Christian Retailing

Digital initiative provides church program resources Print Email
Written by Jimmy Stewart   
Thursday, 15 January 2009 04:27 PM America/New_York

Comprehensive Vacation Bible School guide to be paired online with ‘Ministry Today’ magazine

A comprehensive guide to the 2009 line-up of Vacation Bible School (VBS) programs is to be made available to 100,000 pastors soon as part of a digital publishing initiative by Christian Retailing magazine, part of the Strang Media Group.

The 28-page 2009 VBS Product Guide published as a supplement to the Nov. 10, 2008, issue of Christian Retailing magazine will be paired online with the January-February edition of Ministry Today, a bimonthly magazine for those in church leadership, also published by Strang.

“For church VBS committees, all the content of the guide is in one place online where each committee member can access it,” said Christian Retailing Publisher Dave Condiff. “It solves a need a VBS committee has to share and access resources.”

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Zondervan relaxes direct-orders bar Print Email
Written by Staff   
Thursday, 15 January 2009 04:20 PM America/New_York

Munce Group members given waiver to help improve promotion returns

altZondervan has relaxed a block on direct-order service to small independent retailers that forced them to get their products from distributors.

The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based publisher has agreed to fulfill orders for smaller accounts that are members of the Munce Group after representations to Zondervan from the leading marketing company.

Although it affects only a small number of stores, the move means that they will be able to buy from Zondervan without meeting the usual minimum level required. Zondervan introduced the cut-off two years ago as part of an effort to encourage greater supply chain efficiencies in the Christian retail channel.

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Third Day, Steven Curtis Chapman, Sherwood Eliot Wirt, 'Billy, The Early Years' Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Thursday, 15 January 2009 04:15 PM America/New_York

Music fans had their day. Third Day won the Contemporary Inspirational Favorite Artist category of the American Music Awards, held Nov. 23 in Los Angeles. Third Day—which was unable to attend due to the band’s touring schedule—was recognized over MercyMe and Casting Crowns, who won the category in 2007. Pop sensations Jonas Brothers, all committed Christians, won the Breakthrough Artist Award category. The group’s name comes from the three sons of Kevin Jonas, a former Assemblies of God pastor who is one of their managers. Winners were determined by online voting.

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CBA conference discusses ‘challenging times’ Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Thursday, 15 January 2009 04:09 PM America/New_York

The struggling economy was a main factor in the reduction of CBA’s Industry Conference .09 to a single-day event, and it was a constant topic when the gathering took place yesterday in Atlanta.

“Retailing in a Tough Economy” was the theme as approximately 110 retailers, suppliers and industry leaders gathered at the city’s Westin Peachtree Hotel. They participated in a series of discussions and presentations on how to come up with something good from the downturn economy.

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Faith travel market ‘worth exploring’ Print Email
Written by Staff   
Thursday, 15 January 2009 01:28 PM America/New_York

Publishers, retailers encouraged to tap into religious tourism

Christian suppliers have been encouraged to explore new territories for their products—in the world of religious travel.

Faith-based tourism is a huge potential growth area for publishing and other Christian resources, according to those behind the recently launched The Year of Faith Tourism.

The initiative was launched at the first annual World Religious Travel Association (WRTA) expo and conference—which concluded last month in Orlando, Fla., where organizers said that with millions of people making short-term mission trips or taking part in religiously based visits or events each year, there was an underserved growing market for materials.

Among those who have put their toe in the travel-related waters is Ellie Claire, which released a classic-styled, $12.99 travel journal to good response in the summer of 2008.  There are plans for a missions-focused journal to release before next summer .“We would definitely be interested in expanding further into this area,” said President Carlton Garborg.

WRTA attendees heard that travel products could range from specifically travel-related items to more general backlist titles that could be of interest to those journeying for different reasons—such as books about the Reformation for people traveling to Switzerland this year to mark the 500th anniversary of the birth of Reformer John Calvin.

The WRTA event drew more than 500 travel agents, organizations and planners who heard that what had once been a niche market focused on pilgrimages, retirees and low budgets had broadened into an $18 billion-a-year industry attracting all ages and embracing a wide range of destinations and styles.
The new WRTA was founded by Kevin J. Wright, the author of four faith-based travel guidebooks, including The Christian Travel Planner, released by Thomas Nelson in January 2008.

He said that while faith-based travel currently accounted for only about 2-3% of the overall travel industry, it seemed to be following the trend of Christian publishing and music, which had each been about 1% of their larger category markets in the 1980s and grown to take a 5% share of the overall market.

Thomas Nelson was among the almost 100 exhibitors on the WRTA trade show floor, where more than 30 countries—including Israel and Jordan—were represented. In addition to countries with biblical and historic Christian sites, exhibitors included locations offering increasingly popular Christian convention and cruise destinations.

Linville J. Johnson, deputy director of the religious market for the Bahamas Tourist Office, said that many Christian cruise visitors to Nassau asked to be shown the home and church led by the island’s best-selling author Myles Munroe, with whom discussions were taking place about possibly including his church as part of an official tour.

In addition to Wright’s Nelson title, other travel-related titles on display in Orlando included his Liguori Publications “Pilgrim’s Travel Guide” titles Catholic Shrines of Western Europe and Europe’s Monastery and Convent Guesthouses.
The Oct. 29-Nov. 1 WRTA event followed a year in Ellie Ckaire joined some other Christian publishers in travel-related projects.

Standard Publishing brought out three teen mission trip devotions and journals in March for use before, during and after programs. The success of the pocket-sized Anticipate, Experience and Reflect titles, each costing $9.99, prompted the November release of versions for adults, Called, Challenged and Changed.
Brownlow Gift’s 2008 My Missionary Journal, with a similar format to Ellie Claire’s, retails for $9.99.

While consumer spending has been hit by the recent economic downturn, faith-based travel had been one area least affected, according to several of the 50-odd WRTA panelists and presenters.

According to one study referenced at the convention, worldwide there were 300 million religious travelers annually, worldwide. In the U.S., more than 2 million took part in missionary travel each year, while 15 million people attended 17,000 Christian events from conventions to meetings.

The travel-related opportunities spotlighted at the WRTA event were not limited to publishers, suggested association Vice President Honnie Korngold. In addition to promoting travel-related books and other materials, Christian retailers might look into linking in some way with Christian travel groups to let shoppers know about faith tourism packages, she said.

 
Serving up tasty fiction Print Email
Written by Staff   
Thursday, 15 January 2009 01:14 PM America/New_York

Publishers hope bonus recipe content will increase appetite for growth category

book-signingPublishers are looking to feed the growing appetite for Christian fiction with some additional takeaway value. Several new and recently released books feature recipes that allow readers to literally chew over what they have read.
Among the authors serving up the extras is best-selling Amish drama writer Wanda E. Brunstetter, who recently completed a taste-test book tour in support of White Christmas Pie—released in September by Barbour Publishing.
During Brunstetter’s tour, Christian bookstore employees made homemade samples of the dish of the title, which included instructions on how to make the dessert.
Others offering culinary bonuses include Eva Marie Everson and Linda Evans Shepherd’s whose “The Potluck Catering Club” series from Revell/Baker Publishing Group debuted in September with The Secret’s in the Sauce, featuring six friends from the earlier series “The Potluck Club” who start a catering business in a small Colorado town.

Everson and Shepherd said the food focus of the book has provided many opportunities to connect with hungry readers in local book clubs.
The authors said the typical book club meeting consists of preparing a food featured in the book with discussions on how they prepared the meal. “Potluck Catering Club” readers also connect and share recipes on a promotional Web site for the book series.

Also released the same month as The Secret’s in the Sauce was debut novelist Beth Wiseman’s Plain Perfect (Thomas Nelson), pairing Amish cuisine with an Amish storyline. She has posted recipes featured in the book on her Web site.

Meanwhile, readers will soon be invited to submit their own recipes in an upcoming contest for to-be-determined prizes promoting the April 2009 release of Face of Betrayal (Thomas Nelson) by Lis Wiehl and April Henry, the first novel in the “Triple Threat” series centering on three female protagonists who meet to solve cold cases and share their favorite desserts.

Food plays an important role in drawing readers in, according to Camy Tang, author of the novels Sushi For One? and Only Uni (both Zondervan). Tang prominently included scenes of family meals in her books and has been promoted as an author who writes “Asian Chick Lit with a kick of wasabi.”

“Readers—both Asian and other ethnicities—love the food described in the ‘Sushi’ series, even those who don’t like sushi,” Tang told Christian Retailing. “They enjoy learning about the different types of foods—Japanese and Chinese—and the mishaps that occur around food and eating.”

Tang said the focus on food in her novels was due to the high value placed on family gatherings in the Asian community. With custom requiring visitors to bring food, the focus of shared meals was a natural fit for her books and readers have responded.
“Readers tell me that food forms a large part of many other ethnic American cultures, and they enjoy reading about Asian food, comparing it to dishes their family makes,” she said.

Mavis Sanders, corporate publicist for Tyndale House Publishers, told Christian Retailing that food plays “an integral part of almost every Tyndale novel … whether it be for sustenance, fellowship, comfort or to help to set the scene or describe a character.”

Sanders said that Angela Hunt’s “Fairlawn” series, including Doesn’t She Look Natural?, She Always Wore Red and the March 2009 release She’s in a Better Place, feature recipes for “comfort food” like hot chicken salad casserole, strawberry muffins and brown sugar pecan pie.

Tyndale’s “Sweet Delights” series by Terri Blackstock, Elizabeth White and Ranee McCollum concludes each novella with a favorite recipe from the authors, including “Death By Chocolate” brownie dessert, chocolate icing and “The Rhys Carter Surprise”—a no-bake chocolate dessert.

Although the food-fiction connection has been heightened recently, it is not entirely new.

Neta Jackson’s popular “Yada Yada Prayer group” series, published by Thomas Nelson, may have been an appetizer for the trend, with re-released, enhanced “party editions” featuring additional content as well as recipes and tips for celebrating international holidays.

Despite the food-in-fiction interest, Christian retail shelves have traditionally been bare of cookbooks, which have typically not sold well.

The large format inspirational cookbook Come to the Table by Benita Long (Thomas Nelson) has been a recent exception.

In its second printing less than two months after its October release, the $24.99 cookbook had done “very, very well” at Christian stores, according to Jason Jones, Nelson’s publicist for business, culture and general interest.

In a similar vein to Come to the Table, a series of books released by Harvest House Publishers have centered specifically on sharing stories and fellowship through tea parties.

Titles in the series include Sandy Clough’s Come to My Tea Party, When Friends Gather for Tea and An Invitation to Tea, co-written by Emilie Barnes.

 
Thomas Nelson delays second Open House Print Email
Written by Staff   
Tuesday, 30 December 2008 11:39 AM America/New_York
Thomas Nelson has scrapped plans to hold its second Open House reception for key Christian retail accounts, scheduled for April 13-15. The three-day event has been pushed back to 2010, when it will become a biennial happening.

The postponement was announced by the company's Senior Vice President of Christian Retail Sales and Ministry Development Group, Gary Davidson. In a message to invitees last

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Retailers Choice Awards 2009 Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Tuesday, 23 December 2008 09:38 AM America/New_York

Christian publishers and retailers working on their Christmas lists will soon need to start thinking of another one—the most important new Christian resources of 2008.

Nominations will open in the new year for Christian Retailing's popular annual Retailers Choice Awards. As the competition enters its ninth year, there will be more than 20 categories of books, music and gifts to be considered.

 

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