Engage, if you’re not familiar with it, is published quarterly by STL and rolled out to over 100 UK Christian retailers as well as to a couple of dozen elsewhere in the world, including Australia, Malaysia and Singapore (you’ll find the full list of stockists on the catalogue’s inside back cover, p.31). In previous incarnations it was fairly narrowly focused on church leaders, academics and students, but with the latest issue, May to July 2008, the target readership has been expanded to include “all customers interested in studying the Bible” (hopefully in our marketplace we can abbreviate that to “all customers”…).
The makeover includes a major rethink on the way the catalogue is organised, with four main sections: Study Starters, Current Issues, College Study and Deeper Study. Hit the cover image above right to download it as a pdf — but beware: it’s a fairly hefty file at 2.1MB, although I guess for anyone used to downloading music and videos that’s fairly insignificant.
So what’s in this issue? Sixteen different commentary series at ‘Buy one, get one half price’ — those on offer include, amongst others: Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Background Commentaries (New Testament only); BRF’s People’s Bible Commentaries; Evangelical Press’ Welwyn Commentaries; Thomas Nelson’s Preacher’s Commentaries; Eerdman’s New International Commentaries; and Paternoster’s Word Biblical Commentaries.
Other highlights include John Drane’s classics, Introducing the Old Testament and Introducing the New Testament, both on offer at £4 off, £20 down to £16; the Lion Handbook to the Bible at £3 off, £18 down to £15; and Joel Edwards’ An Agenda for Change at £2 off, £7.99 down to £5.99.
It’s not all special offers: some are simply recent or new titles such as Kenneth Bailey’s Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes featured on the front cover, which receives high praise from Mary Evans, former Vice-Principal at London School of Theology.
Hot off the press for Christian Aid Week (May 11th – 17th this year) we have Emma Kennedy’s Justice and the Heart of God (9781854248565, Lion Hudson, £5.99) which offers ten interactive Bible studies on justice and peace. This, I think, is a book every bookshop would do well to stock, not just Christian retailers: the topics it addresses — issues such as Climate Change, People Trafficking, Israel and Palestine, HIV/AIDS and Refugees/Asylum Seekers — are not going away anytime soon; we ignore them at our peril.
For me, Engage is a no-brainer: great offers for my customers, free promotional materials (the Engage catalogue, shelf labels and ‘BOGOF’ stickers for the books), initial stock scaled out 100% see-safe so that anything that doesn’t sell can be returned, extended credit on the initial invoice and a risk-free opportunity to bring in a selection of new titles that I might not have otherwise considered stocking.
Admittedly there’s a certain amount of hassle booking stock in and organising the returns afterwards, and there’s a trade-off on the trade discount on some of the reduced price deals. It’s also frustrating that STL’s systems don’t seem to be up to speed when it comes to restocking: Engage orders have to be sent in by phone, fax or email, they can’t be placed online; but otherwise it’s a sure-fire win-win deal for both me and my customers — which simply begs the question of why more of us aren’t signed up to it?
Engage: Opening a World of Study for Everyone. It works for me: why not get it working for you, too?