Just saw this on Publisher’s Weekly. It was announced yesterday. That’s right. Thomas Nelson will no longer attend the primary CBA tradeshow, ICRS. I’m not sure whether this means they are leaving the Christian Booksellers Association, or just no longer attending the tradeshow.
Update: Michael Hyatt weighed in on this in the comments. They aren’t leaving the CBA, just no longer attending ICRS. He pointed people to a Q&A about this specific issue on his blog.
At any rate, you need to know this stuff. So keep reading and be sure to click through to the articles as well.
Don’t be too quick to let the prickles of righteous indignation rise about Nelson. You might think, “A Christian publisher dropping out of the Christian Booksellers Association?!” Once you understand that they aren’t really leaving CBA, you still might ask, “So the Christian publisher still isn’t attending the Christian Booksellers Tradeshow?!”
Wait a minute. Nelson is dropping the secular tradeshow as well. Apparently, they won’t be at Book Expo America either. And Hyatt has some strong words about these tradeshows. This from PW:
As for BEA, Hyatt said, â€œMy guess is that 95% of the people walking around are other publishers, authors and agents. As one of my colleagues said, weâ€™re all getting dressed up for each other. So I donâ€™t think it really helps us build our profile in the general market. The best thing we can do for that is publish books that hit the bestseller lists.â€
But don’t take PW’s word for it. Check out Hyatt’s blog post from this morning, “A Change in our Tradeshow Strategy,” where some big name authors like Ted Dekker are already adding their two cents in the comment section. Dekker calls the move “smart” but the continues to say,
ICRS is the one time of the year that I get to climb out of my captivity to words and images and see faces. Real people. Retailers. It has been fuel to my writing soul and critical to my wife’s engagement in my career.
The older I get, the more I realize that our journey is our destination in so many ways. Although hiding in a dungeon, taking head trips through imaginary worlds, stewarding the mysteries of God through story is immensely satisfying on one level, on a human level it drains us mere mortals. We need relationship that extends beyond emails and contracts and manuscripts.
In his response to Dekker, Hyatt himself says Thomas Nelson expects writers will still find this kind of positive facetime at the new Christian Book Expo. (Check out the CBE blog and the list of folks leading CBE.) Since it’s in Dallas in 2009, I’m kind of excited about the change actually…
After you read the PW article and Hyatt’s blog, read the Christianity Today article from last week, How to Save the Christian Bookstore. Cindy Crosby writes,
…it can be tough to sell books. Jim Seybert, an Arroyo Grande, Californiaâ€“based consultant, says that 41 of 100 people he surveyed for Christian Retailing reported frequenting Christian retail stores less often in 2007 than in 2006. The most common reason given was more convenient online buying, followed by pricing and selection issues.
I’m the one emphasizing the phrase “online buying” there. But you get the picture. Big changes coming.
What do you make of all this?
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