Christian Retailing

Apple launches mobile payment option Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Tuesday, 04 November 2014 04:59 PM America/New_York

Some retailers await Bookstore Manager card reader option

Apple customers can now start making payments with the touch of a finger. The company’s new Apple Pay service became available in the U.S. on Oct. 20.

The company said that Apple Pay offers “an easy, secure and private way to pay” using the Touch ID fingerprint sensor on iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in stores and through apps. Users of the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 will be able to use Touch ID on their devices for Apple Pay within apps. The new service is enabled by a free software update to iOS 8.

“The reaction to Apple Pay has been amazing,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “We continue to add more Apple Pay-ready banks, credit card companies and merchants, and think our users will love paying with Apple Pay.”Industry News Apple

The mobile payment service allows customers to make purchases without cash or credit cards in hand. Consumers either use credit cards they already have registered with iTunes or enter a new credit card number. Each time a consumer makes a purchase, a unique, 16-digit security code is created that cannot be used on another device or by another person. Stores must install an NFC (near field communication) reader to accept Apple Pay purchases.

The Mardel chain is monitoring various payment options, but has not joined the Apple bandwagon—at least not yet.

“We do not currently accept Apple Pay as our systems are not built to accept it,” Mardel President John Nardini said. “We are looking at various payment technologies/options and will be adopting the ones we think are best for our customers. We will watch the market and if Apple Pay is effective and accepted by consumers, we will look at it in the future.”

LifeWay is also not on board.

“We’re intrigued by the capability, but have no immediate plans to implement Apple Pay,” a LifeWay spokesman said.

Family Christian Stores “will not have Apple Pay as a payment option at this time,” said Steve Johnson, the chain’s senior marketing manager.

Munce Group President Kirk Blank said that “the majority of the Munce Group retailers use Bookstore Manager software.”

Bookstore Manager is expected to roll out mobile payments hardware in the first quarter of 2015. Brent Casey, chief operating officer, said the price to retailers for each Verifone reader that will interface Bookstore Manager’s system likely will be at about $250, but it hasn’t been set yet.

Bookstore Manager is planning to offer two reader options, the contactless (NFC) and the standard reader, which requires the card to be inserted into a slot. Both offer the possibility of pin or signature.

Credit card issuers are moving toward providing cardholders with smart cards (cards with chips), and because of a change in the law shifting liability for bogus transactions to the retailer, stores must comply by October 2015.

“There is a tremendous expense that will be borne by the retailer/merchant and the banks, which will eventually trickle down to the consumer,” Casey said. “The problem with Christian retail is that due to downward pricing pressure, it is very difficult to recoup increased costs.” —Johnson

Hillsong United honored with five GMA Dove Awards Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Tuesday, 04 November 2014 04:51 PM America/New_York

Group wins major categories Artist of the Year and Song of the Year at 45th annual Christian music event

JDHillsong-GettyImagesHillsong United took home five honors, including the Artist of the Year and Song of the Year, at the 45th Annual GMA Dove Awards. Other multiple-award winners were Switchfoot with three and Skillet with two presented at the Oct. 7 Nashville event.

Co-hosted by Lecrae and MercyMe’s Bart Millard, the Gospel Music Association (GMA) Dove Awards drew record attendance at the Allen Arena on the Lipscomb University campus. The awards show was broadcast at a later date exclusively on Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).

Hillsong’s creative pastor, JD, accepted the awards on behalf of Hillsong United.

“We believe the local church is going to be the salvation to the rest of the world,” he said. “Keep the church strong. Through the sacrifices of many ... on behalf of thousands of volunteers, over the past 30 years, I’ve been honored to be a part of this.”

Switchfoot received the awards for Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year for Fading West (Atlantic/Word Distribution); Rock/Contemporary Song of the Year for “Love Alone Is Worth the Fight” from Fading West; and Long Form Video of the Year for Fading West.

Skillet won two significant categories, Rock Album of the Year for Rise (Atlantic/Word Records/Word Distribution) and Rock Song of the Year for “Not Gonna Die,” one of several No. 1 radio hits from Rise. Rise made its debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Rock and Christian charts and No. 4 on the Billboard 200.

“Have to say it was pretty cool hearing the news about these wins,” said lead singer John Cooper. “We couldn’t be there since we’re heading to Europe again this week, but to have this album recognized in this way is definitely an honor, and we’re really thankful.”

The awards were handed out in 42 categories. The televised winners include: Hillsong United, Song of the Year for “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” (Hillsong/Sparrow Records/Capitol Christian Distribution); Karen Peck & New River, Southern Gospel Recorded Song of the Year for “Revival” (Daywind Records/New Day Christian Distribution); Hezekiah Walker, Contemporary Gospel/Urban Recorded Song of the Year for “Every Praise” (RCA Inspiration/Provident Distribution); Erica Campbell, Traditional Gospel Recorded Song of the Year for “A Little More Jesus” (My Block/eOne Music/eOne Distribution); Andy Mineo, Rap/Hip Hop Album of the Year for Never Land (Reach Records/New Day); Mandisa, Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year for Overcomer (Sparrow/Capitol Christian); Kari Jobe, Praise and Worship Album of the Year for Majestic (Sparrow/Capitol Christian); and Inspirational Film, God’s Not Dead (Pure Flix).

“Honestly, I’m just sitting in God’s Word, and the songs just keep coming,” said Holcomb, New Artist of the Year.

Praise and Worship Album of the Year winner Jobe said: “We praise until the breakthrough comes, and I love to get to watch that happen.”

Singer Michael Tait of the Newsboys reflected on the God’s Not Dead movie win.

“People are hungry,” Tait said. “They want some light from heaven. The song inspired the film. These guys came along and made it into something special.”

Four special honors also were presented. Hillsong was given the Lifetime Achievement Award; Eddie DeGarmo, the GMA Impact Award; Akintunde, the Grady Nutt Humor Award; and SiriusXM, the Outstanding Mainstream Contribution to Gospel Music Award.

Jonathan McReynolds and Meredith Andrews were co-hosts of the pre-show ceremony where more than 30 of the awards were received and many top artists performed.

GMA members determine the winners in each category. Kraft CPA is the official accounting firm for the GMA. See a full list of winners at —Johnson

ECPA announces Top Shelf Awards winners at PUBu event Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Tuesday, 04 November 2014 04:49 PM America/New_York

Crossway leads with five winners in annual book cover competition

The art and science of book design was celebrated Oct. 21 with the announcement of the best designs of the year produced by Christian publishers. The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) presented the Top Shelf Book Cover Awards among the industry’s design elite during the association’s PUBu event at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.  

CrazyBusy“The Top Shelf program highlights book design excellence, intelligence and beauty, and we are grateful to all who participated in the program with their quality entries,” announced ECPA President and CEO Mark Kuyper. “We also thank Faceout Studio, Color House Graphics and the 2014 judges for hundreds of volunteer hours that drove this program.”

One of the features of the program is to allow the judges to select the top designs regardless of how many there are. Last year, 10 designs were chosen, but this year, 16 stood out as the best of the best.  

“It was a difficult yet fun process reviewing so many good entries. Many of the entries were unanimously chosen by all of the judges,” said 2014 design judge Kirk DouPonce, whose has worked on thousands of covers.

DouPonce was joined by University of Chicago’s designer Isaac Tobin and renowned freelance designer Abby Weintraub. If there were a conflict of interest in the competition, a judge would refrain from scoring a particular title.

“Like words on a page, the visual cover story is meant to inform, inspire and entertain readers,” said program manager Torrey Sharp, principal of Faceout Studio and PUBu design community captain. “The cover is a first impression.  A first introduction.  When done well, it compels a reader to respond—to pick up the book and read it. We’re all in the business of telling stories that matter.  It’s exciting to see ECPA publishers wrapping their stories with amazing covers that are engaging and meaningful.”

Judge comments on each cover are featured in a print annual produced by Faceout Studio and printed by Color House Graphics.

Josh Dennis, Crossway’s senior vice president of creative, was “grateful” the design team was recognized with five awards, the highest number of winning covers for a single publisher this year.

“At Crossway, we have the privilege of working with wonderful authors and many gifted designers,” he said. “The work that was recognized would not have been possible without them. Thanks to everyone that we have the privilege to work alongside.”

“I am incredibly proud of our B&H design team,” said Jeff Godby, senior art director at B&H Publishing Group. “We could not do this without external partners so we thank Dual Identify Design and FaceOut studios. Also, the Teen to Teen Devotions were uniquely illustrated by B&H’s Diana Lawrence. It is amazing to see the amount of excellence coming out of the evangelical creative community today, and we are thankful for each of the judges publishers involved.”

The cover award winners are posted at —Johnson

Barbour authors celebrate sales milestones Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Tuesday, 04 November 2014 04:44 PM America/New_York

Wanda Brunstetter and Vickie McDonough have sold millions

Sales of Wanda E. Brunstetter’s books have topped 8 million copies, Barbour Publishing announced in the fall. Readers have purchased 1 million copies in each of the last two years, the publisher said.

WandaBrunstetterThe announcement was made as Brunstetter, branded as “Amish Country’s Most Beloved Storyteller,” was visiting with readers during her fan-filled weekend in Ohio’s Amish country.

That same weekend Brunstetter and Barbour were celebrating the news that sales of her August novel, The Healing Quilt, had sent the third installment in her series about an Amish couple teaching quilting lessons to the No. 1 slot on the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Fiction list and to placement on the Publishers Weekly list as well. Barbour also reported that sales of Amish Friends Christmas Cookbook are well on their way to propelling her to the 9 million mark.

Brunstetter’s Amish books resonate well with readers in part because of her relationships with the Plain People via family heritage and Amish friends across the country. These close acquaintances, whom Brunstetter and her photographer-husband, Richard, visit frequently, enable her to portray the Amish lifestyle accurately, affectionately and with a voice of authority, according to her publisher.

During her tour to promote The Healing Quilt, she visited the homes of Amish friends while signing and speaking in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Some of her signings were scheduled in conjunction with performances of Half-Stitchedthe Musical. The play is based on Brunstetter’s 2012 novel, The Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club.VickieMcDonough

Along with Brunstetter, Vickie McDonough has seen recent success. In October, it was announced that she hit and surpassed her first million-copies-sold mark with Barbour.

“Barbour Publishing appreciates Vickie McDonough’s hard work and congratulates her for hitting the 1 million mark in sales,” the company said in a statement.

McDonough has authored more than 30 published books and novellas that have appeared frequently on best-seller lists from CBA and the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. Her titles have won numerous Heartsong Presents’ annual readers’ contests and Inspirational Reader’s Choice contests. McDonough also is an American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Awards finalist. In 2013, she was the winner of an OWFI (Oklahoma Writers’ Federation Inc.) award for Best Novel and had a Romantic Times Recommended Inspirational Book.

McDonough’s next release with Barbour is the first installment of the “Land Rush Dreams” series, Gabriel’s Atonement (Shiloh Run Press, Jan. 1).

In addition, the company’s novelists, including Brunstetter and McDonough, took half of the spots on the October fiction best-sellers list from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. —Johnson

Simon & Schuster inks contract deal with Amazon Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Tuesday, 04 November 2014 04:42 PM America/New_York

Online retailer moves forward with one Big Five publisher but continues e-books battle with Hachette

Simon & Schuster and Amazon have reached a multi-year agreement for the sale in the U.S. of print and digital books. The deal, which goes into effect Jan. 1, reportedly came after a months-long process.

“We are very happy with this agreement, as it allows us to grow our business with Simon & Schuster and help their authors reach an ever-wider audience,” the Amazon books team posted online Oct. 20. “Importantly, the agreement specifically creates a financial incentive for Simon & Schuster to deliver lower prices for readers.”

AmazonLargeIn an unusual move, Simon & Schuster President and CEO Carolyn Reidy announced the deal in an Oct. 20 letter to authors and agents: “It is not our usual practice to announce such agreements, but our publishers and I feel that the high level of public speculation over the status of these talks made it important to let you know about this positive development.

“We are very happy with this agreement as it is economically advantageous for both Simon & Schuster and its authors and maintains the author’s share of income generated from eBook sales. It addresses our mutual concerns about preserving the value of our intellectual property in the marketplace, as it is a return to a version of agency pricing that, with some limited exceptions, gives control of eBook pricing to Simon & Schuster, while providing us the flexibility to deliver great prices for readers.”

Reidy told authors that the deal assures that Simon & Schuster books will be “continuously available for sale” through Amazon this holiday season and beyond.

Amazon’s contract dispute continues with another of the “Big Five” book publishers, however. Nine-hundred authors—including household names Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, John Grisham and Malcolm Gladwell—signed a letter protesting Amazon’s tactics in the Hachette Book Group fray, but the online giant defended itself, working for e-book pricing that is not “unjustifiably high.”

“I think it will serve to make Hachette more frustrated with their inability to make a deal knowing that one of their competitors has reached a deal,” Richard Pine, a partner in the New York literary agency InkWell Management, told the Wall Street Journal.

The dispute with Hachette may be coming home to roost. For the July-September period, Amazon announced its worst quarterly loss since 2003: $437 million. Some observers believe publicity surrounding the battle with Hachette may have contributed to Amazon’s downturn.

TIME magazine pointed out Amazon’s image problem and concluded: “If book lovers ultimately decide that Amazon is bad for authors, Amazon could lose its hold on the very business that nurtured its growth.”

Amazon also was due to negotiate new contracts with Penguin Random House, Macmillan and HarperCollins Publishers at press time. —Johnson

Jonathan Cahn’s ‘Shemitah’ title builds interest in end times Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Tuesday, 04 November 2014 04:30 PM America/New_York

Author’s ‘Harbinger’ novel also sees a resurgence after more than 150 weeks as 'New York Times' best-seller


Jonathan Cahn’s The Mystery of the Shemitah (FrontLine/Charisma House) has charted for seven weeks on multiple best-seller lists—New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, CBA and Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA)—since its release Sept. 2. The new nonfiction title from the author of The Harbinger had 460,000 copies in print at press time.

In Shemitah (SHMEE-tah), Cahn reveals a 3,000-year-old biblical prophecy for America’s future, building on the mysterious prophecy highlighted his first book, The Harbinger—a FrontLine title that has sold in excess of 1.8 million copies.

“The Shemitah has the same trajectory as The Harbinger, even though it’s nonfiction,” said Woodley Auguste, vice president of marketing at Charisma Media.

The “Shemitah,” or Sabbath year, is the seventh year of the seven-year agricultural cycle mandated by the Torah for the land of Israel. Cahn says understanding this pattern is essential for understanding the prophecies and mysteries of the Bible that are still applicable today.

As of press time, Shemitah placed at No. 2 on the New York Times October Religion list only behind Oprah Winfrey’s What I Know for Sure and at No. 6 on the Nov. 2 Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous list. Additionally, Shemitah is at No. 51 on the USA Today Top 150 Books with No. 24 its best showing.

It also ranks at No. 1 on the October ECPA best-sellers list ranking above Phil Robertson’s UnPHILtered and Sarah Young’s popular devotional Jesus Calling. On the CBA list issued in October, Shemitah sits at No. 5 with The Harbinger at No. 19.

In addition, on Amazon’s list, Shemitah topped the Christian Prophecies best-sellers at press time. The list is updated hourly.

Cahn’s first book placed on the New York Times list for more than 150 weeks. It also charted as an ECPA, Publishers Weekly, USA Today Top 150 Books, CBA and Parable best-seller.

Not only has Cahn, a messianic rabbi and broadcaster, had success with his books, but also with his DVD documentary, The Harbinger Decoded (FrontLine/Charisma House), which has been syndicated by the Trinity Broadcasting Network and at press time was just shy of 100,000 copies sold. At Family Christian Stores, it was the No. 1 DVD in June.

When his second book charted on several general-market and Christian-trade lists, including Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and Christian Book Distributors, sales triggered a reprint to meet market demand on the book's release date.

The Mardel Christian store chain has seen healthy sales of Cahn’s new book.

“I can tell you that his latest book is performing very well for us up to this point,” said Kevin McDonell, merchandise manager at Mardel. “It has also helped elevate sales of his first book, The Harbinger.”

A Parable Group store, Christian Publishers Outlet (CPO) in Springfield, Missouri, was the top seller of Shemitah in CBA independent stores at press time.

Bruce Erdel, owner of the 8,000-square-foot store, said that Cahn was appearing periodically on The Jim Bakker Show in nearby Branson, drawing interest from the store’s customers.

“I always ask people where they heard about a book just for intelligence, for my own purposes too, to help us better manage the store,” Erdel said. “With his appearance on The Jim Bakker Show before the book was out, we got several inquiries, so immediately we set it up as a prebuy.”

Using a poster from Charisma Media to draw attention, CPO created an endcap of Shemitah, Harbinger and similarly themed books and DVDs such as John Hagee’s The Four Blood Moons (Worthy Publishing); Cahn, a three-DVD set of the author’s teachings (WND Films); and The Harbinger Decoded DVD (Charisma House).

“Because Jim Bakker is in the area, that spurred interest early on, and we put a really good price on it too,” Erdel said. “We’ve been sale-pricing it since it’s been out, and we’ve kept our endcap up.”

With this emphasis, the store has sold big with Shemitah, but also has seen a resurgence of The Harbinger.

Although television ministries offer Cahn items direct to viewers, the stores still play a significant role in sales.

“The cool thing is that people, when they see things on TV and when they hear things on the radio, they think of me as a resource where they can get those things,” Erdel said.

Erdel thinks the mystery of the prophetic is boosting sales.

“I just think the mystery of it all it just intrigues people, all the different things that are going on,” he said. “Many people find the topic fascinating and some of the discoveries that he has made and such kind of just mystifies people to some degree.”

To get the word out about Shemitah, Cahn has appeared on a number of shows besides The Jim Bakker Show, including The 700 Club and Sid Roth’s It’s Supernatural. Charisma Media has run 30-second spots on TheBlaze TV, FOX Business, FOX News and the INSP Network as well as on radio broadcasts “The Laura Ingraham Show” and “The Mark Levin Show.” —Johnson

Zondervan to sell Biblica’s outreach Bibles Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Tuesday, 04 November 2014 04:27 PM America/New_York

Nonprofit’s CEO also transitions to HarperCollins Christian

Biblica Logo RGBHarperCollins Christian Publishing (HCCP) has taken on Biblica's direct and trade sales business in the U.S. and Canada. Biblica CEO Doug Lockhart also has made the move to HCCP as senior vice president of Bible marketing and outreach.

Biblica is the copyright holder and worldwide publisher of the New International Version (NIV) Bible translation, and licenses its North American publishing rights to Zondervan. Under the agreement announced in early October, HCCP has assumed sales of Biblica’s low-cost outreach Bibles through Zondervan publishing.

Biblica is refocusing on translating and publishing Bibles in the 100 most widely spoken languages and helping people to experience Scripture more deeply.

“Our partnership with Zondervan spans over four decades, during which time our two organizations have worked extremely well together," said Scott Bolinder, executive vice president of Biblica. "While any change of this magnitude is complex, it makes perfect sense for us to move this area of our ministry to HCCP. They’ll be able to give customers the best possible service, and Biblica will be able to put all of its energies into Bible translation and publishing, as well as our renewed efforts to help people read the Bible well through ministry programs like Community Bible Experience.”

Mark Schoenwald, president and CEO atHarperCollins Christian, added: "Growing our Bibles and biblical resources continues to be a core focus for our business, and it is where our mission—to inspire the world by meeting the needs of people with content that promotes biblical principles and honors Jesus Christ—is grounded. We are committed to serving Biblica’s current customers and ensuring a smooth transition.”

HCCP absorbed the sales of the NIV, NIrV (New International Reader’s Version) and NVI (Nueva Versión Internacional) outreach Bible lines. —Johnson

BroadStreet introduces The Passion Bible Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Tuesday, 04 November 2014 04:22 PM America/New_York

Translation captures emotion of Scriptures’ original languages

Psalms-ThePassionTranslationBroadStreet Publishing announces the launch of The Passion Translation Bible beginning with seven titles: The Psalms: Poetry on Fire; Proverbs: Wisdom From Above; Song of Songs: Divine Romance; Luke and Acts: To the Lovers of God; John: Eternal Love; Letters From Heaven: By the Apostle Paul (Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and 1 and 2 Timothy), and Hebrews and James: Faith Works.:

Developed by a team led by linguist, missionary and author Dr. Brian Simmons, the new translation ( recaptures some of the “lost language” missing from translations that have not fully captured the emotional meanings and implications of Scripture. The new translation incorporates the ancient Aramaic scripture.

“Aramaic and Hebrew are related linguistically, and both are considered to be passionate and poetic,” Simmons said. “Greek speaks to the mind, while Aramaic-Hebrew speaks powerfully to the heart. By referencing the text written in the very language in which Jesus taught, and then overlaying that with the Greek, we are able to translate the root meanings of the Scriptures in a new, fresh way.”

The translation aims to add a spiritual dynamic by delving into the Aramaic texts along with the Greek to provide contemporary readers with an understanding of the emotion and nuance found in the original writings.

“Words are containers for truth,” Simmons said. “Every generation needs a relevant, accurate translation that speaks to them. Our approach to translating Scripture includes an emphasis on the original emotive intent of the text.

“God refuses to meet us only in an intellectual way,” he added. “God wants to meet us at heart level, so, with this translation, we are aiming for the words to go heart-deep and allow people to encounter the heart of God.”

Simmons said it was his aim to translate the original languages so that English speakers “have the same response as the original hearer when they first heard.”

Simmons is the U.S. director for Harvest International Ministries. As a missionary, he and his wife, Candice, pioneered church plants in Central America. As a linguist, he co-translated the Kuna New Testament for the Paya-Kuna people of Panama.

Even before the full Bible is released in the new translation, it has touched more than 100,000 lives through an initial version of a few completed books. The other books of the Bible are in the process of translation and will be released in stages by 2017, when the entire work will be complete. —Johnson

Worthy Publishing launches Inspired, acquires Ideals Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Tuesday, 04 November 2014 04:18 PM America/New_York

Former Abingdon Press executive Pamela Clements to lead new impulse and inspirational book imprint

WorthyPublishingWorthy Publishing has named Pamela Clements vice president and associate publisher of the company’s newly launched imprint, Inspired. The 3-year-old company also has acquired major children’s brand Ideals and, with the transaction, access to licenses for VeggieTales with DreamWorks Animation and the Berenstain Bears with Warner Bros.

The Inspired imprint will offer impulse-read, felt-need, inspirational, self-help and devotional titles from such authors as Laura Story, Stu Epperson, Margaret Feinberg and Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott.

“Pamela’s wide experience with author acquisition, product development, brand management, creative marketing and promotion make her the ideal person to launch a new imprint,” said Byron Williamson, president and CEO of Worthy Publishing Group. “She led the Abingdon team that won an unprecedented 15 Christian Retailing’s Best Awards—presented at the 2014 CBA convention—and was named publisher of the year by the AWSA [Advanced Writers and Speakers Association].”

Clements said she was “thrilled” to join the Worthy team.

“I love the mission and the books that they have been publishing, particularly the opportunity to build a creative new imprint,” she said. “It’s exciting to be a part of a growth-oriented company committed to reaching out to readers with life-changing content.”

Most recently associated publisher  overseeing Christian Living and fiction with Abingdon Press, an imprint of The United Methodist Publishing House, Clements lost her post in late summer to the “reassessing and realigning” of Abingdon’s Christian Living and fiction programs, which were said to result because of the “rate of change and shifting structure in our industry and the resulting challenges faced by all religion publishers,” Abingdon President and Publisher Neil M. Alexander said.

Inspired recently shipped its first titles, including Hope for the Caregiver by Peter Rosenberger, which was featured this month on NBC’s Today Show during the Kathie Lee and Hoda hour.

Worthy’s acquisition of the Ideals children’s book brand and product lines was announced Oct. 10. A 50-year-old children’s category-leader with offices in Nashville, Ideals was owned by Danbury, Connecticut-based Guideposts, which was founded by Norman Vincent Peale and publishes Guideposts and Ideals magazines. Ideals publishes 25 to 30 books each year, including picture books, board books, and novelty and sound books.

The Ideals Christmas picture book The Sparkle Box won the 2014 Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Christian Book Award for children’s books. Holiday board books from Ideals regularly rank at the top of Nielsen BookScan charts each year.

“My roots in children’s books are more than two decades deep, having launched WordKids, Tommy Nelson and now WorthyKids,” said Byron Williamson, president and publisher at Worthy. “I got my start in children’s publishing with the conception and development of the International Children’s Bible (ICB). Worthy is excited to welcome the Ideals team into the Worthy family, effective immediately.”

Connecting the Ideals brand with WorthyKids brings about the return of former associate Dale Wilstermann. Formerly with Worthy before moving to Guideposts/Ideals, Wilstermann will serve as vice president of sales at Ideals/WorthyKids. Peggy Schaefer, a children’s specialist serving as vice president and associate publisher, will continue to lead the product-development team. —Christine D. Johnson

Joyce Meyer’s practical teaching makes for best-sellers Print Email
Written by Ann Byle   
Tuesday, 04 November 2014 04:08 PM America/New_York

Spring-JoyceChristian retailers see big boost in sales of Bible teacher’s practical books with publisher’s promotional effort

Not many authors have had more than 100 books published, but Joyce Meyer is one of those few. Her century title—God Is Not Mad at You: You Can Experience Real Love, Acceptance & Guilt-free Living (FaithWords)—came out in 2013, so with her 2014 titles, she inches above that distinctive mark.

Meyer has been a foundational author for the FaithWords program since the house acquired her entire backlist and began contracting new books back in 2002. In total, FaithWords has sold more than 30 million copies of Meyer’s books in all formats. She typically does two trade books each year—in April and September—and a devotional book near the end of the year. Her devotionals alone have sold over 3 million copies, with the 2014 release titled The Power of Being Thankful: 365 Devotions for Discovering the Strength of Gratitude.

“Her top two geographic markets are New York and Los Angeles,” Zettersten said. “You don’t think of New York and L.A. as particularly Christian, but she’s popular everywhere and is on TV daily.”

Meyer’s television and other broadcasts feature teaching that is usually tied to the topic of her books, which helps drive retail sales because “customers want their books now; they don’t want to wait to get her books through the mail,” Zettersten said. “When Joyce says, ‘Wherever books are sold,’ that is literally true.”

Gary Davidson, vice president of CBA sales and marketing for FaithWords, observed that Christian retail stores comprise a significant percentage of overall retail sales for Meyer’s products. This year, he said, FaithWords “offered extra discounts on new releases as well as backlist titles to celebrate ‘The Year of Joyce.’ Her overall sales are up 7% over previous years due to the emphasis at CBA retail.”

Meyer sees Christian retailers as a vital part of her sales team.

“It’s our mission through our ministry to share Christ and love people all over the world, as much as we possibly can,” she said. “I’m so grateful that my books are being distributed by businesses and ministries to help us do that. I certainly couldn’t to it all on my own, and I don’t take this privilege for granted. We can do so much more when we work with others.”

Her newest book, Good Health, Good Life: 12 Keys to Enjoying Physical & Spiritual Wellness, hits stores this month, just in time to help readers step into the New Year with a tool to help them set health goals.

“God has an awesome plan for you, and whatever shape you are in today, you do not have to stay that way,” said Meyer in a recent interview with Christian Retailing. “If you want to improve the way you look and feel, you can do it by learning and applying biblical principles that lead to good health—spirit, soul and body.”

Good Health, Good Life is the second in a series of condensed, $10 books derived from earlier, best-selling titles by Meyer.

“We’ve had great success with this format with John Maxwell, selling over a million copies at that price and in that format,” said Rolf Zettersten, senior vice president and publisher for Hachette Book Group, of which FaithWords is a part. “We thought we should apply that idea to Joyce Meyer as well.”

GetYourHopesUpMeyer’s first release in the smaller format is titled The Approval Fix: How to Break Free From People Pleasing (2014). Good Health, Good Life is derived from Meyer’s 2006 best-seller Look Great, Feel Great: 12 Keys to Enjoying a Healthy Life Now.GoodHealthGoodLife-MainBook

Look Great, Feel Great was the result of a major turnaround in my life that led me to better health spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically,” Meyer said. “Going through my own journey of healing and restoration made me want to help others who are struggling too. This new book is another way to take the 12 practical keys that I discovered through my own experience and share them with people who need to make the same kind of changes.”

The book offers space in each chapter for the reader to make notes to establish his or her needs and goals and how to work toward them.

“I’m excited about this because just learning information doesn’t change your life; it’s what we do with it that makes the difference,” Meyer said. “I really believe the principles in this book—put into action—can help bring breakthroughs in people’s lives that will make them healthier than they’ve ever been.”

To introduce Meyer’s new books, FaithWords offers video footage for Christian retail websites, and the company put a major emphasis on flyer ad placement with key accounts and marketing groups for Meyer’s September release titled Living Courageously: You Can Face Anything, Just Do It Afraid.

That new title, plus her Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the Battle in Your Mind and You Can Begin Again: No Matter What, It’s Never Too Late are top sellers in Christian retail stores, with Battlefield of the Mind consistently on best-seller lists.

“I just don’t know any other inspirational author who has had such a sustained writing presence and been so successful over the last 12 years,” Zettersten said. “Many authors come and go, but I don’t know of any other who, year in and year out, is selling 2 to 3 million copies of her books.”

Meyer believes strongly in the power of the written word.

“I live to write, and books are a wonderful way to teach the Word because they can go anywhere we can send them!" she said.
“God has given me the desire to do this, and He has given me the ability to write,” she added. “So every book I write, it ultimately comes together by His grace and the direction He gives me for it.”

She’s already preparing for the release of her April 2015 title Get Your Hopes Up! Expect Something Good to Happen to You Every Day, with another in September titled The Mind Connection, a follow-up to Battlefield of the Mind. FaithWords also is planning a third in the $10 book line titled Let God Fight Your Battles.

Meyer will do a book tour for the first time in several years in spring 2015.

“Joyce Meyer is simply one of the hardest-working people I’ve ever met,” Zettersten said. “She’s always working on writing her books, running a huge ministry and preparing her teachings for broadcast or for events. She has an amazing ability to work hard and stay focused—and she’s never missed a deadline in 12 years.”

[ Social Media ] Build your business with Facebook Print Email
Wednesday, 08 October 2014 03:21 PM America/New_York

facebook logoEmploy these 7 post ideas to increase engagement, traffic and sales

Have you ever posted something on your Facebook page and felt like you were just talking to yourself? You eagerly open your page to see how many people responded to the most recent post and are left disappointed when you find no one has interacted. They haven’t liked, commented or shared.

Now more than ever it’s crucial for brands to post meaningful content on their social-media profiles to stand out from the crowd. Consumers are busy, just like you, and are swirling around the Internet at lightning-fast speeds trying to connect with friends and family, get a movie recommendation, talk about their favorite singer on some reality show, make weekend plans and show pictures of their dogs/cats/children/gardens/meals/sunsets.

And, with only on average about 3-5% of total Likes organic views of your posts, you need to be posting content that speaks to them so it grabs their attention, feels relatable and adds value to their busy lives.

Here are seven Facebook post ideas (with examples) to help you stand out from the competition and increase engagement, exposure and sales.

1. Exclusive offers

Giving your Facebook fans something special, something they cannot find anywhere else is one of the best ways to use social media and truly gives a reason for someone to follow you online. The key here is keeping it exclusive and only giving certain offers to your Facebook fans.

Social Media-1This is a great example from Swagger Gifts who hosted a Flash Sale on Facebook.The company ran a limited-time sale that users could only access from Facebook, providing exclusivity and an easy way to track the success of the campaign.Social Media-2

Here’s another great example by Lisa Lisa’s Gift Closet where she asks fans to present this photo at checkout to receive 20% off.This is a strong example because she used a photo, which has heavier weight according to Facebook’s algorithm and typically will be shown to more people. She made it “Today only,” which creates urgency, and is combining this offer with a popular theme that happens every Thursday on Facebook called “Throwback Thursday” (also known as #tbt).

2. Sneak peaks

PGrahamDunn-MensDisplayConsumers love getting an insider, first look at what’s coming soon and what just arrived in-store. Create excitement in your online community by posting these types of pictures, and make sure you call out that these are coming soon or new, as we see in Cedar Springs Christian Stores’ post about a new book available. The store took its post a step further by adding text on top of the graphic that clearly showcases that it is a new item by adding, “Look What’s New!”

Another great way of showcasing new items to your Facebook community is by taking a picture of an in-store display like P. Graham Dunn did. This helps the customer “digitally window-shop” and not only gets to see what’s new, but also gets a look inside the store.

 3. Popular items

Social-Media 3Consumers also love knowing what’s hot. Showcase popular items by posting pictures and saying things like, “These are selling fast!” or “*Popular Item Alert* Get This Before They’re Gone!” or by posting “BACK BY DEMAND” in all capital letters with a photo of the item like Impressions Boutique & Gifts did. They wanted to make it clear these were so popular they sold out, and you better get yours today before they’re gone—again.

Social Media 4Another way to showcase popular items is by creating Top 10 lists. If you could turn your list into a graphic, perhaps a collage or infographic, that will help it get more exposure in the Facebook newsfeed. Consider using the tools or to help create graphics for Facebook.

4. Contests

Social Media-5One of the best ways to boost engagement and get more people commenting and liking is through contests. This is a great example by Repurpose Boutique that branded a contest, calling it “Win-It-Wednesday.” The contest helps consumers remember when it is held, giving them the chance to mark their calendars and try to win next week. 

I also like how Repurpose Boutique created an image that featured the items you could win and then after the winner was announced, the store put her name on top of the image. This is a great way to spotlight the winner, and consumers typically enjoy being featured by their favorite stores and brands.

Social Media-6Another way to feature fans is through a “Fan of the Week” type of post, where you select fans and feature them on your page, giving them something special like a $10 gift certificate.

Here’s another example by P. Graham Dunn, which took a picture of the winner while he was in the store picking up his prize. Posting pictures of people like staff and customers is a great way to humanize your brand, and this type of photo is typically interacted (likes/comments) more than pictures that do not include a person.

Side note: If you’re going to run a contest on your Facebook page, make sure you have a strategy. Are you trying to build email addresses, store and/or online exposure? How long will you run the contest? How will you notify possible participants? How will you promote the contest? When you have in place a strategy with clear goals, you’ll have a more successful contest.

5. Customer stories and testimonials

TheGiftBoxWhen a customer tells you about a great experience he or she had in your store, share it with your online community. Peer recommendations and word-of-mouth marketing is the No. 1 way consumers decide where to shop. This is a great example from The Gift Box.

6. Inspirational and funny

The top two types of content that go viral, meaning they get a lot of shares and interaction, are inspirational and funny photos and videos. These types of posts not only build online exposure, but they also help us connect with our audience in a more personal way.

Social Media-7This example from Parable Christian Store of St. Joseph in St. Joseph, Michigan, is a classic example of taking an image that has a saying that relates to the store’s perfect customer, inspiring Facebook users or possibly even making them laugh because they can relate. 

This is also a great example because store owner Lorraine Valk added her name at the end of the post, which gives a personal tone to the post, making it more relatable and easier to get to know Lorraine and the store.Social Media8

 Here’s another example from The Bookery Parable Christian Store in Mansfield, Ohio, which posted a simple graphic with a powerful message.

Social Media-9And here’s a great example of adding some humor to a post by Upstart Crow Bookstore & Coffee House in San Diego.

 7. Expert tips

Last but certainly not least, you must post tips and helpful resources on your Facebook page. Remember, consumers are busy, and you need to offer them something in exchange for their time. One way to add value is through sharing expert tips and advice.

Do you have great taste? Do you have an eye for fashion or decorating? Do you have the best recipe for certain holidays or gift-giving advice for men or parents? Here’s an action item: Take the next 15 minutes and write down 10 expert ideas you could share with your Facebook community. Then, look at those tips and see how you could turn them into a graphic. If you’re not a graphic designer, you can use to create a visually appealing image.

Social Media-10Here’s an example from Miss Cayce’s Christmas Store. The Midland, Texas, store used its Facebook page to promote a blog post titled “How to Theme Your Christmas Tree,” which gave expert tips and design ideas.

Crystal Vilkaitis is the owner of Crystal Media, a company dedicated to helping retailers integrate proven social media, mobile and email marketing strategies into their businesses. Vilkaitis started Social Edge, an online membership group exclusive to retailers looking to gain an edge over the competition using social media. For more information, visit or