastor of The Springs Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Wilkerson presented a message titled, “World to Challenge” and urged guests to go out into the community and into the world.

“Jesus can do anything. There’s nothing that’s impossible to God,” Wilkerson stressed. “The Jesus that helps you serve around the world is the same Jesus that will help you in your own personal life and the situations you face—with your marriage, in your relationships, finances and in your businesses, and with your children.”

Ramon Rocha III, director of publisher development at Media Associates International in Carol Stream, Illinois, presented an afternoon training session. In his role, Rocha oversees training programs and helps publishers become financially viable.

“Challenge [the] status quo and strive for excellence in all you do,” Rocha said during the training session. “Make excellence your habit, it’s not just a single act. Everything we do should be done in a Christ-honoring way.”

“The internationals bring such a global perspective to CBA that we wouldn’t have otherwise,” said CBA Board Chair Sue Smith.

On the show floor, international rights meetings were active.

“From an international perspective, we’ve been really busy,” said Jason McMullen, director of ministry services and publishing director of the Modern English Version Bible.

Jeff Crosby, associate publisher and director of sales and marketing with InterVarsity Press, said he and his colleague in international sales, Diana Verhagen, “had a very full dance card of strategic meetings with customers both in the U.S. and beyond.” —McCabe

United Methodist house buys new property Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Thursday, 07 August 2014 03:31 PM America/New_York

UMPHLogoNashville-based publisher to move headquarters next year

The United Methodist Publishing House (UMPH) announced July 11 the purchase of the Lake Front Office Park in the MetroCenter business district in Nashville and is in the planning stages for a major renovation of the buildings. UMPH paid $9.25 million for the property, which includes the estate of the late Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams and investment company Corner Partnership. UMPH anticipates moving in 2015 to the new property, where its distribution center is already located.

The current headquarters building and adjacent properties occupying more than seven acres across from the Music City Convention Center has been divided into four parcels, two of which have been sold. The third and largest parcel, the site of the UMPH headquarters building and parking lots, is under contract for a sale that will be finalized at the time of the move to the new offices. The fourth parcel is being retained as a parking lot.

“The United Methodist Publishing House has been delighted to headquarter its ministry in Nashville for generations,” said Neil Alexander, UMPH’s president and publisher. “Our resources help people around the world know, love and serve God. We will continue and expand that work from our new home in the inner core of our vibrant and growing city. Plans are shaping up to breathe fresh life into what will be a creative center for Christian publishing and resource distribution for years to come.”

Alexander recently announced his plans to retire. The UMPH board is looking for a new publisher in what is expected to be a two-year process.

UMPH has approximately 400 employees at its Nashville headquarters. —Johnson

BroadStreet Publishing, Authentic partner Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Thursday, 07 August 2014 03:27 PM America/New_York

Carlton Garborg teams up with Jerry Bloom for new company

Broadstreet Blk-cropped 300-pxBroadStreet Publishing Group has announced its partnership with U.K.-based Authentic Media, a division of Koorong, a Christian retailing and distribution company based in Australia.

Newly formed BroadStreet is led by Carlton Garborg, former president of Summerside Press and Ellie Claire, along with Jerry Bloom of Publisher’s Factory Outlet and Paul Bootes of Authentic Media.

The company’s focus is to create meaningful, inspirational products that share God’s truth with quality, beauty and creativity. BroadStreet will publish nonfiction, fiction, a new Bible translation and a line of content-driven journals under its Belle City Gifts imprint.

“The heart of BroadStreet is to tell great stories that will bring people closer to Jesus and to present messages of truth through beautifully designed products,” Garborg said. “It’s been a joy to see this venture take shape with the partnership of Jerry and Paul. The blend of our collective experience in packaging, sales, distribution and retail gives BroadStreet a solid foundation to build upon.”

Paul Bootes, managing director of Koorong, said: “Carlton Garborg and Jerry Bloom are industry veterans and have assembled a talented and experienced team. BroadStreet is destined to be a significant force in Christian publishing.”

Fall book titles from BroadStreet include Falling Into Heaven, Bloodline and Mountain Man, the latter from  a regular on A+E’s Duck Dynasty.

The Passion Translation, a new Bible translation from Dr. Brian Simmons, is in development. Simmons published several books of the Bible, and BroadStreet will release seven of them, including simultaneous e-book editions, in October. The New Testament will be completed by 2017 with the whole Bible expected to follow in eight years. —Christine D. Johnson

Former Gospel Light head relaunches Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Thursday, 07 August 2014 03:22 PM America/New_York

Bill Greig III and wife Rhonni bring new trade strategy and distribution set-up to new church resource company

RhonniGreig-BillGreigBill Greig III, former president of Gospel Light, and his wife, Rhonni, are resetting their direction with an innovative new publishing company called, which is also its domain name.

This transition came about as the Greigs sensed a shift in this season of life. Bill took a sabbatical from Gospel Light in 2013 to consider the couple’s future direction. Going through multiple transitions, not the least entering the “empty nest” stage of life, the Greigs sensed that God was shifting them into a new season. Bill believed that God was leading him to leave Gospel Light—a company founded by Henrietta Mears and handed down to his care from his father and grandfather—and to implement a new virtual-publishing model with a new team in place.

Confirmation came when he presented his ideas to Rhonni, and she told him of a dream she had had a year earlier of a virtual publishing company with limited infrastructure, but with significant impact found by combining new technology and social media with the truths of the gospel.

Bill was reminded of a ministry based in Forest, Virginia, in the Lynchburg metro area, Church Growth Institute (CGI), founded by Larry Gilbert. After initial inquiries, the Greigs found elements of their new publishing model already in place at CGI—a strong mission and position in an important market niche, foundational biblical resources used by thousands of churches, a value proposition that allows customers to choose between “free” and “premium” resources, more than 5 million users of the “Team Ministry” Spiritual Gifts Inventory, over 700,000 customer email addresses, a leading web domain and a profitable e-commerce store.

CGI’s missing elements were a trade strategy and a distribution partner, as for 36 years, its resources had only been available through direct sales to churches and individuals.

“When I saw how was connecting their resources with their end consumer, I saw the potential for God to use these systems, with some upgrades and fine tuning as well as partnering with wtrade distributors and bookstores to reach many more churches and individuals,” Greig said.

With the new company in place, all resources are available to trade accounts through Advocate Publisher Solutions at Send The Light Distribution. Retailers can find more information at

The primary trade strategy for the relaunch is to update the best-selling “Team Ministry” spiritual-gift resource line with expanded editions and formats that work best in bookstores. Five new products in the line are expected to ship in December with a Jan. 1, 2015, publication date.

“ publishes the top Spiritual Gifts Inventory available, and we are delighted to see it finally available for retailers to access and offer to their customers,” said Darren Henry, president of Advocate Distribution Solutions, a division of Send The Light Distribution. “Bill and his team are doubtlessly going to build upon its already incredible success and introduce new products that will help Christians everywhere gain insight and growth in their church and spiritual lives. Send The Light is proud to offer these items!”

The Greigs have embraced their new assignment as co-owners and partners.

“It has been a year of trust, faith and experiencing God’s unmerited favor as we have leaned into this new endeavor with Christ as our foundation and sustainer,” Rhonni said.

Bill sees a bright future for the company.

“The entrepreneurship gifting my father fostered in me, along with my strategic and visionary strengths helped me to see that with some innovation, the Lord’s blessing and wisdom, has only opportunity and growth ahead,” he said.  —Johnson

Author Lisa Wingate appreciates relational retailing Print Email
Written by Ann Byle   
Thursday, 07 August 2014 03:08 PM America/New_York

Christy Award-nominated novelist sees great benefit in Christian retailers’ customer connections

LisaWingateAtIrenesFlowers-CreditCarlaVallejoLisa Wingate has published more that 20 books, but never has she dreamed the entire plot of one of her novels—until The Story Keeper, that is. Her newest novel with Tyndale House Publishers is out this month and promises as much emotion and drama as The Prayer Box (Tyndale, 2013), which was one of her two Christy Award nominees this year.

“I dreamed the plot, woke up and wrote it all down,” Wingate said, referring to The Story Keeper. “I wrote out a synopsis and was going to meet with my editor the following week at the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference. This was a different book than what I had planned, but I told her I really wanted to write this book, and she was fine with that.”

Wingate, who lives with her family in Texas and makes her own prayer boxes (to hold prayer requests or favorite scriptures), is no stranger to writing novels. Her first, Tending Roses, was published in 2001 with New American Library (NAL)/Penguin Group USA and is now in its 21st printing. Its first home was in ABA stores, but these days it’s also carried in Christian retail stores as a Penguin Praise title. Sales are at about 200,000 copies, Wingate said.

“The ABA publishers said they loved it, but it had too much church stuff,” she said. “The CBA publishers were saying they loved it, but it’s not historical fiction and nobody gets saved. But NAL published it as women’s fiction. It was a crossover book before there was any such thing.”

Nearly 15 years ago, when Tending Roses released, it was brick-and-mortar stores such as Barnes & Noble selling the book to readers who were “looking for gritty novels with a faith element, and a lot of readers wanted that.” Wingate has sold more than 1 million copies of all of her titles since then.

These days the author “loves being an ambassador for Christian fiction” and is eager to meet readers at signings and share her story.

“What I love about my books being in Christian retail is that the stores are so relational,” she said. “When I go to a signing at a Christian retailer, the people are so much more interested in talking about the book and finding out about your journey. Readers know the cashiers well and are frequent customers.”

Christian retail stores have helped to boost sales of Wingate’s books.

“Christian retailers have been great for my books,” she said. “One of the biggest things is that retailers know authors who are similar and are able to recommend my books. I hear a lot from readers who say they found my books when they asked about other novels. That’s the skill of the retailer knowing their books well.”

Tyndale is eager for readers to discover Wingate, who also has been published by Bethany House (Baker Publishing Group). To increase awareness ahead of the release of The Story Keeper, another of her Carolina books, Tyndale offered The Prayer Box at a deep discount. The company included the first chapter of The Story Keeper in the $5 copies of The Prayer Box and promoted it through marketing group catalogs.

Stores such as the two Kregel Parable Christian Stores in west Michigan took advantage of the promotion. The stores sold 40 copies in June and 35 in July, plus ordered ahead.

“Our two stores sell a lot of fiction, and we have a lot of fiction readers on staff, so it’s easier to recommend books, especially Lisa Wingate’s books,” said Jeremy Fleming, manager of the two stores. “The nice thing about the $5 book is it introduces people to an author they wouldn’t pick up if only seeing the name on the shelf.”

Fleming, who stocks all of Wingate’s books, plans to reserve feature space for The Story Keeper when it releases.

“She’s a very good writer, and we want to get her name out based on previous purchases and reader recommendations,” Fleming said.

Wingate herself participates in “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Book” campaign, which takes place several months prior to the release of each book. Early copies of the book travel around the country in “Sister Circles” of readers, who interact on the Sisterhood’s Facebook page, get acquainted via email and leave their thoughts in the margins of the shared books.

TheStoryKeeper“These women become ambassadors for the book and begin driving early word-of-mouth for The Story Keeper. They spread the word within their book groups, church groups and local areas, thereby driving sales for local Christian bookstores or favorite Christian online retailers,” said Cheryl Kerwin, senior marketing manager for Tyndale. “This year, over 130 women participated in 23 Sister Circles, and The Story Keeper traveled from coast to coast.”

Wingate is also going on a seven-state book tour that will include church, community and store events. CBA retailers will sell books at some of the events.

Family Christian, Mardel, LifeWay and Parable Group stores all do well with Wingate’s books, as do a number of ABA retailers in the Outer Banks, North Carolina, where her Tyndale books are set, and at SIBA (Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance) stores in Texas and across the South.

Tyndale has purchased targeted online media that reaches previous buyers of Wingate’s books and Christian-fiction buyers.

Wingate is “quickly becoming one of our most popular authors,” Jan Stob, senior acquisitions editor for fiction, told Christian Retailing. “Her fan base is growing, and she’s becoming popular because she finds unique ways of getting the word out about her books.”

LisaWingate-JumpPageShe has released two e-books, both tied to her Tyndale titles. The Sea Glass Sisters is a prelude to The Prayer Box, while The Tidewater Sisters is a postlude.

“These are nice little discoveries for her rabid fans, whether a longtime fan or a new fan via her Tyndale books,” the Tyndale editor said. “They have sold well.”

Stob pointed out that there are underlying themes to Wingate’s Tyndale books, though each can stand alone. Wingate has a third print book and a third novella under contract, and “we’re hoping to extend that,” she added.

“Readers are discovering her beautiful prose, but they will also recognize themselves or people they know in these stories of women struggling with their pasts,” Stob said. “Lisa’s writing makes you stop in the middle and savor the imagery or a phrase. You can read them over and over again.”

Wingate remains committed to finding and keeping her readers, especially those who shop at Christian retail stores.

“Retailers are passionate about connecting books to readers who will love them,” Wingate said. “They are smart about positioning my books near other books readers like, which is so valuable to me. It all goes back to the relational aspects of Christian stores. Bookselling is incredibly different when there are close relationships there.”

ICRS Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down 2014 Print Email
Written by Christian Retailing Staff   
Wednesday, 09 July 2014 02:34 PM America/New_York

Thumbs up:

  • Convivial atmosphere—friendly retailers, vendors and publishers at the show.
  • Many publishers were eager to meet and work with international companies.
  • Meet the Authors of Our Daily Bread: The well-planned and well-advertised event gathered more than 500 guests.
  • Plenty of high-profile authors to draw lines at book signings.
  • Christian Fiction Trends—Interesting presentation and a nice touch to have authors meet directly with guests for a half-hour.
  • To kids’ gift company Oodles World for introducing “His Armor,” a line of products for tween and teen boys, an underserved demographic. The line debuted titanium sports necklaces, carabiners, sports socks and other fun products.
  • To Dr. Mary Manz Simon for 20 years of educating retailers on the latest trends in children’s products, for always recruiting lots of suppliers to send retailers home with free products and for receiving honors from CBA and Logos Bookstores.
  • To Dusty Wells, senior vice president of national accounts for Word Entertainment, for 32 continuous years at CBA shows—and for still having every one of his name badges!
  • To CBA for hosting several events that went beyond retailing, including a filmmakers summit and a pastors’ gathering in partnership with RBC Ministries that saw great attendance from the surrounding area.
  • To Dr. James Dobson for receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from CBA for his groundbreaking work through Focus on the Family and for his sense of humor as he posed with his life-sized standee on the show floor.
  • To Affirm Films for creating a comfortable screening suite that offered groups of up to 20 retailers screenings of upcoming films, not to mention the fun take-home favors like T-shirts, mini footballs and snacks.
  • To publishers, distributors and film companies for bringing more personalities to the show. It is important for retailers to meet their customers’ heroes, and ICRS 2014 had plenty of “star power.”
  • To Good Works Make a Difference owner Helena Cho for making her CBA debut with wrap bracelets and soy candles that are fashion-forward, priced competitively and displayed on modern fixtures. Even better, the Los Angeles-based Cho donates 25% of her net profits to charity.

Thumbs down:

  • Convention center location—Hall C was far enough away as to be a problem for some show attendees getting there at times.
  • Shuttle service—Shuttle didn’t ever show up at one hotel supposedly on the ICRS route.
  • Unattended workshops—The Selling Christian Rap workshop had no one in attendance--except two reporters. Too early? Too far from the exhibit hall? No interest?
  • Overwrought security: Good security is crucial at a convention, but when security doesn’t let in ticketed attendees to events and replies with gruff “no’s,” perhaps it’s a bit too much.
  • One new product showcase presented the history of Gospel Light. Where was the new product?
  • To a couple of the Christian films that still look, well, pretty cheesy. Just because the door has opened at the box office doesn’t mean that we should subject the public to sub-par plots and production quality.
  • For exhibit floor stages that were stuck in the corners of the exhibit hall. These stages offered everything from valuable workshops to award programs to fashion shows—and would have generated show excitement had they been placed in the middle of the floor.
  • To slightly overzealous CBA workers who scolded children’s character Rippy for standing in the aisle just outside his booth.
  • For poor social media promotion about the show. Correct hashtags and Twitter handles were not promoted adequately.
New films, music build excitement among Christian retailers Print Email
Written by Natalie Gillespie   
Tuesday, 08 July 2014 04:25 PM America/New_York

Word Entertainment executive believes ‘retail is getting it’ when it comes to promotion of faith-based films

ShaneHarper-DavidARWhiteUpcoming faith-based theatrical releases and new DVDs were front and center at ICRS, with retailers treated to screenings, trailers and DVDs, and celebrity signings.

Producer and star of God’s Not Dead David A.R. White signed copies of the DVD with co-star Shane Harper on the floor and spoke about the film’s success at a breakfast event. To date, it is the No. 1 independent film of 2014, with the DVD released Aug. 5.

“We are very excited about how well it has done,” White said. “It will help pave the way for us to make even more films that we believe in.”

Sony’s Affirm Films hosted retailers at a suite away from the convention center at the Omni Hotel, inviting them to screenings of its two upcoming theatrical releases, the supernatural horror thriller The Remaining, due out this fall, and When the Game Stands Tall, the story of the De La Salle Spartans high school football team and its legendary Coach Bob Ladouceur, played by Jim Caviezel and due in theaters Aug. 22.

“Both films were received very well,” said Rich Peluso, senior vice president of Affirm Films. “People seemed to really enjoy them.”

City on a Hill Productions invited key retailers to a private reception, followed by two convention-wide screenings of The Song, an adaptation of the Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes. Richard Ramsey, Louisville, Kentucky-based screenwriter and director takes the biblical King Solomon and portrays him as a modern-day singer-songwriter who succumbs to sins of the flesh.

Nashville-based actors Alan Powell (in the role of Jed King) and Caitlin Nicol (Shelby Bale) were on hand for the reception and screenings and played and sang the title track from the movie for an audience of several hundred.

Small group curriculum and other church resources will release at the same time as The Song, which opens in about 400 theaters Sept. 26.

Convention-goers also were invited to a public screening of One Media and Millennium Entertainment’s July 18 political thriller Persecuted, starring James Remar, singer Natalie Grant and former Senator Fred Thompson and written, directed and produced by Daniel Lusko. In the movie, a senator frames a popular evangelist for murder because he is standing in the way of sweeping religious reform.

Life-sized images of actor Nicolas Cage greeted retailers on the exhibit floor, as he is starring in the fall remake of Left Behind, based on the blockbuster novel by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Producer Paul Lalonde and his brother Peter produced the original film that released 14 years ago, starring Kirk Cameron. Now Paul returns solo with Left Behind: The End Begins, also starring Chad Michael Murray and Jordin Sparks. The $16 million Oct. 3 release focuses only on the rapture.

“Our approach this time is completely different,” Lalonde said. “We’ve upped the cast and upped the budget a lot.”

Suppliers and distributors hope that generating excitement for films will propel DVD sales, which can help offset the decline in music sales.

“I think retail is getting it,” said Dusty Wells, senior vice president of national accounts at Word Entertainment. “Some of our key retailers seemed much more excited about films this year.”

Wells said that music still has some legs and pointed to the success of bands like For King and Country who performed Sunday.

“I loved hearing all the buzz about them,” Wells said. —Natalie Gillespie

Abingdon stands out at Christian Retailing’s Best Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Tuesday, 08 July 2014 04:20 PM America/New_York

Methodist publisher wins dozen ‘Best’ while Christy Awards celebrate debut novelist with Book of the Year

AbingdonPress-AwardFrom Christian Retailing’s presentation of its product awards to the Christy Awards for Christian fiction, there was no shortage of honors presented at the 2014 International Christian Retail Show (ICRS).

The Christian Retailing’s Best awards ( were announced Tuesday morning, June 24 at the Creative Pavilion stage. Todd Starnes, author of God Less America (FrontLine/Charisma House) and host of the “FOX News & Commentary” daily radio show, presented the awards.

Abingdon Press was the runaway winner with 12 awards this year, including both Bible categories won by the company’s Common English Bible editions, one for author and pastor Adam Hamilton, and two—fiction and nonfiction—for Cynthia Ruchti.

Tyndale House Publishers and Baker Publishing Group each took four awards. The winning authors from Tyndale were David Platt, Beth Moore, Karen Whiting and Ann Voskamp. Baker won in two fiction categories, one of which was a tie; Charismatic; and Bible Reference/Study. The company’s winning authors included Dani Pettrey, Beverly Lewis, James W. Goll and Tremper Longman III (editor).

At the 15th annual Christy Awards on Monday evening, June 23, Lori Benton was honored with three awards for the best in Christian fiction. Not only was Benton’s Burning Sky: A Novel of the American Frontier (WaterBrook Press) given the top honor as Book of the Year, but the title also won in the First Novel and Historical categories. Benton was not able to attend, however, for health reasons.

Benton is only the second debut novelist to receive the Christy Awards’ highest honor.

“To say that I’m honored and humbled by this recognition for Burning Sky would be to understate things,” Benton said upon hearing the news. “I’m stunned, I’m rejoicing, and though it may sound strange to some, I’m terribly chuffed for Willa, Neil and Joseph, the story’s main characters.”

“We are so pleased by Lori Benton’s achievement and the three Christy awards Burning Sky has been honored with,” said WaterBrook’s Senior Fiction Editor Shannon Marchese. “It is no surprise that the years Lori spent researching Iroquois and Colonial history, her extraordinary characters and the spellbinding story she crafted has been so fittingly recognized.”

Davis Bunn was master of ceremonies for the awards, held at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. With four of his works Christy winners in past years, Bunn was inducted into the Christy Hall of Fame. Marcia Z. Nelson, Publishers Weekly’s associate religion editor, was keynote speaker.

The other winning authors were Lisa Harris, Christa Parrish, Susan May Warren, Tessa Afshar, Anne Elisabeth Stengl and Ted Dekker. See the winning titles at —Johnson

ICRS Bibles-Scripture publishers focus on retail Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Tuesday, 08 July 2014 04:13 PM America/New_York

MEV translation travels while companies revisit top brands

MEV-StarnesBusBible publishers at the International Christian Retail Show were helping Christian retailers capitalize on their uniqueness in the marketplace with new Scripture offerings. Passio, an imprint of Charisma House, brought the only new Bible translation—the Modern English Version (MEV)—while multiple companies varied their Scripture offerings with new approaches and styles.

Charisma House came to the show in a big way, bringing a tour bus that not only featured Todd Starnes’ book God Less America, but also the MEV Bible, releasing this fall.

The consensus on the MEV is that “it’s going to be well-received,” said Jason McMullen, director of ministry services and publishing director of the Modern English Version. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm about it. Obviously we’ve promoted it heavily here with the goals of raising awareness and driving engagement. We are encouraged by what we see so far and look forward to a strong launch.”

McMullen said he believes the MEV—a new, modern translation in the spirit of the King James Version (KJV)—“will benefit the church.”

Just before ICRS, B&H Publishing Group announced its plans for The Rainbow Study Bible, the best-selling color-coded, themed Bible acquired from Standard Publishing.

Launching in September, the Holman Rainbow Study Bible, KJV Edition features an all-new page layout that includes the unique color-code key across every spread.

The NIV edition will release in February 2015, and then the RVR 1960 Spanish edition will follow in April 2015.

B&H is also helping retailers maximize the effectiveness of their presentation of text Bibles. About a year ago, the company began to offer the KJV in a merchandising program with seven Bible sizes and 14 styles and designs. B&H is now rolling out the New King James Version (NKJV) in the same program, and from fall 2014 to spring 2015 will be doing the same with the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB).

“We have three pretty sizable translations in the market,” Tim Jordan, Bible marketing manager, said. “We felt like we needed to move that into plain text Bibles to help bookstores, help consumers walk in and make just simplified decisions—1, 2, 3. There’s no reason for customers to leave.”

Sharon Heggeland, director of sales operations, at Tyndale House Publishers, said that the company’s significant One Year Bible “anchor brand” has been refreshed with full-color imagery for each day’s reading. The One Year Bible Illustrated comes in the New Living Translation and the New International Version. Tyndale also introduced HCSB version of its popular Life Application Study Bible.

Several publishers had women’s Bibles to promote, including B&H (The Study Bible for Women, HCSB), Charisma House (SpiritLed Woman Bible, MEV) and Crossway (ESV Women’s Devotional Bible, English Standard Version).

The end of August will see the release of Crossway’s ESV Women’s Devotional Bible with a “Word-centered” devotional for every day of the year, said Anthony Gosling, vice president of sales at Crossway. “This is not just sort of a helpful thought for the day.”

HarperCollins Christian Publishing was promoting The Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible (Thomas Nelson, Oct. 28), continuing the popular brand, and the NIV First-Century Study Bible (Zondervan, Sept. 9), which guides the reader in Scripture study through the eyes of a first-century disciple.

Abingdon Press was promoting October’s The Step Stone Bible, which focuses on the people and places of the Bible. It includes extended introductions, sidebar articles and is described as “a full Bible with an in-depth reference handbook in one.”

Kingstone Comics continues work on The Kingstone Bible, releasing the installments of the 12 graphic-novel metanarrative as they are completed. —Johnson