Christian Retailing

Christian Product Expo 'upbeat,' despite tough economy Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Thursday, 24 September 2009 08:51 AM America/New_York

Munce Group's members-only show 'reinforced importance of independent Christian retailing'


CPEThe mood of retailers and suppliers for last month's Munce Group's Christian Product Expo (CPE) was "upbeat, yet realistic," according to officials from the marketing group.

"The reality is that it is still a tough economy," Munce Group Chief Operating Officer Kirk Blank told Christian Retailing. "There was a great variety of retailers and vendors who were either up, flat or down. Through it all, every retailer is committed to their ministries, businesses and communities.

"Every message from the speakers and artists reinforced the importance of independent Christian retailing—and the impact that independent Christian retailers have in their communities," Blank added.

Held Sept. 13-15 at the Embassy Suites in Murfreesboro, Tenn., CPE opened with a Bible conference featuring Kay Arthur. The keynote speaker was author Emerson Eggerichs, with Stan Toler and Ernie Haase & Signature Sound among the authors and artists in attendance.

Blank said retailer attendance was nearly identical to last year's CPE, a Munce Group members-only show. "We did experience an increase in exhibiting vendors," he said. "The increase in vendor attendance is due to the fact that typically one sales rep cannot handle the amount of order-writing alone. The Munce Group stores write significant amounts of orders on the exhibit floor."

Michael Turner, director of products and markets for New Day Christian Distributors, said he looks forward to exhibiting at CPE.

"Their shows are always our favorite and the best," he said. "We are an independent distributor, and we love serving independent Christian retailers. This CPE has been an excellent show for making connections with retailers and certainly, without a doubt, for writing significant orders."

Paul Dlouhy, manager of national accounts for EMI CMG, said the music company "received strong orders" at the event. "This has been the best show I've ever attended. CPE is well-organized," he said. "The Munce Group retailers are the nicest and most excited retailers that I've seen."

Joy Myers of Joy's Christian Store in San Clemente, Calif., said she was recharged at the event.

"The facility was great," Myers said. "Munce has always done a great job of organizing and running CPE. I have been encouraged beyond words. Kay Arthur and the Bible conference was life changing."

Jennifer McClelland of Danville Christian Store in Danville, Ky., agreed. "The way Munce has structured this show, it's easy to write orders, and the reimbursement plan is fantastic," she said.

Munce emphasized order writing at CPE by motivating retailers with a reimbursement program that helped to offset travel, food and hotel expenses, based on reaching order-writing goals. Munce serves more than 600 member stores in 49 states and in Canada.

Formerly called CPE Regionals East, Munce Group's CPE Hershey is scheduled for Jan. 17-19, 2010, at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, Pa. Open to all independent Christian retailers, the event will feature as the keynote speaker best-selling author David Jeremiah—who dropped out of the Murfreesboro CPE due to his wife's surgery.

Non-print Bibles releasing in modern formats Print Email
Written by Staff   
Thursday, 24 September 2009 08:30 AM America/New_York

New Bible products from Zondervan and Thomas Nelson seek to engage people 'really hungry for the Word in every way and format'


The Bible once again leaps from the printed page this month as publishers continue to deliver God's Word in modern formats.

Releasing from Zondervan, the Glo Bible is the latest software product aiming to marry the Scriptures with new technologies. With a suggested retail price of $79.99, Glo has three DVDs, allowing users to experience the Scriptures through five "lenses" —the Bible, using the New International Version; an atlas, to see where major Bible stories happened; a timeline, with the ability to view the events chronologically and visually; topical, with searches of keywords and articles by scholars and teachers; and media, which includes a large collection of HD video, art and more. Included in the set are 7,500 encyclopedia articles, almost 2,500 photos and more than 450 virtual reality tours.

Nelson-SabaNelson Saba, creator of Glo and CEO of Immersion Digital, said that the goal of Glo is to engage those increasingly focused on digital media.

"We have entire generations that were born into a digital world, and if you don't take the Bible to their world, they will become disconnected from it," he said. "If you're going to tap into those generations, you really have to have a product that will allow them to experience the Bible, to look for things the way they are used to looking for things on the Web."

Saba, who also created the best-selling iLumina Bible software for Tyndale House Publishers, visited this summer's International Christian Retail Show to preview Glo for Christian retailers, who will get a head start on sales because the product will debut first in the Christian retail channel.

Dan Merrell, chief marketing officer of Immersion Digital, said that if the track record of iLumina—selling 25% of its total sales in its first three months—holds true for Glo, "retailers are going to have a great opportunity."

One unique element of Glo is its ability to be expanded and adapted through integrated information from Bible publishers through online "Glo Stores," which will feature add-on packs such as animations and various translations, Merrell said.

"People are excited about the possibilities of this, not only as a personal engagement tool but as a platform to publish all forms of content," he said. "Publishers can push whatever type of content they want and connect it to the five lenses so that any piece of content can show up as a result of whatever a user is studying."

Meanwhile, the complete edition of The Word of Promise Audio Bible—retailing for $124.99—was to be released this month by Thomas Nelson. The follow-up to The Word of Promise New Testament Audio Bible—which received the Book of the Year award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) in 2008—the new release includes the full text of the Bible, with dramatic performances by well-known Hollywood actors such as Richard Dreyfuss, Gary Sinise, Jason Alexander and Jon Voight.

Carla Ballerini, vice president of marketing for Nelson's Bibles group, said she was expecting a big launch for the product and that the company was targeting listeners "beyond the traditional Bible buyer." The key factor in connecting customers with the new Bible would be to move beyond simply telling them about it, she added.

"Everything we're doing is all focused on allowing the consumer to experience the product before deciding if it's the right one for them," she said. "All of our purchase displays will have on-the-spot audio sampling, and we will still have our toll-free number where you can call and listen to samples."

Like Saba, Ballerini believes the end result is connecting new, technologically inclined generations with the Bible.

"We're at a time when people are really hungry for the Word," she said. "They're hungry in every way and format. We've never had a better opportunity to deliver it to them."

Free store registrations for The Gathering Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Wednesday, 02 September 2009 10:25 AM America/New_York

Places to be given away through online Virtual Christmas Showcase

Gathering-2010_logoStores are being given the opportunity to qualify for free registration for The Gathering 2010, Christian Retailing magazine's annual conference and trade show for church and other Christian retail stores, to be held April 21-23 next year in Louisville, Ky.

The free places at the event to be hosted by Southeast Christian Church are being offered to stores that participate in the Virtual Christmas Showcase, the publication's latest online initiative.

Featuring details of suppliers' holiday season promotions, with some special offers, the virtual presentation will run Sept. 30-Nov. 16 at the magazine Web site,

It follows a "very positive" response to the Virtual Christian Retailing Show that ran July 20-Aug. 31, featuring 25 exhibitors who presented new products and some special offers to buyers. The initiative attracted more than 3,400 visits—including 2,000 visitors—from 61 countries in the first month.

"While we knew this was an idea that stores would love, the response has far exceeded my expectations," said Christian Retailing Publisher Dave Condiff. The virtual event also included new release spotlight interviews with artists and Webinar training for stores.

Kerusso Vice President of Marketing Chris Rainey said the company received "great feedback" from the Webinar.

"We love being a part of something that is new and fresh for our industry," he added. "The ability to interact with retailers through this channel is exciting and we're looking forward to even more involvement with it."

Carpentree Marketing Manager Sherry Morris called the virtual tour a "great out-of-the-box idea," which has increased Web traffic, phone calls and interest in the company's specials.

The free registrations for The Gathering 2010 will go to stores that place qualifying orders during the Virtual Christmas Showcase.

Up to 90 exhibitors are expected to be part of the live event at Southeast Christian Church, whose The Living Word bookstore won the Christian Retailing and The Church Bookstore Large Bookstore of the Year award for 2009.

The Gathering will also include training sessions, teaching, prayer for the industry and fellowship. Previously held in Texas and Florida, the event has been moved back from January to after Easter to avoid busier periods and make it easier for stores to send representatives, Condiff said.

"The fact that it will be located in the center of the U.S. should also make it easier for more stores to drive in for the event," he added.

Vampire-themed titles a new vein in Christian stores Print Email
Written by Staff   
Wednesday, 02 September 2009 10:19 AM America/New_York

'Fiction with redemption' targets customers interested in Stephanie Meyer's popular 'Twilight' series


Propelled by the recent book and movie success of Stephenie Meyer's general market "Twilight" series, vampire-themed titles and products with an evangelical vein are finding their way onto the shelves of Christian bookstores.

ThirstyChristian books such as Tracey Bateman's Thirsty (WaterBrook Press), Beth Felker Jones' Touched By a Vampire (Multnomah Books), Eric Wilson's "Jerusalem's Undead" trilogy (Thomas Nelson) and Ted Dekker's Green (Thomas Nelson) are targeting customers interested in vampire stories.

Literary agent Chip MacGregor has welcomed the response, seeing a big need for Christians to address the growing vampire genre. He pointed to spiritual parallels such as eternal life being a blessing for Christians but a curse for vampires, the power held in the blood and Christians living in light, while vampires live in darkness.

"I've been saying this for a couple years—ever since the 'Twilight' stuff first hit—I think the natural tendency of Christians to dismiss vampire novels is all wrong," he said. "We need a Christian author to capture the vampire culture."

Shannon Hill Marchese, senior editor of fiction for The WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, said the desire to connect with "Twilight" readers was part of the inspiration for Bateman's Thirsty, releasing in October.

"We asked: 'What are the human instincts? What is the deeper need of the readers that the 'Twilight' books have tapped into?' " Marchese said. "How do we explore these themes, truthfully, not glorifying?"

To be released next month, Jones' Touched By a Vampire addresses the popularity of the "Twilight" series. But instead of focusing on vampires, the book focuses more on the broader themes that attract "Twilight" readers.

"I think the vampire element adds tension to the 'Twilight' story, but it's more of the danger of the romance behind it that got me thinking to start writing this book," Jones said.

Wilson's Field of Blood, which released last year, introduced readers to the fictional question of the blood of Judas resurrecting the dead buried in the ground after his death. The sequel, Haunt of Jackals, was released in August.

Allen Arnold, fiction publisher at Thomas Nelson, admitted that the book plays with vampire and even zombie mythology, but he did not want the series labeled as vampire novels.

"The biggest challenge has been helping retailers not immediately say, 'Christian vampire—not interested,' " he said. "Our covers don't have fangs on them. We don't want it to look like a vampire novel. People who love those kind of books will love this because it still hits the same drama, good versus evil, the undead. It plays into the mythology in a fresh new way, very grounded in a biblical world view."

Arnold noted that a human-bat character named Alucard—which spells Dracula backward—was introduced in earlier young-adult novels by Dekker and featured in Green, released earlier this month. "We've seen Ted play with that mythology in his own way," Arnold said.

Marchese admitted some "trepidation" on the part of Bateman because of her traditional romance readership, but she also dismissed possible criticisms of the book being a "Twilight" "tag-along."

"There's always a certain idea of looking at the market, we look at other comparables," she said. "Even of those who might have liked to explore those type of stories, you have to wait for your buying audience to show up, and I think we're finally coming to a maturing point."

The vampire trend has not been confined to Christian books. One of gift apparel company Kerusso's recent top-selling T-shirts has been "The Light" shirt, which ties into the popularity of "Twilight."

"Since a T-shirt is an expression of pop culture, it's important to stay relevant by addressing current trends," said Lorri Carter, vice president of creative development for Kerusso. She added that although the shirt has been a "great success," it has also been popular with those who don't follow the series because it features the message that "Jesus is the light of the world."

Christian retailers and customers are responding to vampire-themed products, although slowly. Arnold said that Wilson's series "isn't hitting huge numbers yet," but he expected it to have a long shelf life.

Chris Jager, fiction buyer at Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, Mich., has found a way to market the new genre, hand-selling Field of Blood to church librarians looking for "Twilight" alternatives and "readers who read anything and everything, and are looking for a good book."

Arnold said that engaging vampire readers with a Christian worldview was critical.

"At the end of the day, what we're trying to do is fiction with redemption," he said. "If we can redeem the vampire legend, not to scare or frighten or to be gratuitous, we've created a redemptive story out of something meant for evil."

Suppliers see 'great response' to ICRS specials Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Wednesday, 02 September 2009 10:14 AM America/New_York

CBA's promotional campaign with exhibitors 'a great example' of 'working together for mutual success'


Although attendance was down significantly for CBA's 60th summer convention, Christian publishers, gift vendors and distributors reported "great response" to promotions and specials during the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS).

Offering retailers a total savings of $11,000 on their normal business, 79 companies presented show specials through CBA's "Real Help for Your Business" campaign—which was also the theme of the event in Denver in July.

"Participating exhibitors that offered strong specials for the retailers saw great success with the program," said CBA President and CEO Bill Anderson. "Feedback we've received to date has indicated that retailers not originally planning to buy were persuaded by show—only specials to make purchases and that the campaign helped increase awareness of opportunities not available at any other time."

Kregel Publications, which also celebrated its 60th anniversary at the show, had a drawing for free product for a year for qualifying orders at ICRS. The Shrine of Christ's Passion in St. John, Ind., won the prize—which featured up to 60 books and had a $900 retail value.

David-HillDave Hill, Kregel's director of sales and marketing, said the promotion helped boost traffic.

"We had a significant increase in the number of orders taken at ICRS over recent previous years," he said.

DaySpring Director of Communications Brenda Turner said the gift company had "some type of promotion each day"during the show, including Mary Manz Simon signing DayBrighteners calendars and planners and twice-daily drawings for big baskets of Really Woolly baby gifts.

"We offered a 5% first-day discount coupon," she said. "We feel that ad coupon helped make our first day so successful. … We think the ("Real Help for Your Business") partnership helped us. DaySpring had an excellent show, and we look forward to future CBA partnerships."

At New Leaf Publishing Group, the company offered more than 50% discount, free freight and 60-day billing. "We felt the attendance at the show was down, but we still had a great response to our product line as well as our specials," National Sales Manager Don Enz said. "We will continue ... to offer free freight for the year to help increase (retailers') profitability."

Meanwhile, Barbour Publishing offered a "Sales Rescue Package" for retailers at the show. Designed to help stores generate sales, the risk-free program featured a special introductory offer to Barbour's new DayMaker Gift Book Program, which included 180-day billing, 29 new gift items and 50% discount as well as free freight, returns and corrugate display.

"This was definitely the most exciting promotion that we offered at ICRS, but it also continues to be after the show," said Bill Westfall, vice president of sales at Barbour. "We did sell 60 packages at ICRS, and the response from customers has been extremely positive."

Prior to the convention, Barbour sold 375 packages and the company had sold more than 200 packages since, including 60 at ICRS, Westfall added.

At New Day Christian Distributors, the company offered specials on its new gift lines, including VeggieTales Jibbitz and Crocs shoes, as well as Allegro children's products. "It was a very successful show for New Day introducing these new lines, and our most successful show in several years," said Vice President of Sales Ed Leonard. Anderson said the "Real Help" campaign was successful on two fronts.

"Not only did this campaign help retailers save more money by attending the show than they can otherwise, it also was a great example of the strength in numbers that our industry can enjoy when we work together for mutual success," he said. "CBA looks forward to building upon this campaign and offering even more programs and benefits to help both suppliers and retailers increase the value they'll experience by attending the show next year in St. Louis."

The end (times) is near at Christian bookstores Print Email
Written by Staff   
Wednesday, 02 September 2009 10:10 AM America/New_York

New wave of prophecy-themed books piques interest of rapture readers 'in an uncertain world'


2012BibleEndofWorldAs moviegoers prepare to witness the Earth's destruction in the newest apocalyptic disaster film, 2012, Christian publishers are busy offering answers about the world's final days.

Years after the release of the final installment of Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins' enormously popular "Left Behind" series, books on Bible prophecy continue to sell.

Two appeared on the New York Times best-seller lists in the last year—David Jeremiah's What in the World is Going On? (Thomas Nelson) and Joel C. Rosenberg's Inside the Revolution (Tyndale House Publishers)

Jeremiah's follow-up, Living with Confidence in a Chaotic World, releases Oct. 5. The author's ministry, Turning Point, is once again teaming with Nelson on a viral marketing campaign for the release—which includes online videos featuring a fictional group, The Agency.

This month, Tyndale releases a DVD and study guide based on Rosenberg's Inside the Revolution.

The new releases join other recent and upcoming titles centered on prophecy and end times such as Jim Fletcher's It's the End of the World As We Know It (Charisma House), Grant Jeffrey's Shadow Government (WaterBrook Press), C. Marvin Pate's What Does the Future Hold? (Baker Books/Baker Publishing Group) and Benny Hinn's Blood in the Sand (FrontLine/Strang Book Group).

Two titles focused specifically on 2012 may benefit from interest in the secular movie of the same title, which hits theaters in November. 2012, the Bible and the End of the World by Mark Hitchcock (Harvest House Publishers) will be released next month and 2012: Is This The End? by Lloyd Hildebrand (Bridge Logos Foundation) was released by the Alachua, Fla.-based publisher in July.

"There is tremendous interest in prophecy/end-times books right now," said Hildebrand, Bridge Logos' CEO. "Many people believe we are on the verge of cataclysmic changes. Even science suggests that the year 2012 may well be significant due to major solar activity that will take place that year and the fact that the planets of our solar system will be in direct alignment with a black hole in the center of our galaxy around the winter solstice of 2012."

Hitchcock, who began writing his book before learning of the film's production, said it was later timed to coincide with the movie's release date. A regular speaker at prophecy conferences, Hitchcock has noticed a larger amount of attendees in the past few years.

"The reason for the strong interest is probably that people today sense that our world is a more unstable, dangerous place than ever before," he said. "We see a steady stream of terrorism, rogue nations pursuing nuclear weapons, Category 5 hurricanes, oil depletion and the threat of global pandemics. People are searching for transcendent, solid answers in an uncertain world."

Fletcher recently purchased the Balfour Books division—centered on a Bible prophecy and pro-Israel titles—from New Leaf Publishing Group, with plans to release several new titles a year.

"I think the interest level in Bible prophecy and end-times events is still very high," he said. "It's probably as high as it's ever been."

Like others, Fletcher believes the popularity of the subject is driven by world events such as terrorist attacks, wars and economic trouble.

"As long as things are stable in the culture, I think people's interest wanes in prophecy, but when something scares everyone, the interest is quite hot again," he said.

Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine and author of the upcoming Fire in My Bones (Baker Books/Baker Publishing Group), said end-times discussions have shifted in recent years, spotlighting Israel and the Middle East.

"There was a major focus on the rapture back in the 1970s with Hal Lindsey's books," he said. "Another wave of interest in the last days came with the "Left Behind" books during the past decade. Today, the focus seems to be on Israel, the crisis in Iran and how we should view the Middle East in light of the Bible."

"Rapture-ready" Christians are also finding themselves the subject of satire. Rob Stennet, who penned the novel The End Is Now—released in July by Zondervansaid end-times issues were "too important to not be debated and discussed."

He said his book, which places a humorous look at a family dealing with the possibility of the end times, was designed to "bring these issues to a new generation of readers who may be hesitant to pick up other rapture novels."

'Wellness' is looking good Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Wednesday, 02 September 2009 09:49 AM America/New_York

Solid health category builds on consumer interest in 'facts not fads'


Dwight-Gullion-Health-DepotDwight Gullion is a firm believer in the adage that "prevention is better than cure," which is why health and fitness books are a staple at his small independent chain of Christian bookstores in the Southeast.

The president and co-owner of Gullion's Christian Supply Center—with four locations in the Winston-Salem, N.C., area—Gullion has offered hundreds of health-related titles since first selling Christian books in a flea market booth in 1992.

But he is not the only one pumped up about health and fitness books. Christian publishers and retailers say the category is on the rise with more people looking for help to stay in shape or take care of their bodies from a biblical point of view.

"We've also been selling health supplements and such since pretty well the beginning," Guillion told Christian Retailing. "It was a personal interest of our family, and is driven by the biblical concept of stewardship of all that God entrusts us with—including our physical health."

Gullion said his stores' health section—called the Health Depot—has helped his businesses "to do more than just a vanilla Christian bookstore."

"The Health Depot varies between the stores, but our (largest) store has eight linear feet of books and videos, with an additional 40 linear feet of supplements, herbs, foods and equipment," he added. "The Health Depot has gradually increased ... in keeping with the obvious need for diversification."

People are looking for inspiration and encouragement from those "who have 'been there and done that,' offering hope from their stories," Gospel Light Vice President for Sales and Marketing Bob Bever told Christian Retailing. "The health and fitness category is growing, but the ability to tie people into groups that approach this from a spiritual as well as physical perspective is the key to not just marketing the product but seeing true success in people's lives."

The Ventura, Calif.-based company has had success with several health-themed titles, including the late Rex Russell's What the Bible Says About Healthy Living—which has sold more than 185,000 copies since 1996. Additionally, Gospel Light has sold more than a million copies of the "First Place 4 Health" books and Bible studies since the resources were introduced in 2001, Bever said.

The company will also release three titles from the "First Place 4 Health" series by December 2009, including God's Purpose for You Bible study, as well as Give God a Year, Change Your Life Forever—a hardcover by Carole Lewis to come out in November. The "Give God a Year, Change Your Life Forever Kit" releases in December. Additionally, Gospel Light plans to publish in November Bod 4 God by Virginia pastor Steve Reynolds, released by Pleasant Word/WinePress Publishing in 2007.

"Balanced healthy living leading to weight loss and spiritual health continues to be important for many Christians desiring to honor God with every area of their lives," Bever said. "It additionally provides churches with a great way to reach out to their community with answers for the challenges of life so many are facing today and looking for help."

He added that retailers "need to understand that people are looking for answers that work and are not 'faddish.' "

"Consumers are smart and know the difference between emotional hypes and true wholeness approaches, which include a commitment to spiritual health and growth," Bever said. "With 'First Place 4 Health,' retailers have the opportunity to resource thousands of people who are part of 'First Place 4 Health' in thousands of groups across the country."

Siloam—an imprint of Strang Communications, Christian Retailing's parent company—is the leader in the Christian health and fitness genre, with several best-sellers. First published in 1999, Don Colbert's "The Bible Cure" series have sold 3 million copies in English as well as another 300,000 in Spanish and other languages.

Colbert's Eat This And Live! (Siloam, 2008) and The Seven Pillars of Health (Siloam, 2007) have sold 125,000 and 335,000 copies, respectively, while Jentezen Franklin's Fasting (Charisma House/Strang Book Group, 2008) has sold 287,000 copies. Fasting and Jordan Rubin's The Maker's Diet (Siloam, 2004) all made the New York Times best-sellers list.

"We continue to see steady and consistent sales flowing through our partnerships with Christian retailers," said Woodley Auguste, senior publicist for Strang Communications.

Siloam released Franklin's The Fasting Kit, which includes a DVD for small group use, study guide, journal and the Fasting book, this month and will bring out Live It Not Diet—the working title for Colbert's new bookin January.

An imprint of Hachette Book Group USA, Center Street scored a hit with Elisabeth Hasselbeck's The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide. Released May 4, the book debuted at No. 2 on the New York Times Hardcover Advice best-seller list and has about 140,000 copies in print with nine printings. Center Street will release Denise's Daily Dozen: The Easy, Every Day Program to Lose Up to 12 Pounds in 2 Weeks by Denise Austin in January with an initial print run of 75,000 copies.

"There is always a market for sound, reputable health and wellness books from a Christian perspective," Pamela Clements, associate publisher of marketing for Center Street, said. "The importance of mind, body and spirit integration has been proven over and over again, and Christ-centered books can make a significant difference in readers' lives.

"I think merchandising is key," she added. "While this may be a targeted purchase, it is very possible that well-placed, topical books that address shoppers felt needs will attract interest."

Gullion of Gullion's Christian Supply said "being knowledgeable never hurts."

"People often need someone to talk to about their health struggles, so just taking an interest in your customers' well-being helps sales as well," added Gullion, whose top sellers include Siloam titles from Rubin and Colbert.

Lorraine Valk—who owns Banner Books Parable Christian Store of St.
Joseph, Mich., with her husband, Jim—carries 50 titles, devoting three, 4-foot shelves to the category.

"It feels like it has been on a slight increase this past six months," she said. "I think with health insurance, or lack thereof, people are being a little more aware of what they should be doing."

Valk's best-sellers include Rubin's The Great Physician's Rx for Health & Wellness (2006) and Arthur and Judy Halliday's Thin Within (2005)—both published by Thomas Nelson— Colbert's The Seven Pillars of Health and Henry Wright's A More Excellent Way (Whitaker House, 2009).

"I make sure (the titles) are visible and marketed properly," she said. "People love being able to get quality books from doctors that have God's plan in mind when dishing out advice."

Karen Grosse, owner of Lighthouse Christian Books in Green Bay, Wis., agreed.

"The key to selling these books is having enough variety," she said. "It is important to have at least one or two different books to offer to someone who comes in looking for specific health issues.

"Over the years, we have tried to sell small books on calorie counting, eating out and other similar books," she added. "Since these are now available at nearly every checkout counter from grocery stores to discount stores, we have not been carrying many of them. We try to carry books with a Christian view of weight loss or health management."

Grosse's store carries approximately 120 different titles in the genre, including top sellers such as Colbert's "The Bible Cure" series, Rubin's The Maker's Diet and the "First Place 4 Health" books and Bible studies.

"Our section has increased slightly over the years as new titles come out," she said. "The books in this section tend to continue to sell longer than many of the titles in other departments, and are more timeless in nature, so they have a longer shelf life. While the old 80/20 rule applies here—and 80% of our sales come from 20% of the books—if you don't have the entire selection, you will not sell many."

Paul Glenn, book department buyer for the Potomac Adventist Book & Health Food Store in Silver Spring, Md., told Christian Retailing that his shop carries approximately 600 books in the category, with best-sellers featuring "The Bible Cure" series and Franklin's Fasting.

Potomac periodically moves its health and fitness titles around, and the store "runs specials on a continuous basis and that helps customers appreciate what we have to offer," Glenn said.

"Many people are getting more interested in healthy living," he said. "It definitely helps being in a Christian bookstore since we believe that our bodies are the temple of God. For us, since we also handle health foods, it is a perfect tie in. Of course health and fitness is really more than the 'health books.' We should probably count the entire Bible section since the Bible has a lot to say about health and fitness.

Tyndale House to publish Gayle Haggard memoir Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Wednesday, 02 September 2009 09:44 AM America/New_York

But husband, Ted, ‘not yet comfortable' with writing a book on moral failure that led to downfall


GayleHaggardTyndale House Publishers is to publish a memoir by Gayle Haggard, wife of the former president of the National Association of Evangelicals and well-known author, Ted Haggard.

In Why I Stayed, to be released in January 2010, she will share "a message of forgiveness and love" regarding her husband, also the founder and ex-senior pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo.—whose confession to sexual immorality in November 2006 led to his downfall, Tyndale officials said.

"This is my story of choosing to love my husband through some of the most difficult challenges any marriage could face," Gayle Haggard said in a statement.

Her husband currently has no plans to write a book on his experience. "I have not signed nor am I talking with any publishers about any upcoming books by me," he told Christian Retailing. "I have not been comfortable yet with writing a book. So because of that, I haven't accepted any of the offers regarding a book contract. Instead, Gayle and I are traveling and speaking every other weekend, which is a very nice pace for us."

Haggard, who recently returned to the spotlight after two years of seclusion, said he was not aware that his previous books had been pulled by Christian bookstores.

"I was isolated, so I didn't know they were pulled but that does make sense to me," he said. "I've been so busy (that) I've not had discussions with anyone in the marketplace about my old books except readers who comment on them."

After reading the Why I Stayed manuscript, Tyndale President Mark Taylor said he "was very moved by Gayle's story. It is a beautiful—though heart-wrenching—story of how (with the grace of God) she chose to love Ted, save her marriage and protect her family."

Jon Farrar, Tyndale's nonfiction acquisition director, added: "When we met with Gayle, we realized God was already using her story to touch the lives of thousands of people. We knew this story needed to be heard in its entirety. It's an amazing story of the choices Gayle made in her darkest hours and how less-than-perfect people everywhere desperately need a community that provides healing and a path to restoration."

Tyndale will launch Why I Stayed, co-written by Angela Hunt, with a national promotional campaign, including an author tour.

The Haggards have recently been guests on numerous TV shows and cable programs. An HBO documentary titled The Trials of Ted Haggard has aired 40 times.

The couple—who currently live in Colorado Springs with two of their five children—have been married for more than 30 years.

Family Christian Stores converts e-mail platform Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Wednesday, 02 September 2009 09:43 AM America/New_York

Chain switches to commercial system to improve efficiency


The nation's largest Christian retail chain has converted its e-mail platform in order to better serve customers.

FamilyChristianStoreslogoFamily Christian Stores recently standardized all of its marketing and transactional e-mail on StrongMail Systems' commercial-grade e-mail platform.

Family Christian previously relied on an e-mail service provider, but switched to StrongMail to improve the relevancy, reliability and cost of its e-mail campaigns, company officials said.

In addition to its 300 stores, the chain also sells products and church supplies through its Web site. To keep its customers informed, Family Christian relies heavily on e-mail, resulting in multiple campaigns and millions of e-mails sent each month.

"With StrongMail, we now have the control and data integration necessary to respond quickly to market changes with personalized messages that drive results and customer satisfaction," said Keith Watkins, chief information officer of Family Christian Stores. "By offering us a complete solution at the right value, StrongMail will enable us to deliver more relevant and cost effective e-mail communications across our multi channel environment."

With the new e-mail platform, Family will be able to better handle customer data and control the timing of the chain's e-mails.

Redwood City, Calif.-based StrongMail's clients include eHarmony, and Ticketmaster.

New alliances are 'the way ahead' Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Tuesday, 01 September 2009 04:53 PM America/New_York

KirkBlank_2008Cooperative ventures heralded for bringing industry together


Industry leaders are praising new alliances within the Christian product world as several companies have joined forces to reach untapped markets and minimize the impact of the economic downturn.

"It's wonderful to see more companies working in partnership," CBA President and CEO Bill Anderson told Christian Retailing. "This is true of retailers working cooperatively with other retailers as well as suppliers working with other suppliers. This is the way the body of Christ should work together."

Munce Group Chief Operating Officer Kirk Blank agreed. "I think that anytime efficiencies can be enjoyed and goals (are met) to maximize efforts, it's a great situation," he told Christian Retailing. "In this economic climate, these types of alliances are getting more attention and I believe we'll see more."

Thomas Nelson recently signed a nonexclusive distribution agreement with Standard Publishing to represent its adult and children's small group studies and children's church resources. The partnership allows Standard Publishing's direct-to-church and telephone sales teams to present select Thomas Nelson titles to the churches they serve.

"I am very excited about this partnership," said Wayne Hastings, senior vice president and group publisher of Thomas Nelson's Bible Group. "Standard has a long tradition of serving churches across the country with integrity and service, and we're honored to have their team come alongside us and represent Thomas Nelson's life-changing small group and church resources."

Larry Carpenter, president and publisher of Standard Publishing, said he was glad for the vote of confidence. "Because of our position as one of the leading publishers of Vacation Bible School programs and church curriculum products, Standard is very effective at creating awareness of our products at the church level," he said. "We are proud that Thomas Nelson has recognized our capabilities and given us the opportunity to sell their God-honoring products in to the churches with which we work."

Nelson also recently forged a partnership with NavPress to deliver each company's content to new markets. A ministry of The Navigators, NavPress began distributing select Nelson products to the direct-to-church and direct-to-consumer audiences, while Thomas Nelson will introduce NavPress resources to the trade market.

Nelson's Bible study titles carried by NavPress include the Max Lucado DVD-based 3:16 and Come Thirsty, as well as Liquid products by John Ward and Jeff Pries. Other Nelson titles carried by NavPress include the "Fruit of the Spirit" series by Calvin Miller, the "Life Principles Study Series" by Charles Stanley and the "MacArthur Old Testament Study Guides" by John MacArthur.

"We feel the relationship between NavPress and Thomas Nelson enhances both organizations' presence to these distinct audiences and will result in a broader distribution of kingdom resources," said Jessica Chappell, NavPress' vice president of business development. "The Navigators have a phenomenal foundation of biblical scholarship that will be reaching the audience at an entirely new level."

An agreement between the two companies is being finalized for Nelson to sellNavPress' "The Navigators Reference Library," which includes The Complete Book of Discipleship by Bill Hull, Dictionary of Everyday Theology and Culture by Bruce Demarest and Keith Matthews (January 2010) and Handbook for Personal Bible Study by William Klein.

Meanwhile, Legacy Publishing Group (LPG) recently contracted with Dicksons for sales representation for their stationery and gift items. The new partnership applies to key accounts only. The Dicksons key account sales team began offering LPG product in July.

"Through the shared efforts, ideas and ingenuity of Legacy and Dicksons, we can provide better and more personal service to our key retail partners in the Christian retail channel, ensuring a more prosperous future for all concerned," said Timothy Cross, vice president of sales and contracts at Legacy.

Steve Vandivier, CEO and president of Dicksons, added: "This is a strategic alliance that will not only allow Dicksons to enhance our ongoing commitment to bring quality products to our retail partners, but will also help us strengthen our relationship with those retailers."

Anderson said CBA has been spearheading the push for alliances through Christian retail channel exclusives such as the successful Operation Worship Bible campaign.

"I've been very pleased with the enthusiastic response from several suppliers wanting to help create product and programs unique to Christian retail to help drive traffic and sales," he said. "I don't think (the new alliances are) driven only by the economic pressures we're all experiencing, but also simply by the desire to work together better. That's good for the industry, and pleasing to the Father."

Christian remainder house opens New York showroom Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Monday, 07 September 2009 10:26 AM America/New_York
Wholesale Christian Books reports business is 'thriving and growing in every direction'

A Christian remainder house based in the Midwest has opened a permanent showroom in New York City to meet growing demand.

Touted as the world's largest distributor of discount Christian media, Wholesale Christian Books (WCB) launched its 600-square-foot showroom in May, featuring approximately 2,000 titles.

jerry bloom"We decided to open a showroom in New York because many of our current and prospective customers travel there to buy books on a regular basis," Jerry Bloom, president of the Racine, Wisc.-based company, told Christian Retailing.

In operation for about three years, WCB's Racine facility has more than 50,000 square feet. With an inventory of more than a million books, the company carries 13,000-plus titles from more than two-dozen Christian publishers.

"We sell to everyone from independent Christian bookstore start-ups to,” Bloom said. "Most recently, we (began) partnering with nontraditional book retailers like Ross, DD's Discounts and Citi Trends."

He added that the secular non-book companies were "doing well" with inspirational products, including women’s devotionals, Bibles and Bible covers.

"Our partnership with nontraditional booksellers has really been the favor of God," Bloom said. "A few of these companies decided to try some titles, and now they are a top-selling category in most of their stores. I really love that we get to share the kingdom with not only thousands of end users through this channel, but also that our customers receive favor and profitability from God-centered products."

Bloom added that the company expands its visibility by exhibiting at various trade shows, including Book Expo America, The London Book Fair, International Christian Retail Show and Chicago International Remainder and Overstock Book Exposition (CIROBE).

"Our business is thriving and growing in every direction," he said. "I have hope for Christian publishing and Christian retail. I believe that it is a key time for the industry to help train business people on how to adapt to the current business environment. Integrating bargain products into retail stores is a key way to produce store traffic and profits in any economy."

Meanwhile, the dates for the Inspirational Value Book Show (IVBS)—the only bargain show for the Christian book industry—has been announced. The third annual event is set for Jan. 13-14, 2010 in Nashville.

Despite cold weather and a down economy, vendors' sales and retailer attendance increased for the show earlier this year. Held Jan. 14-16 in Nashville, IVBS drew 20 exhibitors—up from 16 vendors who participated at the inaugural show last year. The event attracted 65 stores and 106 representatives, compared to 41 stores and 65 representatives from the 2008 show, organizers said.

Scheduled to exhibit at the 2010 show, David C. Cook, Harvest House Publishers, Moody Publishers, Whitaker House and Zondervan were among the publishers who had booths at this year's IVBS.