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The industry at your fingertips:

MOVIES WITH A MESSAGE Christian retailers applaud some companies’ big-screen offerings, but consider what that means for business. Will faith-based movies made by Christians—or not—have a significant impact on in-store DVD sales? Movies, page 40



Duck Dynasty’s famous family is back with a new Howard Books title from Jase Robertson. Turns out that Jase is more than just another bearded face—he also has a few life lessons to share in Good Call. Book News, page 52

Christian publishers’ group marks 40 years Association helps ‘set the bar high’ for Christian publishing industry in working for ‘the greater good’ BY KEN WALKER


hile marching into a future likely to offer increasing industry challenges, the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) paused to celebrate its 40th anniversary during the group’s April Leadership Summit in Colorado Springs, Colo. People like David C Cook’s CEO Cris Doornbos, chairman of ECPA’s board, hailed the association as a vital resource for the industry. “I became a part of Christian publishing in 1983 and fully invested myself in it ever since,” said Doornbos, which hosted a 40-year “Retro Party” during the conference. “ECPA played a significant role in my personal and professional leadership goals, as I had the opportunity to build relationships with leaders throughout its membership.” ECPA President and CEO Mark Kuyper sees the association becoming even more important in the future. ECPA’s fourth leader said the association’s networking, data gathering and educational initiatives have already helped members traverse the digital revolution. Keeping members up to date on developments will be crucial as e-books morph into new forms, Kuyper said. “The traditional e-book isn’t the future,” he said. “We talk about publishers making a message known. You can do that in a couple sentences and make it known around the world in a few seconds. “I think we’re going to see a lot of creative electronic solutions to getting the message to the right people at the right place. It’s not simply going to be taking what was in print and making it available on an electronic reader.” During the anniversary banquet that opened the Leadership Summit, presenters announced the 2014 Christian Book Awards in seven categories as well as the Christian Book of the Year award. ECPA also celebrated where it has come since originating as a oneman shop under Executive Director Donald Brandenburg. E C P A , p a g e 14

Audio and study Bibles, fiction and nonfiction all have been singularly honored by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association with its Christian Book of the Year award.

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Baker Publishing Group to acquire Regal Books

Gospel Light to concentrate on core mission of resourcing churches with curriculum rather than trade titles Gospel Light has signed a letter of intent to sell the publishing assets of Regal Books to Baker Publishing Group. Stan Jantz, interim CEO of Gospel Light, and Dwight Baker, president of Baker Publishing Group, say the goal is to have the transaction closed by June 30. “Over the last several months, the board and leadership of Gospel Light made a strategic decision to concentrate on Gospel Light’s core mission,” Jantz said. “From the time Henrietta Mears founded Gospel Light in 1933, resourcing churches with curriculum and Vacation Bible School materials so they can reach children and families with the gospel has been at the core. In order to concentrate on that mission, the board decided to find a compatible new home for Regal’s authors.” Baker is aware of that compatibility. “Baker Publishing Group has a longstanding fellowship with the Gospel Light/ Regal Books community,” he said. “Our

two respective publishing programs complement each other well. I have observed with admiration as Regal introduced such authors as George Barna, John Perkins, Norm Wright and Dutch Sheets to a wide

readership. This is the legacy of Regal and a standard that we are compelled to maintain.” “They went from a three-generation independent to a three-generation independent,” said Baker of the transaction. Baker told Christian Retailing that his company “can’t add any expertise to Gospel Light,” but can support Regal’s 280 active authors, 59 of which have been published by Baker and Regal, including J.I.

Packer, R.C. Sproul and Os Guinness. Baker’s reason for acquiring Regal Books’ authors was to provide “readership for the long term,” he said. “The setting there was more difficult for them to insure that long-term support and availability, so part of it was structural. They decide to capitalize on their trade books and invest fully in the continuity of their curriculum publishing.” It was decided in consultation with Jantz that Baker would not do a Regal division in part because of the similarity of the name Regal to Baker imprint Revell, which was thought to be “an invitation to confusion,” Baker said, but also because Regal authors fit into what Baker is already doing with its four trade divisions, Baker Books, Chosen, Bethany House and Revell. Baker Publishing Group was al-

locating Regal authors to their respective divisions at press time. With its “Spirit-filled” emphasis, Chosen has the “largest overlap of any by far,” Baker said. Gospel Light “viewed author care as the top priority in the sale of Regal,” Jantz said. “One of the primary reasons the board selected Baker was its compatibility in this area, plus the Baker family and their teams are just good people. We feel a kinship with their mission and the way they do business— for the glory of God and the benefit of their authors.” Because Gospel Light retained the Regal Books trademark, they have the option to rebuild Regal should they so choose. Founded by Bill Greig Jr. in 1965, Regal published How to Be a Christian Without Being Religious by Fritz Ridenour as its first book, which is still in print. —Christine D. Johnson

Baker holds special event to celebrate 75 years of publishing, retailing Recently renovated store hosted anniversary occasion serving as ‘mile marker toward our vision of a world living in Christ’ Baker Publishing Group celebrated 75 years in business with an invitation-only event April 24 at its prime Baker Book House retail location, which underwent a $1.6 million renovation starting in 2012. Managed by Sue Smith, the historic store in Grand Rapids, Mich., was the site of the Easter-week reception that drew guests including “representatives from our companion publishers Zondervan and Kregel along with many other business associates, ministers, agents, authors, media, current and retired employees, friends, family, shirt-tail relatives and bewildered bookstore customers,” Dwight Baker, president of Baker Publishing Group, told Christian Retailing. “We celebrate this occasion as a mile marker toward our vision of a world living in Christ, where the message of God’s love is provided to all who seek it.” A harpist offered background music, while guests visited and dined on appetizers and desserts during the two-hour afternoon event.

Richard Baker, second president of the company, received a special VIP award from ‘Christian Retailing.’ Smith, who recently became chairperson of CBA, was “very pleased” with the turnout. “We had a grand time overall,” she said. “I feel that it’s important to celebrate in this way because these landmarks are important. It’s a vital time to stop and be thankful for where we’ve been, both for Herman’s vision and God’s provision all these years.” Baker also spoke to the gathering, com-

mending Karen Steele, manager of conventions, corporate events and corporate publicity at Baker Publishing Group, for planning the reception well in advance. Christian Retailing presented a special VIP (Visionary Industry Pioneer) award to Richard Baker, who worked at the company full-time for 40 years and served as president from 1987 to 1997 after founder Herman Baker. Presented on behalf of Charisma Media, the award commended him for “building one of America’s greatest publishing companies and blessing the lives of millions.” After the award presentation, the company’s third-generation president invited guests to pick up a copy of The Baker Book House Story, a book written by Ann Byle, who also was present at the event. Indicating that writing one’s own company history is “a somewhat self-conscious process,” he joked about telling the story that would be read by authors. “We were very concerned that it’s hard to make a good story when you

have a narrative thread that involves no drama, no romance, no violence, no conflict, and you all know the ending,” he said, citing the difficulty of “keeping you engaged as a reader with a narrative that really doesn’t hold up to other literary expectations—and our solution to that was to make it very thin.” The company has annual revenues that run about $50 million with sales up 6% for the fiscal year ending in April. Baker is the third-largest publishing house of Christian titles behind HarperCollins Christian Publishing and Tyndale House Publishers, and is owned by Richard Baker and his four children, Dawn Baker Faasse, Dwight Baker, Dave Baker and Dan Baker. In the process of acquiring Regal Books’ authors from Gospel Light, Baker’s divisions include Bethany House, Baker Books, Revell, Chosen, Brazos Press and Baker Academic. The company has exclusive rights to God’s Word Translation Bibles and will distribute Cambridge Bibles through 2014. —Johnson

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Todd Starnes to host Christian Retailing’s Best

FOX News’ commentator expected to draw interest at Christian retail show event Winners of the 2014 Christian Retailing’s Best awards will be announced Tuesday, June 24, at the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) in Atlanta. Todd Starnes, author of God Less America (Charisma House, May) and host of the “FOX News & Commentary” daily radio show, will present the 2014 awards, Tuesday, 9-10 a.m., at the show floor’s Creative Pavilion stage at the Georgia World Congress Center. Christian Retailing magazine, sponsor of the awards, invites all ICRS attendees to attend the free-of-charge awards presentation and see the outcome of their votes. Along with his own radio program, Starnes  is a regular contributor to TV’s FOX & Friends and Hannity. His column is read by nearly 4 million people, and his syndicated column appears at and He is also the recipient of an Edward R. Murrow Award and an Associated Press Mark Twain Award for storytelling. This year, he was honored to

Todd Starnes win the National Religious Broadcasters’ Board of Directors award. B&H Publishing Group led the field in number of finalists with 15. Baker Publishing Group had 14, while Abingdon Press had 12 finalists. Some of the key finalists named were: Happy, Happy, Happy, Phil Robertson (Howard Books)

in Auto/Biography; I Am a Church Member, Thom Rainer (B&H Books) in Church and Culture; The Guardian, Beverly Lewis (Baker Publishing Group) in Fiction: Amish; and The Daniel Plan, Rick Warren, Dr. Daniel Amen and Dr. Mark Hyman (Brilliance Publishing) in Audio. See the complete list of 2014 Christian Retailing’s Best finalists online at Those who are part of the Christian products industry were qualified to vote in the awards, and were asked to judge the nominations on their impact, including their ability to speak to people’s hearts and evoke emotion; open people’s minds to new ways of thinking; and encourage and affirm Christ-like living. Introduced in 2001, the awards sponsored by Christian Retailing have been acknowledged as an important way of recognizing some of the most significant new life-changing products in the Christian retail industry. —Johnson

Hobby Lobby awaits Supreme Court contraception decision James Dobson’s Family Talk organization wins similar healthcare case in U.S. District Court


with the history of our great nation foundFamily Talk won a preliminary injuncThe Hobby Lobby arts-and-crafts giant and sister company Mardel Christian & ed on religious freedom,” Hobby Lobby’s tion blocking enforcement of the ObamEducation await a Supreme Court deciBarbara Green said in a video taken with acare employer mandate. Fighting the her husband, David Green. “We believe same contraception-coverage requiresion in the historic Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores case. The court is expected ments that Hobby Lobby is proto rule on the case before the end of testing, Dobson won the injuncits term in June after hearing oral tion before the U.S. District Court arguments March 25 in the case of Colorado, where Family Talk is that addresses the rights of busiheadquartered. “In America, we don’t try to ness owners to operate their familyseparate what people do from owned companies without violating what they believe,” Kevin Thetheir religious convictions. The court combined the hearriot, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, said of the ing of two similar cases brought by case. “Faith-based organizaHobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, who both challenged tions should be free to operate the Health & Human Services according to the faith they teach (HHS) Mandate that would force and live out every day. If the them to pay for abortion pills or face government can fine Christian substantial daily fines. ministries out of existence beFormer U.S. Solicitor General Hobby Lobby supporters plead with God outside cause they want to uphold their Paul Clement argued on behalf of Supreme Court as justices hear historic case. faith, there is no limit to what the companies, stating that they are other freedoms it can take away. protected under the Religious Freedom that Americans don’t lose their religious The court was right to block enforceRestoration Act. freedom when they open a family busiment of this unconstitutional mandate The principal lawyers in the case, against Family Talk.” ness. We were encouraged by today’s arguSolicitor General Donald Verrilli for the Judge Robert E. Blackburn stated in ments. We are thankful that the Supreme Obama administration and Clement for his decision that “there is a substantial Court has heard our case, and we prayerHobby Lobby and Conestoga argued likelihood that the plaintiffs can show fully await the justices’ decision.” against each other in another Affordthe ACA [Affordable Care Act] and the The Greens do not object to providing regulations constitute a substantial bur16 of the 20 contraceptives under the HHS able Care Act (Obamacare) case in 2012. mandate and will continue to provide conIn that case, the justices upheld by a 5-4 den on the exercise of their religion.” vote the constitutionality of the aspect of Blackburn also cited Hobby Lobby’s traceptives at no additional cost to their the law that requires people to purchase lower court victories as precedent for employees. health insurance. Dobson’s legal standing in bringing the In the meantime, a lower court favored “The choice that the government has case, stating that it is “directly analogous Dr. James Dobson and his Family Talk orforced on us is unfair and not in keeping to Hobby Lobby [v. Sebelius].” —Johnson ganization in a related healthcare case.

Mark Driscoll admits ‘manipulating’ book best-seller system Author Mark Driscoll was thrust into the spotlight once again when WORLD magazine accused the Seattle’s Mars Hill Church pastor of obtaining “unreal sales” of Real Marriage (Thomas Nelson), a 2012 book written by Driscoll and his wife, Grace. The church hired San Diego-based book marketing company ResultSource to the tune of $210,000 to make Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Marriage & Life Together a best-seller. WORLD revealed that the church Driscoll serves, Mars Hill in Seattle, paid ResultSource for a “best-seller campaign.” Such campaigns cut out the consumer middleman and facilitate authors’ bulk purchases of their own books. Many best-seller lists only count individual purchases toward sales in an effort to prevent authors from gaming the system. ResultMark Driscoll Source circumvented this safeguard by placing thousands of orders shipped to individuals’ addresses provided by the client. The Driscoll-book contract stated, according to WORLD: ResultSource “will be purchasing at least 11,000 total orders [of Real Marriage] in one week.” It also called for the author to “provide a minimum of 6,000 names and addresses for the individual orders and at least 90 names and address [sic] for the remaining 5,000 bulk orders. Please note that it is important that the make up of the 6,000 individual orders include at least 1,000 different addresses with no more than 350 per state.” Even though this practice isn’t illegal, the ethicality of such campaigns has been impugned in the publishing industry. Coming on the heels of plagiarism claims against some of Driscoll’s other books, coupled with the fact that the campaign was paid for from the congregation’s coffers rather than the author’s own pocket, the Real Marriage campaign has thrust this controversial marketing practice into the spotlight. In the aftermath of the ResultSource revelations, Mars Hill admitted the campaign’s strategies were “unwise,” while Driscoll also claimed to have misunderstood the strategies used by the company. “My understanding of the ResultSource marketing strategy was to maximize book sales, so that we could reach more people with the message and help grow our church,” Driscoll wrote March 18 in an open letter addressed to Mars Hill. “In retrospect, I no longer see it that way. Instead, I now see it as manipulating a book D R I S C O L L , p a g e 13


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Crossway title wins ECPA’s 2014 Christian Book of the Year award First-ever Quadruple Diamond sales award conferred on Tyndale House Publishers’ ‘The Living Bible’ The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) announced eight winners for the 2014 Christian Book Award program, honoring Christian publishing’s best book and Bible releases of the year—and one top book winner. The awards were presented at the ECPA Awards & Anniversary banquet April 28, held the opening night of the ECPA Leadership Summit at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Crossway’s Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) Big Problem  by Kevin DeYoung received the Christian Book of the Year, the industry’s highest book honor bestowed upon one title from all the finalists, which takes into account the book’s overall impact in the marketplace. Category winners were Bibles: The MacArthur Study Bible NIV (Thomas Nelson); Bible Reference: Dictionary of Jesus and

the Gospels, Second Edition (InterVarsity Press); Children: The Sparkle Box, Jill Hardie, Christine Kornacki (Ideals Publications); Fiction: Iscariot: A Novel of Judas, Tosca Lee (Howard Books); Inspiration: He Walks Among Us: Encounters With Christ in a Broken World, Richard and Renee Stearns (Thomas Nelson); New Author: Falling Into Place, Hattie Kauffman (Baker Books/ Baker Publishing Group); and Nonfiction: C.S. Lewis–A Life, Alister McGrath (Tyndale House Publishers). At the ceremony, ECPA also presented Diamond Awards to two Tyndale House

Publishers Bibles, including the first-ever Quadruple Diamond designation. Tyndale’s The Living Bible received the Quadruple Diamond Award for selling more than 40 million copies. The New Living Translation Bible received a Triple Diamond designation for surpassing more than 30 million copies sold, only the second title in history to do so. The Diamond Award is given to books or Bibles that sell at least 10 million copies. In addition, seven Platinum Awards (for more than 1 million sold) and 10 Gold Awards (more than 500,000 sold) were presented at the banquet. —Burns

Thomas Nelson marks ‘Jesus Calling’ brand milestone

Jack Countryman, late Brennan Manning receive ECPA lifetime achievement awards

Sarah Young best-selling titles excel in sales, popularity

Publishing legends to be honored for contribution to industry

has touched someone in a deeply personal way, helping them experience a more loving and peaceful relationship with God,” Minchew added. “It is an honor and privilege to work alongside Sarah on this life-changing book.” The Jesus Calling: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition will be released this September. The special edition includes more than 100 additional scriptures selected by Young. Related title Jesus Today was named the 2013 ECPA Book of the Year. The line has expanded to other products for adults and children, including e-books, apps, audiobooks, calendars, greeting cards and music. —Burns

The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) presented Jordon Lifetime Achievement Awards to Jack Countryman, founder of JCountryman Gift Books, and posthumously Jack to best-selling au- Countryman thor Brennan Manning. The awards were conferred April 28 in Colorado Springs, Colo., opening night of the ECPA Leadership Summit. Countryman’s 30-plus years in Christian publishing have allowed him the opportunity to help create and develop bestselling gift books such as God’s Promises for Your Every Need, God’s Promises for

Men and God Listens. This year not only marks 20 million JCountryman books sold, but also the 30th anniversary of the God’s Promises brand. Manning (19342013) is best known Brennan as the author of the Manning contemporary classics The Ragamuffin Gospel, All Is Grace, Abba’s Child, Ruthless Trust, The Furious Longing of God, The Importance of Being Foolish and Patched Together. His unflinching honesty about himself as a “ragamuffin,” an imposter and a man in search of the undeserved love of Jesus has encouraged millions of Christians. —Burns BEN PEARSON

Thomas Nelson’s “Jesus Calling” brand has sold more than 10 million units. “Each year Jesus Calling sells more than the year before,” said Laura Minchew, senior vice president and publisher of HarperCollins Christian Publishing Gift Books, Tommy Nelson Children’s Books and New Media. A missionary, Young wrote Jesus Calling as a reflection of what she heard Jesus saying during her prayer time. The original book is now available in 26 languages, and has consistently appeared on multiple best-seller lists, including The New York Times and CBA lists. “We often hear of how Jesus Calling

Send The Light Distribution celebrates new growth, marks 40 years in service-oriented business Distributor puts ‘more resources into our most important job—meeting customers’ needs and exceeding their expectations’ Send The Light Distribution is launching a year of celebration to mark 40 years of service to Christian retailers, churches, ministries and suppliers. Among the anniversary events will be a series of monthly specials and prize drawings for accounts. While the 40-year history will be a focus of the company’s presence at the June’s International Christian Retail Show in Atlanta and of its Spring Invitational for key customers, new growth and business initiatives are being announced as well. Send The Light began as Appalachian Bible Company, founded in 1974 by Tom Torbett in Johnson City, Tenn. Operations expanded to include three regional distribution centers before the company

was sold to Send The Light US (STL) in 2005. The 2007 merger between STL and the International Bible Society (IBS) was followed by a 2012 management buyout of the distribution center led by President Glenn Bailey and the reforming of IBS as a separate organization known as Biblica. “Though Send The Light has grown into the one of the largest Christian distribution companies in the United States, we retain the personal touch and spirit that helped establish Appalachian in our early years,” Bailey said. “We have retained Tom’s specialty of relationships and service,” he added. “Many stores bought from him because he gave personal attention that wasn’t available from the bigger companies. He

knew how to provide great service, and he would cut through the red tape found in larger companies.” Send The Light continues with an emphasis on service, while using technology and programs to increase efficiency. “By consolidating operations and now owning our facility, we are able to spend less money on operations and put more resources into our most important job—meeting customers’ needs and exceeding their expectations,” Bailey said. The company has seen continued growth and expansion since the buyout two years ago. Send The Light continues

to focus on high standards in customer service and a same-day order fulfillment guarantee for those received by 1 p.m. through its Elizabethton, Tenn., facility. The company also is growing with Print on Demand capabilities and expansion into major distribution assortments of gifts and church supplies. New customer initiatives unveiled in the last year include the Simply 42 program, streamlining a previously multi-tiered pricing structure into a standard, everyday 42% discount. Another new program is the Premier Partners service offering an expanded range of church supplies and resources. —Burns


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Gospel Music Association honors Hall of Fame inductees

Brown Bannister, Gaither Vocal Band noted as making ‘definitive mark on the fabric of our musical tapestry’ The Gospel Music Association (GMA) Foundation recognized key industry figures as this year’s Hall of Fame inductees and honorees at the Hall of Fame induction and inaugural GMA Honors celebration. Held April 29 at Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena in Nashville, the ceremony featured Hall of Fame inductees, including

Brown Bannister, Gaither Vocal Band, Rich Mullins and Take 6, as well as Honors recipients such as Dr. Bobby Jones, Don Moen, Michael Guido, Show Hope and World Vision. “We’re excited about this opportunity to raise awareness for the legacy of gospel music,” said GMA Executive Direc-

tor Jackie Patillo before the event. “Each of these inductees or honorees has made a definitive mark on the fabric of our musical tapestry.” Take 6 was featured in a special performance with all members of the group, past and present, for the first time ever as a celebration of the group’s 25th anni-

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versary and of its induction. Other special guests included dcTalk (TobyMac, Michael Tait and Kevin Max), Steven Curtis Chapman, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, David Crowder, Earnest Pugh, Ellie Bannister Holcomb, Kirk Whalum and Lenny LeBlanc. Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, talk show personality and FOX News commentator hosted the evening’s program. “While each [inductee and honoree] has different gifts and has contributed in different ways, all of their stories highlight God’s faithfulness,” Patillo added.  “We’ll be able to celebrate this through GMA Honors with some very special friends and truly inspiring performances.” Love Your Country. Vote. Faith, Family and Freedom Tour was this year’s presenting sponsor. —Burns Support. Service. Sales.

Influence Resources, an imprint of My Healthy Church, has formed a new music division, Influence Music. The launch comes on the heels of We Believe, a joint release produced by Influence Resources and Integrity Music, which debuted at No. 1 on SoundScan’s Praise and Worship chart. The live album showcased original music from leading ministries and set the tone for the kind of work Influence Music will champion as a label.

Influence Music will be distributed by My Healthy Church, a provider of church supplies, ministry resources and curriculum. Additionally, Influence Music will provide music publishing administration services for churches and artists. Sol Arledge, My Healthy Church COO, believes the timing of the launch is ideal. “The amount of Holy Spirit-inspired creativity coming from our churches and universities is astounding,” Arledge said. “Combined with the marketing and distribution channels already developed by My Healthy Church, we have a truly unique opportunity to serve the church with outstanding worship music.” Influence Music’s first release is set for August. —Burns


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Convergent publisher addresses pro-gay book controversy ‘Inclusive’ imprint’s title by homosexual activist Matthew Vines draws strong reaction Convergent Books, an imprint of Random House’s Crown Publishing Group, has published a pro-gay book that the company describes as an “affirmation of both an orthodox faith and sexual diversity.” The April publication of Matthew Vines’ God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships stirred controversy online among some conservative Christians, including Matt Barber, cultural analyst, and Michael L. Brown, author of Can You Be Gay and Christian? (FrontLine/Charisma House). Written by Vines, a gay activist who himself is homosexual, God and the Gay Christian was born out of years of research on the Bible and homosexuality. Stephen W. Cobb oversees Convergent and Catholic imprint Image as well as the WaterBrook Press and Multnomah Books imprints, whose books are more common-

ly carried by CBA member stores. Convergent was launched in December 2012 as a new kind of faith-based imprint whose titles were expected to lead to “an open, inclusive and culturally engaged exploration of faith.” Barber ( cited an unspecified source with ties to Multnomah, who said it was “reasonable to speculate that Multnomah is trying to cover up its fast-growing connection to sexual sin activism.” The same source said: “Multnomah is now consciously trying to hide from NRB [National Religious Broadcasters] and its members the fact that it is putting out this new project,” referring to Vines’ book. He also said the “same staff, editors, executives, promoters are behind the book as are behind those put out by other ‘imprints.’ ” Cobb emphasized that Convergent is “separate and distinct” from Water-

Brook Multnomah Publishing Group. “I’ve established very distinct editorial guidelines for each of these imprints,” he told Christian Retailing. “I’m very aware of what these are. They are rigorously applied, and we’re certainly sensitive to what’s appropriate and where it’s most appropriate.” Cobb especially noted that staff members are not forced to work on any book that is against their beliefs. “We actually went to great lengths and have always gone to lengths here to make sure that our people here have never been required to work on anything that offended their personal beliefs,” he said. “We met with everyone in small groups and, in some cases, individually, and I can think of a couple of employees off the top of my head that asked to not participate in the publishing function regarding this particular book, and we were respectful and grateful for their candor and excused them from any involvement, so we don’t run that kind of shop here.” Brown stated on Twitter that Vines is “not a biblical scholar” and that the

book is “100% antithetical to Scripture regarding homosexuality.” Cobb pointed out that the company’s other imprints host books with different points of view on the issue. “What drew me to this book was I believe this is one of the most significant issues that faces the church in our current generation,” he said. “I think it’s obvious that there’s a lot of hostility and emotion that might be clouding our approach to our brothers and sisters in Christ who have a different orientation than we do, and I don’t have the answers, but I believe that it’s an issue that needs to be dealt with more openly and in a more civil fashion in the church than what I see today.” Convergent Books titles are not being shopped to CBA market retailers. “Our Christian sales force is not soliciting orders for this book, never has,” Cobb said. “It would’ve been inappropriate for them to carry this book to Christian retailing and that has not been the case.” Vines’ book has been endorsed by such authors as Rachel Held Evans, who calls it “a game-changer,” and Tony Campolo, who recommends it to “Christians who oppose gay marriage.” The publisher further responded online at —Johnson

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Munce Group ends 2013 on a positive note

Some member stores saw double-digit growth as 50-year-old Florida store faces significant challenges the store will match its current 6% growth in 2014. Lovvorn, who also operates a Thomas Kinkade Gallery in Murfreesboro, Tenn., calls doubling his catalog mailings in 2013 the key to keeping New Covenant’s name in front of customers. “I hope we can keep the momentum going,” he said. “We plan to use even more of the Munce catalogs this year. We are celebrating our 20th anniversary this summer, so we hope to create some excitement with an anniversary sale, author signings and other things.” Bible sales are New Covenant’s most important category with a deep selection and frequent sale pricing. Gifts, especially Willow Tree, are strong, and the P. Graham Dunn laser personalization center attracts repeat shoppers. New Covenant’s Fair Trade product section attracts customers in search of handcrafted items that support artisans in developing countries. The store also has picked up a line of candles whose wicking process is done by disadvantaged adults and a shoesachet product made by Texas store Living Room Books encourages its wounded veterans. customers to sponsor a child through Compassion. Among Munce memhave been surprised with these strong inbers are stores facing challenges, too. Tamcreases when you take into consideration pa Christian Supply, which will turn 50 in the Bastrop County Complex fires of SepOctober, doesn’t expect to greet its silver anniversary with much fanfare. tember 2011” (a reference to the state’s That’s because a five-week “fire sale” most destructive wildfires in history). that wrapped up March 22 didn’t generate After examining the store’s advertising the kind of revenues to help the store catch approach, “we decided to put more into up from a bleak 2013 Christmas season. catalogs because we saw an increase in “Long term, our store is going to sales for those months when we sent one shrink,” said Vice President and General out,” Burns said. Manager Patrick Pellizzee. “How small it’s Lately the store has attracted more going to shrink is the next factor. We own shoppers with its Frequent Buyer proour building, so we have a lot more flexgram, thanks to emphasizing its benefits that include allowing customers to desigibility than most folks.” On the store’s plus side, sales of nate 2% of each sale to their church. church and Sunday school supplies reAlthough books don’t occupy center stage for many retailers, they lead all catmain healthy with 70% of the demand coming from African-American and egories at Living Room, generating 23% of Hispanic customers. Pellizzee also sees revenue. Gifts (18%) are next, followed by continuing interest in Bibles and gifts Bibles (14%). with buyers seeking a hands-on experiIronically, Burns had considered relocating her 9-year-old store to the west of ence for both. Bastrop to take advantage of growth patWhile still formulating plans, Pellizzee has contemplated purchasing a P. Graham terns. However, recent expansion to the Dunn laser or similar machine to attract east has put Living Room back in the cennew business. ter of retailing traffic. “I think most major metropolitan areas New Covenant Christian Bookstore in need that and would support it,” Pellizzee Shelbyville, Tenn., didn’t reach doublesaid of customization. —Walker digit growth, but Dennis Lovvorn hopes Munce Group has reported that most of its member stores ended 2013 with an increase, though a half-century-old store is trying new approaches in hopes of an improved future. “The majority fell within single-digit growth of 1%-5%, (but) we had a range of stores that experienced large growth of double digits,” said Munce Group President Kirk Blank. Living Room Books in Bastrop, Texas—about 35 miles southeast of Austin— is seeing success. Manager and co-owner Kimberly Burns thinks that 2014 could mark the store’s third consecutive doubledigit increase. Sales increased 26% last year after a 19% gain in 2012. “For this year, our first two months have been very strong,” Burns said. “We

c h r i s t i a n retailing.c om / / / M AY- J U N E 2 0 14 / / /



Mary Colbert launches Bible Balloons company Wife of best-selling author aims to fill gift niche in Christian market Mary Colbert—known to many as the wife of best-selling health and fitness author Dr. Don Colbert and a minister in her own right—is launching a gift company at a time when many are opting out of new introductions. Colbert is entering the market as an entrepreneur with a unique gift product: Bible Balloons Mary Colbert ( Colbert said the idea for Bible Balloons came about two years ago “when I saw the Word being removed from government institutions and lawsuits being brought against the Ten Commandments and how they’re just trying to stifle the Bible and the Word of God in any way they can.” The 18-inch round Mylar balloons feature a double-sided color design. They are self-sealing and refillable and can be filled with helium or air. With more than 20 customizable designs, the balloons include

such greetings as “Congratulations!”; “Happy Birthday!”; “It’s a Boy [or Girl]!” and “Get Well Soon!” The designs also have accompanying scripture. For instance, a Get Well Soon balloon bears the scripture Isa. 53:5: “By his stripes I am healed.” One of the Happy Birthday balloons has Jer. 1:5 imprinted in

the design: “Before I formed you in your mother’s womb, I knew you.” She believes there is a healthy future for Bible Balloons. “What better way to acknowledge a celebration than the Word of God?” she said. “Because the Word of God is built completely around celebration. It’s very posi-

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sales reporting system, which is wrong.” Forbes noted that fellow pastorscum-authors Steven Furtick and Perry Noble also have been accused of mounting similar campaigns with their congregations’ funds. Continued bad press apparently has caused ResultSource to go into stealth mode. With its business model thrust into the public consciousness and thoroughly derided, the company has reduced its website to nothing but a logo and a “Contact Us” form. Though ResultSource is still in operation, CEO Kevin Small deleted his Twitter account, while what appears to be the company’s Facebook page is now blank, according to an April 18 Forbes article. Driscoll has asked Thomas Nelson to remove the “No. 1 New York Times bestseller” notation from future printings of the book. Nelson did not respond to Christian Retailing’s request for comment. In an open letter to congregants, Driscoll said he also has cut down on his speaking engagements and interviews, dialed back his future writing and abandoned social media for the near future to renew his focus. The congregation’s board also praised Driscoll’s ongoing generosity related to book sales: “All monies from the sale of Pastor Mark’s books at Mars Hill bookstores have always gone to the church and Pastor Mark did not profit from the Real Marriage books sold either at the church or through the Result Source marketing campaign.” —Burns

tive. That’s why it’s called the good news. “Hopefully we will whet people’s appetite to know more about what’s in the Bible,” she added. “If I don’t do anything else but that, is whet people’s appetite to know more of what’s written in the Bible, I will have accomplished what I wanted to accomplish.” —Johnson

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OCTOBER BABY Provident Films (Provident Distribution)



I AM A CHURCH MEMBER Thom S. Rainer (B&H Books) 9781433679735




THE BLESSED LIFE Robert Morris (Regal) 9780830736355


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


THE LITTLE HOUSE THAT STOOD VeggieTales, Big Idea Entertainment (Word)


FOUR BLOOD MOONS John Hagee (Worthy Publishing) 9781617952142


UNSTOPPABLE Provident Films (Provident)


(tie) JESUS CALLING (large print deluxe) Sarah Young (Thomas Nelson) 9781400318131


BELIEVE Iesodo (Capitol Christian Distribution)


VEGGIES IN SPACE: THE FENNEL FRONTIER VeggieTales, Big Idea Entertainment (Word)


GIRL TALK Chonda Pierce, Image Entertainment (Word)






(tie) DAILY WISDOM FOR WOMEN (Barbour Publishing) 9781620299128


THE DANIEL PLAN Rick Warren, et al. (Zondervan) 9780310344292


GOD IS ABLE Priscilla Shirer (B&H Books) 9781433681912


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

10 AHA Kyle Idleman (David C Cook) 9780781410496 11 NOT A FAN Kyle Idleman (Zondervan) 9780310331933

10 COURAGEOUS Provident Films (Provident)


(LXW) LEAGUE OF XTRAORDINARY WORSHIPPERS Deitrick Haddon Tyscot Records (Word Distribution)


IF WE’RE HONEST Francesca Battistelli Fervent Records (Word)


THRIVE Casting Crowns, Beach Street Records (Provident Distribution)


HEAVEN RAINING DOWN Cindy Cruse Ratcliff Dream Records (Capitol Christian Distribution)


WELCOME TO THE NEW MercyMe, Fair Trade Services (Provident)


ALL THE PEOPLE SAID AMEN Matt Maher, Essential Records (Provident)


YOU MAKE ME BRAVE (LIVE) Bethel Music (Fuel Distribution)


19 24 HOURS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD Adam Hamilton (Abingdon Press) 9780687465552

WOW WORSHIP (LIME) (deluxe) Various artists (Provident)


WOW HITS 2014 Various artists (Capitol Christian)

20 JESUS IS Judah Smith (Thomas Nelson) 9781400204755

10 MAJESTIC (LIVE) Kari Jobe Sparrow Records (Capitol Christian)

The CBA list is based on actual Christian store sales for March 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 April 27, 2014. © 2014 Christian Retailing and SoundScan Inc. Collected, compiled and provided by:

12 THE AUSCHWITZ ESCAPE Joel C. Rosenberg (Tyndale) 9781414336244 13 UNGLUED Lysa TerKeurst (Zondervan) 9780310332794 14 THE CIRCLE MAKER Mark Batterson (Zondervan) 9780310330738 15 THE JESUS STORYBOOK BIBLE Sally Lloyd-Jones (Zonderkidz) 9780310708254 16 JESUS > RELIGION Jefferson Bethke (Thomas Nelson) 9781400205394 17 THE 5 LOVE LANGUAGES Gary Chapman (Northfield Publishing) 9780802473158 18 WHAT EVERY CHRISTIAN OUGHT TO KNOW Adrian Rogers, Steve Rogers (B&H Books) 9781433677854

  E C P A , FROM 1

gural major research project on book sales. In 1984, the association sent its first collective of publishers to exhibit at the C.E. Andrew, known as Ted, replaced Frankfurt Book Fair and the following year Brandenburg in 1981, with Doug Ross dispatched representatives to the Moscow succeeding Andrew as president in 1987. International Book Fair. Kuyper, formerly in marketing with CBA, The organization’s other achievements arrived in 2004 and assumed the mantle include the following: of CEO. Among the 17 publishing houses   Completing The Moscow Project in and 23 individual charter members was 1991, which saw 4 million New Testaments Thomas Nelson Publishers, now under distributed across Russia. the HarperCollins Christian Publishing   Sponsoring its first Spanish Expolit (HCCP) umbrella. with the Spanish Evangelical Publishers HCCP’s senior vice president and Association in 1993. group publisher, David Moberg, lauded   Hitting a record year for Gold and ECPA for promoting profesPlatinum sales awards in 2003, when 60 titles reached milesionalism and raising members’ effectiveness by equipping stones of 500,000 or 1 million them to meet the marketplace’s copies. ever-changing needs.   Sponsoring its first PubU “Four decades later, as we (Publishing University) in 2004. continue to go through signifi  Producing a new multichannel best-seller list in 2010. cant transitions, that vision is There were setbacks too. even more relevant and needed,” Most recently the Christian Moberg said. “We are grateful to Book Expo in Dallas in 2009 be part of an organization that Donald Brandenburg saw a tepid consumer response helps us set the bar high.” at the peak of the economic Dave Schroeder, director downturn. Low attendance of communications for B&H numbers forced its cancellation Publishing Group’s trade book for the following year. marketing, said the Nashville On the plus side, Kuyper said house finds value in ECPA’s the awards program ECPA runs online and in-person training does the same for the Christian and conferences, and especially industry that the Academy appreciates the best-seller lists. Awards and the GRAMMYs do “The best-seller list has for movies and music. been integral to understand“I think this has been one of ing the trends of what type Ted Andrew the most significant tools we’ve of content is connecting with had,” he said. “Back in the day, readers who go into Christian we had very little media coverbookstores,” he said. “It also provides a good look at how we age and very little retail supcan better serve our retail partport, but we’ve continued to (attract) support.” ners to serve their customers.” Another accomplishment Marilyn Largent, vice presithat generates few headlines dent for sales at David C Cook, outside the industry has been said the best-seller lists offer adECPA’s anti-piracy advocacy, ditional value charting across all which included successfully sales channels. engaging in a drawn-out battle “This has become a great as- Doug Ross to remove copyrighted content set for book sales in the indusfrom a London-based website. try,” Largent said. “When we More recently, the associahave a title on the ECPA list, it makes a difference in purchasing tion worked with Nigerian audecisions for the general market thorities to crack down on sales and ABA accounts.” of pirated material. ECPA’s best-seller lists and Kuyper is pleased that a sizseminars are just two of many able group gathered to observe developments dotting its timeECPA’s 40th anniversary since it draws a sharp contrast with line. The group sponsored its conditions in 1974. He recalled first management seminar in Mark Kuyper Brandenburg’s challenge in deColorado Springs in 1975 and a year later attracted its first “name” speaker: veloping cooperation at a time when little former White House aide Charles Colson. existed among the publishers. In 1978, the association launched its The data gathering that followed shows Gold Medallion Book Awards, naming five how publishers became more willing to award winners. The number of categories work together. would triple in 1987 before shrinking af“They were willing to take the risk of having some of their data available for the ter taking on a new name, Christian Book greater good and analyzing the data from a Award, in 1996. market perspective,” Kuyper said. “You’ve ECPA presented its first Lifetime got to be working together and you’ve got Achievement Award to Pat Zondervan, to develop a sense of trust for these kinds founder and chairman of Zondervan, in of tools to be available.” 1982 and two years later launched its inau-

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The River by Beverly lewis Trade Paper; $15.99; 978-0-7642-1245-1 • Hardcover; $22.99; 978-0-7642-1273-4 Large Print; $17.99; 978-0-7642-1274-1 • Ebook; $15.99; 978-1-4412-6490-9

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Bethany House A winsome mail-order bride story from a promising new author.

Gentle historical fiction that will appeal to audiences of Janette Oke and Lori Wick.

Bestselling author kicks off a new series featuring her trademark “romantic comedy with cowboys.”

A Bride in Store by Melissa Jagears Trade Paper; $14.99; 978-0-7642-1169-0 Ebook; $14.99; 978-1-4412-6472-5

Playing by Heart by Anne Mateer Trade Paper; $14.99; 978-0-7642-1065-5 Ebook; $14.99; 978-1-4412-6471-8

Bestselling author debuts a new historical series set just after the Civil War.

Romantic suspense with a twist of international intrigue from bestselling author Davis Bunn.

Jennings’ wit, humor, and expertly crafted romance delight in this historical charmer.

The Brickmaker’s Bride by Judith Miller Refined by Love Trade Paper; $14.99; 978-0-7642-1255-0 Ebook; $14.99; 978-1-4412-6475-6

The Patmos Deception by Davis Bunn Trade Paper; $14.99; 978-0-7642-1139-3 Hardcover; $19.99; 978-0-7642-1228-4 Ebook; $14.99; 978-1-4412-6487-9

A Most Inconvenient Marriage by Regina Jennings Trade Paper; $14.99; 978-0-7642-1140-9 Ebook; $14.99; 978-1-4412-6480-0

Tried and True by Mary Connealy WiLd at HeaRt #1 Trade Paper; $14.99; 978-0-7642-1178-2 Ebook; $14.99; 978-1-4412-6473-2

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

Christy Award winner delivers a satisfying conclusion to her bestselling Amish series. Becoming Bea by Leslie Gould tHe couRtsHips of LancasteR county #4 Trade Paper; $14.99; 978-0-7642-1034-1 Ebook; $14.99; 978-1-4412-6474-9

Bestseller Jody Hedlund launches a new historical series with romance and a dash of mystery. Love Unexpected by Jody Hedlund beacons of Hope #1 Trade Paper; $14.99; 978-0-7642-1237-6 Ebook; $14.99; 978-1-4412-6486-2

Fa l l F i c t i o n


CBA favorite Tracie Peterson concludes the Lone Star Brides series with her signature combination of adventure and romance. Fans anticipate each release from this trusted bestseller. A Matter of Heart by Tracie Peterson Trade Paper; $14.99; 978-0-7642-1060-0 Hardcover; $19.99; 978-0-7642-1269-7 Large Print; $17.99; 978-0-7642-1270-3 Ebook; $14.99; 978-1-4412-6478-7

October 2014

Perennial bestseller Lauraine Snelling launches a new Red River Valley series. Combined sales of these stories, set in Blessing, North Dakota, now total nearly 1.5 million copies. To Everything a Season by Lauraine Snelling Song of Blessing #1 Trade Paper; $14.99; 978-0-7642-1104-1 Hardcover; $19.99; 978-0-7642-1218-5 Large Print; $17.99; 978-0-7642-1219-2 Ebook; $14.99; 978-1-4412-6417-6

October 2014

Lynn Austin, recently inducted into the Christy Award Hall of Fame, continues her new, bestselling biblical fiction series, which brings to life the biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin The Restoration Chronicles #2 Trade Paper; $14.99; 978-0-7642-0899-7 Hardcover; $19.99; 978-0-7642-1271-0 Ebook; $14.99; 978-1-4412-6479-4

October 2014

Bestselling author Julie Klassen—the top name in inspirational regency romance—delivers a new novel that will delight fans with its page-turning romance and intriguing mystery. The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen Trade Paper; $14.99; 978-0-7642-1071-6 Hardcover; $19.99; 978-0-7642-1278-9 Ebook; $14.99; 978-1-4412-6482-4

December 2014

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


/// MAY-J U N E 2 0 14 / / / christ ia nre t a iling . c o m

[ ICRS 2014 ]

Beyond the sales floor

CBA show offers retailers significant opportunities to learn BY NATALIE GILLESPIE


he theme of the 2014 International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) in Atlanta may be “Cause to Celebrate,” but for stores it’s an opportunity to go beyond the sales floor and hone their retailing craft. Taking place June 22-25 at the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC), CBA’s trade show offers stores the chance to see the latest in upcoming books, trends in décor, entertainment and gift items all in one place. It offers retailers a chance to catch up with old friends and attend some fun film premieres and events, but it also should be seen as a “boot camp” where veteran retailers, suppliers and business experts give store owners and frontliners the chance to learn more about operating a store. “CBA has taken a new direction in training to help retailers and the industry better understand the future of Christian stores,” said Curtis Riskey, president of CBA, which hosts the convention. “All retailing is going through significant change because of the continuing sluggish economy, the increasing gap between rich and poor, and consumers’ new purchasing habits. It is important for retailers especially to hear what’s happening broadly in retailing to determine how they best might thrive despite all the changes.” Mary Manz Simon returns to the show to present her popular Children’s Product Trends workshop, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year (See p. 21 for her Q&A). In a survey, the children’s author and educator found that training is a key component for stores to get the most take-home value out of the time and money they spend to attend ICRS. “Nearly 50% of survey respondents said ICRS is where they ‘get their best ideas,’ ” Simon said. “Walking the exhibit floor, connecting with fellow retailers and attending the children’s trends workshop all contribute to building sales.”

PRE-SHOW SESSIONS ICRS has changed the annual preshow “Retail Academy” to a day-long training session called “Moving Retail Forward.” Sponsored by CBA and Spring Arbor/Ingram, Moving Retail Forward will be held 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Sunday, and will help prospective stores, young stores and veteran retailers catch a glimpse of the future of retailing and learn ways

they can adapt to the changes ahead. Registration is $49. Group Publishing founder and CEO Thom Schultz will begin the day with a keynote address called “Retail’s Frightful Kodak Moment.” Kodak missed the opportunity to join the digital revolution, but Schultz believes retailers can learn from Kodak’s mistake. “Schultz will talk about his findings

actually driven sales at retail, and will give retailers insights into what they can do to capture sales from suppliers’ B2C marketing,” Riskey said. Other sessions will explore how retailers can benefit from self-publishing, how data can boost sales and customer relationships, and how lifestyle events can drive traffic and sales. Also Sunday, international at-

from talking with pastors, church leaders and Christian store owners and managers,” Riskey said. “He sees retailers in a similar situation as Kodak, which forgot what business it was in, but he encourages retailers there’s still time and opportunity to adapt and thrive.” Following the keynote, Jeff Michaels, Group vice president of sales, will conduct a workshop called “What’s Missing from Retail? 4 Keys to Winning the Battle of Showrooming & Attracting Millennials,” which will take a look at new retail concepts and proven strategies that other kinds of stores are using to build customer loyalty by creating relationships and experiences. Another session, “Driving Discoverability and Sales,” is a case study from HarperCollins Christian Publishing’s direct-to-consumer marketing and its findings about spikes in retail sales. “Eric Shanfelt, senior vice president of eMedia for HarperCollins, will analyze how its consumer-direct marketing has

tendees are invited to network at the Atlanta Hilton during the Global Welcome Luncheon, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., featuring a keynote address by Gary Wilkerson, president of World Challenge and son of The Cross and the Switchblade author David Wilkerson. Lunch will be followed by a Global Business Training event presented by Ramon Rocha III of Media Associates International. In his decade as CEO of OMF Literature in the Philippines, Rocha led it to become the nation’s largest Christian publishing house. Aiming to help international representatives increase business and ministry profitability, Rocha will share his insights and expertise. Tickets ($49) are required.

SPECIALTY SESSIONS Training continues Monday, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., with a new general-session panel at the annual member meeting that will discuss the state of faith in the United States and around the world.


Panelists Ravi Zacharias, Phillip Yancey and Ryan Dobson will focus on what Christian businesspeople need to know to continue serving the church. The panel will be moderated by LifeTree Café President Craig Cable and will be held in GWCC #202-204. During the general session, CBA will present the Lifetime Achievement Award to psychologist and best-selling author James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family. Tickets are required. Monday afternoon workshops start with Children’s Product Trends and continue through Tuesday. “We have added specialty sessions during the week on urban marketing, DVD and film sales through stores, and reaching Spanish-language customers,” Riskey said. “We are excited about providing a broad range of training aimed at building traffic and sales and extending ministry through stores.” Simon embodies this year’s show theme as she celebrates the 20th anniversary of her two-hour Children’s Product Trends workshop Monday starting at 3 p.m. The workshop will offer brand-new data this year. “For the first time ever, we will have CBA CROSS:SCAN data on the children’s market,” Simon said. “Retailers who attended the ICRS workshop during the past two years were invited to participate, so input came from people in our industry who prioritize ministry to children and their families. Attendees will hear what fellow retailers say is the mosteffective type of coupon and which children’s product category is growing in their stores.” The workshop also will include an anniversary after-party with food, fun and free product. Registration is $29.

WORKSHOPS GALORE Tuesday offers four workshops where retailers can learn the latest trends, discover new ways to merchandise and figure out how to display and sell specific categories. For an hour starting at 8:30 a.m., attendees can learn how to reach the urban community in “How to Be Effective Selling Christian Rap in Retail.” From 10-11:30 a.m., Film Product Trends will unveil the latest in Christian movies and how retailers can maximize their sales opportunities. This workshop also will include product giveaways. Registration is $29. From 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., My TRAINING, page 20

Congratulates ECPA for

40 YEArs

of partnering together to help spread the gospel and improve Christian publishing Christian book publishing is one of the finest professions to be found anywhere, and ECPA makes this work even more enriching. Through ECPA I have been blessed with many opportunities to connect with gifted publishing leaders who share our mission. We can serve the church more effectively as a business community, and ECPA makes that possible. Dwight BAkEr, PrEsiDEnt Baker Publishing Group









/ / / M AY- J U N E   2 0 1 4 // / c hristianretailing.c om

  T R A I N I N G , FROM 18

Congratulations ECPA

on 40 years of vision and service to Christian Publishing and Retail Industry...with more innovation and growth to come in the next 40 years. Thank you, Barbour Publishing


For Today

Healthy Church will present “The Big Opportunity: Attract Your Local Hispanic Community.” According to the Pew Research Center, the U.S. Hispanic population, currently at 52 million, will grow from 14% today to 29% in 2050. The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference reports that more than onethird of Hispanics consider themselves born-again believers. This workshop will help retailers get ready to engage and serve Hispanic believers. The workshop offerings wind up at 3-4:30 p.m. with the annual Christian Fiction Trends: “Celebrating Story.” This popular event brings together authors, retailers and readers to discuss the latest trends and sales techniques, and it includes questions and answers between authors and audience members. This workshop requires $29 registration and includes free product to take home. Tuesday’s training opportunities also include the annual Church Store Luncheon, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Church store

managers and leaders will hear from Charles Stanley, founder of In Touch Ministries and will have the chance to network and take part in mini-workshops for church-store mission and success.

KINGDOM FOCUS As the show comes to a close, ministry leaders, pastors and their spouses have a unique opportunity 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. to take part in a free training event presented by CBA and RBC Ministries. “Mission & Community: Embracing the Kingdom Today” aims to give ministry leaders encouragement, fellowship and the opportunity to network, as well as complementary resources and a message from pastor Marvin Williams, senior teaching pastor of Trinity Church in Lansing, Mich. Sessions include “Strengthening the Servant’s Heart” and “Capturing the Millennial’s Mind.” The event includes a free lunch. To register for training events, visit

EDUCATOR REFLECTS ON 20 YEARS LEADING SHOW’S CHILDREN’S MARKET WORKSHOP How did your Trends in the Children’s Market workshop begin? I presented the workshop at the Canadian CBA in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on Aug. 16, 1993. I remember all the mosquitoes—even in the downtown convention center—and also the high interest in the topic. Carol Norris, who led the education and training track for the international CBA, asked if I’d present at the next convention, so on June 27, 1994, in the Denver convention center, I started a cassette tape before attendees entered rooms 105-107. The rest, as they say, is history.   Could you reflect on some of the changes in the industry? Yes. In 1994, one of the trends in the children’s space was that Mary Manz sales of CD-ROMs were doubling! But although we’ve seen a tsunami Simon of change in countless aspects of our industry, some basic elements in the children’s space haven’t changed. Even today’s digi-kids learn best by being mentally and physically engaged. Whether children use print or pixels, they still need to develop the basic skills to maximize their God-given potential. Although data indicates a downward spiral in customer loyalty, nurturing the consumerretailer relationship is still important. Retailers invest a tremendous amount of time, money and effort in building connections. And today, perhaps more than ever, product knowledge impacts sales. I mean, look at the huge swing toward content marketing just in the past few months. Being “in the know” has social currency, especially in the mom market.   What has been the secret to the success of the workshop? Twenty years of the same workshop at the same national convention has to be some kind of record. There have been several contributing factors. First is our retailers. They take seriously the words of Jesus to “let the children come unto me.” In 1994, they were eager to learn how to build traffic. That’s still true, although we now look at building traffic both offline and online. In 1994, they wanted to know “what’s now, what’s new, what’s coming.” That’s still the workshop focus. Second, our suppliers. What a generous, supportive group of people! Time and time again, suppliers give workshop attendees their very best—and often their most expensive—new products. Our suppliers truly are partners in ministry. Third, the program. I begin every year with a blank screen. That’s actually a scary feeling, but by using current research as a framework, everything comes together. Plus, every year since 1998 when illustrator Thomas Kinkade came to the podium, we’ve had celebrity guests. Children’s Product Trends is always a fast-paced time of education and training—with some surprises.   What’s most exciting about this year’s workshop? Research! We have new data from our retailers. CBA’s Eric Grimm and I surveyed retailers on issues that matter in the children’s space, so we have fresh stats from our own industry.  Plus, for this anniversary year, we have an after-party, so although attendees will come to learn and take home new product, they’ll also enjoy food and fun.

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Find out who’s exhibiting at ICRS 2014 BOOTH NUMBERS CURRENT AS OF APRIL 28

33.3 Media Booth 435

Bob Siemon Designs Booth 429

Christian Small Publishers Association Booth 1334

EndTime Ministries Booth 939

AAmstamp Machine Company Booth 1259

Book Depot Booth 1458

Christian Tools of Affirmation (CTA) Booth 518

Entertainment One Booth 945

Abbey Press Booth 617

Booklog Booth 937

Christianity Today Booth 1353

Eternal Life (Avid Life) Booth 635

Abingdon Press & Common English Bible Booth 1319

Bookstore Manager Software Booth 1043

City on a Hill Studio Booth 1146

Evergreen Press Booth 1262

Adventist Media Network Booth 1143

Bridge-Logos, Inc. Booth 1336

CLC Publications Booth 1301

Every Good Gift Booth 504

Adventist Media Network Booth 1750

Bridgestone Multimedia Group RM 103

CMD Distribution Booth 1139

Faith Library Publications Booth1229

Alfred Music Booth 1133

Brilliance Audio Booth 1150

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G.T. Luscombe Co. Booth 428

American Bible Society Booth 1535

Brilliance Publishing Booth 1150

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Game Show Mania Booth 1145

Anchor Distributors/Whitaker House Booths 1017, 1115

Brilliance Publishing Booth 1152

Creflo Dollar Ministries Booth 1238

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Brownlow Gifts Booth 500

CrossBooks (division of LifeWay) Booth 1204

GI Jewelry Booth 637

Art & SoulWorks—Gifts that Give Back Booth 612

BYU Music Group Booth 1142

Crossway Booth 1001

Good L. Corp. Booth 1047

Artistic Churchware Booth 1235

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Good Work(s) Make a Difference Booth 401

Authentic Publishers Booth 1352

Capitol Christian Distribution Booth 929

David C Cook Booth 1117

Goodknight Sales Booth 1234

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Carolina Retail Packaging Booth 713

DaySpring Booth 800, 801

Goodknight Sales - Books Booth 1234

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Carpentree Booth 507

Dexsa Co. Booth 723

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Cathedral Art Booth 422

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Gospel Light Booth 1255

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Charisma House Booth 1151

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Bargain Books Wholesale Booth 1455

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Divinity Boutique Booth 715

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Beechdale Frames Booth 420

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Dr. Hector Caram-Andruet Booth 1154

Hachette Book Group/FaithWords Booth 1435

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Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk Booth 1759

Haggai Books Booth 1360

Bible Blessings Booth 417

Christian Focus Publications Booth 1731

Eerdmans Publishing Co. Booth 1646

Hal Leonard Corp. Booth 935

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Christian Life Outreach Booth 1354

Emkay Candle Co. Booth 820



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  E X H I B I T O R S , FROM 24 Halle Joy Booth 709 HarperCollins Christian Bargain Books Booth 1452 HarperCollins Christian Publishing Booth 1637 Harrison House Publishers Booth 1429 Harvest House Publishers Booth 1009 He Speaks Today Booth 516 Heart Gifts by Teresa Booth 534 Heartfelt/Christian Brands Booth 638 Hendrickson Publishers Booth 1305 Hermitage Art Co. Booth 1440

Holy Land Gifts Booth 539

Kid Tees by Stephen Joseph Booth 506

My Healthy Church Booth 1209

Hotline To God Store Booth 514

Kingstone Media Group Booth 1335

Nanjing Amity Printing Co. Booth 1552

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Kirkbride Bible Co. Booth 1243

Nazarene Publishing House Booth 1051

Howard Imprinting Machine Co. Booth 1450

Kregel Publications Booth 1345

New Day Christian Distributors Booth 517

Ideals Publications/Guideposts Booth 1342

Lexham Press Booth 1239

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Lighthouse Christian Products Booth 701

Not of This World (NOTW) Booth 700

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OM Ships International Booth 1558

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Merry Christmas From Heaven Mooney TunCo, Booth 419

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International Publishers Marketing Booth 1729

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Outline Bible Resources by Leadership Ministries, Booth1303

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Outreach Media Group Booths 1828, 1830

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  E X H I B I T O R S , FROM 26 P. Graham Dunn Booth 421 Parable Group Booth 1341 Plough Publishing House Booth 1652 Pretty Girls 4 Christ Booth 400

Provident Distribution Booth 1034

Rose Publishing Booth 1212

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Scripture Candy Booth 522

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TwoBy2 Booth 1115 Tyndale House Publishers Booths 917, 921 Union Gospel Press Booth 1640 Universal Designs Booth 601 Warner Press Booth 1329 Waterfall Press Booth 1152

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  E X H I B I T O R S , FROM 28

CBA TOWN CENTER American Christian Fiction Writers Booth 913 CBA Booth 903 Meadowbrook Insurance Group Booth 911


Inspirations in Wood CS 04

Dr. Shane Wall Booth 650


Enjoy! Booth 952

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August St Anthony Publications Booth 550

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Gareth J Goosen Booth 756 Generations with Vision Booth 751 God’s Song Booth 653 Holy Cheer Gear Booth 754


J and M Inspirations Booth 855


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40 years of leadership and influence in

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  E X H I B I T O R S , FROM 30 In His Light Ministries Booth 728 Inspirations In Wood Booth 729 John Ritchie Ltd. Booth 736 Kid Niche Publishing/Susan Bonner Booth 833 KIPPOD 3D Booth 846 Majestees Booth 735 Mindfully Made Studios Booth 847 MudLOVE Booth 746 My Little Guardian Angel Booth 731 Painted Stuf Booth 732 Pieces of the Promise Booth 730 PrayerBowls Booth 734 ReMade Apparel Booth 930 Three Angels Broadcasting Network Booth 944 Ulla Ltd. Keywi Cards Booth 834

FAIR TRADE & MISSIONAL Family Research Council Action Booth 611 Global Handmade Hope Booth 712 Saved By Grace Booth 609


Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City Booth 1516 Bible Societies Booth 1616 Bill Noller International Publishing Booth 1519 Copenhagen Publishing House Booth 1707 Cromwell Leather Booth 1613 Crossway Booth 1402 David C Cook Table 05 Discovery House Publishers Booth 1515 Eerdmans Publishing Co. Table 01 F.J. Rudy and Associates Booth 1513 Gospel Literature International (GLINT) Booth 1705 Great Value Books Booth 1604 Harrison House Publishers Booth 1421 Harvest House Publishers Table 04 InterVarsity Press Booth 1517 IVP (UK), Inter-Varsity Press Table 06 Josh McDowell Ministry Table 02 Life Publishers International Booth 1406 Nori Media Group Booth 1413 Nutech Print Services Table 03

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is the founder and senior pastor of Planetshakers City Church, which he and his wife, Sam, established in Melbourne, Australia, in 2004. A thriving church with over 10,000 in attendance, it donates millions of dollars each year to provide and improve social justice around the world. As founder and director of Planetshakers Ministries, Russell has an uncompromising desire to see every person make a difference in their world. His goal is “to empower generations to win generations.” Russell and his wife, Sam, live in Melbourne, Australia, with their two children.

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/// MAY-J U N E 2 0 14 / / / christ ia nre t a iling .c o m


Reaching the heart of a child

Publishers aim to maximize value for today’s children’s book shopper BY LESLIE SANTAMARIA


ecent news reports tout an economic upturn and growing consumer optimism, but Christian retailers still see customers spending cautiously and motivated by value. This includes, of course, parents and grandparents—the primary buyers of children’s products. Harold Herring, owner of The Christian Soldier Bookstore in Goldsboro, N.C., sees customers’ spending changing a little. “Generally,” he said, “people are coming in more interested in the product, although price is still important.” At Prestonwood Kidz Bookstore on the main campus of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, Kelly Graham Flores, manager and buyer, had a similar observation. “My customers want products that are a good value, for sure, but I don’t think price is the only thing that matters,” Flores said. “Post-recession, we’ve talked about the ‘value-driven customer,’ ” explained children’s market expert Mary Manz Simon. “That usually references great prices. However, there are many forms of value, and consumers of children’s Christian products are looking for content with relevance.” For Herring’s customers, this is more than simply adding graphics to a book. “It must be content that increases the buyer’s perceived value of the product,” he said. The children’s books, Bibles and devotionals Herring’s store sells most are visual and deliver a combination of “learning, creativity and imagination,” he said. “When a product has all of that, it’s a winner.” “A strong story and message are always going to provide the underlying value of the book, but we can then build on that through engaging illustrations and product features,” said Peggy Schaefer, publisher at Ideals. “The reality is that children today are bombarded with all kinds of multifeatured media selections, so adding a little interactivity to a book can give it added value.” The latest trends in children’s publishing reveal that companies are offering value in various ways, leveraging established brands and new partnerships, and providing content kids and their parents appreciate.

ENGAGING FEATURES Special features publishers incorporate into kids’ products abound, including flaps, cutouts, removable activities, video and pens. In the general market, some items in the children’s book section are actually hybrids, sometimes termed “book-toys.” The My Little Pony brand’s “My Busy Books” each includes a storybook, a dozen figurines

and a playmat. Annette Bourland, senior vice president and group publisher at Zonderkidz, reported that “novelty or ‘value add’ type products are on the upswing in all markets for children. … Our team is looking to be innovative and creative when it comes to incorporating interactive elements. Books are more than just bound pages.” At Zonderkidz, such elements include stickers, charms, play components and free covers with some storybook Bibles. Yet features can be costly, adding to the tension between price and the “wow” factor. “We’re constantly balancing the cost versus the consumer value of the product,” Schaefer said. “We publish a number of

B&H Kids sound books [such as VeggieTales’ God Is Bigger Than the Boogie Man, October], for example, that can be expensive to produce, so we need to be sure that the content is of value and that the product specs are of the highest quality possible.” Bind-ups provide a cost-effective solution that adds value. These story collections offer multiple books in one package. The Berenstain Bears bind-ups from Zonderkidz include five 8-by-8inch titles for $10.99 retail, whereas the individual price is $3.99 each. Activity and sticker books such as My Very First Noah and the Ark Sticker Book from Kregel Publications continue to line store shelves. “The fun art and affordable prices have made these a popular option for parents shopping at Christian bookstores,” said Noelle Pedersen, Kregel’s manager of trade and children’s lines. Even as Christian publishers add special features, the main focus continues to be on the story and message of each book.

Schaefer cites Ideals’ new sticker and activity book format, in which the Christmas, Easter and other Bible stories are told. “The activities add a layer of interest for kids, but the underlying story and illustrations can be returned to again and again,” she said.

RECOGNIZABLE NAMES Publishers often look to authors with proven track records to create new titles. Several such authors have crossed store aisles into the kids’ department as well. “For the last couple of years, bestselling authors of adult titles have been dropping into the kid space,” said Simon, who not only tracks trends in society,

Barbour Publishing education and product development that impact children, but also identifies related implications and applications. “Consumers tend to gravitate to the authors or brands they are familiar with,” Bourland said. “From there, they will venture to new things. Being able to draw a consumer in with a recognizable name is one step to discoverability.” In October, AMG Publishers, which provides a number of fantasy series for readers ages 8-12 and 13-17, participates in this trend with the release of The Gifted, the first installment in the “Daegmon War” series by Matthew Dickerson. B&H Kids is once again partnering with author Angie Smith and illustrator Breezy Brookshire, who created the bestselling picture book Audrey Bunny, for a Bible storybook. For Such a Time as This tells the stories of 40 women of the Bible with period-authentic illustrations, and will be available in October. Publishers also are releasing youth editions of best-selling titles. Here, the same

author or a different one might write the children’s version. Barbour Publishing’s 2-million-copy-selling handbook Know Your Bible by Paul Kent has been extended with three kids’ products by Donna K. Maltese. These resources help readers ages 5-8 understand the Bible with age-appropriate text and colorful illustrations. The third, Know Your Bible for Kids: What Is That?, releases in July.

EXTENDED REACH Brand recognition can further span categories through partnerships. A brand with a strong following can be licensed for products for additional audiences, extending its reach and life.

Ideals Publications “Big revenue comes from licensing, so licenses are dominant,” Simon said. “Of course, the benefit of licenses is that multiple categories benefit from crossformat awareness. … Any advertising or media mention of one product is a brand reminder for consumers and retailers. This cross-pollination reaches children and the adults who make purchase decisions.” The folks at Duck Commander have taken to licensing as a duck to water with agreements galore in the Christian products industry. The dynasty dips into middle-grade fiction with a series releasing in October from Tyndale. Written by Willie and Korie’s son, John Luke Robertson (with Travis Thrasher), each book takes readers into the zaniness and life lessons of Duck Commander and allows readers to choose how the story develops. In each book is a note from John Luke “highlighting the theme of the book and making it applicable to today’s youth and choices they have to make,” said Patton, who

c h r i s t i anretailing.c om / / / M AY- J U N E 2 0 14 / / /

expects adult fans of A&E’s Duck Dynasty will enjoy the books too. The Beginner’s Bible is a longstanding Zonderkidz brand that the HarperCollins Christian Publishing team has licensed for products such as sticker books, puzzles, figurines and ornaments. In partnership with Crayola, DaySpring used the Color Wonder technology to create The Beginner’s Bible Color Wonder Coloring Pad and many other products.

RELEVANT CONTENT In fiction and nonfiction, young readers want subject matter they can relate to—topics, stories and characters that accurately reflect their daily lives. And parents want content that aligns with their values for their kids. B&H Kids aims to include content in all of its books that appeals to children and parents. “Our books are each based on a teaching from the Bible and include a Bible verse,” said Rachel Shaver, marketing strategist

Living Ink Books at B&H Kids. “A Parent Connection is also available for each of our children’s books.” The Parent Connection gives parents ways to connect with their kids and to dig deeper into the gospel together. This fall, B&H Kids will release Catie Conrad by Angie Spady as part of the “Desperate Diva Diaries” series, which provides “a healthy alternate for middle-reader fiction that parents can trust and not worry about the content being inappropriate inside,” Shaver said. Spady “has a heart for teaching girls not to get caught up in culture, but to look to Christ for a healthy perspective to life,” Shaver added. Thomas Nelson “is dedicated to researching trends among children and families and creating products that will reach them where they are and meet needs in their lives,” said MacKenzie Howard, acquisitions editor of children’s and gift books. The marketing team engages moms through the Tommy Nelson mommy blogger program and social networking to stay

informed of market needs. Likewise, Barbour Publishing seeks to connect with kids on their own turf. “We aim for each product to reach kids with the gospel message while touching on topics that matter most to them—and if our kids’ products can entertain along the way, even better!” said Kelly McIntosh, vice president of editorial. McIntosh refers to the practice among girls ages 10-14 of keeping diaries as a way to explore what is important to them. Barbour’s upcoming addition to the God Hearts Me” line, God Hearts Me: My Secret Diary (July), is a contemporary alternative to the traditional diary format, giving girls space for writing, sketching and doodling. One serious concern many children face is bullying. “The perennial social politics of middle school and junior high have shifted to a deeper level with sometimes tragic consequences,” Simon observed. Christian publishers are eager to address bullying and exclusion from a biblical

Thomas Nelson perspective. Best-selling children’s author Nancy Rue tackles the topic in the first book of her “Mean Girl Makeover” series, So Not Okay (Thomas Nelson). Rue handles the subject “with both grace and humor without making light of what is a very serious situation,” Howard said. Runt is a character who faces bullying in Daniel Schwabauer’s “Legend of Tira-Nor” series for middle readers. One theme in the second book, Runt the Hunted (Living Ink/AMG Publishers, April), is the pecking order among children, which can be a type of bullying. Dale Anderson, vice president and publisher at AMG, said the Runt books address issues middle-graders might not normally talk about and give parents opportunities to encourage their kids to talk about what’s going on at school. For the picture-book crowd, Tyndale House Publishers handles the topic in My Princesses Learn to Be Brave, part of the “My Princess” series. Releasing in September, the story by Stephanie Rische tells of

two girls who face a bully at the slide and use a Bible lesson to figure out how to respond. An emerging value among parents, which Simon identified, is that of co-play and bonding with extended family. “We’ve moved beyond the smaller nuclear grouping to include others in the ‘momtourage’: aunts and uncles, neighbors, friends who are like family, etc.,” she said. “At Toy Fair in New York City [in February], companies consistently positioned themselves as family companies, instead of children’s companies.” Herring observes this value in his store. “We sell a lot of interactive devotionals like Ergermeier’s Fun Family Devotions [Warner Press, 2013],” he said. “Devotionals work well when the whole family can work together.” Reader comments on Amazon related to Annie Tipton’s “Diary of a Real Payne” series (Barbour) for 8- to 12-year-olds reflect this value. A substantial number of commenters indicate the whole family reads these books aloud together. The last install-

Tyndale House ment, Diary of a Real Payne—Oh Baby!, releases in September. For many middle grade and young adult readers, not all relevancy will come from the books, but from interacting with the books’ authors. Anderson reported that the books that do the best for AMG are by authors “who get out and embrace social media and market and communicate with readers.”

SOCIAL CURRENCY Simon refers to information as “social currency” for children and moms. For buyers, knowledge is also empowering and fosters the retailer-consumer relationship. “When we close the gap between presenting product and showing consumers how to use the product, that adds another type of value,” Simon said. “For example, every single retailer can offer practical tips on their website of ‘How to choose a children’s Bible.’ Every single publisher can provide retailers with video loops to run in-store and online that show a parent what to look for in toy and game packaging.”


Retailers who work at informing buyers set themselves apart from competition. Online connections can draw buyers into the store where face-to-face assistance, coupled with informative product labeling and instore aids could keep them returning. One way publishers could provide buyers with information is by utilizing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS, that had been adopted by 44 states at press time. The politically charged initiative is one that divides publishers and retailers alike. As an early-childhood educator, Simon has worked with the standards and is eager to establish the facts. “CCSS are milestones in English language arts and math that a child should reach, beginning with kindergarten,” she said. “The goal is to make sure all students have the basic skills to succeed in life.” Simon expects Common Core to stimulate the production of more nonfiction material, particularly in higher grades. “Because nonfiction reading is emphasized in the standards, CBA publishers have an opportunity to expand reach into the education marketplace, if they so choose,” she said. In Texas, Flores’ customers are showing an increased interest in educational products on topics like history and science. Even Christian publishers not in the educational market can apply the standards in ways that help consumers. Zonderkidz indicates on back covers and in catalogs where books align with standards and publishes a quarterly Common Core Newsletter. “Our goal in providing resources that align with [CCSS] is simply about engagement and offering those who support the standards alternative materials,” Bourland said. “We want Christian products to be in the mix when gatekeepers are looking for resources. … These titles are very much in line with our company mission, so whether people support the standards or not, our titles are great resources.” Most publishers appear to be neutral so far, mainly because they simply don’t know yet how best to respond. McIntosh expects CCSS to be “a point of discussion in the coming months” at Barbour Publishing. At Ideals, Schaefer reported “ongoing discussions around Common Core, but we haven’t really integrated it into our publishing program yet.” Patton said the team at Tyndale is actively “looking for the best ways to communicate this information to parents, teachers and librarians.” Back at the store, Herring said CCSS is not yet an issue. He’s aware of the standards, but not hearing his customers discuss them. He added that Common Core might be more of a factor in homeschooling supplies. “We aren’t into politics,” Bourland said. “We simply want to provide resources, in any manner, that further the kingdom of God.”

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Faith heads to Hollywood

Christian films dominate box office as retailers assess DVD sales potential BY DeWAYNE HAMBY


he year 2014 will be remembered as a year when faith hit mainstream movie screens in a big way, thanks to the success of Christianproduced releases such as Son of God, God’s Not Dead, Heaven Is for Real, Mom’s Night Out and Hollywood offerings such as Noah and Exodus. Several of the films, including LightWorkers Media’s Son of God and Pure Flix Entertainment’s God’s Not Dead, sur-

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prised Hollywood insiders in spring, rising above expectations and making three to five times their reported production costs. In September, The Song will join their ranks as an independent romantic drama based on Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon. The film will be the first theatrical release from Louisville-based City on a Hill Productions, which until now has focused on small group video resources such as the first-quarter release Acts of God, which probed the ultimate question of pain and suffering and featured pastor and speaker Bob Russell. The Song is a musical drama based on the life of Solomon. Regardless of the story or format, company leaders say every release starts with a message. “Kyle Idleman (Gods at War, Not a Fan) is a part of our team, and when we were talking about the next project, he really wanted to delve into Ecclesiastes,” said Marc Harper, who runs the company’s theatrical and church engagement division. “It’s an important message for our days, finding fulfillment and not denying any pleasure. As the script and the movie idea unfolded, Richard Ramsey, the

writer, he considers [the question], ‘What if Solomon was a famous musician following in footsteps of his father?’ ” With a theme of multigenerational musicians, the casting for the film presented another question for the producers. “We thought, ‘Do we get actors who we can portray as musicians or do we get musicians who can act?’ ” Harper said. They settled on the latter, casting Alan Powell, lead singer of the band Anthem Lights, as the lead actor. Powell stars as Jedediah “Jed” King, a

City on a Hill

young musician struggling to get out of the shadow of his famous father, David King (Aaron Benward). When Jed accepts a humble gig at a local winery, he meets Rose (Ali Faulkner), and the two immediately fall in love. Idleman also makes a special appearance in the film, which, in turn, will tie into a small group study being released by City on a Hill in August. “This was the first time City on a Hill developed a resource as a feature film first,” Harper said. “We made a feature film called Acts of God and did a small group study around that, but we really didn’t feel it was a film we wanted to take to theaters.” Along with a soundtrack of 10 original Americana songs inspired by the biblical story, The Song uses creative imagery and Scripture narration to chronicle the love story, although Harper said it’s designed for a “broader audience.” “Some of the films that have come out lately, which are great, they’re more for the church audience,” he said. “The church crowd goes and buys a ticket and is pumped up in their faith. This [new film] will appeal to those who might not go to

church or those other movies.” To promote The Song, the company is leading a theatrical tour to introduce it to viewers, meeting with key pastors around the country. “The feedback we’re getting a lot is this is a different type of faith-based film as far as artistic excellence and broad appeal to audience,” Harper said. The early release of the small group study also will help build awareness before it hits theaters. The grass-roots strategy works better for a film with a limited ad-

LightWorkers Media

vertising budget. “It’s a longer strategy. It takes more phone calls. Some of these movies come out with huge budgets, but we have to take a little more time to help the church understand (what we’re doing),” Harper said.

CHURCH RESOURCES City on a Hill’s strong church connection has been evident since its inception, as Shane Sooter, artistic director and president, began creating films for Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Ky. “The first project City on a Hill did was called H2O,” said Tim Byron, general manager. “It was basically ‘Evangelism 101,’ a tool designed for folks to invite your neighbors in, family members, folks you would love to talk about your faith, invite them into your home and talk about the video. Those videos were like independent films asking questions such as who Jesus is, why that’s important and why you should care.” The first few City on a Hill products, including H20 and follow-up The Easter Experience, were distributed by Standard Publishing and Thomas Nelson. After

those releases, the company wanted more control in the process, culminating in its decision to begin self-distributing titles around five years ago. The first such project was Idleman’s Not a Fan. “Kyle had preached the message to Southeast Christian Church, which was a good test audience,” Byron said. “It was well-received, so we began to think, ‘That might be something we take a look at.’ We developed the modern-day story of a fan and not being a follower after he gives his life to Christ, how that impacts him, obviously, and family and friends.” Byron said the minds behind City on a Hill are “basically storytellers, and we use media and video to do that.” The company’s desire to resource the church created the new genre of video-based small group curriculum, which continues even through The Song. “We’re not a studio hoping to become a big studio,” Harper said. “Our mission to equip the church and to equip them with great stories and touch people’s hearts and convey biblical truth. I think it’s one of the differences that we engineer the Bible study materials with the movie. It’s all thinking with the church in mind.” Byron agreed, adding: “The key product in our portfolio is small group study. Movies are great and entertaining and have a great message, but a lot of times, people see a great film and they move on. All of our products are built around a message.” While some faith-based films eventually will have curriculum to support their release, City on a Hill’s releases are built first with curriculum in mind, because, as Harper believes, a community study will help extend the message. “It’s people in community, spending six to eight weeks together, using a devotional or journal, talking about the subject with others,” he said. “That’s where God can change hearts.”

CHRISTIAN RETAIL While church-going audiences who frequent Christian retail stores may or may not necessarily be the target audience for faith-based content arriving in theaters and home video, the popularity of such titles is creating an opportunity for stores to expand their customer bases. In July, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s epic Son of God will arrive in stores, attracting many of the same fans of the couple’s The Bible television miniseries that proved to be a Christian retail success. Having grossed nearly $60 million at the box office, the film had FILM, page 42

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  F I L M , FROM 40 strong grass-roots promotion, thanks to a music tour featuring artists Francesca Battistelli, Chris August, Sidewalk Prophets and Meredith Andrews. Playing mainly in churches, the tour created awareness for the film for the Christian retail customer base. “There’s a shift happening. God is moving,” said Burnett of the explosion of faithbased films. Burnett will spearhead the NBC miniseries A.D., and he and Downey will produce a forthcoming remake of Ben Hur. Before The Song hits theaters in Sep-

Provident Films

tember, a small group study based on the film and centering on love and marriage will arrive in stores in August. The study will be divided into six 15-minute segments. A participant’s guide and couple’s devotional tying into the film also will be available. “We want to engage the trade,” Byron said. “These products weren’t an afterthought to the film. These products are really the key products that we want people to connect with. The film will be engaging. We’re all about these resources and engaging with their customers. These resources will be a great addition, and hopefully, that will drive traffic to their stores. That’s an important message for the retailers.” With titles such as The Lost Medallion and The Road to Emmaus, Bridgestone Media Group also is making an impact in Christian retail. Formed in the 1990s, the company consistently releases faith-based family movies. This summer, Bridgestone will release Light of Freedom; New: The Movie; and Sybil Ludington: The Female Paul Revere. Inspired by actual events, Light of Freedom stars Jade Metcaff and Maxwell Charles Dean, and is a historical drama centering on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. New: The Movie features children staging an arts festival and includes singing and dancing while one of the characters struggles with a difficult choice of seeking fame in Los Angeles.

Fall and winter releases from Bridgstone include Name in Vain—The Ten Series, My Mother’s Future Husband, Christmas for a Dollar and God Came Near, a Max Lucado Advent series. David Austin, Bridgestone executive vice president, said that although the content of faith-based entertainment is getting better and more titles are releasing, the retail category seems to be “flat” right now, even as theatrical releases exceed expectations. “We really started seeing significant growth in the category seven or eight years

Pure Flix Entertainment

ago when it started exploding,” he told Christian Retailing. “Myron [Deitweiler, director of sales and marketing] and I worked for Family Christian Stores. We were on the other side of the table then. It went back to the days when Word was doing a lot of small theatrical releases and the advent of Sherwood films. That’s where we saw triple-digit increases for a number of years. In the past year, retail has flattened out a bit to some degree after five years of year-over-year growth. There’s probably more product coming to stores than ever before. The number of units per title has decreased and you have the same-size pie.” Deitweiler sees another loss factor in the pressure to offer pricing competitive with big box stores. “You’re still getting the volume, but the pricing point is accounting for some loss,” he said. “I think it’s a little bit of the transition of the customer expecting great deals.” “Certainly the consumer has been trained, with films and music,” Austin added. “The going price for entertainment product means that they expect to find films for under $10. The successful movement movers are using value bins. You can buy at $5 and a pretty good one for $5.” Bridgestone’s philosophy states that the company “is dedicated to inspiring, educating, enlightening and entertaining families and children through the production and distribution of high-quality,

faith-based entertainment products.” For Austin, helping the company fulfill that mission is an “exciting” career choice that was always in his heart. “While I was at Family and doing marketing, I was drawn more to music and film,” he said. “That was what ticked my box, so to speak. When the opportunity came to do it full time, that was exciting for me.” Building on that passion, he also believes the Bridgestone mission of impacting culture in a positive way is a crucial component of his work.

Sony Pictures Entertainment

“This (media) is where our generations are going, where our generations are responding,” Austin said. “The negative influencers are trying to reach them through media. We need to be good at producing first-class productions, entertainment and wholesome, not some cheap or dumbed-down version of it, but worldclass entertainment that someone could feel great about and feel uplifted about. A mom can show her family [a film] on Friday night and not be embarrassed.” What does the popularity of streaming and on-demand mean for the future of movies in Christian retail? Some movies, such as The Lost Medallion and some Pure Flix films, are hitting Netflix and are available on demand. At some point, Austin believes, digital sales will outpace hard-good sales. “Some people think it will happen in next couple of years, and some people think the next five years down the road,” he said.

FAITH CONTENT Deitweiler sees the popularity of faithbased content on the big screen as a plus to curious moviegoers who may venture into Christian stores to find similar offerings. “I think it’s a great thing,” he said. “Customers may be out looking for the Christian resources in the places they normally shop. Then they start discussing it with other people, and it increases their chances of finding out about Christian retail

where there’s a variety of entertainment options for their families. The opportunity does increase if they get exposed to that.” Harper likens the “epic,” current slate of faith-based entertainment to the late 1950s and such classics as The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur. “I think the content has gotten a lot better,” he said. “The way faith has been portrayed in a movie has grown leaps and bounds. The money people are willing to spend on it is increasing. They have been inspired by movies like the Passion and Fireproof.” Byron is pleased to see so many faithbased films releasing. “It’s exciting to see other Christians getting into the game and creating real, quality media—story films that have a message in them that connects people with God’s Word,” he said. “God’s Word won’t return void. So that’s the space we’re in, we hope more folks will engage in this form of media.” One might ask, however, if there is room for movies such as Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. “I think that some people say it should just be Christians producing films,” Harper said. “Others say it needs to come from Hollywood. I think Hollywood will learn its lessons from movies like Noah. They’ll realize there’s a big audience where faith is important to people. I think storytelling will get better on both sides. Hollywood does a better job with characters and dialogue that’s authentic.” Austin said he believes Hollywood’s faith-based ventures make the cineplex a better place. “I would much prefer there be 20 Noahs than 20 more ‘slasher’ movies,” he said. “With Noah, if nothing else, it causes a viewer to dive into God’s Word and find out what it really says. It creates good discussion around God’s Word. While Noah had its shortcomings for believers, there was more good than bad.” City on a Hill also is investing in future generations of filmmakers, hoping to ensure the quality of faith-based entertainment continues on trend. The company is developing and testing an iPad-based high school curriculum called CityU, which guides students through everything from script development to production and post-production. “We hope to have a finished product in the next couple of years to release to high schools across the country,” Byron said. “It’s all about creating more filmmakers for Christ. Let’s just take over that space. We’re educating the next generation. That is something that God has really put in our heart.” Along with that effort, the company hopes to help introduce film clubs in schools, following the model of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Curriculum will be a key part of the groups, which Byron hopes will appeal to public school students as well as those in private education.


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Authors share heavenly hope

Beyond-this-life testimonies assure believers of a sweet bye and bye BY ANN BYLE


on Piper, author of the best-seller 90 Minutes in Heaven, sums up the allure of books about heaven in one word: hope. “People want hope for a better place some day, and hope for a better life along the way to that place,” Piper said. “Heaven books are about hope. Can you go there? Yes. Can you have a better life on the way there? Yes.” The Revell-published 90 Minutes was released in 2004 with a first printing of 7,500 copies. Until that time there hadn’t been much interest in heaven stories, but as word spread about Piper’s experience, a new publishing category was born. Today more than 6 million copies of the book have sold, and parent Baker Publishing Group will release a 10th-anniversary edition, which includes a personal update from the author; accounts from readers about how Piper’s story affected their lives; and an eight-page photo spread. “Our heaven books have all amazed us,” said Revell Editor Vicki Crumpton, who acquired and edited Piper’s book as well as My Journey to Heaven: What I Saw and How It Changed My Life by Marvin J. Besteman and Lorilee Craker. “We see the sales numbers, but the authors hear from their readers, and we love when they share those stories with us. We had such a modest forecast for 90 Minutes. We still laugh about that.” Revell also found success with Touching Heaven: Real Stories of Children, Life and Eternity by Leanne Hadley (2013) and Glimpses of Heaven: True Stories of Hope & Peace at the End of Life’s Journey by Trudy Harris R.N. (2008) and the subsequent More Glimpses of Heaven (2010). BROAD APPEAL Inspirational stories about heaven are popular among Christian and general market publishers. Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back (Thomas Nelson) by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent has sold over 8 million copies and is an impetus for the new feature film from Sony Pictures released Easter weekend and starring Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilley and Connor Corum. “The movie has been very well-received so far and the positive results at the box office have been matched with equally positive comments in the exit interview,” said Matt Baugher, senior vice president and publisher of W Publishing Group. “The original book continues to sell extremely well, and it has increased considerably since the announcement of the movie. The same could be said for the movie tie-in edition as well as the other ancillary books in the marketplace.” The film edition of the book includes art from the movie, a new introduction and epilogue. “Any book that causes this much conversation on such an important topic is something that we want to be involved in, and we have been honored to join with all

of our retail partners in sharing this story,” Baugher added. Gift supplier Kerusso offers two new Tshirt designs to go with the original Heaven Is for Real-themed T-shirt as well as new wristbands in the signature yellow of the original book cover. Perhaps to capitalize on the interest in heaven, Barbour Publishing offered its 2013 release Heaven Here and Now: True Stories of God’s Kingdom Here on Earth by David McLaughlin for $1.99 instead of the usual $12.99 as an extended promotion via the Barbour website. Other publishers have made good on the heaven-book phenomenon with titles such as To Heaven and Back: A Doctor’s Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again: A True Story by Mary C. Neal (WaterBrook Press, 2013); Heaven Is Beyond Your Wildest Expectations: Ten True Stories of Experiencing Heaven by Sid Roth (Destiny Image, 2012); Waking Up in Heaven: A True Story of Brokenness, Heaven, and Life Again by Crystal McVea (Howard Books, 2013); and What Happens After I Die? by Michael Allen Rogers (Crossway, 2013). Others include Opening the Gates of Heaven: Walk in the Favor of Answered

Prayer and Blessing by Perry Stone (Charisma House, 2012). Charisma House also released Birthing the Miraculous: The Power of Personal Encounters With God to Change Your Life and the World by Heidi Baker in January this year. Another early 2014 release is Dead 13 Times: Learning to Live After Dying by Cam Tribolet (Whitaker House). Charisma House releases The Day I Died: My Breathtaking Trip to Heaven and Back by Freddy Vest, a rodeo rider, in June. “We’ve seen a consistent demand in the trade for books on the afterlife,” said Woodley Auguste, vice president of marketing for Charisma House Book Group, which also published Choo Thomas’ Heaven Is So Real, which has sold a half-million copies. While Charisma House isn’t actively looking for books on heaven experiences, they take a good look at what comes through on the topic. “People have always been fascinated by what’s in the future. We can look at Scripture, but we still have questions because no one has seen heaven,” Auguste said. “We hope these books point readers to a deeper relationship with Christ, and/or to receive the gospel.” General trade publishers have got in on the action as well. Eben Alexander, who had long debunked heaven encounters, had one of his own that he recounts in Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey Into the Afterlife (Simon & Schuster, 2012). HarperOne published Saved by the Light: The True Story of a Man Who Died Twice and the Profound Revelations He Received by Dannion Brinkley with Paul Perry (2008, reprint edition), and Bantam has published Raymond Moody’s book on heaven and heaven experiences as mass market paperback (The Light Beyond, 1989). Christian bookstores are seeing ongoing interest in heaven books, with 90 Minutes in Heaven and Heaven Is for Real leading the way in inspirational stories, and Heaven by Randy Alcorn popular as well. “There is very much renewed interest in Heaven Is for Real with the movie coming out,” said Carl Peterson, owner of Lighthouse Book & Bible in Hillsboro, Ore. “Customers are looking for peoples’ experiences more than the theological books, but when they ask for something beyond the experiences, I give them Alcorn’s Heaven.” Peterson admits his fascination with the topic because he had his own heaven experience. He said he was dead for four hours in the hospital during which he went

to what seemed like an island paradise. Although his experience was different to some stories, he’s happy to sell the popular heaven books, also citing reader interest in My Time in Heaven by Sigmund Richard (Whitaker House, 2009) and Heaven Is So Real (Charisma House, 2006). Kelly McCoy, owner of Enid Christian Bookstore in Enid, Okla., cites a similar interest among readers in Piper, Burpo and Alcorn’s books, noting renewed interest in Heaven Is for Real because of the upcoming movie. McCoy said the store sells a couple hundred heaven books a year. “I’m seeing a definite interest in spiritual things. Sales in Christian fiction are not near what they used to be, but Christian Living is doing well,” said McCoy. “It’s a sign of the times that people are paying more attention to spiritual things, and heaven books go along with that.”

BELIEVERS’ ASSURANCE The trend continues with new books in the offing. Chosen Books is releasing in June Face to Face With Jesus: A Former Muslim’s Extraordinary Journey to Heaven and Encounter With the God of Love by Samaa Habib with Bodie Thoene. Samaa Habib is a pen name for the author’s protection. She met Thoene at a Youth With a Mission conference, and together they began working on her story. “The author became a Christian when she saw Jesus as a teenager, and she and her sister became the only believers in a Muslim family,” said Jane Campbell, editorial director of Chosen. “Later, Samaa was located almost right next to where a bomb had been planted in a town in the Middle East. She flew through the air, slammed into a wall and was gone. Her sister, uninjured in the blast, prayed fervently until Samaa came back. She had seen Jesus in heaven before coming back to Earth.” Campbell sees five reasons that these inspirational stories have such strong appeal. First, the books meet a felt need. People need to know that heaven is real, and these accounts assure them of that. Second, these kinds of books offer assurance for those who belong to Jesus that heaven is truly a place. Even Christians, said Campbell, are afraid of death or just want to read about where they’ll go, especially if facing imminent death. Campbell pointed out that I-sawheaven books also help those who aren’t yet Christians. “Such books help people who don’t BOOKS, page 46


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Bethany House

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know Jesus to realize the future impact of the choices they make now,” she said. “There really is life after death.” Another reason heaven books are so popular is that they show the Bible is true; readers discover truths in the books that they also read about in Scripture. And finally, according to Campbell, these books show readers that when this world gets crazy, there is order and peace and joy on another level. “People are so desperate to know what comes next,” she said. “We’re providing biblical answers from peoples’ experiences that coincide with what the Bible teaches about heaven and the afterlife, as well as communicating with believers and nonbelievers looking for answers.” Campbell is quick to point out that the house has been publishing heaven books all along. Chosen published Betty Malz’ My Glimpse of Eternity in 1977, with the book reissued in 1983, 2009 and 2013. More than 750,000 copies of the book have been sold though the years. “Now there is a growing interest in heaven and the afterlife. People want to know what’s coming next,” Campbell said. “We are spirit beings, so it’s natural to wonder and want to be assured that something good is going to happen.” Baugher of W Publishing Group said that while his company had high aspirations for Heaven Is for Real, they didn’t expect the huge sales the book generated. “It was always about one specific thing, and that was this family’s story,” he said. “Above all else, they have simply told their story exactly as it happened to them. It was a testimony in its purest form, from the mouth of a 4-year-old boy. The mysteries of the faith only get more mysterious when experienced firsthand, and those times seem to have one purpose: to lead us all closer to Jesus Christ.”



Thomas Nelson

While inspirational stories about heaven surely offer readers the hope Piper speaks of, books with a more theological or doctrinal bent provide readers with answers to their questions about heaven, Bethany House Senior Editor Andy McGuire said. “More and more people are looking for answers to their questions rather than the supernatural stories and stories that fill people with wonder,” he observed. “There is always a need for books that answer basic questions about basic topics, and heaven is one of those topics.” Bethany House released Between Heaven and Earth: Understanding Eternity and Why It Matters Today by Scott Berger in March and will release 50 Things You Need to Know About Heaven by John Hart in June. Berger’s Between Heaven and Earth was motivated by Berger’s research on heaven after his teenaged son was killed in a car accident. He began exploring heaven “and it changed how he preach-

es, how he counsels,” McGuire said. “It changed his perspective, and he wanted to share that.” More than half of the book focuses on what the Bible says about heaven, with the remaining chapters about how such knowledge will change a reader’s life when it comes to worship, prayer, evangelism and everyday life. “Berger says that the more you’re thinking about heaven and have a heavenly perspective, the more it wants to make you change the world,” McGuire said. He describes 50 Things You Should Know About Heaven as a book for those who have questions about heaven, but who don’t where they can begin to find answers. The Q&A set-up of the book is perfect—at $9.99 and 128 pages—as an impulse buy for those who may not be immersed in the Scriptures. “We have a lot of success with slim, easy-to-read volumes on basic topics like prayer, and we hope this book ends up on racks at grocery stores and airports, though it will certainly be at Christian bookstores too,” McGuire said. McGuire points to the ongoing success of Everything the Bible Says About Heaven, released in 2011 and is still in print, which compiles all the scriptural references to heaven and offers short explanations of each. Newer books mirror popular older titles such as Randy Alcorn’s Heaven (Tyndale, 2004) and its ancillary products that include books for children, gift books, study guides and teaching materials. Billy Graham’s gift-edition The Heaven Answer Book (Thomas Nelson, 2012) and John MacArthur’s The Glory of Heaven (Crossway, 1998 and 2013) put well-known and -loved names onto books on the topic, with last year’s reissue of MacArthur’s title an indication of their popularity. Crossway is releasing Heaven as part of its “Theology in Community” series in November of this year. Editors Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson have gathered evangelical scholars to explore the doctrine of heaven from a number of angles, including heaven in the Old and New Testaments, and the history of theological reflection on heaven. Publishers say they that while they aren’t actively looking for books about heaven or supernatural encounters in heaven, the right story with the right tone will always prompt interest. “People are so desperate to know what comes next, so we are providing biblical answers combining peoples’ experiences with what the Bible teaches about heaven and the afterlife,” said Chosen’s Campbell. “We want to communicate with believers and nonbelievers looking for answers.” Revell’s Crumpton agrees: “I think we all want to know what happens when we die. Even Christians who say ‘we know’ still wonder and find comfort and hope either for themselves facing death or when they’ve lost loved ones.”

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Keeping tradition, finding their future

New pope, new media draws fresh attention to products for Catholic customers BY NATALIE GILLESPIE


fter a year of big changes for the Roman church, Catholic retailers hope the positive media attention and popularity of the new pope will translate into sales. Pope Francis was inaugurated in March 2013; former popes John Paul II and John XXIII were canonized in April, and media outlets are reporting that lapsed Catholics have begun asking themselves if it is time to return to the church. The changes are galvanizing sales of some Catholic products, but will it drive enough customers to buy at brick-and-mortar stores? “The church is alive and well, faith is alive and well, but it’s tough to have a Catholic store,” said Bob Balk, owner of the 10-year-old St. George Catholic Books and Gifts in Blaine, Minn. “Costs are up; margins are down. The first eight years, we were up 20-30% every year. The last two years, sales have been flat, and it looks like they’ll be flat this year.” Cindi McNiff shopped at Ave Maria Catholic Gifts in Brandon, Fla., for more than 10 years before she started working there as a sales associate a decade ago. She has seen sales slow in the last few years. “It is very difficult, I think, mostly because people can go online,” McNiff said. “They no longer want to be able to touch and see items before they buy.” Catholic retailers agree that the downturn in the economy, the rise of Internet sales and the fact that publishers are selling direct to consumers equal a triple whammy. Sarah Ryan and Teresita Calderon opened three Advent Shop stores in New York in the past nine years. While they plan to keep the stores open, Ryan says it takes a lot of work and creative effort to give customers a reason to shop in-store. “We have to work a lot harder to give customers more reason to come in,” Ryan said. “It’s not enough to have good product; they can get product anywhere. We have to make our stores more of a place where they want to connect.” Connection points occur throughout the year, as Catholic sales tend to be cyclical. Baby gifts remain perennial sellers, as are crosses and wall art. “Demand for products, in our case, Bibles, is tied directly to liturgical and sacramental occasions,” said Mark Brosz of Fireside Catholic Publishing. “Lent is a season of renewal with many more Catholics attending church, but also most confirmations occur in the spring. With a larger number of people active in their faith, they tend to get interested in products that address personal study and growth. Confirmation, being a sacramental occasion, is

De Montfort Music traditionally a time for gift-giving. Both of these trigger needs for all types of gifts, particularly traditional gifts such as Bibles, crucifixes and rosaries.  “Weddings are not performed during the Lenten season, so after Lent and Easter, we see the beginning of the wedding season,” he added. “As another sacramental event, weddings are an important gift-giving occasion. A traditional gift purchased as a wedding gift is a family Bible. Over the summer and into fall, Catholic schools purchase Bibles for religion classes and churches purchase Bibles for confirmation classes, youth groups and Bible study. Advent and Christmas trigger another gift-giving season.” Catholic Bibles remain perennial sellers, with Fireside Catholic Wedding Bible expected to move well this season. But as book sales have gone online to a greater degree, Catholic stores have shifted their inventory to rely more on gift sales. “We’ve noticed that Catholic stores are moving about 10 points in their product mix toward gifts and art, and that’s easy in the Catholic world to do because there are so many lines,” said Alan Napleton, president of the Catholic Marketing Network. “Plus, that 10% move came rather quickly.” “Catholic stores right now do seem to be trending towards gifts, including the more traditional rosaries, and we have a very popular line of pillowcases,” said Michelle Sylvestro, vice president of sales at Catholic Word, a publisher and marketing group for more than 30 companies. “I think a lot of people go into Catholic stores for a gift because they are unsure about what would be an appropriate gift for first communion or confirmation. It seems to be the trend in Catholic stores that they are not selling as many books; they are selling more rosaries.”

Loyola Press


“Catholic retailing is not a field of dreams, that ‘if you build it, they will come,’ ” said Chris Weickert, outgoing director of the Catholic Retailers Association and owner of Weickert owned a physical store in Rockford, Ill., for years before selling it in 2013 in order to concentrate on his online business. “Retailers today have to work hard to be visible to their customers,” he said. “Consider over the last five years the change in face time given over to looking at cell phones, Facebook and other electronic tools. If a store is not present in those areas, it will lose that attention.” But, Weickert said, it’s challenging for a store to be all things to all people. Trying to run a physical retail location, maintain a vibrant social-media presence and fill orders placed on an online site can each be full-time jobs. That has shifted the Catholic store landscape. “My read of the Catholic market is that it may be stable in its size and reach, but changing in its composition,” he said. “Online sales and publishers direct-toconsumer marketing are shifting a meaningful percentage of consumer sales out of local stores. Five years ago, few publishers offered direct-to-consumer websites or made direct-to-parish sales except in curriculum products. Today, virtually all have websites where consumers can buy direct, often at discounts.”

PAPAL POPULARITY One bright spot for Catholic retailers is the new pope and the positive press he is receiving. Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope, the first pope from the Americas, the first pope to take ‘selfies’ with his adoring fans and the first pope ever to take the name

Francis (after Saint Francis of Assisi). In his first year as head of the Roman church, the media marveled as he lived humbly. Now, prayer cards bearing his image, books written by the him, rosaries with his image as a centerpiece and the Pope Francis papal cross are giving retailers a boost. “Each pope designs his own style of cross, and Pope Francis’ cross is very popular,” McNiff said. “We go directly to companies in Italy for these items, and we look for different types of items, anything that is sanctioned by the Vatican with the papal seal.” Rather than pointing to one or two favorite wholesale companies, retailers stress the importance of researching wholesalers on the Internet and traveling to Italy to buy direct to offer a unique product mix. “Products related to first communion and confirmation are the areas where we are also seeing interest, especially products that bring faith to young people in a way they can connect,” Weickert said. “For example, some of the more contemporary jewelry designs by McVan Inc. and the newer covers on the Bibles from Catholic Book Publishing. The ‘have it my way’ attitude in our culture seems to be driving personalization of items as a growing consumer interest.” McVan manufactures and imports religious jewelry, including pearl, crystal and carved wood rosaries. The company also recently introduced a line of modern jewelry that includes leather and corded bracelets with metal crosses. “We just added some beautiful crystal rosaries to our collection,” said Debbie Lee, sales associate for McVan. “In spring, we’re heavy with communion items and RCIA [Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults] adults coming into the Catholic church C ATH O LI C, page 5 0


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  C A T H O L I C , FROM 48 at this time and making their confirmation. We do sterling crosses and Holy Spirit medals. We also have a beautiful baby line, bracelets, and we’re seeing a lot of interest in our higher-end rosaries.” De Montfort, which specializes in sacred music, publishes the famed Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, a group of young nuns living north of Kansas City. Mo. Having won major media attention, the nuns saw both of their previous recordings debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s Classical Traditional Chart. Now, Lent at Ephesus (February) had first-week sales that surpassed all of their prior sales successes. The Benedictines also have outsold artists on Traditional and Crossover Charts, including the likes of The Piano Guys and Il Divo. There also have been many books written about Pope Francis as well as by him. Retailers may want to consider stocking titles by Pope Francis such as The Church of Mercy (Loyola Press, April), the debut collection of writings from his first year as pontiff, and Lumen Fidei: The Light of Faith (Image, November 2013).

FAITH FORMATION Beyond gifts, Catholic stores help customers grow spiritually by stocking books and programs that aid in faith formation. “When it comes to religious education and sacraments, there are rules Catholic churches have to abide by to make sure that every parish is conveying the same content,” said Therese Brown, executive director of the Association of Catholic Publishers. “When you get beyond religious education, there is a lot more freedom.” Faith formation products are used by individuals, prayer groups and other gatherings that are similar to “small groups” among evangelicals. Ascension Press aims to create contemporary faith-formation programs that incorporate DVDs, workbooks and leader guides. “We just released our Chosen confirmation program, which is unlike anything we’ve ever produced in the Catholic market,” said Carolyn Klika, Ascension Press national sales director. “It goes through pre-evangelization, asking questions like ‘What is happiness?’ ‘Why does God allow suffering?’ and ‘Why am I here?’, then explains that we all have to connect personally with God. It then connects them with the church. We call it an apostolic game-changer.” Klika said a panel of priests, laypeople and youth ministers from all over the world worked on the product. Chosen for youth released in February, and the title is being released in a general faith-formation version in June for adults. The starter pack includes a DVD, student workbook and leader guide with sponsor and parent guides for youth. Ascension releases Momnipotent: The Not-So-Perfect Woman’s Guide to Catholic Motherhood by Danielle Bean in May. The book discusses eight feminine strengths to help moms feel more peace and joy. A blog component will help moms start communicating with each other as they

read the book and accompanying journal. An eight-session DVD is also available. Ascension expanded Jeff Cavins’ bestselling Bible study program The Great Adventure: A Journey Through the Bible with the April releases of the thematic DVDbased study Mary: A Biblical Walk With the Blessed Mother filmed in the Holy Land. If there are “celebrities” in Catholicism, priests Jim Martin and Bob Barron are the names to know. Baron’s ministry Word on Fire ( uses radio, TV, YouTube and other media to draw people into or back to the faith. His newest formation program, Priest, Prophet, King, releases in September as a six-session DVD study. Jesuit priest Jim Martin also employs social media and new media. He uses humor and addresses contemporary issues facing the church. His new book, Jesus: A Pilgrimage, released in March from HarperCollins Publishers.

CATHOLIC CUSTOMERS Stores who are surviving and thriving in the Catholic market tend to be proactive in reaching customers through social media, email and events. They stay in communication with parishes in their local diocese. “You have to work to stay ‘top of mind’ with your local audience,” Weickert said. “Be involved in your parish. But you also need to be visible when people are looking on the Internet. People don’t look in the phone book under ‘Religious Gifts’ anymore. They Google it. You can claim your basic listing on Google for free. If you haven’t, you are invisible. You can include pictures of your store, hours, location and even coupons.” “Stores need to get more proactive to meet with success,” Napleton said. “We’re seeing stores do more community outreach, bring in speakers and broaden their evangelization reach,” Napleton said. “They are also going out, getting outside their store and bringing products to events.” “Especially during Advent, Lent and Communion seasons, we’ll try to bring items to the church,” McNiff said. “But we also try to generate excitement with special events in the store. For example, we just had a signing with Tony Dungy and his wife.” Weickert sent a series of three letters to local priests. “We wanted them to realize who we saw ourselves to be in the community and how it intersected with them bringing people in their parish along in their faith,” he said. “After that, a few made some significant changes, like one who held up a devotional book up in the pulpit and said, ‘If you don’t have a prayer life, this is a great place to start.’ And he told them they could get it across the street at our store. That was a win-win for everybody.” Beyond connections and events, retailers say the most important thing they do is care about their customers. “I love my brick-and-mortar store because I love the hug, the touch, the kiss, the tears,” Ryan said. “In our stores we have a petition bowl, so when people come in we ask how we can pray for them. I think people still need that.”


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‘Duck Dynasty’ star recalls life lessons

Jase Robertson credits his relationship with Jesus for his ‘carefree attitude and joy for life’ in new book for life come from what Fans of the popular A&E I have found in Jesus TV show Duck Dynasty Christ,” he writes. have shown at the cash He goes to explain wrap that they’re still that his belief system voting for the Robertson “does not come from a family. This month a new religious denomination book from the secondor creed. It comes from oldest son in the Robthe Bible,” and he refers ertson family, Jase Robto Scripture often. ertson, joins the growing Throughout the book number of works others are contributions from in the family have writRobertson’s wife, Missy, ten. Howard Books adds and an abundance of to the stable of titles hunting and fishing tales. with Good Call: ReflecOn his second date with tions on Faith, Family, Missy, she helped load and Fowl, which offers TITLE: Good Call: Reflections of heavy tubs of days-old a similar blend of antics, fish heads into his truck, humor and philosophy Faith, Family, and Fowl and he had an inkling show viewers have come AUTHOR: Jase Robertson with that their relationship to expect, though Good Mark Schlabach might work. Through Call explores Robertson’s PUBLISHER: Howard Books ISBN: 9781476763538 the years, she has been faith in greater depth. tolerant of his long hours Known for his dry PRICE: $25.99 hunting and fishing and humor and competitive- RELEASE DATE: May 6 his frog cleaning in the ness, not to mention his kitchen sink, which is important given signature beard, Robertson explains what that Robertson loves frog hunting so much he considers to be some of the good calls he skipped his high school graduation for he has made in life, and he’s not referit. ring only to the duck calls he builds for Robertson also opens up about his his family’s business. Each chapter in the early childhood when his father, Phil book describes an aspect of Robertson’s Robertson, drank heavily and about the life such as his first hunt and the birth of dramatic change in his family after the his children, as well as related spiritual patriarch became a Christian. When the insights. family moved to their current home, “I hope that by reading this book you discover that my carefree attitude and joy DUCK, page 58

Brain surgeon chronicles Iraq war experiences Before the U.S. Air Force deployed neurosurgeon W. Lee Warren to the largest theater hospital of the Iraq war, he was already burdened by heartbreaking personal struggles. In No Place to Hide: A Brain Surgeon’s Long Journey Home From the Iraq War, Warren recounts his experiences operating on soldiers, civilians and terrorists alike in a tent hospital with limited supplies, surviving more than 100 mortar attacks and finding meaning amidst the ravages of war. Each day he treated numerous massive injuries, sometimes performing surgeries around the clock, whereas in his practice in the U.S., he might treat only a handful of such complex cases in a month. The job he had to do and the conditions in which he

had to survive and save lives were impossible for him to imagine before going to Iraq. In the book’s afterword, author Philip Yancey writes that Warren’s story is distinctive, offering the unique perspective of “a specialist who, devoted to healing, found himself plunked down in the vortex of destruction.” Yet, early in his deployment, despite his habit of self-sufficiency, God began to change him. “The war had taught me more about life in one week than I’d learned in thirty-five years before it,” he writes. Warren chronicled his days and sent his writings via email to what started out as a small mailing list but which grew to IRAQ, page 58

T.D. Jakes, New York Times best-selling author of more than 30 books, explains how to rediscover one’s God-inspired instinct to be fruitful and multiply in Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive ($25). Drawing from personal, historical and biblical insights, the founder and senior pastor of The Potter’s House church outlines what is needed to live one’s life successfully according to God’s design. FaithWords releases Instinct in hardcover on May 6. Kyle Froman and Billy Mauldin, leaders of Motor Racing Outreach, share lessons they’ve learned as part of the NASCAR community about being faithful to one’s personal mission in life in The Race: Living Life on Track. NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Darrell Waltrip has contributed anecdotes to the book, which give insights into his career and faith. The Race is available May 15, retailing at $15.99 in softcover from B&H Books. The 16th book from best-selling author Frank Viola releases May 1 from David C Cook. Jesus Now: Unveiling the PresentDay Ministry of Christ ($14.99, softcover) examines the impact of Jesus’ ministry throughout history and in the world today. Reflecting on Jesus’ incarnation in the new book, Viola continues the conversation he began in Jesus: A Theography, which he co-authored with Leonard Sweet. For 30 years, the foundation of Ron Phillips’ ministry at Central Baptist Church (now Abba’s House) in Chattanooga, Tenn., has been believers coming into agreement with one another and building strong relationships. Phillips and his son, Ronnie Phillips Jr, who is also a pastor at the church, describe the type of harmony and unity that brings forth God’s kingdom in The Power of Agreement: God’s Secret for Your Successful Relationships With Friends and Family and in the Workplace (Charisma House). This softcover book ($15.99) is available in stores May 6. Edgar Harrell, USMC, is one of the last survivors of the USS Indianapolis, which was struck by Japanese torpedoes in 1945 and sank in the Pacific. In Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis, Harrell tells his story, co-written with his son, David Harrell. His memoir describes the four days of dehydration, exposure and shark attacks before he was rescued against all odds. Out of the Depths (Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group) retails for $16.99 and releases in May. Based on more than seven years of research and investigative reporting, best-selling author Shaunti Feldhahn (with Tally Whitehead) asserts that what most Christians believe about the divorce rate and marital happiness is inaccurate and destructive to marriages. Feldhahn’s Multnomah Books title The Good News About Marriage: Debunking Discouraging Myths About Marriage and Divorce ($15, hardcover) presents rigorously supported facts to set the record straight and change the cultural mind-set about marriage. Written by well-known pastor and author Matt Chandler and counselor Michael Snetzer, both from The Village Church in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Recovering Redemption: A GospelSaturated Perspective on How to Change (B&H Books) focuses readers squarely on the gospel not only for salvation, but also for sanctification and as the true means of personal change. The B&H Publishing Group title is available this month in softcover for $16.99. Drew Dyck, managing editor of Leadership Journal and author, addresses the human hunger for transcendence in Yawning at Tigers (Thomas Nelson). Subtitled You Can’t Tame God, so Stop Trying, the book looks at the tendency to domesticate a holy, awe-inspiring God, but reveals that what people seek when they look for meaning in life is available by knowing and worshiping the dangerous God of Scripture. Releasing May 13, the book retails for $16.99.


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CLOSE UP Michael L. Brown Latest project:

Can You Be Gay and Christian? Responding With Love and Truth to Questions About Homosexuality (9781621365938, $16.99, FrontLine/ Charisma House). For what audience did you write Can You Be Gay and Christian?

The book is for everyone who is samesex attracted and wants to follow the Lord—or who once wanted to follow the Lord, but could not reconcile their sexual desires and romantic attractions with the Scriptures and so walked away from the faith. The book is also for all believers who have a heart to minister to the LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered] community, as well as pastors and leaders who want to be faithful to God as they stand up for what is right while reaching out with compassion—in short, as they seek to minister with grace and truth. What compelled you to write this book?

The title of this [book] represents a question of great importance to the church today. Is it possible for someone to practice homosexuality and follow Jesus at the same time? Just a few years ago, such a question would have seemed absolutely absurd, but with more and more gays and lesbians talking about their love for the Lord and their commitment to Him—including same-sex couples—this is a question that we cannot avoid. The first issue that confronted me was that of gay activism, beginning in 2004



(9781414389493, $14.99, May). PUBLISHER:

Tyndale House Publishers. What is the premise of your first novel, The Fight?

The story is about a teenage boy called Sam, who suffers a life-shattering family tragedy. As a result, he becomes incredibly angry, fighting everything and everyone around him. One day, a street fight leads him to a boxing club run by a Christian boxing trainer called Jerry, who has dedicated himself to helping kids like Sam. But Jerry quickly realizes that Sam’s fighting talent, fueled by his anger, sets him apart as a potential champion boxer, leaving Jerry

in Charlotte, N.C. As the Lord began to burden me with a sense of calling to confront the activist agenda, I felt it important to do my best to understand those I was differing with, to see the world through their eyes, to hear and read their stories, especially those [who] claimed to be gay Christians. The more I read and listened, the more my heart broke, but as a biblical scholar, I had to test the “gay Christian” arguments. This book is the fruit of a broken heart for those who identify as LGBT, combined with a love for the Lord and His Word. What do you hope your work on this book will accomplish?

I really hope that Can You Be Gay and Christian? will accomplish a number of things, including: helping believers in general develop a greater understanding of the unique challenges experienced by those who seek to combine their Christian faith and their homosexuality; setting the record straight on what the Scriptures really say about these issues, using sound scholarship, but writing in a way that everyone can understand; dealing with difficult objections to the traditional understanding of key texts that are being raised by gay theologians (sadly, most Christians, including Christian leaders, are poorly equipped to answer these objections); and pointing the way forward for those who truly want to obey and know the Lord. What are some of the many questions you explore in the book?

We tackle questions like: Are we using the Bible to sanction anti-homosexual

with a cruel dilemma. He wants to help Sam overcome his anger issues and discover God’s peace, yet he knows Sam’s anger could propel them both to the stardom and riches that Jerry himself had missed out on. It’s a tough, yet inspiring story, and one that I think makes most of us question what we would truly do in the same circumstances. What types of characters are Sam and Jerry?

Sam is a wounded, angry, yet talented young man— like so many disadvantaged kids in our inner cities. Jerry is a man of God trying to do the right thing, but is deeply flawed, like most of us. I love them both as characters. What research did you conduct for this story?

I grew up just outside London, so [I] am familiar with where the story is set. I

prejudice, just as the church in the past used the Bible to sanction slavery and segregation and the oppression of women? What does the Hebrew word abomination really mean? What did Jesus and Paul have to say about homosexuality? What did Jesus mean when He told us not to judge others? And, of course, can you be gay and Christian? More than 500 endnotes provide documentation of your research for this book. How much time and research went into the project?

On the one hand, I’ve been studying the Word for the last 42 years, also earning a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and writing Bible commentaries and scholarly theological articles over the years. So, the book is based on decades of careful study and prayerful reflection. Also, beginning in 2004, I started reading whatever I could on homosexuality, ranging from articles and books on the gay liberation movement to stories from gay pastors (with book titles like Holy Homosexuals), along with theological works on all sides of the issue and sociological, psychological and historical books, amassing quite a library in the process. My book A Queer Thing Happened to America, which came out in 2011 and is 700 pages long with 1,500 endnotes, reflects my research on the issues of gay activism. Can You Be Gay and Christian?, written with a focus on practical and gracious ministry throughout, re-

spent my teenage years following boxing, which gave me a background knowledge of the sport. The editor of the main U.K. boxing magazine helped me ensure the final draft was authentic. How long did it take you to write The Fight, and what was its journey before it was scheduled for release in the U.S.?

The Fight actually took me 10 years to complete! I started in 2002, writing the first half whilst traveling overseas. Then the book was put away for seven years before I got it out and finished it. Partly inspired by The Shack [by William P. Young] and also wanting to support prison ministry in the U.K., I decided to self-publish The Fight in early 2012. It was critically well-received and reached No. 2 on a U.K. Christian bestseller chart. I was introduced to an agent,

flects years of study with the emphasis on reaching out. What are some things Christians can do to extend God’s love to those who identify as gay?

Read this book, for one! Aside from that, the key thing is sensitivity and understanding. They should ask God for His heart for those who identify as LGBT; they should read their stories and get to know them (the book is full of relevant stories in this regard); they should separate gay activism from gayidentified individuals; and they should get to know them as fellow human beings for whom Jesus died, building loving and redemptive relationships wherever possible. Is there anything else Christian retailers should know about this book?

I truly believe this book will fill a unique need in the body [the church] today. On a constant basis, people write to me or call my radio show with questions about homosexuality, either pertaining to their own lives or to the lives of a loved one, and this book provides the answers to their questions. Interestingly—and providentially, it appears—my book is being released the very same time that another book on the subject is coming out, but that book is written by a young, gay activist who has launched a campaign to try to “reeducate” the church on “gay Christianity.” So, at the very moment his book comes out—I’m sure it will be celebrated by the secular media and liberal church as well—the answer to that book will be out as well.

Chip MacGregor by the novelist Davis Bunn, who had picked up a copy of The Fight whilst in the U.K. A few months later, I signed a deal with Tyndale House Publishers to help bring The Fight to a wider audience. What has been the reception of your book in the U.K.?

Incredible. The Christian/inspiration fiction market in the U.K. is tiny compared to the U.S., and sometimes not taken very seriously as a genre—strange considering our spiritual fiction heritage with C.S. Lewis and John Bunyan. But The Fight is very different to most of the available Christian fiction over here and seems to have captured the imagination. It has also been used widely as an evangelistic tool and as a home and men’s group resource, which is why I have written some discussion points in the back of this edition. It is exciting and humbling to see God use something I have written to challenge people spiritually. FICTION FILE, page 56

FRIENDS IN HIM | Brooke Mitchell

THE BIG(GER) PICTURE | Marshall Wood

Our walk of faith is a practical, action-oriented book written in a unique format: as a parable about a busy, modern woman and her relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Presented with power, purpose and prophetic insight, Friends In Him will inspire you to pursue—and discover—the special plan God has just for you.

The Big(ger) picture is a call for Christians everywhere to choose the Word of God as their only basis for Christian living. Author Marshall M. Wood warns the church not to be duped by so-called “new” doctrines, but to live the way the Bible instructs because God’s Word never changes.

978-1-62136-699-7 | US $11.99

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FIRE IN THE CAROLINAS | Michael Thorton G.B. Cashwell and A.B. Crumpler were two spiritual giants instrumental in transforming a nation and shifiting Christianity on a global scale. Yet today they are largely forgotten. The reasons have largely been shrouded in mystery—until now. Through extensive research, Michael Thrornton has uncovered the tangle of racism, politics, and secret societies that conspired to put the two men’s Holy Spirit fire.

THIS IS WHAT I SEE AND HEAR! | Judith Lingenfelter In this new book, author Judith Lingenfelter details dreams and visions God has given her about events that will take place before Jesus returns. Some of them are joyous; some are sad and fearful. But her message is one of hope, not of gloom and doom. If you aren’t ready, then This is What I See and Hear! brings you good news: It isn’t too late to get ready! 978-1-62136-708-6 | US $7.99

978-1-62136-704-8 | US $15.99

FIFTY DAYS OF GLORY | Mark Pearson Many books have been published about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, but little has been written about the crucial days following His Resurrection and leading to the eve of Pentecost. In Fifty Days of Glory, Mark Pearson explores with scholarly precision and masterful narrative this oftignored seven-week prelude to Pentecost’s power.

DEMONS AMOUNG US | Michele Erdmann Author Michele Erdmann offers a true account of how she overcame demonic influences in her life. Demons Amoung Us carries a warning for those who unknowingly entertain demonic activity in their homes, schools, and churches. It also serves to encourage believers, urging them to be alert and vigilant against the subtle strategies of the enemy.

978-1-62136-710-9 | US $16.99

978-1-62136-694-2 | US $10.99

SAVE DR. JEKYLL AND DESTROY MR. HYDE | Stephen White Author Stephen White provides you with a lifeline to conquer the unseen battle going on between your spiritual and carnal mind as he parallels the strategy of the enemy with the infamous story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. With biblical illustrations and applicable principles, you will learn how to conquer your carnal mind and make wise decisions with a new approach to life.

FOOTBALL MEDITATIONS | Michelle McPherson Do you love football? What if your football fever could also heat up your devotion to God’s Word? Part devotional, part evangelism handbook, part Word of God-pocket-promise book, Football Meditations delivers the excitement and language of the roughand-tumble sport in simple terms that will score points with any No. 1 fan. 978-1-62136-712-3 | US $12.99

978-1-62136-697-3 | US $10.99

SO MUCH MORE | Todd Hudson The normal Christian life should be anything but “normal”—it should be supernatural, one in which the living God expresses His very life in us and through us. If you know deep inside that there must be so much more to the Christian life, then Pastor Todd Hudson will help you discover how to experience and release the kingdom in your life today—and tomorrow! 978-1-62136-714-7 | US $14.99

ARE THESE THE LAST DAYS? | Charles P. Schmitt Author and pastor Charles P. Schmitt presents a fresh scrutiny of Old and New Testament prophetic scriptures that will graciously challenge your understanding of endtime prophecies. Schmitt traces the conflict between Israel and the Arab world, and their amazing last-days promises of restoration. At all times he underscores the primary backdrop for any Christian views of the last days: worldwide evangelism before the end comes. 978-1-62136-716-1 | US $15.99





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  F I C T I O N F I L E , FROM 54

Since both main characters are male, do you see this as a book for men only?

Although I wrote the book with men and teenage boys in mind and the subject matter is quite masculine, still most of my readers have been women! I’ve had plenty of feedback starting, “I bought this for my husband and would never normally read a book about boxing, but. … ” I’ve also loved hearing stories about how sons and husbands who would never

normally read a Christian [novel] have been so intrigued to see Mum glued to a book with a boxer on the front cover that they have lined up to read it after her! I understand that the book has been used as a tool in prison ministry. How did that come about?

When I first finished The Fight, I gave it to a friend involved in prison work. He loved the book and pressed upon me how valuable it could be in prison ministry. So when I self-published, I sold the book on a “Buy One, Give One Free” principle,

with the free book going to prison ministry. We’ve now distributed around 1,000 copies of The Fight to around 80 prisons in the U.K., and I have had some amazing feedback about how prisoners have enjoyed the story and it has helped them on their journey of faith. To date, I have spent all my proceeds from the book, including my advance from Tyndale House Publishers, on giving books and developing this prison book ministry. I pray this latest launch is just another step in getting appropriate books, including other people’s titles, into prisons



fter twenty years of teaching on spiritual warfare and demonology, Kimberly Daniels brings readers the secrets of the enemy’s camp in this comprehensive study. Combining her real-world experience with hundreds of verses from the Bible, Daniels reveals demonic symbols, traces their origins, and shows how demonic cultural beliefs have filtered into our modern-day society, including:

€ € € € €

European folklore / Wiccan beliefs American cults / secret societies myths and folklore African folklore Native American folklore / Witchcraft practices Astrology, and more

The Demon Dictionary Volume 1 ISBN: 978-1-62136-300-2 / US $15.99 The Demon Dictionary Volume 2 ISBN: 978-1-62136-556-3 / US $15.99


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in the U.K., the U.S. and elsewhere. I hope to be publishing how we are going to do this and how in the future booksellers might participate through my website at What other information might assist Christian retailers in getting the word out to their customers about The Fight?

Although they must receive thousands of books, I hope and pray Christian retailing staff will find the time to read The Fight for themselves. In the U.K., we found that when staff read the book, they immediately began recommending it to men and women (often to buy for their men folk!), and it became one of their best-selling books.

Fiction Releases: June CHILD OF MINE David and Beverly Lewis Bethany House (Baker Publishing Group) hardcover, 416 pages, $19.99 9780764212598

Flight instructor Jack Livingston has been raising his 8-year-old adopted niece, Natalie, since the accident that took her parents’ lives. When he travels, Natalie is cared for by her Amish nanny, Laura Mast, who loves the little girl as her own. Eight years ago, Kelly Maines’ baby was kidnapped. Determined to find her child, Kelly has tirelessly pursued every lead to its bitter end. And now, with the clock ticking, one last clue from a private investigator ignites a tiny flame of hope: Just a few miles away lives a young girl who matches the profile. Can this be, at long last, Kelly’s beloved daughter? Child of Mine is also released simultaneously in softcover and large print.

HACKER Ted Dekker Worthy Publishing softcover, 368 pages, $14.99 9781617952753

Seventeen-year-old Nyah Parks is a genius hacker who makes a living by cracking the firewalls of the world’s largest corporations. But when the biggest job of her life goes wrong, she’s plunged into a desperate situation with only one way out: one last hack that will either save her or kill her. So begins Hacker, a modern-day parable that examines the seen and the unseen, and reminds the reader that there is far more to who we are than meets the eye.


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  F I C T I O N F I L E , FROM 56


Jill Francis Hudson Kregel Publications softcover, 384 pages, $14.99 9781782640974

Against all odds, Makeda, daughter of an obscure African chieftain, is chosen as queen of Sheba. Recognizing her inexperience, her cousin Tamrin, a wealthy merchant and narrator of the novel, persuades her to visit Solomon, king of Israel. Solomon falls in love with her and tricks her into sleeping with him. She becomes pregnant and bears a son Later, when he visits his father, Solomon is a broken man, and Israel is no longer the nation of his youth.

THE MIDWIFE Jolina Petersheim Tyndale House Publishers softcover, 400 pages, $14.99 9781414379357

Since the day Rhoda Mummau was baptized into the Old Order Mennonite Church

and became the head midwife of Hopen Haus, she’s been torn between the needs of the unwed mothers under her care and her desire to conceal the secrets of her past. Contact with the outside world could provide medical advantages, but remaining secluded in the community gives her the anonymity she craves. Graduate student Beth Winslow is on a path she never would have chosen. Heartbroken after surrendering a baby to adoption, she devotes herself to her studies until she becomes pregnant again—this time as a surrogate. But when early tests indicate possible abnormalities, Beth is unprepared for the parents’ decision to end the pregnancy—and for the love she feels for this unborn child. Desperate, she flees the city and seeks refuge at Hopen House. Past and present collide when a young woman named Amelia arrives to the countryside bearing secrets of her own. As Amelia’s due date draws near, Rhoda must face her past and those she thought she had left behind in order for the healing power of love and forgiveness to set them all free.

  D U C K , FROM 52 and Robertson spent his days hunting, playing hard with his brothers, attending church and enjoying his mother’s cooking. The family was not materially wealthy, but Robertson writes: “Once we moved to the banks of the Ouachita River, I wouldn’t have traded my childhood for anything.” At 14, Robertson accepted Christ as his Savior. Although he was shy at that age, he talked about salvation before large groups of teens. Then, after high school, he attended seminary. In their first year of marriage, he and Missy baptized more than 100 people, and they continue to share the gospel liberally. Regarding his family’s fame, Robertson writes: “In my opinion, fame is not about being recognized. It’s about recognizing that the God who made you makes us all famous.” Robertson’s writing partner, Mark Schlabach, also has coauthored other books with the family members, including Happy, Happy, Happy; Si-cology 1; and The Duck Commander Family, all New York Times best-sellers. To order Good Call, contact Howard Books at 800-858-4109. Learn more at

  I R A Q , FROM 52 thousands of readers each day. His book includes several of these emails. The conditions wore on Warren: the never-ending stream of broken bodies, little sleep, nightmares and the constant barrage of mortar and rocket attacks. Through assisting in the worship band on base and through his encounters with a variety of people along the way—both Christians and non-Christians—he felt something shifting inside and he knew he would never be the same. “I began to see outside my own problems, outside myself,” he writes. Toward the end of his 120 days in the war zone, he was caught crouched near a wall, unprotected and completely vulnerable during a particularly aggressive attack. It was a pivotal point in his spiritual development as he was learning to relinquish control and trust God. Warren returned home with his faith strengthened to face not only the problems he had left behind, but also the re-entry into daily life and the demons of post-traumatic stress. Still, his story demonstrates how, through Christ, he moved from loss and despair to courage and victory. To order, call 800-727-1309, or visit

A Commemorative Illustrated Biography of

Saint John Paul II The Story of Saint John Paul II A Boy Who Became Pope

Written and Illustrated by Fabiola Garza “Who do you love most?” Framed around the question “Who do you love most?” this lavishly illustrated biography for children ages 6–9 tells the captivating story of Saint John Paul II. The story reveals how John Paul II’s answer to that very important question blossomed into heroic virtue, holiness, and service to the Church and the world. From an ordinary little boy growing up in Poland to the world leader of the Catholic Church, John Paul II serves as an inspiration for today’s aspiring youth. Share your affection for this beloved pope and celebrate his canonization with the children in your life! Hardcover, 72 pages. 0-8198-9013-8 9780819890139 $15.95 USD

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Funny woman Anita Renfroe delivers high-seas laughs

Latest comedy DVD recorded live during a cruise

Famous for her “Mom Song,” Anita Renfroe packs her signature humor flavored with life experiences into the “I’m Not High Maintenance” DVD.

Best-selling author and speaker Anita Renfroe offers her humorous observations on topics such as kids, vacations and accidental cell-phone dialing in her upcoming home-video release, I’m Not High Maintenance, Just Low Tolerance (622306019397, $14.99) available June 24 from Crown Entertainment. The release was recorded live in a crowded theater on a cruise ship event, offering a unique setting, but also presenting its own particular circumstances.

“Although the sea was calm during the first part of taping, occasionally, during the second half, I had to take a step back,” Renfroe told Christian Retailing. “You could see the curtains moving a bit.” The location provided a chance for Renfroe to discuss taking vacations with family and the difference in the way men and women pack for a trip. “Guys always talk about women pack-

NEW RELEASES ing, but we have a lot of different options to consider, like what color we might feel like on a given day,” she said. “Guys don’t pack emotionally.” Although not limited in her appeal to women, Renfroe admits her comedy is flavored from personal experiences. She hopes that all viewers will appreciate the observations she makes. “My comedy is female-slanted because I’m female,” she said. “I would rather people laugh because I’m talking about something familiar to them, not because they think I’m clever or hip or happening. I love the fact that laughter allows us to unite rather than highlight our differences.” On the new release, Renfroe also offers an updated version of her hit “The Mom Song,” complete with rapping, and other songs about topics as diverse as fiber and the Psalms of David. The Psalms tune is “about this fictional company, House of David Publishing, where I talk about how David, when he wrote the psalms, didn’t realize he would be ripped off by all these worship leaders,” she said. Renfroe draws inspiration from her own life experiences, which she fleshes out before sharing with audiences. “Most of the time, a oneliner turns into five minutes of comedy when I think about it,” she said. “These are things that just keep happening in life. Humor is universal.” To order I’m Not High Maintenance, visit or call 866-791-0504.t

Integrity Music releases the new recording from All Sons & Daughters on May 6. Available from Provident Distribution, the self-titled album is the follow-up to the group’s earlier live and EP releases and includes the songs “More Than Anything,” “God With Us,” “King of Glory (You Restore My Soul,” “Your Glory & My Good” and “We Give You Thanks.” This spring, the group will support the release with a global tour and in the fall, will embark on a 25-city tour with David Crowder. Bridgestone Multimedia Group releases A Letter for Joe ($19.95), a modern retelling of the biblical story of Joseph, May 6. The story focuses on Joe Roberts, younger brother of Denny Roberts, who becomes the target of an elaborate prank by Denny and his college buddies. When Joe innocently sets off for Las Vegas to meet the richest man in America, the pranksters’ fortunes begin to flatline. Set in 1970, the film stars newcomer Evan Schwalb as Joe and features Gena Burghoff as Jodi Curtis and Jeff Wise as Howard Hughes. May 27 is the release date for the new album from Crowder. Neon Steeple from sixstepsrecords and Capitol Christian Distribution is the singer’s first solo project since the disbanding of The David Crowder Band, which was known for songs such as “How He Loves” and “Everything Glorious.” Adopting a “folktronica” style, Neon Steeple features a mix of acoustic sounds and electronic beats.

M E ET TH E ARTIST MICHAEL W. SMITH Iconic artist Michael W. Smith brings his musical gifting to Sovereign, a collection of fresh worship songs, as well as a deluxe version CD-DVD with a concert featuring Kari Jobe and Leeland Mooring. Sparrow Records (Capitol Christian Distribution) releases both titles May 13. Smith recently told Christian Retailing about the process of putting the new record together.

like I needed to change it up. I talked to every major label and ended up at Capitol. I remember being in the room and saying, “Guys, let’s do this together. I don’t need a bunch of ‘yes men.’ I need some pushback.” I got out of my comfort zone and started writing with all these kids. I completely went the other direction and took a lot of risks. My faith had to increase a bit. We went through almost 120 songs to listen to, and it took that many to get to 12.

When did you decide Sovereign would be a collection of original songs? The plan was to do a record of worship around the world. I’ve been literally on five continents in the past few years. The favor of God blows my mind. I said to my team, “We have to record all these shows.” We captured some stunning moments, people worshipping, people in Brazil breaking into “Agnus Dei” in Portugese. That was what I was putting together with Capitol. I was working this song called “Miracle” with Chris York and said, “Maybe the ‘Worship Around the World’ record is for another

time. Maybe we do an album of new songs.” He started flipping out. It’s not live, like what I’ve done in the past, and it’s not all corporate. Half of it is kind of anthemic.

Did having a new label change how you approached this record? I think it was much more of a team record. I’ve always wanted to work with Bill Hearn at the people at Capitol. I felt

Who did you collaborate with for Sovereign? “Miracle,” I wrote with Kyle Lee and Seth Moseley. It was a great collaboration, still one of my favorite songs on the album. We let that be the bar. It’s got to hit at least there. That’s just the beginning of it. I’m a little too close to it because I’ve been listening to it over and

over again in the studio. You just want to go to an island and deflate a bit. “You Won’t Let Go” is another song with Seth Moseley. We were working on “Miracle,” and I said, “Let me hear what you’re writing. You got any ideas?” He played me the track and I picked up an acoustic guitar and started writing the melody. The song reminds me of Romans 8, “Nothing can separate.” We pulled Mia Fields in who’s a great songwriter. She came in and we bashed it out, and we all got excited.

With more Christian films releasing, any chance you will get in front of the camera again soon? I’ve read so many scripts. I feel like there’s another film for me as an actor. It’s got to be the right story. I haven’t found anything. It’ll have to be right thing for me.


PUBLICISTS: Would you like to see your books, gifts and other products included in our Buyer’s Guide? Create an account at, then email the editor at for authorization to add your products to our New Release Listing. Thank you.

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Robertson family offers church-wide curriculum

The Faith Commander Church-Wide Curriculum Kit (9780310820307) retails for $124.99. To order, call 800-727-1309, or visit Various artists have come together to create The Action Bible Remixed (000768579428, Integrity Music/Provident Distribution), a modern worship collection reimagined with the electronic sounds of producer Victor “Liquid” Oquendo. The album features guest appearances by KJ52, DJ Maj, Canton Jones, Milton Young, Stefan the Scientist, L.E.D. and Liquid, and was inspired by The Action Bible: God’s Redemptive Story (David C Cook), which features illustrations by renowned Marvel and DC Comics artist Sergio Cariello. Songs are tied to specific scriptures, and page references are given. Retailing for $9.99, The Action Bible Remixed released in May. Orders: 800-333-9000.

Reality show family the Robertsons from the hit series Duck Dynasty is extending its outreach with a new church-wide curriculum, Faith Commander: Living Five Values From the Parables of Jesus (Zondervan), a five-week experience for all ages. Released in May, Faith Commander focuses on five themes found in the parables of Jesus: faith, forgiveness, obedience, prayer and kindness. “We took some commonly found themes that the show Duck Dynasty actually teaches,” said Korie Robertson, wife of Duck Commander CEO Willie Robertson, who created the curriculum with Chrys Howard. “We use these, not in a preaching sort of way, but really the kind of way that shows how we live our lives and the way our family works.” Adult and teen resources include a book and DVD. The children’s curriculum is only available on DVD-ROM and includes Willie’s Redneck Rodeo, a five-day bonus Vacation Bible School program.


Bruce K. Waltke, James M. Houston and Erika Moore Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. softcover, 336 pages, $28 9780802868091 May

George W. Knight Barbour Publishing softcover, 480 pages, $19.99 9781624163364 June 1

This brand-new reference book from Knight—author of the popular Layman’s Bible Dictionary and The Holy Land: An Illustrated Guide—includes nearly 600 entries on the names of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit; characteristics of God, such as His eternity, jealousy and omniscience; key people and places in biblical history; and important theological concepts, including apostasy, regeneration and worship. Illustrated with full-color artwork, The Illustrated Guide to God includes hundreds of cross-references. Orders: Call 800-852-8010 or fax 800220-5948.

To learn more about these and other new products, visit our wide-ranging, regularly updated Buyers’s Guide listing online at



While much modern scholarship has tended to “despiritualize” the Psalms, this collaboration by three evangelical scholars carefully attends to the two voices of the Holy Spirit—heard infallibly in Scripture and edifyingly in the church’s response. The Psalms as Christian Lament, a sequel to The Psalms as Christian Worship, blends verse-by-verse commentary with a history of Psalms interpretation in the church to examine 10 lament psalms, including the seven traditional penitential psalms. Authors Waltke, Houston and Moore show that even the imprecatory psalms are profitable for sound doctrine

BUYER’S BIO Melanie Worstell Melanie Worstell has managed a Northeast Nebraska store—The Abbey Christian Store— with husband Tim for almost two years. How you first came to Christian retail: Tim and I were living in California, and my par ents wanted us to move to be closer to them, and The Abbey was for sale. So my parents bought the store and we manage it. Tim had management experience in Christian retail in

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California and Pennsylvania. Share a recent idea or event that has worked in your store: We change out our displays a lot, so I think just being creative and using my art background to help make the displays catch people’s eye and draws them to different things. How about an idea that hasn’t worked? We went to a local holiday market in our town and had a booth and set things up. It was where people could buy things, But it was more for crafty things and people cooking food, so they weren’t really there for our type of stuff. That was right at the beginning of when we took over and that

and for spiritual health. Orders: Call 800-253-7521.

BIBLE STUDY PSALMS: A 12-WEEK STUDY Douglas Sean O’Donnell Crossway softcover, 96 pages, $8.99 9781433540981 June 30

Resounding with heartfelt praise, humble confession and honest lament, the Psalms resonate with the whole spectrum of human emotions and experiences. This Bible study— designed for individuals and small groups alike—walks readers through a representative selection of the psalter’s life-changing poems and aims at deepening our understanding of, and appreciation for, some of the most transformative passages in all of Scripture. The “Knowing the Bible” series is a new resource designed to help Bible readers better understand and apply God’s

just didn’t really work out very well. What is selling in your store? We sell a lot of baby gifts in general—baptism, new babies being born. Right now we’re hitting confirmation and first communion season, so those are really big, Picture frames, crosses, just gifts in general. We sell a lot of wedding and bereavement. What’s the best way to work with you as a buyer? When I get the catalog in advance—when I can look through it and mark what I like, what I want to order, compare it with how much I want to buy—and then the reps come in and just have their little scanner and just say, “I want two of that. It just works

Word. With contributions from a wide array of influential pastors and church leaders, these gospel-centered studies will help Christians see the message of God’s grace on every page of the Bible. Kathleen B. Nielson’s Ruth and Esther (9781433540387, $8.99) from the series is also available. Orders: 800-323-3890.

CHILDREN BIBLE PEOPLE FACTFILE Peter Martin; illustrated by Matt Buckingham Kregel Publications hardcover, 48 pages, $14.99 9780745963884 June 1

Young detectives are called on to examine the evidence, character files, locations and interviews with witnesses; sift through the clues and decide for themselves who the heroes are, who the villains BUYER’S GUIDE, page 64

well for me. I’m not huge into seeing samples. I feel like I get a good feel from the catalog. There’s a few things that I want samples for, but the vendors that come in and want to show me samples for two hours, that’s not a good use of my time. What tips do you have for other buyers? Find your niche. Which soon-to-come product are you most excited about? P. Graham Dunn’s stencil art. How can our readers pray for you? Blessings on the upcoming confirmation and first communion season. It’s our biggest time of the year.

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B U Y E R ’ S G U I D E , FROM 62 are and what really happened in 20 stories from the Bible. Each spread features lively graphics and a Bible character alongside the case notes of his or her story, with a gatefold including extra information. Case files include Noah and Jesus, as well as Esther and Martha. Orders: 800-733-2607.

BIBLE STORIES FOR BOYS Peter Martin; illustrated by Simona Bursi Kregel Publications hardcover, 48 pages, $14.99 9780745963709

AMG Publishers hardcover, $44.99 9780899577159 June 24

This brand-new Spanish edition of the best-selling Key Word Study Bible product line. Now available using the Reina-Valera 1960 translation, this edition will open up the doors to in-depth study of the Bible’s original languages of Hebrew and Greek. Orders: Call 800-266-4977 or fax 800265-6690.


June 1

Bible Stories for Boys includes eight Bible stories featuring courageous men and deeds, and with a short introduction encouraging the reader to think about the message. A section at the back of the book sets the stories in context. Orders: 800-733-2607.

CANDLE BIBLE FOR KIDS BOARD BOOK Jo Parry; illustrated by Juliet David Kregel Publications board book, 42 pages, $9.99 9781781281017 June 1

Candle Bible for Kids Board Book is a helpful starting point for toddlers to learn about God’s Word. With minimal text, bold colors and a padded cover, this edition of the popular title presents 20 Bible stories in bite-sized chunks. Orders: 800-733-2607.

Editorial Concordia hardcover, $54.99 9780758627469 June

This comprehensive resource celebrates the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with commentaries from Martin Luther, as well as more than 130 contemporary theologians from around the world. Features include: introduction and outline for every book; detailed reference guide; more than 26,500 study and life application notes; 6,000-plus references to introductions and articles; over 800 map references; and more than 220 thematic articles. Seventeen pages of biblical chronology are also included, as are chronological notes at the beginning of each book. The new study Bible uses the modern text of the Reina Valera Contemporánea. It is also available in leather for $79.99. Orders: 800-325-3391.


DREAMTREADERS Wayne Thomas Batson Thomas Nelson softcover, 288 pages, $9.99 9781400323661 May 6

Fourteen-yearold Archer Keaton discovers he has the ability to enter and explore his dreams. He is a dreamtreader, one of three selected from each generation. Their mission: to protect the waking world from the Nightmare Lord, who wreaks chaos in the Dream World. But as Archer’s dreams become more dangerous and threatening, so too does his waking life. Orders: 800-834-7828.



E. Richard Pigeon AMG Publishers softcover, $19.99 9780899577319 June 13

The Pequeño Diccionario del Nuevo Testamento is a concise dictionary of selected words and all names of persons and places in the New Testament. Orders: Call 800-266-4977 or fax 800-265-6690.

YOUNG ADULT BLIND DATE Melody Carlson Revell (Baker Publishing Group) softcover, 208 pages, $12.99 9780800721282 June 20

Devon, Emma, Cassidy, Bryn and

Joe Knutson has been president of P. Graham Dunn since July 2013 and prior to that, served as co-president. He joined the Dalton, Ohio-based gift supplier nine years ago after marrying Anna Dunn, son of company founder Peter Dunn. How did you start working at P. Graham Dunn? Anna and I had every intention to move to the great state of Minnesota and to start a small business there. When we decided to come out to Ohio to spend a summer with her family so that I could get to know them before we settled closer to my family, I started working for her dad and the business, and I was absolutely enthralled with it from the start—even though he had me running conduit. … I fell in love with the business. I fell in love with the community. Mission in life: My purpose has never been more clear, that I’m to be a strong business leader in our community, that I provide employment and security for the people that work for me, that I help my people find their fullest potential and develop them, and that I give back to the community that I live in. What motivates you to go to work each day? I go in because I’m energized by the opportunities. I see so many opportunities every single day. There are opportunities to build relationships, to grow and develop our staff, to reach new customers, to put the Word of God in front of fresh eyes, to be a silent testament to God’s Word. Favorite verse: I really like Jer. 29:11 (NIV): “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.” That assurance that there’s a plan is so comforting when things are going in so many different directions, and of course, with my own personal journey with Anna, I’ve never felt like I’ve had more purpose than I do now, and it was through that process and through that journey and knowing that God was with us every step of the way, and He held our hands. And He’s made this life available to me, that I can do the things that I’m good at and I can spread the Word through these actions, and I can be an example to everyone that I come across. I just feel so humble and blessed to do what I do, but so driven to do it. Who do you consider your mentor in business? More than anyone, it’s been Peter Dunn. It’s an easy answer. Being a son-in-law, I did not grow up with Peter. I learned everything that I know from him in these last nine years. I think what’s interesting is I’ve found that he and I are very much wired similarly, so a lot of our strengths are similar. Is there an idea you’ve tried that has fallen flat for your company? We’ve tried some retail stores in some high-rent locations that didn’t turn out very well. What about a recent success story? The Dealer Conference. I feel like it has been a massive success.

Abby are ready for their next Dating Games challenge: setting each other up on blind dates for the upcoming masquerade ball. But trouble is brewing. Some of the girls are questioning whether their friends can be trusted to deliver on their promises. In fact, there’s a very real danger that this dating treat could turn into a nasty trick. Will their club—and friendships—survive? Orders: 800-877-2665.

CRATER TRUEBLOOD AND THE LUNAR RESCUE COMPANY Homer Hickam Thomas Nelson softcover, 336 pages, $9.99 9781595546623 June 10

Kidnapped by a group intent on the destruction of the world and capture of the moon, Maria Medaris, co-leader of the moon’s most powerful family, initially fights for her life, but is soon dazzled by her captors. Crater Trueblood, once rejected by Maria, but still in love with her, and Crescent, a female bioengineered warrior loyal to Crater, use their skills to come to her aid. But will Maria be on their side when they get to her?

And what of the Earth itself? The fate of two worlds hangs in the balance in this “Helium-3” series’ novel. Orders: 800-251-4000.

GIRL TALK: A JOURNAL NICOLE O’DELL BARBOUR PUBLISHING softcover, 176 pages, $12.99 9781624168482 June 1

This brand-new issues-based journal for girls from author and youth expert O’Dell makes the ideal companion for Girl Talk: 180 Q&A. Whether girls are struggling with their BFFs (best friends forever), body image, faith, parents, purity or other life issues, they will find trustworthy advice, biblical references, plus room to write their thoughts and feelings in the pages of this book. Arranged in a Q&A format, girls will be encouraged to journal their answers to specific questions, while being exposed to biblically based advice from O’Dell along with supporting scripture selections and PMs (private messages) from O’Dell’s daughters, Natalie and Emily. Orders: Call 800-852-8010 or fax 800-220-5948.

Before You Go By William Rice

The title says it all! This is a great resource for the family and for small groups that want to learn how to succeed in the home. It’s also the perfect gift for those who are graduating. “In Before You Go, Willy Rice shares essential truths that parents need – truths to steer their children in the right direction and pave the way for a meaningful future.” —Mark Merrill, President – Family First | 773-888-3133 | ISBN# 978-0-9826127-4-3 | $14.99

Shakespeare for Everyone to Enjoy

Rebuilding Civilization on

“Converted from the World”—Explore the Bard’s Biblical Themes

Proclaiming the Truth on 24 Controversial Issues

Pastor David R. Brown


his captivating and readable book imparts love for the greatest playwright, provides biographical and historical background, teaches how to read and encourages deeper study of the plays. For adult reading, teachers or students, homeschools, and as a door into performance. Ideal as an Introduction to Shakespeare, and comprehensive enough for college-level research, with an Appendix that includes Shakespeare’s records, will, epitaph, and illustrations.

Author has taught Shakespeare for over thirty years and directed students in plays. He is available for speaking or workshops. $24.95 978-0-9772577-1-3 Hardcover/jacket 144 pp., 6 x 9 Order from Publisher at a discount: 650-994-2662; or

B A I PA 2008 B o o k Awa r d Best Overall Book

T O P F I NA L I S T B est Historical Biography

Follett Library Resources; or at:


Ascribed Book


The Bible


his readable and informative book for pastors and all serious Christians presents the full text of the 24 theological documents of the Coalition on Revival (COR), which have been 37 years in the making by hundreds of theologians and pastoral and lay leaders from a broad representation of denominations working together. Beginning with Biblical Inerrancy, they draw a plumb line for calling all of the Church back to Biblical Truth. Includes an extensive Appendix. Illustrated. $19.95 978-0-9882976-8-5 Paperback 352 pp., 6 x 9 4562 Westinghouse St., Ste. E, Ventura, CA 93003 805-642-2070 • Fax 805-642-1862


/// MAY-J U N E 2 0 14 / / / christ ia nre t a iling .c o m


How to drive traffic with store marketing—but not until you’re ready Be sure you’re really prepared for guests before inviting them BY BILL NIELSEN


sensitive offer that’s good only in the next 30 days is a great etailers must get their house in order before invitway to bring the customer back sooner than the 90-day ing guests to their store. It’s a simple principle, but average you are probably experiencing with most guests. sometimes we get the cart before the horse! 2. Institute a loyalty program. You can go as basic as a I am an adamant believer in never inviting guests to a “punch card” or all the way up to one that is integrated into party without first making sure the lights are on, the door your POS. You can also find third-party solutions that are is open, the table is set, the food is ready and directions run through your credit card swipe reader. have been given, so I held off on addressing marketing and Start by finding out how often your average customer advertising until we had tackled such foundational issues as comes in and then how much he or she spends per visit omnichannel, value proposition, service and selling. on average. Next, create incentives that reward frequency, Unfortunately, our email inboxes and mailboxes are amount purchased or both. filled with invitations to visit stores that have invested in 3. Capture email addresses and/or cell numbers. Havmarketing before they got their house in order. Why? They were desperate for traffic and ing this customer contact inforsales. If you have ever responded mation allows you to engage in to an ad only to find out it is not in inexpensive electronic advertising effect yet, it has expired, the store such as e-blasts or text messages. “Did you know that is out of stock on the item or the Make sure you also have adequate staff was at best uninformed and privacy statements and opt-in only 20% of customers at worst rude, then you know why policies in place. one of our Retail Successentials Focus all of your communiwho shop the average is to never drive in store traffic cation on events, new product CBA store received before you are ready. releases and special offers to inBut when your store is ready crease the number of times your a catalog, but 100% and you spend a dollar on advercustomer shops with you each year and/or the amount of money tising, it may just produce a sale. of them will see your spent on the average transaction. 1. Reach the customer who If you are a novice here, consider is already in your store. Your first product displays and reaching out to a company that and most profitable advertising can help guide you or simply use dollar will always be the one you point-of-purchase a third-party email/text service to spend reaching your current cusjump-start your results. tomers. Did you know that only materials?” 4. Use direct mail to bring 20% of customers who shop the known customers back to your average CBA store received a catastore. Segment your mailing list log, but 100% of them will see into at least three groups and create offers as follows: your product displays and point-of-purchase (POP) materials? So, don’t skimp on investing in visual merchandising   New customers who shopped for the first time in the and POP materials. last 30 days. The goal here is to get them back in within the Take time to create “feature” displays on endcaps and next 30 days. Since most customers do not shop within 30 gondolas near the front of your store. Stock them with days of their last purchase, be sure to provide them with an seasonally relevant product and use clear, single-price mesaggressive offer. Think margin dollars. Wouldn’t you rather make $5 in margin on a $30 transaction than to make 40% sages like 20% off, $5 off or $9.99 each. on a sale that may never happen? Last but not least, consider creating a “bounce-back” piece that you hand the customer with their change at   Valued customers. These are people who have the point of sale (POS). Giving them an attractive, timeshopped with you two or three times in the last six to nine

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.

months. Your goal is to get them to spend more on their next purchase than they normally would. Give them an offer good for the next 60 days that offers 20%-30% off a much higher transaction.   Old customers. These are people who have not shopped at your store in more than nine months. Send them a postcard that looks like it is worth $5. Set a minimum purchase amount of $20 to get them to think of something to buy in this price range before coming to the store. 5. Remember that customer acquisition is your store’s lifeblood. Consider reaching out to acquire new customers with mass distribution of catalogs in your local newspaper (free-standing inserts) or placing a coupon in one of the “marriage mail” envelopes that companies like ValPack offer. These options give you the ability to target the ZIP codes in your area, so buy the inserts accordingly. 6. Employ no- or low-cost forms to reach your community. Consider writing a book-review column for your newspaper’s religion editor, doing on-air reviews with a Christian radio station, creating events like Christmas shoebox collection days and getting the local media to promote it, or handing out “Be My Guest” cards that give your customers a free book just for coming into your store. In closing, take time every day to make sure your store looks and smells great and that your staff is ready to serve. Don’t forget to dedicate the day to the Lord! NEXT ISSUE: Learn how to use an age-old retail secret to drive 3% to your comp-store sales.


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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EQUIP YOURSELF FOR SPIRITUAL LIVING SEPTEMBER Spiritual Warfare Jesus’ Way by Larry Richards Trade Paper; $12.99; 978-0-8007-9585-6 Keys to Successful Living by Derek Prince Trade Paper; $6.99; 978-0-8007-9618-1 Experience the Impossible by Bill Johnson Trade Paper; $15.99; 978-0-8007-9617-4

OCTOBER An Insider’s Guide to Spiritual Warfare by Kristine McGuire Trade Paper; $13.99; 978-0-8007-9602-0 Satan’s Deadly Trio by Jennifer LeClaire Trade Paper; $13.99; 978-0-8007-9589-4 21 Things the Devil Cannot Do by Duane Vander Klok Trade Paper; $12.99; 978-0-8007-9616-7

NOVEMBER Fashioned to Reign Curriculum Kit by Kris Vallotton $99.99; 978-0-8007-9605-1 Fashioned to Reign by Kris Vallotton Trade Paper; $14.99; 978-0-8007-9619-8 Fashioned to Reign DVD by Kris Vallotton DVD; $59.99; 978-0-8007-9606-8 Fashioned to Reign Workbook by Kris Vallotton Trade Paper; $18.99; 978-0-8007-9608-2 Fashioned to Reign Leader’s Guide by Kris Vallotton Trade Paper; $12.99; 978-0-8007-9607-5


Spirit Wars Curriculum Kit $99.99; 978-0-8007-9609-9 Spirit Wars DVD by Kris Vallotton DVD; $59.99; 978-0-8007-9610-5


Spirit Wars Workbook by Kris Vallotton Trade Paper; $18.99; 978-0-8007-9612-9

Created for Influence by William L. Ford III Trade Paper; $13.99; 978-0-8007-9588-7 Deliver Us From Evil by Don Basham Trade Paper; $14.99; 978-0-8007-9603-7


Spirit Wars Leader’s Guide by Kris Vallotton Trade Paper; $12.99; 978-0-8007-9611-2

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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