Christian Retailing

Gift purchases protect print book sales, says Thomas Nelson head Print Email
Written by Staff   
Friday, 09 December 2011 09:25 AM America/New_York

Christian publishers may not be as affected as others by the e-book revolution, says Thomas Nelson head Mark Schoenwald.

Though the company expects 40% of its publishing revenues to be digital by 2015, Schoenwald does not believe its e-book sales share will rise to the 80% predicted by some.

“Our business is a little bit different,” the Nelson president and CEO said in an interview with Digital Book World (DBW), the digital publishing conference and online network.

“There are a couple of factors at play that indicate we will not go that high,” including the large amount of gift-giving, he added. “A huge element of our business is giving a book to someone in need, someone lost, someone mourning. Another big business for us is graduation gifts, gifts for life stages, and by the very nature of that business, it’s physical.”

Schoenwald also said that there was “a physical side of Bibles—note-taking, highlighting and taking it to church.” However, he also told DBW that while Bibles had a “slower migration” to digital formats because of the non-linear nature of the reading experience, his company had almost 40 Bibles in digital format. “As long as our Bible apps continue to pick up steam, the migration of Bibles to digital will as well.”

As part of Nelson’s digital strategy, it was “working hard to understand discoverability,” said Schoenwald. “A bricks-and-mortar goes away and the whole browse factor of the store goes away—how do you really engage the consumer to discover your content?

“We’re looking at social media, vertical communities and leveraging author platforms. Also, we’re looking to identify strategic partners who we call multipliers, who can reach more people than we can: ministries, sometimes nonprofit organizations that match our customer profile.”

Schoenwald said that Nelson’s purchase by HarperCollins—due to be completed by the end of the year, making Nelson a sister imprint to longtime rival Zondervan—would help expand international business.

Click here to read Schoenwald’s complete interview.