Christian Retailing

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.

Christian market braces for 'soft holiday season' Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay and Rhonda Sholar   
Monday, 08 December 2008 12:23 PM America/New_York

Publishers, retailers use creative marketing promotions to counter downturn economy

With the economy continuing to struggle, Christian publishers, distributors and retailers are warily optimistic about the upcoming holiday season—tightening purse strings and implementing innovative marketing promotions to entice consumers who continue to pull back on discretionary spending.

Verne Kenney, Zondervan’s executive vice president of sales, said the company “had a solid first quarter,” but was “experiencing softer sales in the first couple weeks of October.”

“While we are in the midst of some very challenging economic times, Zondervan is optimistic about the upcoming holiday season,” Kenney told Christian Retailing.


Christian publishers moving toward ‘digital revolution’ Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Monday, 08 December 2008 12:14 PM America/New_York

Publishing houses, retailers aim to meet ‘consumers’ desire’ for more electronic content

A growing number of Christian publishers are stepping up their digital emphasis, with Zondervan recently announcing significant moves to expand the company’s digital-content ventures.

Christian retailers, though, seem cautiously optimistic about the impact of the digital push.

“I’m excited about (the emphasis) because I want to be there,” Bruce Anderson— owner of Alpha & Omega Parable Christian Stores, which has three Rochester, N.Y., locations—told Christian Retailing. “Part of it is because I don’t want to be left behind by the digital revolution. We have to change as our customers change, and we must be on the forefront of the digital revolution.”

Publishers put their stock in financial advice books Print Email
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Thursday, 11 December 2008 12:06 PM America/New_York

New titles and backlist best-sellers target ‘people wanting help’ in struggling economy

Several Christian publishers are hoping for something of a silver lining in the economic black cloud, by releasing financial-themed books that offered biblical perspectives.

New titles and backlist favorites from well-known authors, including John Hagee, Dave Ramsey, Pat Robertson and Ron Blue, deal with everything from the world economy and oil crisis to personal finances.

Strang Book Group recently published Financial Armageddon by pastor and New York Times best-selling author John Hagee. Released Nov. 11 by Strang’s current events/political imprint, FrontLine, the book was written in less than three weeks after the recent Wall Street banking crash.

In Financial Armageddon, Hagee—senior pastor of 19,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio—addresses the origins of the global oil and economic crises as well as how readers can protect their finances.

“The need is there,” said Tessie DeVore, executive vice president of the Strang Book Group. “People are wanting help and one of Strang’s strong points is the ability to turn a book around fast.”

A revised version of The New Economic Disorder by Larry Bates—which predicted the current economic downturn—was originally due to be released next month by Strang’s Excel Books. But because of heightened interest in the subject, the book was moved up to a November release, officials said.

Focus on the Family/Tyndale House Publishers will publish Surviving Financial Meltdown by Ron Blue and Jeremy White. Scheduled to release Jan. 15, the book is a follow-up to the duo’s Focus on the Family Complete Guide to Faith-based Family Finances.

Christian Broadcasting Network founder and televangelist Pat Robertson offers advice on personal finance matters—including budgets, building a nest egg and maximizing tax savings—in Recession-Proof Your Finances (FaithWords/Hachette Book Group USA), scheduled for release in April.

Harry Helm, associate publisher of FaithWords/Hachette Book Group USA, told Christian Retailing that the impetus for Robertson’s new book was to provide a voice of reason and expertise to readers in the current economic climate.

WaterBrook Press planned an extensive print and radio campaign for the new book by family financial expert Ellie Kay and a frequent guest on Fox News and CNN. Living Rich for Less will release Dec. 16.
Meanwhile, radio personality Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover, released in 2003 by Thomas Nelson, has recently been a mainstay on The New York Times Hardcover Advice best-seller list.

Joel Miller, vice president and publisher for Thomas Nelson’s Business and Culture division, said although Ramsey’s titles consistently sell, he believed that there was a connection between the economic crisis and the recent surge in Ramsey’s books.

“You’re seeing that (surge) from retail accounts that are doing better, more prominent placement because customers have needs, which are most critically and more clearly their financial needs,” he said.

Strang Book Group is part of Strang Communications, which publishes Christian Retailing.

'The Shack' ancillary products coming soon Print Email
Written by Andy Butcher   
Monday, 08 December 2008 11:57 AM America/New_York

Publisher wants to be ‘careful about merchandising’ opportunities with runaway best-selling novel

Products licensed to the surprise publishing hit of the year are likely to be in Christian retail stores before too long. 

The team behind The Shack has been finalizing agreements on tie-ins—expected to include T-shirts and keepsakes—as the book’s remarkable success story continues.

“We are wanting to be careful about the whole area of merchandising,” said Brad Cummings, publisher of Windblown Media. “We have had a fair amount of inquiries, and we will be careful about what seems appropriate. There are some fun things that are some great conversation starters.”

Cummings and Wayne Jacobsen brought out William P. Young’s novel themselves last year after being unable to find a Christian publisher interested in the story about a grieving man’s encounter with God in an abandoned shack.

The initial print-run of 10,000 sold out quickly by word of mouth, and there are now 4.6 million copies of the book in print, with Windblown Media signing a partnership agreement with FaithWords in the summer. Many readers have bought multiple copies to pass on to friends, telling how the book has helped them understand more deeply God’s love for them. 

Methodist publishing house reports declining sales Print Email
Written by Etailing   
Thursday, 20 November 2008 04:19 PM America/New_York

The United Methodist Publishing House (UMPH) has reported that sales were down $3.2 million for the first three months of the 2008 fiscal year.

The current economic climate has had a "detrimental impact" in the fiscal year beginning Aug. 1, said UMPH President and Publisher Neil Alexander, the United Methodist News Service reported.

Zondervan acquires 'valuable' online resource Print Email
Written by Etailing   
Thursday, 20 November 2008 04:01 PM America/New_York

As part of Zondervan's continuing push into the digital frontier, the Grand Rapids, Mich., publisher has acquired The City, an online community-building software program created by Seattle-based Mars Hill Church. Terms of the agreement—announced earlier this week—were not disclosed.
Mars Hill launched The City earlier this year to create an interactive online community for its more than 7,000 members. Within two months of the launch, more than 85% of the church's members had signed up and more than 75% visit the site daily, Mars officials said.

Zondervan plans to build out the current features of The City and offer scalable and customizable modules to churches nationwide that want to create interactive community for its members.

Focus ends four print magazines Print Email
Written by Etailing   
Friday, 21 November 2008 03:47 PM America/New_York
Citing the economic slowdown, Focus on the Family announced earlier this week that it will lay off 202 employees and turn four of its print magazines into online publications.

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