FOLLOWING the demise of Christian Marketplace magazine , Christian booksellers — especially those who don’t have their own websites or the time and/or technical ability to maintain an emailing list — have been left somewhat in the lurch, with no easy way of keeping prospective customers up to speed with new and forthcoming titles. Some have found a way forward by signing up to CLC’s Take Note magazine, but that requires a CLC Wholesale account and a commitment to stock a certain amount of featured titles: is there an alternative?
Enter David Wavre of A Great Read and — more recently — Aslan Books, co-founded with Richard Greatrex after the closures of Wesley Owen in Bath and Bristol. David’s involvement with the sharp end of bookselling made him realise that most churchgoers are completely out of touch with what’s available or forthcoming, and he has therefore committed himself to doing something about it. He explains:
I am writing to let you know of the launch of a new free magazine called Illuminate: Presenting the latest releases in the world of Christian resources. The main purpose of this magazine is to increase awareness of the latest releases from Christian publishers and to increase business for local Christian bookshops across the nation.
Illuminate’s first issue will be published at the end of January 2013. It will launch at CRE Bristol and will feature product information such as: listings of new books, CDs and DVDs; independent reviews; advertising; features; and interviews with best-selling authors and artists such as William Paul Young (author of The Shack) and Jeff Lucas (co-author of Seriously Funny 2). The focus of the magazine will be aimed at promoting Christian media directly to Christian consumers and will be sent to them by email and on a dedicated website as well as through their local church.
Since early 2012, following 30 years in the book trade, I have for the first time become involved in running three small regional Christian bookshops in the Bristol and Bath area as a response to the demise of Wesley Owen. As a result, I realised the obvious: most church-goers do not know what is available, let alone what is publishing currently. I believe they require and appreciate regular, lively, broad-ranging information about the latest books, music, DVDs, and so on. Illuminate seeks to facilitate that objective by providing that information and encouraging them to buy the products through their local bookshop.
Illuminate aims to achieve this by:
- Distributing 50,000 copies and more through existing Christian bookshops
- Distributing 30,000 copies and more directly to selected churches
- Sending out over 50,000 emails directly to consumers
- Inserting 15,000 to 30,000 copies in current widely-read Christian magazines and newspapers
- Distributing copies and promoting the magazine at appropriate public festivals and gatherings throughout the country
The aim of the magazine is to ensure that local Christian retailers have a marketing tool they can put directly into the hands of existing and potential customers, that will also be driving business to them through the above other means. Illuminate’s commitment is to work through existing bookshops, and to encourage them to step into any gaps left by the closure of shops in certain areas as well as provide customers a means to seek orders from their local bookshops through the internet.
A number of novel features will help ensure this:
- A customised order form featured on the inside back cover, with the bookshop’s address added manually or by agreement
- A listing of all participating bookshops with full contact details: address, phone, email, website, etc
- A unique website featuring an electronic version of each complete magazine, page by page
- A unique local bookshop locator: just type your postcode in to find your nearest bookshop(s)
Illuminate is published by Aslan Christian Books Ltd, a company formed with the express intention of serving the Christian retail trade.
The first edition of Illuminate will be distributed free to all Christian bookshops by the end of January 2013. This will be a full colour A5 magazine with a guaranteed minimum of 150,000 copies to be put into the hands of consumers. An editorial team is in formation, with a number of regular contributors agreed. Advertising sales are in the process of being appointed; design and production are in place, and will be supported by myself. The first six issues are underwritten and an interactive website that will feature an electronic version of the magazine is in the process of being formed.
A further input is my experience of marketing to A Great Read book club members through a bi-monthly magazine. I wish to emphatically stress that while I can bring some expertise to this area, this venture is 100% separate from A Great Read.
Please feel free to contact me or Esther Moore if you have any questions or would like to find out more; we look forward to hearing from you.
Publisher, Illuminate Magazine
Project Manager, Illuminate Magazine
Tel: 01373 823 451
- As previously noted, at the time the trade magazine ceased publication, Premier indicated that they planned to continue publishing the spin-off consumer magazine, The Christian Marketplace at Your Fingertips, on a twice-yearly basis: a Spring-Summer issue (28th February 2013) and an Autumn-Winter issue (29th September 2013).
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