Christian Retailing

Meet the Author: Sarah Young Print Email
Written by Production   
Wednesday, 18 August 2010 10:20 AM America/New_York

Young_Sarah_MeetTheAuthorMissionary Sarah Young has written a children’s edition of her best-selling devotional Jesus Calling. Thomas Nelson releases Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids this month.


How did the idea of a children’s version of Jesus Calling come about?

More than anything, we hear that Jesus Calling touches people’s hearts by taking scripture and sharing it in language that helps people experience Jesus’ presence. Children desire that same relational experience with the Lord and that is what I hope we’ve provided in this 365-day devotional. Creating a children’s version allows Jesus Calling to be a family experience so that children and parents will receive the same devotional theme each day.

Was it easy to convey the same messages to younger readers?

Because the devotionals are based on Scripture, we were able to take the thoughts for each day and simplify some of the language and examples. The core of the message remains true to the Bible text and is accessible to all ages.

What led to the publication of Jesus Calling?

In 1996 I followed a two-hour retreat guide based on Matt. 14:22-23, where Jesus calls Peter to walk on the water with Him. Toward the end of this retreat time, I encountered the question: What is Jesus calling you to do that feels as impossible as walking on water? I knew the answer immediately—write for publication. So I made a commitment to do this, even though I had no idea what I would write. Three years earlier I had begun “listening” to Jesus first thing in the morning, writing down what I heard (or saw) in my mind. I began to compile the best of these writings into daily readings. These eventually became Jesus Calling.

When did you first realize it connected with people so powerfully?

I realized this several years before it was published. With my permission, friends made copies of my manuscript and gave it out to others, who also made copies to give out. Then, after Jesus Calling was published, I was astonished to hear people say time after time: “Each day’s reading seems to be written just for me.” These and similar comments came from such a diverse range of people that I realized God’s Spirit was working powerfully to accomplish this.


Have you been surprised by its success?

Yes. I was hoping Jesus Calling would sell steadily for a long time, but I wasn’t expecting it to become a best-seller. I’m thankful and amazed!

Where has your missionary calling taken you?

We have lived and worked on two continents, in two countries and in two cities in each country. In Japan we worked in the Tokyo area and in Suzuka—a much smaller city. The two cities in Australia are Melbourne and Perth—on opposite coasts of the continent.


Where are you serving now and with whom?

We currently live in Australia, where we work with the Presbyterian Church of Western Australia—doing church planting.

Will there be more writing projects?

I am doing a little writing these days, but I cannot commit myself to a writing project until my health improves.

You have been struggling with sickness recently?

Since 2001 I have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, Lyme disease and primary hyperparathyroidism. I’m convinced that the prayers of God’s people have kept me going—and kept me writing.

Which devotional writers and books have enriched your own life?

Streams in the Desert; Andrew Murray’s devotional books in “The Secret” series; The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence; Frank Laubach’s letters; God Calling.

CATEGORY KEY: Cultivating the classics Print Email
Written by Pamela Brossman   
Wednesday, 18 August 2010 10:17 AM America/New_York

Brossman_Pamela_CategoryKeyThey might not be found on the latest Top 100 list, but books that have stood the test of time are steady sellers and need a prime location in your store. Classics by the likes of A.W. Tozer, Corrie ten Boom, Matthew Henry, A.B. Simpson, D.L. Moody, F.B. Meyer and many others can offer stability and dependability to your store.

It takes real discernment to purchase books that provide your customers with uncluttered direction for their spiritual growth. Although written many years ago, great classics give us insight into human nature and use Scripture to speak to today’s issues. A classic will inspire and motivate with stories of individuals, no matter their race, age, culture or religion.

Tozer is one of the prime, classic authors who crosses over denominational and theological lines. His best-seller The Pursuit of God—one of more than 50 Tozer titles we keep in stock—has sold more than 2.5 million copies and continues to sell steadily.

One of the ministries of every Christian bookstore is to direct its customers to books that will help them grow spiritually. When God gives the call to start a bookstore, He doesn’t mean you should simply put a lot of books on shelves. Your responsibility is to provide product that will meet people’s needs.

From our experience as a publisher of classics, here are some ways to successfully promote them in your store:


PRAY for discernment regarding which classics to stock and recommend to customers.


LEARN about God-directed authors through a time of self-education. Read the classics yourself. You will quickly learn that each classic author has his or her own strengths that will meet the needs of the reader. Pay attention to who preachers, speakers and contemporary authors are quoting.

For instance, Tozer’s words on the church, worship and spiritual life are often quoted in sermons and books addressing these subjects today. Also, be sure to check with publisher sales representatives, telemarketers and catalogs from the industry for suggestions of popular classics.


CREATE a “Classic Books” section in a prime location with attractive and informative signage.


DIRECT customers to the classics. Train your staff to become familiar with the classics so they can help customers choose books that provide timeless spiritual insights.

More information about WingSpread Publishers’ classics, and our list of recommended core titles and publishers, is available at or by calling 800-884-4571.



Pamela Brossman is the editor at WingSpread Publishers in Camp Hill, Pa.

Category Key - Soundtracks: a strong niche market Print Email
Written by by Mark A. Stevens   
Monday, 28 June 2010 04:18 PM America/New_York

For a Christian bookstore, soundtracks are like milk and bread to a grocery store—they are staples that no Christian retailer should be without. What began as a small specialty—type product has evolved in the past three decades into a powerful ministry tool in churches and numerous other venues.

Having been in the Christian soundtrack business for more than 30 years and having talked to thousands of singers who use tracks on a regular basis, I am convinced that what these people are looking for from a retailer is breadth of title selection and availability.

This is important because, as one of the most exclusive products in Christian retail, soundtracks are typically not sold in any other retail outlet. This exclusivity allows stores to build strong niche markets.

In fact, because of deep discounts offered by suppliers, tracks have become one of the highest profit centers for Christian retail stores. Additionally, traffic from soundtrack customers often results in add-on sales of other merchandise.


Combine inventory with technology

Soundtrack buyers often wait until the last minute to purchase tracks. Unfortunately, if a retailer does not have sufficient inventory, these customers will not look to that store as a soundtrack source, and loyal repeat customers are lost.

With the addition of in-store burn machines, retail stores are able to offer a larger selection of tracks. While this technology is certainly great, retailers must never forget the importance of having physical inventory. The top soundtrack stores in the United States have learned to create a balance between physical product and technology applications.


Selection is key

Because of widely diverse music tastes in today's society, it is important to have well-rounded selections from various music genres, even though certain regions lean more toward one style or another.

Remember, the most successful retailer is one who creates selection, selection, selection.


Position for maximum impact

Place new releases front and center in your soundtrack department. Use any and all promotional materials from suppliers in order to showcase these new titles, ensuring that they capture your customers' attention.


Mark A. Stevens is CEO and president of Christian World Inc.

CATEGORY KEY - Journals: a versatile gift idea Print Email
Written by Carlton Garborg   
Thursday, 10 June 2010 02:47 PM America/New_York

In this day of Facebook and Twitter, people may wonder whether journaling is losing relevance. But this generation is writing more than any other since the invention of the pen. Even in an electronic age, journal use is growing in popularity.

When your customers are looking for personal gifts that are great for any occasion, fit every budget and help the recipients draw closer to God, there may be nothing more appropriate to suggest than a journal. Retailers who establish a well-stocked journal section help undecided shoppers find ideal and encouraging personal gifts for friends and loved ones—or to keep for themselves.

Journals provide a range of benefits as varied as those who pour their thoughts, hopes and aspirations into them. Content-driven journals featuring Scriptures and inspirational writings allow people to slow down and grow closer to God. Through encouraging and thought-provoking reflections, they provide a place for the owners to nurture their spirits.

Making a dynamic visual statement with a journal display will increase sales. Create a destination area for journals, a designated space that attracts the eye of customers and encourages multiple sales, or capitalize on limited space while maximizing profitability with a compact floor display that allows prominent presentation of journals in a high-impact area.

Cross-merchandising opportunities for journals abound. Feature titles based on popular Christian themes with books on the same topic to enhance sales. Round out gift tables with themed journals that complement products from other locations in the store. Create a nook with a popular Bible-verse theme and add journals to the selection. Or simply merchandise next to pens, stationery and other gift items.

Many journal themes are designed to correspond with holiday and promotional events throughout the year. Journals by popular teen authors are good, back-to-school impulse purchases. Those that focus on blessings enjoy stronger sales at Thanksgiving, while others with promises and new beginnings have extra appeal for the New Year. Love-themed journals make heartfelt gifts for Valentine's Day, of course. These are great additions to seasonal-product endcaps.

To provide cross-merchandising ideas and maximize display opportunities, we have developed a line of presentation options for stores, ranging from table and shelf displays to a free-standing acrylic gift center. Learn more at


Carlton Garborg is president of Ellie Claire.

Meet the Author: Andrew Klavan Print Email
Written by Production   
Tuesday, 04 May 2010 01:28 PM America/New_York

Mainstream thriller and Hollywood script writer Andrew Klavan’s young adult “Homelanders” series has been optioned for a movie, as the April 2009 hardcover debut title, The Last Thing I Remember, is released in softcover this month.

AndrewKlavanAre you concerned that some of the faith element may be lost in the film?

“You hope it will stay true to the original, especially the theme and the ideas, but you really don’t have a lot of power. ... Summit Entertainment made the “Twilight” books (into films) that had a definite undercurrent of faith and morality, and they kept that stuff in. There is always a danger with this in Hollywood.”


With a long and successful mainstream career, what brought you to Christian publishing?

“What brought me to Christian publishing was I became a Christian myself, which I hadn’t been. I was born and raised a Jew and lived many years as an agnostic, even an atheist for a while, so it was a very slow conversion. ... So when Thomas Nelson contacted me and asked me if I was interested in working in the young-adult (genre), I just loved that, and before they finished the sentence, I said, yes, I’m interested.”


How has writing for the Christian market been for you, as your mainstream work is known for being quite gritty?

“Working in young-adult novels, the vision tends to be a little softer anyway. I don’t deal with the same kinds of subjects with young people that I deal with for adults. It’s just not the same market, so in that way I fit in. I do sometimes feel that there is a narrowness to the Christian market that can hurt storytelling, and I’ve worked very hard to keep my stories immensely exciting, very fast-moving.”

How has coming to faith changed your writing?

“This really surprises me more than anyone. ... One of my great fears as I was struggling with the issues of faith was I didn’t want to lose my sense of realism. You can’t tell stories about life if you don’t see life as it is, in my opinion. The funny thing is that I found that embracing faith has made my view much more realistic. ... I have found that by embracing Christianity has made my worldview much more realistic ... understanding people much deeper, on the one hand, and I think much more compassionate on the other, so I have been very happy with the work I have produced since my conversion. It really has been an absolute pleasant surprise.”



For an exclusive, extended audio interview, visit the Christian Retailing book blog at

Category Key: Graduation, a season for gifts of hope Print Email
Written by Eric Mullet   
Tuesday, 04 May 2010 01:21 PM America/New_York

Hope is a hot topic these days. From economics to political integrity, from international relations to family life, people need encouragement. Gift books continue to serve well in this area, but the graduation season offers a particularly EricMulletteffective time in which to affect the hearts, dreams and futures of the new generations coming up.

Bear in mind that an estimated 3.5 high school students and 3.7 million college students—associate, bachelor and post grad combined—will graduate before the end of this month. That is a lot of opportunity to provide meaningful gifts for shoppers looking to affirm and celebrate the graduates in their lives.

Here’s my list of the ABCs not to miss:

A. Consistent, visible placement: One of the difficulties of this season is that it is not clearly focused on a day. Rather, it’s a season that starts right after Easter and can extend into June. Grouping the titles in a heavy traffic area is key, but the trick is keeping them available throughout the two-month window so that, even through other promotions, regular customers know where to look when their time to buy comes.


B. Clear, invitational messaging: Inspiring the next generation—especially when they are close to us—is a worthy goal, so create messaging to draw customers into the buying experience by igniting the desire to be important in the future of those we care about. Communicating that our graduates are our future and encouraging your customers that the inspiration found in the graduation books can impact that will be key.


C. Creative package pricing: Although prices are always a concern in this economy, try creatively packaging books since often people are buying for multiple graduates. And everyone has people on their list that maybe they wouldn’t normally buy for, but could if invited into the purchase with a great deal on quantities or some other creative up-sell.


D. Classical thinking: Gift books for the season don’t have to have “graduation” in the title. Classics like Hannah Hurnard’s Hinds′ Feet on High Places or J. Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest readily come to mind as popular choices, while our ″God’s Promises″ line—including our God’s Promises for Graduates 2010—has sold more than 6 million copies.



Eric Mullett is marketing director for gift books and backlist at Thomas Nelson.