Category : CBA

  • June 16, 2010

    More on the industry

    by

    Mark sent me this: “It
    seems that slowly the CBA is selling out. Is this true? Is it the ABA getting
    greedy? What does this signal for the future?”

    It signals that the general market has recognized the value of Christian books,
    Christian writers, and Christian readers. And, yes, it probably means that more
    CBA houses will be sold (or come under the influence of) large ABA houses. As to the question "are they greedy?"
    — good grief, they're running a for-profit enterprise. If "greedy"
    means "are they focused on making a profit," of course they're
    greedy. But I'd argue that CBA houses, for all the carefully-couched terms
    about having "ministry" and "doing the Lord's work," are
    also focused on profit. So maybe we should view this as a greater partnership,
    rather than a sell-out. Sure, there are some questions to face down the road –
    who will do commentaries and reference tools that aren't necessarily commercial
    but still have value to believers? What happens when a company faces a decision to publish a book at odds with believers? How will
    Christians respond when a company publishes some heretical tome? But, for those
    not in the know, those very questions are faced by some of us every day. Time Warner
    Book Group was a marvelous company that did many wonderful books when I was there (as well as before I came and after I left). We probably
    also published some books Christians would find offensive. But you know what? I
    was not responsible for every decision in the company. I was responsible to do
    good books with solid Christian content that will sell in the marketplace. I
    was comfortable with that role, and I believed in the company. So no, I don't find the blending of Christian and general markets a "sell out."

    Suzy asked, “How do you handle it when
    you have a change of editors (and editor styles)

    Continue Reading "More on the industry"
  • June 14, 2010

    CBA Trends

    by

    A little
    bit ago, Shawn wrote and asked about the Christian industry. Here’s his
    question: “Is the biggest trend in religious publishing the fact that none of
    the Christian publishers are owned or run by ministries anymore?”

    I've been saying for quite
    some time that the biggest trend in Christian publishing is the distribution —
    AWAY from independent Christian bookstore/gift centers and TOWARD general market
    bookstores. That has both an up and a down side, of course, but it's not
    something a cabal has been planning — it's simply the marketplace at work.
    Christian readers would prefer to spend $12 for a book at Wal-Mart (and don't
    underestimate Wal-Mart in the Christian retailing market) than $20 for a book
    at Betty's Angel Book Shoppe. That has caused Christian independents to go
    under by the dozens, and it is rapidly forcing a reshaping of CBA as we know it.

    Along with that has been the sale of three CBA publishers. Time Warner (my
    former employer) had its stock price stuck at $17 for three years, so in an
    effort to get some things moving (and to hold off Carl Icahn), the board
    decided to get out of the book business. They sold the Time Warner Book Group
    to Hachette Livre, a French publishing conglomerate that owns Hodder in
    England, Car & Driver  and Elle magazines in this country, and
    numerous publishing ventures around the world. So I lost the cache of saying I
    work for Time Warner, the largest entertainment company in the world…but, of
    course, I was able to say I'm a publisher with Hachette Livre, the
    third-largest publisher in the world. On the heels of that came the sale of
    Thomas Nelson — interestingly enough, moving from a publicly held company to a
    private one. Then Simon and Schuster, who was already for sale by Viacom, and
    who has not had a Christian imprint, decided they needed CBA exposure.

    Continue Reading "CBA Trends"
  • June 14, 2010

    CBA Trends

    by

    A little
    bit ago, Shawn wrote and asked about the Christian industry. Here’s his
    question: “Is the biggest trend in religious publishing the fact that none of
    the Christian publishers are owned or run by ministries anymore?”

    I've been saying for quite
    some time that the biggest trend in Christian publishing is the distribution —
    AWAY from independent Christian bookstore/gift centers and TOWARD general market
    bookstores. That has both an up and a down side, of course, but it's not
    something a cabal has been planning — it's simply the marketplace at work.
    Christian readers would prefer to spend $12 for a book at Wal-Mart (and don't
    underestimate Wal-Mart in the Christian retailing market) than $20 for a book
    at Betty's Angel Book Shoppe. That has caused Christian independents to go
    under by the dozens, and it is rapidly forcing a reshaping of CBA as we know it.

    Along with that has been the sale of three CBA publishers. Time Warner (my
    former employer) had its stock price stuck at $17 for three years, so in an
    effort to get some things moving (and to hold off Carl Icahn), the board
    decided to get out of the book business. They sold the Time Warner Book Group
    to Hachette Livre, a French publishing conglomerate that owns Hodder in
    England, Car & Driver  and Elle magazines in this country, and
    numerous publishing ventures around the world. So I lost the cache of saying I
    work for Time Warner, the largest entertainment company in the world…but, of
    course, I was able to say I'm a publisher with Hachette Livre, the
    third-largest publisher in the world. On the heels of that came the sale of
    Thomas Nelson — interestingly enough, moving from a publicly held company to a
    private one. Then Simon and Schuster, who was already for sale by Viacom, and
    who has not had a Christian imprint, decided they needed CBA exposure.

    Continue Reading "CBA Trends"
  • June 5, 2010

    Guest Blogger: The ECPA Winners

    by

    Our guest blogger today is Cindy Carter, the Recognition and Resources Manager for the ECPA…

    Thank you, Chip, for allowing me the opportunity to be a guest blogger on your site and to introduce your readers to the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association [ECPA]. 

    ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) is the trade association for Christian publishers with nearly 150 members worldwide.   It is our mission to equip the Christian publishing industry with programs and services that enable them to more efficiently and effectively “make the Christian message more widely known.”  Our programs aim to build industry awareness, and to enhance ECPA members’ access to markets, education, expertise, information and peers.

    One of the ways that ECPA builds awareness of quality Christian literature, is through the annual Christian Book Award program, which recognizes and promotes the year’s finest Christian titles in six categories.  Here are the 2010 winners:

    Christian Book of the YearThe Hole in Our Gospel

    by Richard Stearns  (Thomas Nelson)

    Bibles: Glo by Immersion Digital (Zondervan)

    Bible Reference: The New Moody Atlas of the Bible by Barry Beitzel  (Moody Publishers)

    Children & Youth: B4UD8 by Hayley and Michael DiMarco  (Revell/ Baker Publishing Group)

    Christian Life: The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns  (Thomas Nelson)

    Fiction: Watch Over Me by Christa Parrish  (Bethany House/ Baker Publishing Group)

    Inspiration & Gift: Grace Notes by Philip Yancey  (Zondervan)

    This collection of six books represents the industry's ‘best of the year’ and the program’s retail partners have agreed to promote them to their consumer bases.&#01
    60; 
    Those partners include Christianbook.com, Berean, Family, and Parable, along with Amazon, Borders and Barnes & Noble.  I highly recommend that you consider these titles for your personal reading and for gift giving. 

    ECPA also recognizes and celebrates the impact of Christian titles through our Gold, Platinum and Diamond Sales Award program by honoring titles that have sold 500,000 (Gold),

    Continue Reading "Guest Blogger: The ECPA Winners"
  • June 5, 2010

    Guest Blogger: The ECPA Winners

    by

    Our guest blogger today is Cindy Carter, the Recognition and Resources Manager for the ECPA…

    Thank you, Chip, for allowing me the opportunity to be a guest blogger on your site and to introduce your readers to the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association [ECPA]. 

    ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) is the trade association for Christian publishers with nearly 150 members worldwide.   It is our mission to equip the Christian publishing industry with programs and services that enable them to more efficiently and effectively “make the Christian message more widely known.”  Our programs aim to build industry awareness, and to enhance ECPA members’ access to markets, education, expertise, information and peers.

    One of the ways that ECPA builds awareness of quality Christian literature, is through the annual Christian Book Award program, which recognizes and promotes the year’s finest Christian titles in six categories.  Here are the 2010 winners:

    Christian Book of the YearThe Hole in Our Gospel

    by Richard Stearns  (Thomas Nelson)

    Bibles: Glo by Immersion Digital (Zondervan)

    Bible Reference: The New Moody Atlas of the Bible by Barry Beitzel  (Moody Publishers)

    Children & Youth: B4UD8 by Hayley and Michael DiMarco  (Revell/ Baker Publishing Group)

    Christian Life: The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns  (Thomas Nelson)

    Fiction: Watch Over Me by Christa Parrish  (Bethany House/ Baker Publishing Group)

    Inspiration & Gift: Grace Notes by Philip Yancey  (Zondervan)

    This collection of six books represents the industry's ‘best of the year’ and the program’s retail partners have agreed to promote them to their consumer bases.&#01
    60; 
    Those partners include Christianbook.com, Berean, Family, and Parable, along with Amazon, Borders and Barnes & Noble.  I highly recommend that you consider these titles for your personal reading and for gift giving. 

    ECPA also recognizes and celebrates the impact of Christian titles through our Gold, Platinum and Diamond Sales Award program by honoring titles that have sold 500,000 (Gold),

    Continue Reading "Guest Blogger: The ECPA Winners"
  • August 17, 2008

    The Christian Book Expo

    by

    Next spring, everything about the marketing and selling of Christian books is going to change. The ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) is going to host the Christian Book Expo in Dallas, March 20-22. Modeled after the very successful Guadalajara Book Fair and the Los Angeles Festival of Books, I think this is going to be the next big thing for Christian publishing.

    Why? Because of the direction the organizers are taking. Instead of being focused on retailers, the focus of this show is going to be on authors and content. The public will be invited, and the whole idea is to expose readers to authors and their work. Think about this: there are going to be 180 workshops at the Expo. They are planning readings, and performances, and dozens of speakers. There are going to be mini-events where authors discuss contemporary and theological issues. There will be activities for families, and an entire area dedicated just to children’s books. They are planning 11 different panels, with world-class participants, to explore what the authors have to say about today’s significant social issues. (The panels are going to be sponsored by Christianity Today.) And they’re expecting major media, the participation of every ECPA publisher, as well as most general market publishers who produce Christian books. I think this event is going to raise the awareness of Christian publishing in this country. Best of all, this will be a books only event, meaning all of us get to focus on authors and their works.

    Here’s something that might surprise you: The Guadalajara Book Fair attracted 525,000 people last year. The LA Festival had 140,000 attendees earlier this year. The fact is, people are still interested in books. And since last year was the biggest year ever for selling religious books, it’s fair to say that people care about Christian books (even  if CBA and their retailers convention is struggling to survive). So

    Continue Reading "The Christian Book Expo"
  • August 11, 2008

    The Future of CBA and ICRS

    by

    I’ve had a bunch 0f questions about the future direction of publishing, especially the future of CBA (the Christian Booksellers Association). Let me try to tackle some of the questions that have been posed to me or posted in the "comments" section…

    Carol asked, "How is the much-touted Christian Book Expo different from the current ICRS?"

    ICRS (the International Christian Retailing Show) is a collection of everyone who sells into religious stores. It includes jewelry companies, art distributors, t-shirt and tie manufacturers, card companies, music and entertainment corporations, and all the wacky stuff from Testamints to Gospel Golf Balls. There’s a sense that the show has lost its momentum. Next March, the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) will host the Christian Book Expo in Dallas. Many are viewing it as an alternative to ICRS. The focus will solely be on books, it will be open to the public, and they are hoping t0 line up major media for the authors at the show.

    I have long advocated Christian publishers focus on BEA (the annual general-market book show) by sending editors, setting up media, and asking the folks who run it to put all the religious publishers in one location. But BEA just doesn’t thrill the old CBA crowd. Too expensive, too much competition, and too much liberal nuttiness to make Christian publishers comfortable. (They all attend, but it’s more of a sales show, so they don’t bring many authors or editors.) Will the new Christian Book Expo work? Beats me. But when your current plan isn’t working, you need to try something else. One of the weakest aspects of ICRS this year was the lack of media, so the ECPA types have decided to focus on a Bible-belt city, try to draw commercial crowds, and make it a "happening" that will attract TV/radio/print people. I’ll be hoping for the best.

    Another person asked, "Will the new ECPA show make up

    Continue Reading "The Future of CBA and ICRS"
  • August 1, 2008

    Online Rights and Other Things We’re Seeing Now…

    by

    Dana wrote to ask, "Was ICRS really as bad as everyone is making it out to be? Were numbers down all that much? I recieve emails from CBA (the sponsoring organization), and they shared some pretty good news to their membership."

    You know, I don’t take any pleasure in predicting the demise of CBA. I’ve been a member for years, am supportive of its goals, and have established some wonderful memories at the annual book show. But no matter how you spin it, the numbers are terrible. Ten years ago the convention drew just under 15,000 participants. This year the number was half that. And the number of "industry professionals" who attended the show was half the number of what it was ten years ago. The floor space is obviously shrinking (and word is many publishers may pull out or significantly reduce their floor space even more next year). So, yes, it’s a significant downward trend. No matter how they try to spin it, the show is in deep trouble (in my humble opinion).

    Sheri asked, "From walking the floor at ICRS, can you tell us about some of the book trends you’re seeing?"

    We’ve continued to see growth in fiction, and particularly in fiction sub-categories. (So while we used to just see "romance," we’re now seeing "historical romance," "contemporary romance," "romantic suspense," "romance with characters named Fiona," etc.) We’re also seeing more emergent writers. More reformed writers. More spriritual journey writers. More charismatic writers. More writers with professional platforms (MD’s writing on health, or investment guys writing on finances, for example). More "social justice" and "green" books. More audio titles. A continuing movement toward celebrity. The beginnings of narrative nonfiction titles. Fewer books from pastors. Few homeschooling books. Very few education titles. Few men’s books. Few humor writers. Few Bible studies. Almost no CBA gift books. More small presses starting up (hoo-ray!). And a handful of companies (Moody is

    Continue Reading "Online Rights and Other Things We’re Seeing Now…"
  • July 26, 2008

    The Leftovers from ICRS

    by

    There are a handful of leftover things happening in the world of publishing that should be mentioned. In no particular order…

    1. The Christy Salon: In case you didn’t hear, at this years’ Christy Awards (given for the best religious fiction), they featured a "salon" — a discussion of experienced people talking about the history and future of Christian novels. It was an interesting discussion, with Dave Lambert of Simon & Schuster, Karen Ball of B&H, and Carol Johnson of Bethany House (who was also given a lifetime achievement award at this dinner for her 20+ years in the industry). The most interesting part of the salon was the talk about the books that have shaped contemporary Christian fiction. Once you got past Grace Livingston Hill and Catherine Marshall (the Christies are named for her novel), the panel suggested these books have had the most influence: Jeanette Oke’s Love Comes Softly, Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness, Bodie Thoene’s Gates of Zion, Jan Karon’s Mitford books, Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love, and Jerry Jenkins’ Left Behind. It was pointed out that each of these books broke the mold. Each was different from the current popular reads, and each had a publisher who believed in them and worked to promote them. Interesting to think about in our "me-too" world of writing.

    2. The Man We All Must Thank: I was glad to hear people in several venues say nice things about Jerry Jenkins. The fact is, we all know Left Behind doesn’t qualify as "great literature," but Jerry’s books hit at the right time, changed Christian fiction, and opened up the rest of the world to the whole notion of religious books. Borders, Books-a-Million, and Barnes & Noble used to have one shelf devoted to religious fiction. Now they have an entire aisle. The New York Times used to not count Christian books when compiling their bestseller list — but they couldn’t ignore

    Continue Reading "The Leftovers from ICRS"
  • July 22, 2008

    Back from the Front Lines…

    by

    Just got back from a week at ICRS (the International Christian Retailing Show) in Orlando. Some notes…

    1. Attendance: In a word, awful. One insider told me this is the lowest attendance they’ve had at a CBA convention since the 1980’s. There were only about 7000 people at the show. Ouch.

    2. The Bad News: There wasn’t much buzz at the show. Zondervan introduced an interesting idea (more on that later), but the whole event had a bit of a gloomy atmosphere. As you know, Thomas Nelson, the largest Christian publisher on the planet, pulled out of the show. That helped create a sinking ship mentality. My guess is that more publishers are going to follow their lead (more on THAT later as well). In addition, they’re going to have to cut the whole thing back. NOBODY was there on Thursday — you could have whacked golf balls down the aisles and not hit anyone. So, overall, a bit of a negative vibe at this convention.

    3. The Good News: On the flip side, book publishing is alive and well. Even though there was a bit of a cloud over the show, a Bowker study revealed that there were more Christian books produced and sold last year than ever before. I figure that’s good news to everyone who works in the industry. And I’d argue there were some excellent new books unveiled. (I loved getting a copy of Baker’s UNCHRISTIAN, and Jossey-Bass had new books from both Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones.) So we can all stop whining. There’s plenty of good things going on.

    4. The Floor: It was nice to have all the book publishers close to each other on the floor again. And many of the art-and-trinket sellers weren’t there — in fact, I’d say they took up half the space they used to inhabit. Real shrinkage among the non-book types.

    5. The Crazies: Many of the

    Continue Reading "Back from the Front Lines…"
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