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APRIL 2014 /// $7.00

The industry at your fingertips:



Baker Publishing Group and Baker Book House share a remarkable history. Ann Byle, author of The Baker Book House Story, looks back at their publishing and retailing history in our special feature. Baker anniversary, page 16

Best-selling author Francine Rivers has a new destination in her new Tyndale-published novel, Bridge to Haven. In the setting of Hollywood’s golden years, she tells the story of redemption amidst the glitz and glamour. Ask the Author, page 21



Author Todd Starnes takes stand in culture wars

Politically incorrect FOX News commentator says it’s no longer ‘God bless America’ but ‘God Less America’ BY NATALIE GILLESPIE



Conservative Todd Starnes is calling on Christians to engage in the war on religious liberty in America; INSET: FrontLine (Charisma House) releases his new book in May.

hen FOX News & Commentary radio host and author Todd Starnes says he feels like “a Duck Dynasty guy living in a Miley Cyrus world,” he means it. The selfprofessed Bible-believing, sweet-tea-drinking conservative commentator believes that many Americans feel the same way—concerned about living in a culture that is turning away from God at record speed. In God Less America, his new FrontLine (Charisma House) book, in stores May 6, Starnes argues that there is an aggressive culture war on religious liberties, specifically against the Christian faith. “In the book, I sort of likened myself to a modern-day Paul Revere,” Starnes said. “I don’t have a horse or a lantern, but I have a microphone and a laptop, and I can type at the top of my voice, shouting, ‘The secularists are coming! The secularists are coming!’ and they really do want to take away our right to worship God.” Starnes’ FOX News & Commentary is heard daily on the FOX News Radio network. Throughout his career, he has covered a number of high-profile stories—taking him from Wall Street to the White House. He has made regular appearances on FOX & Friends and Hannity’s America. His work is heard on hundreds of radio stations around the nation, and his website,, is read by more than 2 million people monthly. FOX News talk show host Mike Huckabee wrote the foreword to God Less America. “We are seeing time and again the mainstream media assault people of faith for following Christian principles,” the former presidential candidate and governor told Christian Retailing. “Whether it be the Chick-fil-A boycott or Phil Robertson’s suspension from Duck Dynasty, those who stand on solid faith-based principles are being taken to task for not being politically correct. STA R N E S, page 9

Obamacare delay takes heat off mid-sized employers Contentious delays could help retailers with healthcare law’s implementation Mid-sized employers have been granted another year before they will be legally required to offer health insurance to nearly all full-time employees. The Obama administration announced another delay in the employer mandate section of the Affordable Care Act—also known as Obamacare—pushing the requirement back to 2016 for companies with 50 to 99 full-time employees. Larger companies—defined by the law as having 100 or more employees—also were granted a reprieve in the announcement. Though their implementation date remains

Jan. 1, 2015—delayed by a more sweeping announcement in July from the law’s original 2014 deadline—large employers will only be required O B A M A C A R E , p a g e 10 MORE INSIDE

  Calvary Chapel Downey store tries new concept for café, page 14   Author who lost grandchildren in bombing offers forgiveness, page 18   Former megachurch pastor addresses suffering in new DVD, page 22   See what’s releasing in Young Adult and kids’ titles this month, page 24   Christian retail veteran Bill Nielsen talks service and selling, page 28   Dan Balow asks if Christian fiction is on its deathbed, page 30

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Provident Distribution moves away from store rep visits Distributor to serve Christian retailers’ music and DVD needs via Internet and phone following staff restructure

forced the file-sharing service to stop offering free downloads, he said the early site still boosted the digital buying trend. Provident isn’t the only Nashville distribution giant affected by these changes. “Capitol has cut down, and I don’t think Word has had a sales rep for the past three years,” he said. “It just got to the point where that’s what ended up happening.” Provident Distribution is the Christian retail sales and marketing arm of Provident Music Group and Provident Films, a division of Sony Music Entertainment. It represents such artists as Casting Crowns, Third Day, MercyMe and Israel Houghton. Among the movie producers it represents are Provident Films, Affirm Films/Sony Pictures Entertainment and FoxFaith/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. —Ken Walker

Provident Distribution has downsized A former Provident sales rep who left its last three field sales representatives the company at the end of 2013 had anas part of a restructuring plan placing ticipated the move, saying he and other more emphasis on Internet employees had observed a and phone sales. The move is downward trend in music sales reflective of the industry-wide the past five years. squeeze on the sale of recorded “It’s the nature of the indusChristian music. try and the economy,” he said, Technology is prompting citing the fact that more music other changes as well. Along is available through online with the staff reduction, Vice streaming and fans purchasPresident of Sales Randy Davis ing recordings on iTunes and said Provident is developing other portals. “We all sensed Randy Davis ways of participating in more they were going to phase us out. live streaming of musical artists’ events We didn’t have a timeline, but the signs and theatrical releases. were there.” “Additionally, we continue to expand Provident opted to retain three telethe functionality of our ‘Business to Busisales reps for independent Christian reness’ solution at to manage tailers, who also can use for their accounts and order product at their online orders. In the past, if travel or convenience,” Davis said. other considerations made it more eco-

nomical, the former rep said he would encourage retailers to use the ordering site after finalizing their selections. Although music sales had declined, Provident’s video business had increased in recent years. DVDs performed well in the home market, even with certain films that didn’t fare that well at the box office, the former rep said. Still, the former rep sees trouble ahead for that segment of the market as well. “I think you’ll see changes because of Netflix and all these streaming sites you can get online now,” he said. “That’s going to change people’s buying habits too.” Although he thinks the impact of ebooks affected traditional print sales much quicker, he traces the decline in recorded music sales to the advent of Napster in the late 1990s. Although legal challenges eventually

‘Son of God’ exceeds expectations in second-place opening

‘Mercy Rule’ gives Kirk Cameron second consecutive No. 1 DVD

Tie-in products available at retail for Gospel-based blockbuster movie Son of God debuted to a $25.6 million opening weekend Feb. 28-March 2, far exceeding recent tracking estimates of $13 million and $22.5 million. This performance made the Jesus biopic the second-highest-grossing film of the weekend, just behind the Liam Neesonfronted thriller Non-Stop, which also made its debut Feb. 28. Produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey—the team behind The Bible miniseries—Son of God also managed to outperform the highly successful The Lego Movie, which saw its bid for a fourth consecutive weekend at the No. 1 slot come to an end. Amid a groundswell of support from Son of God came out of the gates strong with an estimated $9.5 million in box office receipts opening day, just behind the $10.1 million Non-Stop earned that day. Though Son of God didn’t manage to overtake Neeson’s thriller, the biblical film’s earnings grew substantially throughout the weekend.

The Gospel-based drama’s opening weekend viewership was 62% female, with 82% being 25 years of age or older, according to Filmgoers gave the movie an “A-” CinemaScore. With no major star driving the film’s appeal, an expansive grass-roots effort has led the push for Son of God. Christian retailers, churches, organizations, radio stations, bloggers and others have helped market the movie, buy out theaters for dedicated screenings and distribute tickets to patrons in the lead-up to the film’s release. Though no DVD release date has yet been announced, several tiein products are available. Current offerings include a Son of God novelization written by Burnett and Downey (FaithWords), Rick Warren’s Son of God: The Life of Jesus in You Bible study materials (B&H Books) and the Son of God: Music Inspired by the Epic Motion Picture audio CD (Word Entertainment/Word Distribution). —Burns

Family Christian exclusive joins ‘Unstoppable’ with chart-topping sales Kirk Cameron’s Mercy Rule has debuted as the highestselling DVD in Christian retail in its first week. Released Feb. 14 by the actor’s CAMFAM Studios, Mercy Rule follows on the heels of Cameron’s  Unstoppable, which was also the No. 1 best-selling DVD in Christian retail during its release week in late January. Mercy Rule  is available on DVD from Family Christian Stores, the film’s exclusive brickand-mortar retailer. “Mercy Rule has truly struck a chord with Family Christian customers,” said Family Christian CEO Cliff Bartow. It is a movie that the whole family can enjoy, and its message of families supporting each other through life’s challenges really resonates with our customers.” Mercy Rule  tells the story of a father and son who are facing their own unique challenges. The father (Cameron) is working to save his business from a corrupt lobbyist. The son is trying to find his place on his Little League baseball team. Behind both is a loyal,

encouraging family. “Our hope is that Mercy Rule can be to families what  Fireproof  was to marriages,” said Cameron, who plays husband to his real-life wife, Chelsea, in the film. The movie also includes a discussion guide that helps families who want to start conversations around the themes in the film. “Christian families are clamoring for high-quality, faith- and family-friendly entertainment,” Bartow said. “Through our partnership with CAMFAM Studios, Family Christian looks forward to continuing to deliver the best in Christian entertainment to our customers for years to come.” Family Christian will donate a portion of the sale of each Mercy Rule DVD to support the Camerons’ Camp Firefly, which provides seriously ill children and their families an all-expenses-paid vacation at the camp. Cameron’s previous work Unstoppable, a joint production with Liberty University, was the No. 1-ranked DVD for two weeks after its release. —Burns

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LifeWay reports on retail and publishing growth

The 2014 Christian Retailing’s Best finalists will be named April 7. Winners will be announced at the International Christian Retail Show in June. For more information, please visit

B&H Publishing called ‘powerful force in Christian publishing’ LifeWay Christian Resources President into more churches and the Bible into the and CEO Thom Rainer praised the work hands of more people,” Rainer said. “And of B&H Publishing Group and cited the Ministry Grid, launched last fall, is the growth of LifeWay Christian Stores in his most massive resource we’ve ever prostate of the ministry report, acduced with thousands of traincording to Baptist Press. The reing videos for the local church available anytime, anywhere.” port was presented at a Feb. 3-4 Rainer also cited last year’s meeting in Nashville. growth of LifeWay Christian “B&H Publishing is an inStores, which acquired the 17credible story of growth,” he said. store Berean chain and opened “B&H is now a powerful force in nine additional locations. There Christian publishing.” are now 186 LifeWay Christian Rainer particularly noted Stores in 29 states. the advances of the church re- Thom Rainer “The Berean acquisition was sources division. an incredible endeavor that required coop“Our church resources division has turned around a nearly 30-year decline eration by all of LifeWay—from everyone in in use of our ongoing Bible study rethe stores division to IT [information techsources in order to get more resources nology] and human resources and from

finance to legal services.” Rainer spoke of his approach to his approach to leadership overall in the report. “My consistent prayer since coming to LifeWay eight years ago is that I would lead LifeWay with wisdom,” Rainer said. “I don’t want to lead out of my own strength or ability, but with God’s wisdom. And I believe He has shown us His favor in so many ways.” Rainer said his executive leadership team is “constantly asking honest questions about everything we do at LifeWay. ‘Is LifeWay doing what we should be doing—what God wants us to do?’ We want to be a leader instead of a follower—an influencer instead of simply a reactor.” He also announced a new LifeWay partnership with Big Oak Ranch, a national ministry to abandoned and neglected chil-

dren in Alabama. Employees are being given opportunities to donate and provide support for Big Oak. Trustees at the meeting also approved a response to a motion from last summer’s Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) meeting that SBC entities report how they are assisting churches in “the challenge of ministry to those suffering from mental health issues.” LifeWay plans to provide a variety of resources to assist individuals and churches in ministering to persons with mental health challenges. LifeWay’s board also heard reports from the ministry’s executive leadership team, one of which pointed to the organization’s strong financial start to the fiscal year. —Christine D. Johnson

LifeWay customers donate 200,000 Hindi Bibles International Mission Board partnership an ‘overwhelming success’ Considering similar initiatives in the past had sold considerably fewer Bibles, the original goal was a significant one for The Thomas Project, a joint venture with LifeWay Christian Stores, B&H Publishing Group and IMB. This time, however, customers engaged more deeply with the project, giving enough for 200,000 Bibles. Churches continued to donate even after the initiative ended in November, with one church donating enough in January to print 1,200 Bibles. “We are indeed grateful for the opportunity to partner in ministry with our customers and the IMB through The Thomas Project,” said Thom S. Rainer,

president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. “The response has been amazing, thanks Customers gave above and beyond LifeWay’s goal to to the Lord’s make The Thomas Project “an overwhelming success.” blessings and the tremendous generosity of our customtribute the Bibles that are so desperately needed,” said Tim Vineyard, vice presiers who truly have a compassion for the lost and confidence in the Word of God.” dent of LifeWay Christian Stores. “Our A LifeWay employee mission team prayer will be that each Bible donated will go to South Asia this spring to help will have a life changing impact on the IMB workers distribute the Bibles. individuals who receive them.” “It is especially gratifying that some The mission team will visit locations of our own LifeWay employees will be strategically selected by IMB and work joining workers in the field to help disthrough local church leaders and believers to distribute the Bibles. Additionally, they will be involved in direct evangelism and training. “This has been a year of immense blessings and we cannot keep it to ourInfluence Music label follows in the vein of ‘We Believe’ release with works of ‘Holy Spirit-inspired creativity’ selves,” said B&H Senior Vice President of Christian church supplies, ministry of Sales Craig Featherstone, who will be Influence Resources, an imprint of My The individuals at the heart of this effort resources and curriculum. Additionally, on the team to India alongside Bob Van Healthy Church serving “Spirit-empoware John Hartley and Malcolm du Plessis. Influence Music will provide music pubFleteren, B&H Vice President of InternaHartley, who also served as producer on W e ered believers,” has announced the creBelieve, has worked in Christian music for ation of a music division, Influence Music. lishing administration services for select tional Sales. “Bob and I are so thankful to decades, first as a member of British duo The launch of Influence Music comes on churches and artists. be able to see God work in this initiative Phil and John, and later as a mentor and the heels of We Believe, a joint release proSol Arledge, COO of My Healthy Church, and see the people of South Asia blessed producer for artists like Leigh Nash, Aaron says the timing of the launch is perfect. with these Bibles.” duced by Influence Resources and Integrity Keyes and Matt Redman. “The amount of Holy Spirit-inspired “God has honored the heart desire Music, which debuted at No. 1 on SoundA songwriter, band manager and piocreativity coming from our churches and of both LifeWay and IMB to see the Scan’s Praise and Worship chart in August universities is astounding,” Arledge said. gospel penetrate the unengaged un2013. The live worship album showcased neer of multicultural, multilingual worship, “Combined with the marketing and distrioriginal music from leading ministries and du Plessis also consulted with labels such reached people groups in South Asia,” set the tone for the kind of work Influence as Kingsway Music, Integrity Music and Eliff said. “We can only dream what will bution channels already developed by My Music will champion as a label. Capitol Christian Music Group. happen as these Hindi Bible are distribHealthy Church, we have a truly unique Influence Music will be distributed by Influence Music’s first release is set for opportunity to serve the church with oututed to the new believers and the lost, as My Healthy Church, a leading provider August. —Burns well.” —Burns standing worship music.” LifeWay Christian Stores set a goal last fall of donating 100,000 Hindi language Bibles across South Asia, but customers gave enough for twice that many. “LifeWay has proven once again it is an organization with a heart for the world,” said Tom Eliff, president of the International Mission Board (IMB). “Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine  The Thomas Project  would be such an overwhelming success.” Named for the disciple believed to have been the first Christian missionary to the region, The Thomas Project invited customers at LifeWay’s 186 stores to purchase a Bible for $5 to send to South Asia.

Influence Resources announces launch of new praise and worship music division

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‘The Bible,’ ‘Grace Unplugged’ win Movieguide’s Epiphany Prizes

Robertson family of ‘Duck Dynasty’ fame takes home pair of awards from 22nd Annual Faith & Values Gala The Bible miniseries, Grace Unplugged and Duck Dynasty’s Robertson clan each won multiple awards at Movieguide’s 22nd Annual Faith & Values Gala. Held Feb. 7 at the Universal Hilton Hotel in Universal City, Calif., the awards show also featured a special performance by author and singer Joni Earackson Tada.

“What we’re celebrating tonight is you,” said Movieguide founder Ted Baehr to the audience in the award ceremony’s opening address. People want great movies, and “great movies are great stories well told, with a positive worldview, and that are spiritually uplifting,” Baehr added.

Q A ?

The night’s biggest winners were Grace Unplugged and The Bible, which won the $100,000 Epiphany Prizes for Most Inspiring Movie of 2013 and Most Inspiring TV Program of 2013, respectively. “What an exciting and humbling honor,” said Brad J. Silverman, writer and director of Grace Unplugged (Lionsgate

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Entertainment/Capitol Christian Distribution). “Our goal from the beginning was to make a movie that would entertain and inspire families—and to have Movieguide recognize us for doing just that is more special than I can put into words.” In addition to the Epiphany Prize, Grace Unplugged took home two other awards: Best Film Actress for AJ Michalka and Best Film Actor for James Denton. “This has been quite a journey for us, for my husband and I, as a married couple, said The Bible co-producer Downey, who along with Burnett, recently released the Jesus-focused full-length film Son of God in theaters. “We were very encouraged all last year.”


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Mark Burnett and Roma Downey accept their award for “The Bible.” Downey also took home the award for Best Television Actress for her part as Jesus’ mother, Mary, in The Bible, a role she reprises in Son of God. Diogo Morgado, who plays Jesus in the miniseries, was runnerup for Best Television Actor. Morgado also reprises his role in Son of God. Tada’s performance of the title song from Enthuse Entertainment’s Colonialera drama, Alone Yet Not Alone, received an Oscar nomination in late January, only to have it rescinded by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences a week later. The rare nomination withdrawal was prompted by an alleged ethical breach by the song’s composer, Bruce Broughton, whose email to voters drawing attention to the song was viewed as inappropriate due to his position on the Academy’s executive committee. The singer pointed to the silver lining in the disappointing turn of events, indicating that the nomination and its withdrawal had helped bring into the public eye the movie and her cause—people with disabilities such as herself. “God’s power always shows up best in weakness,” Tada told the Movieguide Awards audience. Duck Dynasty’s “Till Duck Do Us Part” episode won the Faith & Freedom Award for television. Willie Robertson also won an award for his guest-starring role in the “Back to School” episode of ABC comedy Last Man Standing. —Burns

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Worthy Publishing celebrates record year ‘Jeremiah Study Bible,’ John Hagee lead with strong sales Worthy Publishing Group (WPG) grew 84% in 2013 versus its already strong start of 64% growth from 2011 to 2012. In the company’s first full year of business, its list of trade books, along with new releases from imprints Ellie Claire, WorthyKids and Inspired, helped WPG establish an aggressive growth profile for the young publishing house. WPG released The Jeremiah Study Bible  right before Thanksgiving, shipping more than 140,000 copies at launch. The release was celebrated by a sell-out crowd at an event at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City, featuring David Jeremiah, MercyMe, Kari Jobe and The Brooklyn Tabernacle Singers. This month, Dr. Jeremiah and the Worthy team celebrated a milestone achievement as The Jeremiah Study Bible hit No. 1 on the CBA best-seller chart. “The enthusiastic support from LifeWay, Family Christian, Barnes & Noble, CBD [Christian Book Distributors], Walmart and so many others is deeply appreciated,”

said Worthy President and Publisher Byron Williamson in a Feb. 3 statement. “At the current rate of sale, Dr. Jeremiah’s study Bible will soon surpass 300,000 in print.” John Hagee’s Four Blood Moons, which had more than 375,000 copies in print by early February, became a New York Times best-seller shortly after its October release. “Pastor Hagee’s book has captured readers’ imaginations with its message that ‘something is about to change’ on this earth,” Williamson said. The coming series of four lunar eclipses predicted by NASA are signs from the heavens of things to come, according to Hagee. Worthy titles slated for release in 2014 include books from authors including Jeremiah, Ted Dekker, Ralph Reed, Bob Coy, Les and Leslie Parrott, Bob Buford, Rudy Rasmus and Stephen Mansfield. WorthyKids, a new division of WPG, recently signed an expanded publishing deal with DreamWorks Animation for additional rights to VeggieTales. New titles will be releasing throughout the year.­—Burns

Harvest House announces corporate restructuring plan

Changes come as family-owned company enters 40th year of publishing Harvest House Publishers has announced a strategic corporate restructuring plan designed to generate new sales opportunities and inject more innovation and efficiency into the company. In response to an ever-changing publishing climate, Harvest House is seeking to better employ the strengths of key personnel. “God has gifted our company with incredibly talented people, and there were opportunities to implement their strengths in exciting new ways that will benefit the company and our authors as we continue to exercise a forward-thinking outlook in everything we do,” said Harvest House President Bob Hawkins Jr. “With this restructuring, I am confident Harvest House will realize new sales growth, an even more invigorating corporate culture and the achievement of the company’s short- and long-range goals and initiatives.” The first of the corporate changes was the promotion of Vice President of Editorial LaRae Weikert to executive vice president/editorial. In her expanded executive role, Weikert, a 28-year veteran of Harvest House, will handle more corporate-level responsibilities as she applies her leadership abilities and market insights to the company’s publishing program. In addition, Barb Sherrill, vice president of marketing, was promoted to vice president of product development. In this

newly created position in the Editorial department, Sherrill will utilize her more than 25 years of industry experience to lead a team of editors in the acquisition and development of gift, youth and children’s books, and will oversee the growth of the company’s fiction line and the establishment of e-products. In a key change to its infrastructure, Harvest House also combined the Interactive Media and Design department (IMD) with Marketing, creating the newly formed Marketing Services department. Bryce Williamson, manager of IMD, will now serve as director of marketing services. Williamson brings significant graphic design and marketing experience to this position, as well as an innovative mind-set from his eight years as graphic design manager. Serving alongside Williamson is Aaron Dillon, former publicist, in his new capacity as marketing services manager. Dillon will assist Williamson in the development of marketing strategies and ensure their efficient implementation. Other changes at the company include the promotion of Heather Green to manager/corporate development and strategy, and Jeff Marion to the position of covers project manager. Harvest House is entering its 40th year as an independent, family-run Christian publishing house. —Burns




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Harrison House pioneering author Charles Capps dies

Word of Faith preacher’s books launched the charismatic publishing company and have sold millions Author and Word of Faith preacher Charles Capps died Feb. 23. He was 80. Capps’ best-selling books, including The Tongue: A Creative Force and God’s Creative Power Will Work for You (both Harrison House), have sold millions of copies and are still in demand. The latter gave birth to the “God’s Creative Power”

series, which alone has sold more than 5 million copies. Capps was a retired farmer, land developer and Bible teacher who traveled extensively throughout the United States and several foreign countries sharing the truths of God’s Word. He taught Bible seminars for more than 35 years, em-

phasizing the authority of the believer, faith and the power of words. Capps and his wife, Peggy, had roots in the rich farmland of Lonoke County, Ark. Having been raised by parents who were farmers, Capps began farming cotton, soybeans and rice immediately after graduating from high school and marry-

ing in 1951. Three-and-ahalf months older than Capps, Peggy had to sign as the adult on his behalf when he wanted to take flying lessons at the age of 17. They joined an or- Charles Capps ganization known as the Flying Farmers and gained experience going to “fly-ins” and national meetings across the United States. Neither knew that this skill of flying would be such an asset later, when Capps began teaching personal evangelism  in the 1960s. He spoke on the subject of soul-winning in churches not only in the U.S., but also flew his twin engine Piper Comanche to the Bahamas to teach students of Youth With a Mission how to share Christ with others. After reading a book by Kenneth E. Hagin entitled Authority of the Believer, Capps’ life took on a new dimension of travel and ministry as he became known C A P P S , p a g e 10

Adam Hamilton takes five spots on CBA Top 50

Abingdon Press ‘honored by the support of our retail partners’ Abingdon Press author and pastor Adam Hamilton claimed five spots on the March CBA Top 50 best-sellers list. Hamilton’s award-winning The Way: Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus took the No. 10 spot, with Final Words From the Cross (No. 34); 24 Hours That Changed the World (No. 35); The Way: 40 Days of Reflection (No. 36); and  Love to Stay: Sex, Grace and Commitment (No. 45) also making the list.  “Our publishing house has always believed in and Adam Hamilton championed the writing and ministry of Adam Hamilton, and have enjoyed a long-standing history with him,” said Tamara Crabtree, executive director of marketing and sales at Abingdon Press. “We are honored by the support of our retail partners for Adam’s books and resources. Likewise, we are pleased to know that through our partnership with authors such as Adam, we are meeting the needs of customers for life-changing and application books and studies.” The March CBA list reflects sales through Feb. 1 in Christian stores as reported through CROSS:SCAN. —Burns

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  S T A R N E S , FROM 1

“I wrote the foreword to Todd’s book because Americans need to recognize the important role God plays in all that is good about our great nation. We cannot become a nation that seeks to shame and condemn those who seek to live by God’s Word.” Starnes uses real-life news stories as evidence of how the federal government has actively stripped individuals and organizations of their right to worship freely and maintain a public belief in Jesus. The book includes stories such as the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship ministry being kicked off a Florida college campus for holding a Bible study in a student’s dorm room (at the student’s invitation) and a North Carolina pastor being told he could not pray “in the name of Jesus” in a public invocation. Another of Starnes’ stories centers on a ministry in Lake City, Fla., that feeds the poor. Christian Service Center was told it would no longer receive U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) food if it did not remove religious information where government supplies were being distributed. Starnes says the CSC story is just one of hundreds of examples of religious freedoms being taken away across the country by the government. The FOX host hopes God Less America will open the eyes of Christians to

the ways their freedoms are in jeopardy and inspire readers to get involved politically and socially to preserve their right to worship and practice their faith. “I’m laying out the evidence, saying, ‘Folks, this is what is happening in your country. What are you going to do about it?’ ” Starnes said. “These stories do not typically appear in the major newspapers or evening network newscasts. The mainstream media refuse to cover these. They are turning their backs on these stories. “We live in a world where what was once wrong is now right and what was once right is now wrong,” he added. “Cultural agendas are being shoved down our throats, and it seems like there is this attitude that it is not even good enough to tolerate them. We must embrace and accept what people do and how they live their lives.” Starnes said that when he told Rick Warren about this book project, the Saddleback Church pastor told him that he believes the war on religious liberty is going to be the civil rights fight of this generation. Starnes believes it already is. “If you disagree with someone, you’re a racist or homophobic or xenophobic; that’s not it at all,” Starnes said. “I think when people read this book, they are going to be shocked at all these stories. And maybe

someone is going to read this and say, ‘I need to run for the school board,’ or, ‘I need to bring my church youth group to the annual Walk for Life in Washington, D.C.’ We must pray, we must be on our knees, but it will also take men and women of faith becoming politically active, actively taking part in our government to make a change.” Starnes is also the author of They Popped My Hood and Found Gravy on the Dipstick (Creation House) and Dispatches From Bitter America (B&H Books). To promote his new book, he plans to launch a bus tour May 11-17, stopping in Spartanburg, S.C.; Atlanta; Nashville; Tulsa, Okla.; and Dallas for book signings, church speaking engagements and media appearances. The author is partnering with Christian Supply of Spartanburg, where Starnes will hold a book signing, and LifeWay Christian Stores for the tour. Charisma House is supporting the release of the new book with an opportunity for bookstores to win cash prizes. Participants must register for the contest and submit a photo of their in-store display of God Less America. Upon the determination of online votes for each photo, the winning store receives a cash prize. Two winning stores will receive $2,000 each, and each runner-up will receive $500.

“We are highly anticipating the release of God Less America,” said Marcos Perez vice president of sales at Charisma House. “From a sales standpoint, we believe this contest will engage our partnering bookstores and add to the momentum that is already building for this book release.” Starnes is thankful for Christian stores that take a stand with the important message in his book and others like it, as well as making available other Christ-honoring products. He enjoys doing signings and meeting the people who believe in his message enough to the buy the book. “I’m a people person, and if people are going to buy the book, I’m going to stick around to sign every one,” he said. “I think the Christian products industry is still massively important. Given the preference, I would always shop at a familyowned Christian bookstore or a chain like LifeWay rather than go somewhere else. I have paintings and sayings hanging in my office that were purchased at a Christian bookstore. Those items inspire me.” Starnes encourages Christian retailers to stay in the fight, noting how hard it is to find a Christian store in New York City. “It’s so important,” Starnes said. “We need you.”

For every christian who wants more of the and of the



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CBA List




UNSTOPPABLE Provident Films (Provident Distribution)


THE LOST MEDALLION (Bridgestone Multimedia Group)


UNCONDITIONAL Provident Films (Provident)


I AM A CHURCH MEMBER Thom S. Rainer (B&H Books) 9781433679735 THE DANIEL PLAN Rick Warren, et al. (Zondervan) 9780310344292




JESUS CALLING (hardcover) Sarah Young (Thomas Nelson) 9781591451884



NOT A FAN Kyle Idleman (Zondervan) 9780310331933

GRACE UNPLUGGED Lionsgate (Capitol Christian Distribution)



THE BLESSED LIFE Robert Morris (Regal) 9780830736355

COURAGEOUS Provident Films (Provident)



THE CIRCLE MAKER Mark Batterson (Zondervan) 9780310330738

LAST OUNCE OF COURAGE GT Media (Capitol Christian)


SOUL SURFER Affirm Films (Provident)


MONUMENTAL Word Films (Word)


’TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE EASTER VeggieTales, Big Idea (Word)


THE 5 LOVE LANGUAGES Gary Chapman (Northfield Publishing) 9780802473158


LOVE DOES Bob Goff (Thomas Nelson) 9781400203758


FOUR BLOOD MOONS John Hagee (Worthy Publishing) 9781617952142

10 THE WAY FOR ADULTS Adam Hamilton (Abingdon Press) 9781426752513



LIVE THROUGH IT James Fortune & FIYA FIYA World Music (eOne Distribution)


THRIVE Casting Crowns Beach Street Records (Provident Distribution)


WOW HITS 2014 Various artists (Capitol Christian Distribution)

14 THE DUCK COMMANDER DEVOTIONAL (Howard Books) 9781476748689


READY TO FLY Jamie Grace, Gotee Records (Provident)

15 THE DANIEL PLAN JOURNAL Rick Warren, et al. (Zondervan) 9780310344322


GOD’S NOT DEAD Newsboys, Inpop Records (Capitol Christian)


OVERCOMER Mandisa, Sparrow Records (Capitol Christian)


INTO THE LIGHT Matthew West, Sparrow Records (Capitol Christian)

18 HEAVEN IS FOR REAL Todd Burpo, Lynn Vincent (Thomas Nelson) 9780849946158


EVERFOUND Everfound, Word Records (Word Distribution)

19 JESUS TODAY (hardcover) Sarah Young (Thomas Nelson) 9781400320097)


WOW GOSPEL 2014 Various artists (Capitol Christian)

20 FOLLOW ME David Platt (Tyndale House) 9781414373287

10 EYE ON IT TobyMac, Forefront Records (Capitol Christian)

The CBA list is based on actual Christian store sales for January 2014, reported to CROSS:SCAN, the largest source of Christian retail product sales. All rights reserved. Distribution and copyright © 2014 CBA, the association for Christian retail.

The Music list is compiled from Christian retail store sales; the video list is compiled from a national sample of mainstream and Christian store sales for week ending March 2, 2014. © 2014 Christian Retailing and SoundScan Inc. Collected, compiled and provided by:

11 JESUS CALLING (large print deluxe) Sarah Young (Thomas Nelson) 9781400318131 12 THE DANIEL PLAN STUDY GUIDE Rick Warren, et al. (Zondervan) 9780310824442 13 YOU’LL GET THROUGH THIS Max Lucado (Thomas Nelson) 9780849948473

16 WHISPERS OF HOPE Beth Moore (B&H Books) 9781433681097 17 GODS AT WAR Kyle Idleman (Zondervan) 9780310318842

Barbour partners with Back to the Bible to serve churches with new goTandem nonfiction imprint Popular Scripture-based app inspires line of ‘life-changing resources’ Barbour Publishing announced an exclusive partnership with Back to the Bible on Feb. 6. Under the new agreement, negotiated by Greg Johnson of WordServe Literary Group, Barbour will work with Back to the Bible to launch the goTandem book imprint to provide quality nonfiction resources especially for churches. These resources will complement the successful goTandem mobile app, which provides daily biblical encouragement, catered to individual needs. “We’re thrilled to be aligned with one of the most trusted ministries serving the church today,” said Barbour CEO Timothy Martins. “This unique opportunity to develop practical and life-changing resources with such a passionate and talented team is a privilege.” The first book release is scheduled for November, with another 12 titles to follow in 2015.  The goTandem imprint

  O B A M A C A R E , FROM 1 to offer insurance to 70% of full-time workers by that time, instead of the 95% originally mandated. Small employers—those with 49 or fewer employees— will not be required to offer insurance or fill out any forms, but will instead be able to purchase health plans through new marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act. The federal small-business marketplace, which was supposed to roll out in October 2013, has been delayed until the fall. Though the administration’s unilateral delays have raised the ire of the law’s © I STO C K P H OTO / G R A F F OTO 8


  C A P P S , FROM 8 for his teaching gift and insight on the subjects of faith and confession. Invitations to minister to the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International began to pour in, eventually leading to the publication of Capps’ teachings in book form. The Tongue: A Creative Force and God’s Creative Power Will Work for You  became best-sellers

aims to provide churches with a solid and relevant selection of books that address the unique needs of congregations large and small. The mission statement of Back to the Bible is to meet people where they are and help them connect with God through daily Bible engagement. It is this strategy that drives the launch of the new imprint, according to Arnie Cole, CEO of Back to the Bible. “There are few publishers who can combine value with meeting high felt needs of readers, few who can distribute to a broad array of outlets with a sharp eye toward editorial and packaging,” Cole said. “Barbour’s history of creating Bible-oriented books makes them the perfect partner to work with churches to meet the ever-changing needs of local congregations.” Titles from the new imprint will be distributed by Barbour to churches and bookstores. —Burns

critics and proponents alike, the employer mandate delays offer some breathing room to employers still struggling to implement the law’s requirements. Failure to comply with the requirements can carry steep fines, and with sections of the employer mandate still being questioned on legal and moral grounds—most prominently in the upcoming Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case dealing with the contraceptive portion of the mandate—the requirement’s delays will offer more time for employers and enforcers alike to better assess and implement the law’s changes. —Burns

after Buddy Harrison, Hagin’s son-inlaw, launched his publishing company— Harrison House—with the two titles. Capps’ Concepts of Faith daily national radio broadcast and a weekly television broadcast aired on several networks, satellite and the Internet. Capps is survived by his wife, Peggy, and daughters, Annette and Beverly. — Jennifer LeClaire

CORRECTION In our Elizabeth George cover story in February, we incorrectly stated the number of children in the George family. Elizabeth and Jim George have two children.

Sarah JakeS Shares her Inspiring Story

Like every girl, Sarah Jakes dreamed of a life full of love, laughter, and happy endings. But those dreams changed dramatically when she became pregnant at the age of thirteen, and were devastated when her fairy-tale marriage ended in heartbreak after just a few short years. As the daughter of T.D. Jakes, one of the most high-profile pastors in the nation, Sarah’s road was lonely and full of hurt. She could have let her pain dictate her future. Instead, she found herself surrounded by a God she’d given up on, crashing headlong with Him into a destiny she’d never dreamed of. Unflinchingly honest and deeply vulnerable, Lost and Found offers hope for women of all ages, showing that no matter how lost they feel, they, too, can be found.

Lost and Found by Sarah Jakes Hardcover; $24.99; 978-0-7642-1209-3 Ebook; $24.99; 978-1-4412-6444-2 On Sale nOw

Coming September 2014!

Colliding With Destiny: A 30-Day Journey Through the Book of Ruth

A Division of Baker Publishing Group • Available from your sales rep or call Bethany House at (800) 877-2665 In Canada, contact David C. Cook Distribution at (800) 263-2664

50 Things You Need to Know About Satan and Demons by Mark H. Muska Trade Paper; $9.99; 978-0-7642-1234-5

Exploring Christian Theology: Revelation, Scripture, and the Triune God by Nathan D. Holsteen and Michael J. Svigel Trade Paper; $16.99; 978-0-7642-1130-0

Your Life Still Counts by Tracie Miles Trade Paper; $14.99; 978-0-7642-1199-7

Blessings for the Morning by Susie Larson Padded Hardcover; $14.99; 978-0-7642-1293-2

365 Moments of Peace for a Woman’s Heart Imitation Leather/Duravella; $17.99; 978-0-7642-1298-7

The Conviction to Lead by Albert Mohler Trade Paper; $14.99; 978-0-7642-1125-6

True Stories of Heaven Touching Earth by James Stuart Bell Trade Paper; $12.99; 978-0-7642-1186-7

Look and Live by Matt Papa Trade Paper; $12.99; 978-0-7642-1251-2

Longing for More by Timothy Willard Trade Paper; $16.99; 978-0-7642-1205-5

Pray the Scriptures When Life Hurts by Kevin Johnson Trade Paper; $12.99; 978-0-7642-1230-7

Compassion Without Compromise by Adam T. Barr and Ron Citlau Trade Paper; $12.99; 978-0-7642-1240-6

T.D. Jakes Speaks to Men, 3-in-1 by T.D. Jakes Trade Paper; $19.99; 978-0-7642-1287-1

Unseen by Jack Graham Trade Paper; $14.99; 978-0-7642-1290-1

Unseen Video Curriculum by Jack Graham DVD; $24.99; 978-0-7642-1286-4

Jesus Freaks: Martyrs by dc Talk Trade Paper; $15.99; 978-0-7642-1202-4

Jesus Freaks: Revolutionaries by dc Talk Trade Paper; $15.99; 978-0-7642-1203-1

A Division of Baker Publishing Group • Available from your sales rep or call Bethany House at (800) 877-2665 In Canada, contact David C. Cook Distribution at (800) 263-2664


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Chapel Store exceeds expectations with newly opened café

New-concept dining helps Calvary Chapel Downey store draw customers from local community wanted it to be a bookstore with a Chapel Store & Café, a ministry coffee bar inside. That’s basically of Calvary Chapel Downey in what we did.” Downey, Calif., recently opened a Head Barista Monique Lemus new café to reach the community. is one of the café’s devoted staff While other dining concepts have members. Chris Craft attributes not worked well at the church, the much of the success of the vennew café has become a celebrated place for the congregation, deture to “the passion that Monique and the volunteers have for what’s signed to facilitate fellowship and happening.” draw customers. The 2,200-square-foot store and In the past, the café was run 1,500-square-foot café are open the separately from the store. But the same hours. They are in separate café’s various formats, including a buildings with only an 8-foot space Mexican restaurant, didn’t prove between them and a pull-down to be financially successful. door. Product and seating was rear“Last April, the church decided that they wanted to get out of the Calvary Chapel Downey’s store and new café are ranged for the new set-up. restaurant business and asked me working in tandem to encourage fellowship for “We moved some of our store to come up with a proposal of how church congregants and reach the local community. product over into the café, includthe store could take it over and ing a selection of greeting cards,” come up with a new model for it,” said according to Assistant Manager Chris he said. “Then, we kept a big section with Manager Jeff Craft. Craft, who oversees operations with her chairs. We also wanted to concentrate on This time around the store is emmanager husband. doing a good job with the coffee and all of “We wanted to give it a vibe more like a the different specialty drinks.” ploying a concept similar to retailers coffeehouse or a snack bar,” Jeff said. “We Drinks like the “Grizzly Chill” attract like Barnes & Noble with a café inside,

those who are on campus, including youth from the Calvary Chapel Christian School. Guests from nearby schools and other local businesses frequently stop by for their menu favorites. The new menu includes sandwiches, snacks and drinks. The manager said one of the biggest challenges has been getting the word out to the more than 6,000 church members about the change. The store aims to do that with Sunday morning PowerPoint presentations, bulletin inserts, email newsletters and Facebook. As part of its branding, the store has a new logo and a new lighted Chapel Store & Café street sign. “People are still finding out, and will still be disappointed that they can’t get their burger or chicken strips,” he said. The staff consists of four full-time employees and two part-timers, and is supported by a pool of volunteers. They include a half-dozen workers from the women’s home and men’s home ministries of the church and six to eight additional volunteers from the church body.

Harvest Bookstore aims to fulfill twofold mission Eastview Christian Church store focused on ministries of evangelism and discipleship Lorena Allen, manager of Harvest Bookstore in Normal, Ill., seeks to be a strong spiritual leader to her team of 32 volunteers. The twofold mission of the store at Eastview Christian Church demands that kind of leadership. “We are focused on the mission of discipling and the mission of John 3:16,” said Allen of what drives the store staff. Many of the staff at Eastview are challenged and encouraged in weekly meetings with their senior pastor, Mike Baker. “During those meetings, we share what God has been doing in our ministry areas.,” Allen said. “He also leads us in a devotional and we pray together. One of the things he tells us frequently is we need to lead our volunteers and ‘sheep’ by being an example.” Allen has taken that challenge to heart, in part by going on three mission trips since she became store manager in 2007. “Our church partners with GO Ministries, and I have been to the Dominican [Republic] two times and once to the Amazon jungle,” she said. “A cool thing that came out of the trips to the DR was that we provided books for the Dominican Seminary, which equips Dominican pastors.” Several store volunteers have gone on the trips, and some have been team leaders. “We often provide resources for the teams and to the pastors serving in these places,” Allen said. “Our church is made up of people who are studying, following, serving and being Jesus, not only at home, but abroad.” At home, serving a church of 5,200 with

four Sunday services, the store has an ongoing Bible giveaway at various events. “We’ve given away about as many Bibles as we have sold,” Allen said. The store also stocks resources for church Care Groups with focuses such as Boundaries or Military. “We get people plugged into the places where they have a need,” she said, and those places might be one of the church’s

many care groups. “Our main focus is getting the resources into people’s hands, growing and discipling them,” Allen said. “We don’t focus solely on a profit or a loss. What I love the most is interacting with people and being able to share the Good News. We get to talk with people, pray with them, see and Manager Lorena Allen helps meet needs of a Dominican child on a mission trip. watch them on their journeys.”

People ‘literally run in’ to Passages Bookstore

Staff aims to serve as ‘Jesus’ hands and feet’ to customers Providing customers with life-changing resources is what drives the staff at Passages Bookstore. Located in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, the store has six locations that serve the 30,000-plus member congregation of Gateway Church led by Robert Morris, founding and senior pastor. “As Gateway Church says, ‘We’re All About People’ and we truly are all about people,” said Susan Wilson, manager of the main Passages Bookstore in Southlake. “Everybody that comes in is a guest. Built on an eternal perspective, we love to serve.” The 2,100-square-foot store on the main campus is open seven days a week. It is positioned so that people see it when they first walk into the church. “We are the face of Gateway,” Wilson said. “We get people literally running in.” Whether it’s someone facing divorce, a job loss, an illness or an addiction, they turn

Passages’ primary mission is to be a ministry before a bookstore. to Passages for helpful resources. “They don’t know where to go, and we are one of the first doors and the first people they see,” she said. “So we are a ministry even before we’re a bookstore.” One aspect of the store is its benevo-

lence, giving hundreds of complimentary products or resources each month to those in need. “We are able to minister that way because of the generosity of Gateway Church,” Wilson said. She sees each product as a stepping stone that may lead someone to Jesus. “Everyone that comes in has a need,” she said. “They may not express it or let us know about it, but I believe that every step that they come in and make inside the bookstore is a step closer to finding a resource that can be a life-changer.” The “Freedom” series based on classes held at the church is one example of such a resource. “We hear countless stories about people’s lives and how they’ve been changed,” Wilson said. “We hear story after story. We love to be Jesus’ hands and feet.” Gateway has six store locations, including one at The King’s University, recently relocated to the main Gateway campus.

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UPDATED & EXPANDED! A Division of Baker Publishing Group • Available from your sales rep or call Chosen Books at (800) 877-2665 In Canada, contact David C. Cook Distribution at (800) 263-2664


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Living a legacy for 75 years and counting

Baker Publishing Group moves into the future holding true to its evangelical heritage BY ANN BYLE


aker Publishing Group celebrates its 75th anniversary in April 2014, a significant milestone for the family-owned business under its third generation of Baker leadership. “Our vision to serve the needs of the church has remained unchanged from the beginning,” said Dwight Baker, CEO and president of Baker Publishing Group. “From my grandfather Herman Baker to my father, Rich Baker, and to me, that vision guides us as we continue to watch for opportunities to serve the church.” The company that was planted in a rented storefront and grew into one of the largest distributors of religious books— and then into one of the top names in Christian publishing—has its roots in evangelicalism. Those roots go deep and continue to nourish Baker Publishing Group as it looks to the future.

want to reach readers, so it’s a combined effort. We’re all trying to put out good material for readers, and we can do that without competition.” Only a year passed after opening the store before Herman Baker ventured into publishing. In 1940, Baker Book House published More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation by William Hendriksen, a professor at nearby

While the CBA visitors admired the store, employees hoped they were the only guests. Located across the street from a grocery store, the bookstore had its share of rats looking for food. Battles ensued when such an uninvited guest showed up in the break room, and at least one employee worked at her desk with her feet in a trash can. In 1964, Baker Book House celebrated its 25th anniversary by doing what it always

PRAISED BY COMPETITORS Herman Baker was 14 years old when he and his family emigrated from The Netherlands. The oldest son of Ricco (Richard) and Jenny Kregel Baker found part-time work in the bookstore owned by his uncle, Louis Kregel. Herman’s time at the bookstore fueled his love for religious classics and seeded his dream of opening a bookstore of his own. It wasn’t until 1939 when Herman was 28 that he opened Baker Book House at 1019 Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids. He paid $18 a month for rent, and filled the store with homemade shelves and the nearly 500 used books he’d collected through the years. Two used desks and a used typewriter came from The Salvation Army. The relationship between the Kregel and Baker publishing families has remained strong as both companies operate out of their home bases in Grand Rapids. “Louis Kregel vouched for the Baker family all those years ago, and that hasn’t changed. We still vouch for them,” said Jim Kregel, president of Kregel. “One publisher can’t cover the range of how we

Baker Publishing Group remains family-owned; members of the family are (L to R): Dan Baker, Dawn Baker Faasse, Rich Baker, Dave Baker and Dwight Baker.

Calvin Seminary. More Than Conquerors proved to be the kind of book Baker loved: conservative, scholarly, biblical and timeless—and it’s still in print today. By 1949, Baker Book House had taken root as one of the largest distributors of new and used religious books in the U.S. and around the world. The bookstore and publishing company expanded at the Wealthy Street location, with the store undergoing a complete renovation in time for the 1959 Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) convention—of which Baker Book House was a charter member—when it came to Grand Rapids.


did: publishing books. The Biblical World: A Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology, edited by Charles F. Pfeiffer, was published to mark the occasion, along with nearly 50 other titles released in fall 1964. That love of Christian scholarship is echoed in another Grand Rapids-based company. Started in 1911 by William B. Eerdmans Sr., Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. shares a Reformed past and a publishing present with Baker. “What they’ve done over the last number of years has been impressive; they’re alert to developments, creative and adventuresome,” Eerdmans Vice President and


Herman Baker opens Baker Book House to sell used religious books.

The publishing company moves to new facility in Ada, Mich.

1940 Baker Book House publishes its first book, More Than Conquerors, by William Hendriksen.

1968-1976 Six more retail stores open around West Michigan.

1971 First trade book published for lay readers: Fruit of the Spirit by Ron Hembree.

Editor-in-Chief Jon Pott said of Baker. “We’re kindred in many ways. Yes, we have to be competitive, but we also have lots of conversations with them. There is probably not a publisher we are more aware of than Baker.”

STEWARDING THE STORE Herman Baker’s two sons, Richard and Peter, had joined the company by 1964 to work in sales and promotion, and used books were still a large part of the business. Baker Book House had become a gathering place for pastors, teachers and lay people from the area and around the world. The likes of D. James Kennedy, David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Peter Masters and J.I. Packer stopped in when in town. Ezra Carter, father of June Carter Cash, bought via mail order the “Preacher’s Homiletical Commentary,” a 38-volume set. A Baker employee later saw Carter’s son-in-law, Johnny Cash, at a conference and spoke to him about the series. “Yeah, I have that set now,” the singer said. As the business blossomed, the original home for the company became too small. A new 25,000-square-foot facility was built in nearby Ada, Mich., and housed the publishing division and the warehouse. That location is still home to the publishing company and has been expanded three times since it was built in the 1960s. While Herman Baker was fond of the classics of the faith, he also recognized an opportunity to expand the business by publishing books for general readers. The first venture into that vast market came via Ron Hembree’s Fruit of the Spirit, published in 1971. By Baker’s 40th anniversary in 1979, books that reached the general market made up 60% of its list. The 1970s saw big growth on the retail side of the business, thanks in part to Peter Baker. Six additional stores opened around West Michigan, though only the original store on Wealthy Street sold used books. But even that location became too small, and the store was closed and moved to East Paris Ave. in Grand Rapids in 1980.

1980 Wealthy Street location is closed; new store opens in Kentwood, Mich.

1987 Herman Baker retires; Richard Baker becomes president.

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The trend toward retail stores slowed in part at the death of Peter Baker in 1996, and in part because of a recession. The East Paris Avenue location is the only retail outlet remaining at this time. That store was given a $1 million renovation in 2012, turning it into a true destination for book lovers. “The renovation put the store in a high profile both in the community and the CBA industry,” said Sue Smith, Baker Book House manager. “The statement made with this renovation was twofold: Baker Book House is deeply grateful for the first 75 years of service to Grand Rapids, and we also wanted to make clear that we are here to stay.” That staying power is part of what made Herman Baker’s store so popular then and now. “This is still Herman’s store,” Smith said. “I am keenly aware of that on a daily basis as I care for the deep heritage he left here. The store may be larger, more contemporary and have more gifts than Herman would have liked, but I believe that his vision is still moving forward. His passion for getting quality Christian writing into the hands of the church continues to thrive in this place.” Curtis Riskey, president of CBA, for which Smith chairs the board of directors, appreciates the forward-looking nature of Baker Book House. “In a time when some people question whether bookstores will remain viable, Baker Book House has established its retail leadership by becoming more than bookshelves,” Riskey said.

CHANGING WITH THE TIMES Herman Baker was part of the dayto-day operations of Baker Book House Co. from 1939 until his retirement in 1987 when his oldest son, Richard Baker, became president. Herman died in 1991 at the age of 79. Richard Baker’s decade as president of Baker Publishing Group was one of acquisition, expansion and deepening its roots in Christian publishing. In 1992, he purchased the Fleming H. Revell Co. and Chosen Books. Revell traces its roots to evangelist Dwight L. Moody, who convinced his brother-in-law, Fleming Revell, to take over publication of Moody’s Sunday school paper. Soon, Revell was publishing books, including

all of Moody’s works. During the 1970s and ’80s, Revell was bought and sold a number of times before finding a permanent home with Baker. Chosen Books launched in 1970 with its first book, The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom with John and Elizabeth Sherrill, now a longtime best-seller. Chosen was sold along with Revell several times before also becoming part of Baker. The 1990s were the decade of technology for Baker Publishing Group. Computers made day-to-day operations much easier, allowed book design to be brought in-house and made communication seemingly light-years faster. In the mid 1990s, Baker became one of the first Christian publishers to have a website, as well as software versions of its titles via Baker Bytes. Despite its place on the cutting edge of technology, it wasn’t until the 1990s that employees were allowed more than one pen at a time, and only with the dry pen turned in at the same time to the supply chief. The Dutch thriftiness that built a strong business extended right down to writing instruments. Richard Baker stepped down as president in 1997, on the last day of the five-year paydown after the purchase of Revell. His son Dwight Baker stepped in with money to invest in staff, infrastructure and authors. One of his first moves was to bring the fledgling Brazos Press under Baker’s umbrella, with its three founders, Don Stephenson, Rodney Clapp and Bobbi Jo Heyboer. Brazos released its first three books in 2000. By the end of the 1990s, the publishing division began operating as Baker Publishing Group, though its official name remains Baker Book House Company. The store name remains Baker Book House, which reflects the original name given so long ago to a small establishment that sold used books.

PRIORITIZING ITS VALUES Baker Publishing Group entered the new millennium by expanding once again, this time via the 2003 purchase of Bethany House Publishers, based in Bloomington, Minn. The purchase nearly doubled the Baker line and strengthened immeasurably its reach into the fiction market with authors such as Janette Oke, Beverly Lewis,

Lynn Austin and Tracie Peterson. While the early 2000s were years of growth, the recession that soon gripped the U.S. hit Michigan hard. Sales in 2008 and 2009 fell drastically and the company was forced to take action. Pay was cut by 5% for those making more than $12 an hour, and austerity measures put in place. Office staff even took turns in the warehouse when a hiring freeze had workers falling behind in processing returns. “When their backs are against the wall, the Bakers’ way has been to take austerity measures,” said Chad Allen, editorial director for Baker Books, who did his shifts in the warehouse. “Dwight Baker demonstrated that there is more to life than money. His priorities are people, books and community.” Eventually, pay was restored and the hiring freeze lifted as the economy improved. The company also bands together when employees face personal crises. In 2009, the wife of Human Resources Director Dan Baker was critically injured in a car accident and later died. The staff prayed and provided support, as they also did when the son of another employee was diagnosed with leukemia. The company paid for bone marrow testing for employees, hoping to find a match. Though no one matched then, several years later a match was made for another person in need.



More than 2 million Elisabeth Elliot Dave and Neta Jackson Larry Christenson

Baker Publishing Group stays on the cutting edge of book trends, with all new titles released in e-book form and with almost all backlist titles converted to digital format as well. A new governing board formed in 2012 continues to help guide the organization. “Our vision is to remain connected to the church,” Dwight Baker said. “This is what guides us as we watch for opportunities to use our resources.” While formats may change and the audience shifts, “we’re fully invested—and that means we’re willing to take chances and listen to God’s leading,” he said. Even 75 years later, the company’s goal is the same, reflecting the words of founder Herman Baker: “We love to sell a good book. There is no better business to be in. In books, we have the richest treasures on earth, the output of the best minds of the ages.”

Baker Academic Baker Books Bethany House Brazos Press Chosen Revell

SELECT BEST-SELLING TITLES More than 1 million Born Again, Charles Colson Hide or Seek, James Dobson The Shunning, Beverly Lewis Love Comes Softly, Janette Oke Jesus Freaks, dcTalk More than 2 million God’s Smuggler, Brother Andrew His Needs, Her Needs, Willard Harley The Total Woman, Marabel Morgan The Cross and the Switchblade, David Wilkerson More than 5 million 90 Minutes in Heaven, Don Piper In His Steps, Charles Sheldon The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom

SELECT BEST-SELLING AUTHORS More than 1 million Brother Andrew Hayley DiMarco Warren Wiersbe

More than 3 million Willard Harley T.D. Jakes Tracie Peterson Dale Evans Rogers Lauraine Snelling More than 5 million Kevin Leman Don Piper Helen Steiner Rice Charles Allen Catherine Marshall More than 15 million Beverly Lewis More than 25 million Janette Oke



Company purchases Fleming H. Revell Co. and Chosen Books.

1990 Baker becomes exclusive North American distributor of Cambridge Bibles.

1999 1997 Richard Baker retires; son Dwight Baker becomes president of company now known as Baker Publishing Group.

Brazos Press becomes part of Baker Publishing Group.


2003 The company purchases Bethany House Publishers.

2008 Company purchases rights to God’s Word Translation; releases first e-books.

Retail store undergoes a milliondollar renovation.

2014 Baker Book House Co. celebrates 75 years.


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Finding freedom through forgiveness after tragedy Grandmother of Oklahoma City bombing victims tells story of befriending co-conspirator Terry Nichols

Kathy Sanders’ life was plating suicide. After turned upside down April questioning God’s exis19, 1995, when a bomb tence, she decided to turn destroyed the Federal to Him and chose life. Building in Oklahoma Sanders began to beCity, Okla. She tells her lieve that the whole truth story of truth, tragedy about the bombing hadn’t and triumph in Now You yet come out to the pubSee Me: How I Forgave lic. She launched her own the Unforgivable (Faithinvestigation, which took her into dangerous places, Words, $25), releasing in including a federal prison hardcover April 8. and a compound of the Minutes earlier she Aryan Nation. and her daughter, Edye Most importantly, her Lucas, had dropped off search led her to forgive her grandsons, Chase those who had hurt her. and Colton, in the dayTITLE: Now You See Me: How I “I never made a concare center of the Federal Forgave the Unforgivable Building. The two were scious decision to forgive. AUTHOR: Kathy Sanders working one block away … It just happened,” she when they heard and felt PUBLISHER: FaithWords writes. ISBN: 9781455526192 the explosion. She attributes her abilBolting down the PRICE: $23 ity to forgive to her long street, they were some RELEASE DATE: April 8 relationship with Christ of the first civilians on and “God’s mysterious scene, but were unable to find the baand majestic process of transforming hate and revenge into love and forgiveness.” bies. After hours of searching and holdWhile in court one day, she noticed ing vigil at the hospital, they received defendant Terry Nichols’ mother looking the unwanted confirmation. Both boys “hopelessly out of place,” she writes. had lost their lives in the bombing that Realizing they were both victims of killed 168, including 19 children. By day’s the bombing—each had lost loved ones end, Sanders and Edye drove home with that day, one to death and the other to empty car seats to an empty house. prison—she decided the mother was not “The silence was suffocating,” Sanders guilty just because her son was being writes. tried. So, Sanders introduced herself and In the following weeks, she struggled through grief and despair, even contemFORGIVENESS, page 20

Amway leader shares ‘joyful life’ in memoir Rich DeVos, co-founder of Amway, a multibillion-dollar global company, has achieved more than most people do in a lifetime. In his new memoir from Howard Books, Simply Rich: Life and Lessons From the Cofounder of Amway (9781476751771, $25, April 1), he details the experiences that have shaped the outward focus that drives his business acumen and farreaching philanthropy. In the business world, he is known as a self-made billionaire. Listed by Forbes magazine as the 60th wealthiest person in America, DeVos is also owner of the Orlando Magic NBA team and is board member for several organizations. In his charitable endeavors, he has helped build several sites, including the

Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, a sports arena for Hope College and an exhibit hall in the National Constitution Center—all since undergoing a risky heart transplant that saved his life 16 years ago. Despite his accomplishments, DeVos often introduces himself simply as “a sinner, saved by grace.” “I cannot remember a time when I did not believe in God,” he writes. As a child during the Great Depression, he attended the Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich. DeVos has also never forgotten where he came from, crediting his Dutch heritage for “a love of freedom, a solid work ethic, an entrepreneurial spirit, A M W AY, p a g e 2 0

B O O K B EAT Howard Books introduces another Duck Commander title this month. The Women of Duck Commander by the stars of Duck Dynasty releases in hardcover ($25.99), e-book ($13.99) and unabridged audio ($29.99) April 1. The division of Simon & Schuster has sold more than 5 million units by the Robertson family with four titles landing on the New York Times best-seller list. Jim Daly, president and CEO of Focus on the Family, does not assume men who are good Christians are automatically good fathers. Rather, Daly seeks to equip fathers in developing thriving families through love, grace, patience and fun in The Good Dad: Becoming the Father You Were Meant To Be ($15.99, softcover), written with Paul Asay. This Zondervan resource for fathers-to-be and fathers with children of all ages is available in stores April 22. To help believers understand how to protect themselves from ongoing sins and spiritual attacks, Perry Stone analyzes and explains all the pieces of the Ephesians 6 spiritual gear in his Charisma House book releasing this month. In There’s a Crack in Your Armor: Key Strategies to Stay Protected and Win Your Spiritual Battles ($16.99, softcover), Stone teaches the seven most common factors that wear down one’s spiritual strength, four strategies to overcome spiritual battles and more. Having researched all of the writings of C.S. Lewis writings for a 2013 biography, Alister McGrath, professor at King’s College London and head of its Center for Theology, Religion and Culture, has now written a series of imagined lunches with Lewis. In If I Had Lunch With C.S. Lewis: Exploring the Ideas of C.S. Lewis on the Meaning of Life (Tyndale House Publishers, April), McGrath propounds Lewis’ thoughts on big questions, including “Does God exist?” and “Why does God allow suffering?” This hardcover book retails for $17.99. Best-selling author and entrepreneur Bob Buford provides an up-close perspective on the life and legacy of Peter Drucker, notable management expert and prolific author whose writings helped shape modern business, in Drucker and Me: How Peter Drucker and a Texas Entrepreneur Conspired to Save the World ($19.99, hardcover). Buford tells the story of meeting and learning from Drucker, then working with him to revolutionize modern nonprofits and churches. Worthy Publishing releases this title April 15. In Hope Runs: An American Tourist, a Kenyan Boy, a Journey of Redemption (April 18), the leader of social innovation at Twitter, Claire Díaz-Ortiz, and Samuel Ikua Gachagua, once an orphan in a Kenyan children’s home, share how God dramatically changed their lives for the better after they met in Kenya. Gachagua is now a fellow with Global Citizen Year, a post-high school bridge program that equips emerging leaders. Hope Runs will be available from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, for $21.99 in softcover. Danette Joy Crawford, host of the television program Joy in the Morning, offers a blueprint for change for those experiencing trials in her April 15 Destiny Image release, Total Turnaround: 12 Keys to Breakthrough in Every Area of Your Life ($11.99, softcover). With humor and candor, Crawford leads readers through Scripture-based help for victories such as overcoming doubt, finding freedom from depression and experiencing a renewed prayer life. Broke: What Financial Desperation Revealed About God’s Abundance ($16) is an honest portrayal of how author Caryn Rivadeneira discovered God’s presence in the midst of financial struggle and dealt with questions about His goodness. Rivadeneira is an author, blogger and former editor at Christianity Today’s magazines. Broke, an IVP Crescendo book from InterVarsity Press, includes questions for group discussion and an appendix of spiritual disciplines.

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From the bestselling author of America the Beautiful

/ / / A P R I L   2 0 1 4 / / / c hristianretailing.c om


CLOSE UP Sarah Jakes Latest project:

“lost” they may be, they can still be “found.”

Lost and Found: Finding Hope in the Detours of Life (9780764212093, $24.99, Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group).

How did living in the public eye as the daughter of T.D. and Serita Jakes affect you? It was certainly challenging. ... My

What prompted you to tell your story in Lost & Found? I never set out to write

a book. When I first started writing my blog, I started it as a source of healing for me … as a place to release the pain I was going through dealing with infidelity and still fighting for my marriage … as a place I could just tell my truth. And the more I blogged, the more people responded. I then realized that by being transparent and sharing my struggles, I was able to inspire other people, and together we all started to dream again. What have been some of the detours in your life?

Having my son at the age of 14, getting married and divorcing young, even some of the choices that I have made. But what I learned through it all is that the detours may make things more difficult, but they don’t make things impossible. I thought that I couldn’t achieve success in my life because of past mistakes. I thought that I had to create a perfect picture to present to God in order for Him to use me, but what I found out was exactly opposite. God is using my life as an example to others [showing] that no matter how

In February 2013 I gave a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. Standing a few feet from President Obama, I warned my fellow citizens of the dangers facing our country and called for a return to the principles that made America great. Today the danger is greater than ever before, and I have never shared a more urgent message than I do now. If each of us sits back and expects someone else to take action, it will soon be too late. But with your help, I firmly believe that America may once again be “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” —Ben Carson, M.D.

“The Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon may not be politically correct, but he’s closer to correct than we’ve heard in years.” —The Wall Street Journal

On sale May 20 in hardcover, audio book, and e-book

Contact your Penguin sales representative, or STL, Anchor, and Spring Arbor to order.

father was continually rising. He was one of the most influential pastors in the country, so it certainly made it more difficult to be his daughter, 14 and pregnant. I still remember the murmurs of the people in the church and the shame I felt as they would talk about me as they passed by. For the most part, the church was very supportive, but when we’re only searching for negativity to brace ourselves for, that’s all we see. It was even more challenging to go through a divorce with the public spotlight once again on my personal life. What are some of the ways God is using you today? I oversee the wom-

en’s ministry at The Potter’s House of Dallas, which is the church led by my parents. I also serve as the senior editor of eMotions, our digital magazine. I occasionally serve as a television host on The Potter’s Touch and a speaker at our conferences. It is amazing how God works because I also wanted to work with and support my parents, but I didn’t think I could because of my past mistakes. I also regularly blog at, I travel the world sharing my story as a featured speaker and with my first book, Lost and Found, set for release on April 1, I am now an author!

  A M W A Y , FROM 18

ternational success. He also writes about his marriage of more than 60 years, challenges he faced from government regulators and critics, and his philanthropic and political endeavors. Throughout his 87 years, his beliefs have remained the same. “These are simply the principles that have proven over time to be my foundation for a successful, fulfilling, and joyful life—a life that not only has been rewarding to me but has resulted in rewards for others,” he writes. To order Simply Rich, call Howard Books at 800-858-4109.

  F O R G I V E N E S S , FROM 18

likely relationship then forged. Sanders showed forgiveness and kindness to Nichols and his family. In turn, Nichols demonstrated trust and confided in Sanders. Now You See Me includes never-before-published letters between the two, reveals new information and underscores the freedom found in the exercise of forgiveness. To order, call Hachette Book Group at 800-759-0190.

and strong faith,” he writes. In high school, he met Jay Van Andel, and the two became lifelong business partners. In their first business arrangement, DeVos paid 25 cents per week for a ride to school in Van Andel’s car. They soon discovered they made a good team. With complementary strengths, they started a handful of enterprises, including a flight service and restaurant, before founding Amway, which has enabled millions worldwide to own their own business. In Simply Rich, DeVos tells of Amway’s growth from a basement startup to an in-

expressed sympathy. This was the first of many olive branches she extended to demonstrate God’s love and to seek help uncovering the truth. She also reached out to all of Nichols’ family and to Nichols himself, as well as to co-conspirator Timothy McVeigh and his sister. McVeigh never consented to contact with Sanders, but others did, including Nichols. An un-

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[ ASK THE AUTHOR ] Francine Rivers



Bridge to Haven (9781414368184, $25.99, April 22). PUBLISHER:

Tyndale House Publishers. You have often said that each of your novels is inspired by a question. Is there a particular question that inspired Bridge to Haven?

movie stars. It still happens. From the true stories I’ve read, those who did make it were still broken people who never found happiness. Money and fame didn’t fulfill them, and sadly, some of the brightest “stars” burned out through suicide. It still happens. How many young stars do we see crashing and burning? Hollywood in the ’50s had all the glitz and glamor Satan might offer to a hurting, lost soul who yearns to

What else you would like to share with Christian retailers?

Without people who place books in the hands of readers, what I do would end up being words on paper that end up tossed in a waste bin. We are all members of a team with the same goal—to promote Jesus and the gospel of our Lord. We live in a time like Judges when every man seems to be doing what is right in his own eyes. Any way we can share truth needs to be employed for the sake of the lost.

Christian retailers are on the frontlines in the spiritual battle that rages around all of us and will continue until Jesus returns.

ONLINE EXTRA: Read more of Ask the Author at francinerivers.

be somebody who matters. It takes God to bring true light into the neon darkness and fill us with the assurance that God loves us so much He sent Jesus to make the bridge home.

I wanted to know more about the character of God. I spent more than a year reading through the Bible and filling pages with His attributes. He is the Creator, the Spirit that moved over the earth, the One who walked in the garden with Adam and Eve. He is our Deliverer, Father, Savior, Friend, Healer, Banner, Almighty, the Alpha and Omega. He loves His children and hates sin. And the questions kept coming: Why do people continually “fall in love” with man-made or conceived idols when He is the only One worthy of devotion and worship? Why did it take me so long to come to Him? And how can I be like Jesus when He is love personified, perfection, the perfect representation of Father God? Sometimes the questions are too big to flesh out in a story. How do you create a character like God when He is too marvelous to behold, or His Son who is perfect and the Spirit who moves and breathes life through His Word into our lives, even translating our prayers in order to align them with God’s will? How does one live [out] God’s love for the sake of others? What does that look like in day-to-day life? How do people survive the pain that comes with rejection? How do we arrive at the happy ending we all crave? Those are the questions that drive the story.


E DAY I DIED - Freddy Ves t was competing in a calf-rop ing event when he suddenly coll apsed. One moment he was sitting on his horse. The next he was with Jesus. This gripping account of his story demonstrates that death is not the end but the beginning of true life. 978-1-62136-544-0 | US $14.99

Did some scripture inform this story?

I kept coming back to Ezekiel 16 in which God tells the story of the baby girl abandoned at birth and left to die alongside the road. He lifted her in His arms and loved her. He gave her gifts suitable for a queen, intending one day to make her His bride. It is a story of Israel, but it is also the story of each child born on this planet, each with the potential to belong to God. That story from Scripture became the foundation for Bridge to Haven. God is still the central “character,” but He is unseen, always working. The story is about pastor Ezekiel Freeman and his son, Joshua, and Abra, a baby abandoned under the bridge who grows into a beautiful rebellious teenager seduced and carried away by Dylan, a boy given over to living for self and the destruction of others. She is lost, and only God can find her and bring her home again. Why did you choose Hollywood in the 1950s as the setting?

The Golden Years of Hollywood offered hope to countless young people who flocked to California to be discovered and made into


andy etrayal. R b y b rt u h teraction ve been s and His in We all ha su Je f D o E le Y p of how xam BETRA d example powerful e n e u th so s y ll se a u life. iritu Valimont abundant aders a sp ce re n e e ri iv e g p x to e with Judas forward to and move g .99 n li a e h d US $15 to fin 4-6 | 978-1-






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‘Acts of God’ tackles difficult question of pain and suffering Former Southeast Christian pastor Bob Russell calls his new movie ‘very realistic and heavy’

Bob Russell looks over the script before filming a scene in “Acts of God,” a movie he says is not “entertainment.”

Four intertwined stories tackle the question of God and human suffering in the Acts of God movie (9781939622181, $14.99, April 15), featuring nationally known pastor and speaker Bob Russell. In the film, seven people are pulled together unexpectedly through a terrible accident and their honest struggle as they ask God why it happened. “The concept originated with City on a Hill Productions in Louisville, [Ky.],” Russell told Christian Retailing. “They have done so much great work and Trinity Broadcasting approached them

[saying] that they would like to have a movie about why God permits so much suffering in the world. City on a Hill then approached me and asked if I would work with them on this.” Russell, who also plays a part in the movie, uses the story of Joseph in teaching DVDs and a companion book coming from Moody Publishers to explore the topic of suffering. He’s quick to point out the movie should not be thought of as “entertainment,” but that he hopes it

NEW RELEASES will provide some comfort to those who have experienced pain. “This is a very realistic and heavy film,” he said. “It’s not just a feel-good or hokey movie. People going through suffering don’t need a theological [discourse]. They need personal touch. They need to know they’re not alone, that someone else came out the other side and still believes in God.” The film was screened in theaters prior to its DVD debut, and reactions have been positive. “People have come out of the movie and they say ‘Thank you, I had a son who was killed in an auto accident,’ ” Russell said. “It is so real and so down to earth I think it’s going to help people.” Besides giving solace to those who have experienced suffering and are dealing with questions of faith, Russell said the film’s other purpose is to give Christians “ammunition” for defending their faith. “The number-one question nonbelievers have is, ‘If there is a God, why is there suffering?’ ” he said. “Some churches are reluctant to deal with this because they don’t have all the answers, and this movie doesn’t have all the answers. But we have to believe that God’s Word is true, and God’s Word will prevail.” Acts of God tops off a full line of ministry resources released in February.  The components—a small group study, participant’s guide and pastor’s kit—may be used individually or together in a campaign.  Visit or for more information. To order, call 502-245-2425, ext. 23.

Fervent Records (Word Distribution) releases If We’re Honest, the latest project from Francesca Battistelli, on April 22. The new record comes three years after Battistelli released Hundred More Years with which she won Artist of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year and Pop/Recorded Song of the Year Gospel Music Association Dove Awards in 2011. To promote If We’re Honest, Battistelli performed “Write Your Story” on ABC’s Good Morning America. Olympics favorite Gabby Douglas is profiled in The Gabby Douglas Story ($22.99), arriving April 15 from Affirm Films (Provident Distribution). At age 16, Douglas made headlines as part of “The Fierce Five” US Women’s Gymnastics team, winning Team Competition and Individual Allaround gold medals. The movie, which aired as a Lifetime Original production, chronicles Douglas’ life from her early years of training to her Olympics championships. It stars Regina King, S. Epatha Merkerson, Imani Hakin and Brian Tee. MercyMe releases Welcome to the New (Fair Trade Services/Provident Distribution), on April 8. The album is the band’s eighth studio album and is preceded by the music video and single “Shake,” which was a hit with radio audiences and Internet viewers, garnering more than 700,000 views online. Produced by David Garcia and Ben Glover, Welcome to the New is said to represent a “shift in tone” for the multi-Platinumselling group.

M E ET TH E ARTIST NEEDTOBREATHE Needtobreathe, comprised of brothers Bear Rinehart (vocals, guitar, piano) and Bo Rinehart (guitar, backing vocals) as well as Seth Bolt (bass, backing vocals), readies the group’s latest project, Rivers in the Wasteland (Word Records/Atlantic, Word Distribution), which releases April 15. Bear Rinehart recently spoke with Christian Retailing about the album, which represents a return to the group’s roots.

What does it mean that this record is a “turning point” of sorts? The band’s been together for a long time, for 14 years, this being our fifth record, and a lot has happened over the last couple of years. We felt some things had gotten away from us personally and the business—all that’s intertwined. Some ambition had crept in and become too important and our identities had become wrapped up in it. It didn’t

Going forward, what does that new focus look like?

start out that way. We saw signs of that and it scared us. It culminated in us fighting a lot, things that are bound to happen when you get priorities messed up. For us, our identity personally in God and the band was more in God’s hands than ours. That took an incredible amount of pressure off of what we were supposed to be. It freed it up to where God could use it and surprised us.

Do you typically write with a particular album in mind or simply write and collect songs for one of your upcoming records? This record took a really long time. I think it was God’s plan for that in the way He gave us the songs. The first track [on the record], “Wasteland”—we’re starting with

I think we appreciate each other on another level. … We felt like if we were supposed to walk away from it, we could. Just having that faith and that willingness, I think God met us in that place.

What was the inspiration behind the first radio single, “Difference Maker”?

nothing. There’s a lot of confusion. Then there’s that feeling of hope. There’s a song called “Rise Again,” maybe showing that I’m getting a glimpse of how it will be when it turns around. The song “Multiplied” is about when we let go and give things to God, how He can use those things. I think this record needed to be spread out, so we could have those things happen in our own lives.

I wrote that song, really struggling with the idea of how important we are in this process that God wants us to be a part of and how important that creativity is and struggling with our role in this thing. Most of the song talks about our neediness. That’s what ties us together with each other. I think God showed us that the way to be “difference makers” is not in the things that you do, but it is in that surrender.

IT’S TIME to SUIT UP & FIGHT! Give your customers the tools they need to stay strong during spiritual conflict Best-selling author PERRY STONE brings his trademark analysis and insight to the topic of spiritual armor, helping readers understand each piece of spiritual gear and how to seal off the cracks that invite assaults on themselves, their families, and their churches. Includes:

€ Seven common factors that can wear down spiritual strength

€ Five points that reveal the progression of a private moral failure

€ Four strategies that will help readers win in their spiritual battles


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Helping today’s young adults find their way Two April releases aim to help young men and women get started well in their adult life. Spoken For: Embracing Who You Are and Whose You Are (9781601425973, $13.99, Multnomah Books) brings together Robin Jones Gunn, best-selling author of the “Christy Miller” series and blogger Alyssa Bethke to encourage teen girls and young women to find their worth through their leading role in an epic love story with God. The authors show that when young women know they are deeply loved, they then won’t have to seek approval from the in-crowd or young men. In Spoken For, Gunn and Bethke share events from their own lives that show how the love of God makes all the difference. They remind young women that they are desired and pursued by God—“spoken for” by their Creator. The Christy Award-winning Gunn has seen her career sales top 4.5 million copies. Bethke, a high school counselor, serves with her author-husband Jefferson Bethke in college ministry.



TESTED BY FIRE Kelley Latta Carpenter’s Son Publishing (Send the Light Distribution) softcover, 126 pages, $11.95 9781940262062 April 1

Tested by Fire: Will What You Build Survive? will help readers distinguish whether they are navigating life on their own strength or are propelled by God’s power. The author, who was raised in the church, but almost missed Jesus, aims to help believers discover joy and purpose rather than just try to do all the right things and not find freedom. Orders: 800-289-2772.

Douglas Connelly IVP Connect (InterVarsity Press) softcover, 64 pages, $8 9780830831470 April

Jesus had about three years to mold a dozen fearful, faithless men into the pillars of a worldwide movement. Despite this brief window, time in Jesus’ presence had a transforming effect on each of them, and they would be changed by His power. Connelly, author and senior pastor at Parkside Community Church in Sterling Heights, Mich., offers this LifeGuide Bible Study featuring 10 studies of Jesus’ first followers. Orders: Call 800-843-7225.

RETAILER BIO Kelly Harding Kelly Harding is manager at Central Christian College Bookstore in Moberly, Mo. How long in Christian retail: Five and a half years. How you first came to Christian retail: I started working in my store as a clerk just to get out of the house a little. First job of any kind and your age then: I got my first paying job at age 8—a newspaper route for our local paper. Describe yourself in three words: Determined, hardworking, compassionate. Favorite hobby: I enjoy reading and creative writing. Favorite place: Home with my family.

Mission in life: My life’s goal is to raise children who love and follow Christ.  Favorite verse: 1 Cor. 13:1-3, NIV: “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” Mentor or role model: There is a lady in my church, Becky, who is always positive and uplifting, yet sage in her advice. She also radiates the love of Christ. While we are not close friends and we do not see each other often, God has placed her in my life at precise moments when I needed to hear just what she had to say. 

ONLINE EXTRA: Scan this QR code on your smartphone for additional products.

Orders: 800-733-3000. Jonathan Catherman sets out to equip young guys with life skills in The Manual to Manhood: How to Cook the Perfect Steak, Change a Tire, Impress a Girl & 97 Other Skills You Need to Survive (9780800722296, $14.99, Revell/Baker Publishing Group), releasing this month. He provides a go-to resource with illustrations and step-by-step instructions for almost everything a guy needs to know, including how to wear cologne correctly, clear a sink drain, interview for a job and manage a credit card. An education consultant and trainer specializing in character and leadership development of youth, Catherman aims to build strong moral character in young men. Orders: 800-877-2665. To learn more about these and other new products, visit our wide-ranging, regularly updated Buyers’s Guide listing online at

CHILDREN BIBLE AND PRAYERS FOR TEDDY AND ME Christina Goodings; illustrated by Janet Samuel Kregel Publications hardcover, 64 pages, $12.99 9780745964522 April 1

The pink, girl’s version of this Bible storybook features 12 retellings that emphasize the message of God’s love and care. Children are given a special prayer to learn after each episode that also is accompanied by a teddy bear illustration. The padded cover is illustrated in a pink ribbon motif with a baby girl, making this book an appropriate gift for baptism or new baby. The stories include In the Beginning, Noah and the Ark, David and Goliath, Jesus Is Born,

Pet peeve in retail: The misconception that consumers tend to have that we, as retailers, are just in it for the money. I look at what we do in our bookstore as a ministry and service above anything else. Share a recent idea or event that has worked in your store: Every year for the month leading up to Easter, we have an Easter egg hunt in the store. We hide plastic eggs throughout the store. When a customer finds an egg, they can bring it up to the counter and draw for a prize. The prizes range from a free snack or drink to 40% off one item of their choice. The students here at the college really have fun with this each year, and our customers from the community enjoy the hunt, too. This is really successful for all of our customers whereas other promotions do well with one segment, but not so well for another.

Jesus the Teacher and The Farmer’s Son. Orders: 800-733-2607.

MY CARRY-ALONG NOAH ACTIVITY BOOK WITH STICKERS Jocelyn Miller Kregel Publications softcover, 32 pages, $9.99 9780745969398 April 1

  This Noah-themed activity book is helpful for days indoors or on the go. With a mix of simple crafts and onthe-page activities, there is plenty of variety to keep kids busy. Stickers are included to decorate the crafts and complete the activities. The cutout handle makes it easy for little hands to carry the book wherever they go. Orders: 800-733-2607. BUYER’S GUIDE, page 26

How about an idea that hasn’t worked? Facebook promotions and interaction have really not worked out to well for us. I try to engage our followers on Facebook with questions and information rather than always trying to promote an item or sell something. However, even when I ask a question, there is never any interaction. Which soon-to-come product are you most excited about? I love the new “fence post art” from P. Graham Dunn. How can our readers pray for you? We would appreciate your prayers for the ministry and mission of our school. Also, that my spirits and the spirit of my coworkers would be renewed as we weather a particularly difficult time of transition at the college. Pray for our community and that our store will continue to be a resource and bright spot here.

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version in Spanish speaking countries) Includes additional study materials from nearly twenty Christian leaders and best-selling authors Provides practical information to prepare and equip the reader to engage in effective spiritual warfare Contains traning tools for spiritual warfare for both individual study and to use in a small group setting Includes cross references and color maps

The Biblia para la guerra espiritual, using the Reina-Valera 1960 Version, will help readers to become prepared and equipped to engage in spiritual warfare.

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B U Y E R ’ S G U I D E , FROM 24


TINY TOTS BIBLE Jill McInturff is sales promotional manager at Send The Light Distribution ( in Elizabethton, Tenn.

Lois Rock; illustrated by Kay Widdowson Kregel Publications hardcover, 128 pages, $12.99 9780745963839 April 1

The Tiny Tots Bible features 20 Bible stories retold with no more than 50 words per spread. It features big smiley animals and characters and details for kids to spot. Orders: 800-733-2607.

GIFT BOOKS MOTHER’S DAY IDEALS 2014 Melinda L. R. Rumbaugh, ed. Ideals Publications (Guideposts) softcover, 64 pages, $9.99 9780824913458 April 1

The Ideals compilation of prose and poetry is now in its

How long in the Christian products industry: Thirty years. I’ve worked with Lion Publishing, Christian Duplications, Christian World and Send The Light. How you first came to work in the industry: I was living in Orlando [Fla.], and I was working in marketing for a company in sales, and the Lord just opened up the door through Lion Publishing. They were looking

70th year of publication. This new Mother’s Day issue celebrates motherhood with heartwarming stories about and by mothers, poetry and quotations, as well as recipes to enjoy or share. The text is accompanied by full-color photographs and fine art reproductions. Orders: Call 800-586-2572 or fax 888815-2759.

for an outside sales rep and I applied. I was on the road for 16 years. Describe yourself in three words: Energetic, easy-going and dependable. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I always thought I would be in the fashion industry. Favorite place: Anywhere there’s a beach. Favorite verse: John 3:16. Mission in life: To see people come to the Lord. What motivates you to go to work each day? That I know in what we are doing, we are getting the message across and we are bringing people to the Lord. Who do you consider your mentor in business? I do a lot of design work with

OH, THE THINGS YOU’LL NEED Zondervan hardcover, 64 pages, $12.99 9780310338758 April 2

Told in rhyming style reminiscent of

my promotions, so Mark Stevens, the owner of Christian World—the way he did his designs—really sticks out in my mind. Share a recent success story in business: Send The Light has only brought in gifts in the last two years, and since the management took over, we’ve had really good success with the gifts. They told us to go forth and multiply, and we did. Which new product release from your company are you most excited about? We’ve just picked up a new scarf company that we have had really good success with, Vine & Branches Gifts in Illinois. How can our readers pray for you? That we would be open to what the stores need and that we would be able to supply what they want and need.

the popular graduation book Oh, the Places You’ll Go, Oh, the Things You’ll Need: 30 Things to Know Before You Go focuses on the things graduates will accomplish as they move on to college or out into the real world. The illustrated gift book includes dedication page and envelope to enclose a monetary gift or personal letter for the graduate as well as spiritual truths and




Stepping outside the building to reach the world of tomorrow by Rolland Daniels, Ed.D.

A Better Blend by Leah C. Adams

Dare to Live the Words of Christ by Brooke Keith

How does a church make the shift from operating with an attractional approach to ministry to a more missional model where they engage the community beyond their walls? This workbook is designed for that “church in the middle” that seeks to answer this question. Ideal for pastors leading a congregation on this missional journey, Church in the Middle is a practical guide that prepares the church for the future and encourages positive changes towards a ministry model that embraces the community at large. 978-1-59317-738-6 • Paperback • 7" x 9½" • 116 pages

In this Bible study, Leah Adams teaches from the Old and New Testaments, showing how the writer of Hebrews blended a beautiful mixture of Old Covenant theology with Jesus and the New Covenant. Readers will come away from this 8-week study with a deeper understanding of Jesus, the salvation He brings, and how they can grow in their own faith journeys. And since coffee and dessert are a part of so many Bible study groups, Leah has included a recipe and coffee suggestion at the beginning of each chapter! 978-1-59317-737-9 • Paperback • 8½" x 11"

Turn to the New Testament in many Bibles and you will notice words written in red ink. With heartwarming honesty and true spiritual insight, Brooke Keith invites us to read the words of Christ with eagerness and anticipation. Questions after each chapter encourage a deeper reflection, and daily challenges call us to action. As you draw closer to Jesus and hear Him speak during the next 40 days, you will not walk away unchanged. 978-1-59317-736-2 • Paperback • 5½" x 8½"




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guidance from the Bible to emphasize the most important thing they will need on their journey—faith. Orders: 800-834-7828.

YOUNG ADULT PAIGE TURNED Erynn Mangum Think (NavPress) softcover, 336 pages, $14.99 9781612913223 April 1

THE WINNING WAY IN GOLF AND LIFE Morris Pickens Thomas Nelson hardcover, 144 pages, $14.99 9781400324064 April 1

In The Winning Way in Golf and Life, nationally recognized sports psychologist Pickens provides his in-depth formula for winning “one shot at a time” and living life “one moment at a time.” Pages are filled with behind-the-scene stories, fullcolor photography and scriptural insights from top PGA players, including Nick Watney, Davis Love III and John Rollins. Orders: 800-834-7828.

SPANISH CONFESIONES DE SAN AGUSTÍN (THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE) Saint Augustine Casa Promesa (Barbour Publishing) Mass market, 192 pages, $6.99 9781624168758 April 1

The classic autobiography of St. Augustine— Confessions—has been abridged and translated for today’s Spanish-speaking reader. Written some 1,600 years ago, Confessions gives an account of God’s grace in Augustine’s life as well as his personal regret for the wickedness of his pre-Christian days. This edition includes approximately one-third of the content of Edward Pusey’s 19th-century translation. Orders: Call 800-852-8010 or fax 800220-5948.


The second book of best-selling author and apostle Eckhardt’s new series on God’s covenant shows believers how to live in freedom through His promises. The book covers strongholds and demonic influences, how to overcome personal struggles with poor choices and end cycles of “bad luck,” and how to live in covenant with God. Orders:800-987-8432orforLatinAmerican distribution, email casacreacion@


Fighting an outof-control schedule again, Paige can barely tackle the laundry, much less two weddings—her sister’s and her best friend’s. So, how can she fix things with Tyler, especially when they aren’t even talking? Paige Turned is the latest installment in the “Paige Alder” series, chick-lit romance for teens with a faith-building message. Orders: Call 800-366-7788 or fax 800343-3902.

RUNT, THE HUNTED Daniel Schwabaeur Living Ink Books (AMG Publishers) softcover, 320 pages, $12.99 9780899578491 April 30

In the second installment of the “Legends of TiraNor” series, JaRed is a Commoner in the underground mouse city of Tira-Nor. Nicknamed “Runt” for his diminutive size, he’s been a hero since he saved the city last summer. Unfortunately, a seer has anointed him to be the next king, when all JaRed wants is to protect his family and friends. The reigning king, a jealous and unpredictable tyrant named SoSheth, is furious at this apparent threat to his dynasty. Dragged from his home and beaten, JaRed is accused of treason and driven into exile, and SoSheth plans to have him murdered. Orders: Call 800-266-4977 or fax 800265-6690.

SMART GIRL’S GUIDE TO GOD, GUYS AND THE GALAXY Susie Shellenberger and Kristin Weber Barbour Publishing softcover, 224 pages, $12.99 9781624167607 April 1

The Smart Girl’s Guide to God, Guys, and the Galaxy melds spiritual and practical advice with humor. The book’s 101 tips include Save the drama!; Be a good listener; Be trustworthy; Memorize scripture; Make your bed; Wear comfortable shoes; Ask forgiveness; and Serve. These tips and dozens more aim to encourage and challenge, equipping young women to stand up for their faith and live the Christian walk in their everyday world. Orders: Call 800-852-8010 or fax 800220-5948.


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Service and selling go hand in hand in today’s Christian retail store Important customer-service practices assist shoppers with purchases that meet their felt and undiscovered needs BY BILL NIELSEN


ustomer service encompasses the entire shopping experience and can be done well by remembering and executing the “Three Cs”: Convenience begins with being available to your customers when they want to shop. We generally recommend that retailers base their store hours on the normal hours of the center in which your store operates, the typical traffic patterns created by local employers and schools, and most importantly, by a review of your customer traffic and hourly sales for each day. If you do not yet have the technology to measure customer traffic in and out of your store by the hour, consider investing in such. Several low-cost options are available and the data can help you staff your store to maximize sales and minimize labor costs. Looking at sales for your early morning and late evening hours in a certain period will help you stretch the window of time your store is open to the maximum profitable time period. Remember, too, that consumers expect your hours to flex seasonally to make it easier for them to shop during the holidays. Comfort speaks to making sure your store is inviting and provides a pleasant shopping environment. Does your “Open” sign work? Are your sidewalks and windows clean? Do you have a place for customers to “land” when they enter the front door? Is your store layout and signage such that customers easily can see where they want to shop? What about your store’s lighting? Too little light and they cannot see products well or feel safe, but too much and customers will sense a lack of “coziness.” In some cases, they might even get migraines and avoid your store altogether! Think about sound as well. Do you have music playing, and is it innocuous enough? Is the volume set so that your customers will not consciously notice it, or is it so loud or genre-specific that some consumers will find it a distraction? Take time to experience the environment of your store again as if for the first time, or ask a friend to do it for you. Pay special attention to aisle width and lines of sight that help customers provide ample room for browsing and find the products they want. Also, don’t forget sparkling restrooms. You would not invite guests into your home to use a dirty bathroom, and some customers will judge your entire operation based on the cleanliness of your public restrooms. Finally, remember that customers follow their noses. Does

your store smell fresh, or are dirty carpets and dusty fixtures making your store feel old and worn? Courtesy starts with a warm, genuine greeting. A quick word that acknowledges the customer, and makes him or her feel welcome is the trick. Don’t pester them the minute the walk in the door, but do follow up to see if they need help or to make them aware of any store specials. Remember, too, that it is a proven fact that the most cost-effective advertising you can do is through the use of well-crafted feature displays and P.O.P. materials. Do it right and you will help customers find items that meet their needs and desires at a price they can’t resist. But, do it wrong and you will have cluttered up your store and blocked important sight lines. If you do not feel like you have the visual or design skills to pull this off, reach out to a friend or a professional to guide you. For a relatively small investment, you can reap big dividends! Selling is an art that can be learned by just about anyone who cares about people. I say this because selling should always be done from the perspective of helping the customer. If you can do this with full integrity, selling can become serving! So, the steps to an effective selling strategy that we recommend for retailers are:

“Selling should always be done from the perspective of helping the customer. If you can do this with full integrity, selling can become serving!”

Always approach the customer from the mind-set of serving them. This means help-

ing them find the best product to meet their needs, just the right item for that “special gift” or letting them know about the new release from a favorite author or artist. It also can mean helping them discover ways to save money. It is not about what you want them to buy, but about meeting their needs and desires.

Help your staff expand their knowledge of key products. We recommend that you identify key products

that meet local customers’ needs. When an employee can speak with confidence about a product, that will help a customer with a problem teenager, the death of a loved one, difficult financial times, feeling far from God or most importantly, a relationship with Jesus as their Savior. Your employee will be able to engage with confidence customers throughout the store, knowing they can best meet their specific needs. Based on your clientele, develop a list of such needs and products to meet them, and systematically walk your staff through it. Focus on how each key product meets a customer need. Consider labeling these items as “Staff Recommendations.” Be sure to include key product lines such as Bibles, Bible study tools, devotionals

Bill Nielsen is a 25-year Christian retail veteran having served in C-level positions with Family Christian Stores, LifeWay Christian Stores and Berean Christian Stores. Nielsen is now president of The Equation Team, a consulting firm that specializes in retail and publishing.

and books on prayer, parenting, grief and apologetics. Train your staff to never ask questions that can be answered with a yes or no. Instead, try statements

or questions that engage the customer from a helpful perspective. For example, try saying, “I see you’re looking at study Bibles. Are you looking for one for yourself or as gift for someone else?” Or perhaps, “I see you are looking at study Bibles. Which translation of the Bible do you prefer?” Once you have broken the ice, you will know more about their needs and be in a position to offer relevant suggestions. Help customers make the most of their visit by listening and suggesting. Listen to their responses and

suggest items to meet needs they have expressed and needs they may not even know they have yet. The expressed need from the customer might be: “I just starting going to Sunday school at First Christian Church and they are studying Experiencing God.” The unknown need may be that in addition to the workbook, they might find that they need the related trade book. Last, but not least, remember that it is harder to sell what you don’t have, so be sure to customize your assortment and stock your shelves with the solutions to your customers’ needs. My motto in this

regard is: “Always be in-stock with what the customer expects to find.” Being able to place the product that your customer is looking for into his or her hands and saving your customer a return trip to your store is one of the best ways to secure a sale and provide great service. The best way to achieve this is to identify these products and include them in the core assortment that you regularly replenish. By creating a welcoming and comfortable environment for your customers and then suggesting items to them that meet their needs, your store will earn a reputation for providing a great shopping experience and thereby increase your sales. Imagine the benefit of adding just $1 to every transaction by helping customers select the items that will best help them. NEXT ISSUE: We will review some low-cost forms of

marketing that will put your store on the map and help keep customers coming back for more.

New Books for

Everyday Faith The Book of Saints: The Middle Era Al Truesdale, Editor 978-0-8341-3219-1 $16.99, Trade Paper, 224 pages Get a glimpse into the hearts and minds of spiritual leaders from the early fourth to early fifteenth centuries. The words and life stories of St. Augustine, Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Francis of Assisi, and more, are brought together with prayers and Scripture readings to challenge readers to lives of love and holiness. Also Available The Book of Saints: The Early Era

Managing Stress in Ministry By David & Lisa Frisbie 978-0-8341-3220-7 $14.99, Trade Paper, 192 pages Real-life stories and concrete strategies to help pastors and their families identify and cope with the key stressors that impact the health of their ministries and personal well-being.

The Quotable Wesley Dave Armstrong, Editor 978-0-8341-3221-4 $18.99, Trade Paper, 288 pages From “absolution” to “zeal,” this treasury of quotations is taken from John Wesley’s letters, sermons, tracts, and journal entries. An ideal resource for pastors, teachers, leaders, and laypeople interested the remarkable founder of the Methodist movement.

Hanging on Hope Memoirs of an Abused Wife By Judy Hegstrom 978-0-8341-3223-8 $15.99, Trade Paper, 224 pages This is an honest portrayal of the author’s struggle to raise children in a violent home, the pain of divorce, and ultimately, the triumph of reconciliation. Readers receive advice to help evaluate their own relationships and come to terms with difficult realities.

Reclaiming Eve The Identity and Calling of Women in the Kingdom of God By Suzanne Burden, Carla Sunberg, & Jamie Wright 978-0-8341-3226-9 $14.99, Trade Paper, 192 pages Too many women do not understand their true identities. When women realize they were created in God’s image to be equal partners who complement men, they can reclaim their roles as strong powers who are the beloved of Christ.

Empty Nest Strategies to Help Your Kids Take Flight By Marci Seither 978-0-8341-3222-1 $14.99, Trade Paper, 192 pages Empty Nest brings a spiritual perspective to parents on how to deal with the myriad of feelings when children leave home. Each chapter has concrete ideas to help parents and children ease the transition during this emotional season of life.

Chronic Pain Finding Hope in the Midst of Suffering By Rob Prince 978-0-8341-3225-2 $14.99, Trade Paper, 192 pages Written by a pastor who knows what it’s like to be one of the 45 million Americans who suffers from chronic pain, this book offers a spiritual perspective for fellow sufferers and their loved ones, reminding them that God is ever present, even amidst the darkest of days.


April 2014 • 1.888.521.6963


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Is Christian fiction dying?

Literary agent explains disparity between popularity of fiction and its slow retail sales


he Christian products industry is experiencing some hesitancy with regard to Christian fiction. Some publishers are nervous about the current state of affairs regarding Christian fiction and are in a waitand-see mode before they attempt to expand their fiction offerings or try new things. Two Christian publishers either downsized or suspended their fiction programs last year. On the other hand, there are some Christian publishers who are truly excited about the growth potential of the category and are taking an aggressive stance toward it. Similarly, some Christian retailers are doing quite well with fiction, while others are feeling lukewarm about it and, sadly, some are not doing well at all with fiction. So, an important question has come to the fore: Is Christian fiction dying? Well, no, but it is interesting to explore the reason behind such diverse opinions on the subject. How can one group see great potential and another see little or none?

SOURCE OF CONFUSION Here is why I think Christian fiction is causing some publisher and retailer confusion right now: First and foremost, fiction is the segment of book publishing and retailing most affected by e-book sales. In some cases, 50% or more of unit sales on a particular title can be digital. Because e-books are cheaper than printed editions, overall revenues to the publisher will decrease or remain flat while readership increases. For a particular novel, digital sales might be 50% of the units and 20% of the revenue. Because of e-books, a new business model eventually will emerge, but it takes time for publishers and retailers to adjust to new realities. Retailers can easily recall how the decline in physical product sales were affected by music downloads (iTunes started in 2001), video download/streaming and audiobook downloads. The migration to digital delivery in music, video and audio resulted in a corresponding drop in physical product sales at retail. But knowing the cause doesn’t make it easier to handle. The second major contributor to confusion about fiction is the relatively small number of titles published. Even in good years, the total output of new Christian fiction titles by the main Evangelical Christian Publishers Association members is not more than 250-300 annually  (not counting Harlequin Love Inspired and

Heartsong Presents mass market lines). R.R. Bowker data from a couple of years ago indicates that the entire U.S. publishing industry (not including self-publishing) released more than 250,000 new titles annually, of which about 40,000 are novels. The data on Christian publishers is not completely accurate, but not long ago, the total output of books from Christian publishers was around 10,000 new titles annually. If Christian publishers followed the same ratios in fiction as the general

DAN BALOW Literary agent The Steve Laube Agency

“The huge disparity between fiction in general market retail and that in the Christian market would leave one to wonder whether some are giving up too early on it.” market, there should be more than 1,000 new novels each year, not 250-300. Not every category growth problem is solved by doing more books, but in this case, I believe that factor has something to do with it. Similarly at retail, when a category suffers a slowdown, reducing shelf space for it only hastens the decline. The huge disparity between fiction in general market retail and that in the Christian market would leave one to wonder whether some are giving up too early on it. The final reason for confusion about fiction is there are a limited number of genres published by Christian publishers. Christian publishers cannot publish in as many genres as a general market publisher. For instance, erotica will never be a category in Christian publishing. Combine these three things—eroding physical sales due to digital delivery, a small number of titles and relatively

few categories—and maybe we can understand why it is rather confusing time in the Christian fiction category.

HOW TO HELP Beyond the usual store practices of stocking current best-sellers and new titles, what can retailers do about it?   Begin with inventory. Carry the classic backlist, not just In His Steps or The Pilgrim’s Progress, but also authors who made the category successful in the last 30 years—Janette Oke, Frank Peretti, Jerry Jenkins/Tim LaHaye, Bodie and Brock Thoene and Francine Rivers, to name a few.   Add a new genre of fiction that heretofore you have not carried or promoted. This is to grow your customer’s taste for a wider type of fiction.   Consider rearranging the fiction section by genre to help readers find new authors. Perhaps employ a variation of the umbrella categories that the Christy Awards uses.   Encourage fiction reader groups among your customers. They will help show readers how fiction can communicate spiritual truth in an effective manner. Steve Laube, founder and owner of the literary agency with which I work, was a retailer before getting into the publisher side of the equation. In 1989, his Berean store in Phoenix was named CBA Store of the Year. I asked him to give his perspective on how retailers can sell more fiction: “The key was that great story that got people telling their friends. Word-of-mouth. Second was a staff that was knowledgeable about the various fiction offerings. Handselling is still a critical piece of what makes the physical store a destination. Hand-selling is a form of word-ofmouth. For example, when Mrs. Sally came in the store each month and asked us, ‘What’s new?’ we could direct her to the latest and greatest because we knew the type of stories she liked and the type of stories that were on our shelves. That principle has not changed over the years. I am always attracted to the part of any bookstore that has a ‘Staff Recommendations’ section. I find it fascinating to see what other people think is worthwhile to read.” Keep in mind that if readers don’t find what they need in the Christian store, they will look elsewhere, and personally, I’d rather they find a lot of great reads among titles from Christian publishers in Christian retail stores. Author’s disclaimer: I am a member of the advisory board for The Christy Awards and worked in publishing during the growth years of Christian fiction, and our agency is committed to Christian fiction (as well as nonfiction). I am also limiting my comments to traditional publishing.


David E. Austin, executive vice president of sales, marketing and product acquisition, Bridgestone Multimedia Group, Alto, Mich.


RETAIL ADVISORY BOARD David Almack, U.S. director, CLC International Kirk Blank, president, Munce Group, Indian Rocks Beach, Fla. Mark Hutchinson, president, Blessings Stores, Chilliwack, British Columbia Rose Seeley, retail services director, Cottonwood Bookstore, Los Alamitos, Calif. Lorraine Valk, owner, Parable Christian Store of St. Joseph, St. Joseph, Mich.

INDUSTRY ADVISORY BOARD Bill Greig III, president and CEO, Gospel Light, Ventura, Calif. Bill Nielsen, president, The Equation Team Ed Nizynski, vice president of sales, Lighthouse Christian Products, Schaumburg, Ill. Steve Laube, literary agent and president, The Steve Laube Agency, Phoenix Sherry White, senior buyer, American Wholesale Book Co., Florence, Ala.

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9 7-2 | US $14.9

Cindy Woodsmall readers will love

Sarah’s warm and inviting stories. This Amish retelling of the popular Jane Austin classic is a beautiful take on the power of love to overcome class boundaries and prejudices.


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If your customers like reading

Rachel Hauck they’re going to love Debbie! This fun, inspiring debut release shares the ups-and-downs of a modern Southern girl making her way in the big city.

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For fans of Beverly Lewis. In the

latest from the author of the Touch of Grace series, Emma must discover how to follow her dreams whether they take her away from—or back to—her Amish home.


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The Harbinger 978-1-61638-610-8 / $16.99 The Harbinger is taking the country by storm! Author Jonathan Cahn reveals prophetic mysteries about our country by combining biblical facts and historical events with an action-packed story readers won’t want to put down.




our customers will want to dig deeper into this best-selling phenomenon. Stock up

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The Harbinger Companion With Study Guide

The Harbinger - Audiobook 978-1-61638-958-1 / $21.99

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Christian Retailing April 2014  

Serving the Christian products industry worldwide