Tag s | Bookselling

ICRS Observations 2016

On the last week of June Dan Balow and I attended the 2016 International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) in Cincinnati. It was my 35th consecutive year attending…which only means I’m old…

By now you may have heard some reports regarding the low attendance, which are true. There were only 2,114 registered attendees, nearly a 30% drop from last year. Fortunately the convention hall was the right size for the event. We didn’t feel like we were swimming in an ocean of empty space.

A few observations from my perspective as a literary agent, which is admittedly different than the perspective of a retailer or publisher or author.

1) Every single meeting we had was invaluable to our agency and to our clients. Unfortunately there were fewer than in past years. We made some invaluable connections simply because were were in a face-to-face meeting and not as slammed by time restraints.

2) With the convention center being one block away from the major hotels it was easy to get from an appointment on the sales floor to an appointment at a hotel and back again without having to sprint or cut short a meeting. It has been years since it was this convenient.

3) There were fewer editors in attendance which was disappointing. But again, those we did see were invigorating meetings. Very few fiction editors were there partly because the Christy Awards were done differently this year and there wasn’t the normal draw for novelists and their publishers.

4) There is no other place or event where the entire industry gathers at the same time. I enjoy walking slowly through the various exhibitor displays, no matter how big or small, just to see the variety in products and ideas. Non-book products can be instructive in predicting trends in the market and in design.

5) It was a delight to attend an early Monday morning SpeakUp breakfast, hosted by Gene and Carol Kent (Carol sporting a sling for her broken arm…let Gene tell you that story.) Despite the three hour time difference in my body clock it was great to hear many inspirational stories from some of our industry’s best speakers and writers.

6) “Hallway Conversations” are also invaluable. These are those unscheduled discussions that occur just because you are in attendance. Sometimes they can have big dividends in the future.

7) Thanks to a generous invitation from Carl Dobrowolski of Goodwill Rights Management Corp. over a dozen of us attended a nighttime Cubs vs. Reds baseball game at the Great American Ballpark (formerly Riverfront Stadium). We saw major league baseball history that night when Kris Bryant hit three home runs and two doubles. Something never done before in a single game in baseball history! So while that had nothing to do with our industry, it was great to make some new industry friends.

Conclusions

I count the event as a success. It would be easy to complain about attendance and modest appointment opportunities, but the valuable meetings we did have made up for quantity with quality.

 

Next year it will be in Cincinnati again from June 28-30, 2017 (Wednesday-Friday).

 

 

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Thank a Bookseller

by Steve Laube

With this being Thanksgiving week I thought it appropriate to urge you to take a moment, visit your local bookseller, and say, “Thank you for supporting books!”

As I wrote elsewhere, it is tough to be in the retail side of the business. Online sales, rising rent and utilities, rising salaries, etc. are competition enough. I know many booksellers who are in the business for the love of the business not that they think they will become millionaires. They still enjoy the thrill of matching a customer’s need with just the right product. I still remember being honored when a customer came back and thanked me for recommending a particular book to them. One man even decided to go to seminary and enter the pastorate after reading a recommended title.

So before you join the chorus of pundits who seem to be gleefully announcing the demise of the bookseller, let us not forget they are real people with real jobs doing a real service to your community.

And despite the rise of e-books, the physical book is still at least 70% of all book sales. And a lot of those sales happen in a brick and mortar location.

We all have a part in a grand business. The business of changing the world word by word. Authors, agents, editors, marketers, public relations, sales, production, executives, designers, warehousing, accountants, shippers, printers, booksellers, AND readers. Quite a team we make. I, for one, am thankful for them all.

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News You Can Use – July 3, 2012

What Retailers Know that Publishers Need to Know – Mike Shatzkin analyzes the importance of data in what is truly the “Science of Bookselling.”

Your Hotel Bible is now a Kindle – This is a new one. Kindles in the nightstand in your hotel room with the Bible pre-loaded. Fascinating.

Using Evernote for Screenwriting – Brilliant adaptation of the Evernote software by Héctor Cabello Reyes.

The Incredible Resilience of Books – Peter Onos wrote a great article that the naysayers quickly skewered. Which side of the debate do you land on?

Thou Shalt Not Steal Shaun Groves Music – The artist makes a statement “If everyone stops paying for music, then music will stop being made.” Do you agree? Does it apply to books as well?

Solve Mysterious Bible Passages like Sherlock Holmes – Eric McKiddie writes a very clever article. Well done!

Be Your Agent’s Dream Client – Agent Greg Johnson tells it straight. (from the ACFW blog)

Bacon for Calvinists! (Thank you Kevin DeYoung)- see below:

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News You Can Use – Jan. 24, 2012

The Secrets Behind the Bestseller List – Ever wonder how those lists are compiled? The Sacramento Bee takes a stab at uncovering the secret.

3 Important Questions about Digital that No One is Asking – Nick Atkinson adds to the ongoing discussion in a sharp manner.

Do Book Bloggers Still Matter? – Beth Kephart asks whether this form of marketing has any influence any more.

10 Bits of Advice to Stop Giving Writers – Nick Mamatas presents a contrarian view of the kinds of things we are teaching at writers conferences and in our blogs. Agree or disagree?

Is Profanity Okay to Use as Part of Your Writing? – Relevant Magazine has this provocative take on profanity in music lyrics. My mom would have washed his mouth out with soap.

The New Logo of a Combined Zondervan and Thomas Nelson – Just Kidding! Robert Treskillard engages in some fun speculation and adds in his own graphic design talents.

Amazon is Gunning to Put Traditional Publishers Out of Business – An anonymous publisher spills his opinions to Sarah Lacy at PandoDaily.

Watch this quick video about the things that have all but disappeared because of technology:

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Bestseller List News – October 3, 2011

Some of our authors have recently hit the bestseller lists! Congratulations to all.

Harvest of Grace by Cindy Woodsmall hit #22 on the tradepaper fiction New York Times extended bestseller list for August 28st. And is #2 on the ECPA “Multi-Channel” bestseller list for October.

Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee (Center Street) hit #17 on the hardcover fiction New York Times bestseller list for October 2nd and will be #31 on the extended list for October 9th.

Log Cabin Christmas an omnibus of novellas (Barbour) hit #34 on the tradepaper fiction New York Times extended bestseller list for October 2nd. The collection included our clients Kelly Eileen Hake, Liz Tolsma, and Deb Ullrick.

Still House Pond by Jan Watson (Tyndale) is #10 on the ECPA Christian Fiction bestseller list for October.

A Whisper of Peace by Kim Vogel Sawyer (Bethany House) is #15 on the ECPA Christian Fiction bestseller list for October.

Double Trouble by Susan May Warren (Tyndale) is #16 on the ECPA Christian Fiction bestseller list for October.

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News You Can Use

Would John Locke Be Better Off with a Traditional Publisher? – Mike Shatzkin analyzes the revenue of million copy e-book selling author John Locke. The math is fascinating. According to Shatzkin, the author is making less than $30,000 per book. It is highly likely a traditional publisher would pay him a lot more for his work. Read the post. You decide.

Twenty-five Rejection Proof Markets – A clever article by James Watkins. I like #24. Proof that I can remain rejection free.

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Amazon Rank Obsession

Admit it. You’ve checked your Amazon.com sales ranking at least once since your book was published. You feel the need to have some outside confirmation of the sales of your book. And Amazon’s ranking are free to look at.

I’ve even seen book  proposals where the author has gone to great lengths to include the Amazon ranking for each title that is competitive with the one the author is proposing. A prodigious amount of wasted effort.

Publishers rarely pay attention to Amazon rankings unless yours gets below 1,000 or if you get in the top 100.

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E-Book Sales: Behind the Stats

There is mixed news with regard to book sales in May of this year. Store sales were down 2.6% but publisher sales were up by 9.8%. Read all the various stats here. Remember these are simply comparison of 2010 monthly numbers with 2009.

The biggest area of growth, percentage-wise, is in e-books (up 162.8%).

But lets look at actual dollars, not percentages.

Publisher sales (according to the Association of American Publishers) were $715.3 million in May. Of that total, e-books accounted for $29.3 million…or about 4%. If this was a 162% jump over 2009, then e-book sales in May of last year were $11.2 million.

There is no question that this is a huge leap. But it still means that 96% of all sales are still in hard copy.

Many experts claim that in five years (by the year 2015) that e-books will “tip” and account for over 50% of all book sales. I’ve heard this from two major publishers (one was the head of the digital initiatives for that publisher) and from my friend Randy Ingermanson in his excellent e-zine (read pages 2-11 for his full report on the issue).

For that to happen a 100% growth rate would have to be sustained. That would mean 2011 would have e-books at 8% of sales, 2012 at 16% of sales, 2013 at 32%, etc.

I’m not arguing that it won’t happen.

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The Shack Gets Sued

Sad news from the LA Times that the author and publishers of The Shack are now in court fighting over the royalty earnings.

Read the entire article here.

Then weep.

Then pray that cooler heads prevail and that it can somehow be kept out of the court system.

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