Christian Retailing

Opening session looks to digital future Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Monday, 28 June 2010 12:34 PM America/New_York

Christian retailers and publishers wondering how to deal with the challenges of the digital book revolution were urged to learn lessons from how the music industry handled the shift, in the show's opening general session: Digital/Mortar: Store Value in a Digital Age.

Music companies were slow to respond to the digital revolution, first being in denial about the changes and then trying to defend their old ways of doing things from innovation, said panel discussion participant David Crace, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of EMI Christian Music Group.

Thinking that they could stop people buying digital music, "we wasted a lot of time," Crace said, rather than working out how to embrace the changes in the best way. "Get on with the reality of thinking, ‘Let's think forward a couple of years of what it would look like for all of us to be successful across all these channels," he advised.

Crace said that fears that physical music sales would die out had been exaggerated, with CDs still accounting for 65% of all music purchases. Six out of 10 consumers still only bought CDs.

In addition, Crace said that there were positive differences for digital books compared to digital music, which meant that its impact may be less. The big shift in music had come when digital content made it possible for shoppers to buy individual songs rather than having to purchase an entire album.

"I don't believe we will be in a place where people will be buying one chapter of a Max Lucado book," he said, "so there's a real benefit."

Other panel members encouraged retailers to build strong personal relationships with their customers so that if shoppers did choose to buy digital books, they may look to their favorite brick-and-mortar store as the source.

Also taking part in the 90-minute session led by Mardel Christian & Education President Jason Green were Mark Kuyper, president and CEO of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association; Darin Sennett, director of strategic projects for; Chris Smith, director of sales for Spring Arbor; and Amanda Edmonds, director of strategic partnerships for Google Books.