VeggieTales and Other Supply Shortages

A number of retailers have expressed concerns recently about general stock availability at STL UK and, more specifically, of VeggieTales:

No one seems to know what’s happening with them, no one seems to have any in stock and we’re losing sales as a result.

Kingsway have some titles listed but it seems to be a limited selection, and I’ve contacted Big Idea, the creators of VeggieTales, to see if they can shed any light on the situation. In the meantime, if you have excess stock or know of a UK distributor/wholesaler that has VeggieTales stock available — or have any other relevant information you’d care to share — please do tell…

On general stock availability at STL, my experience is that stock levels appear to be improving here and there but it’s very patchy: new title availability has been particularly sporadic. That said, however, I’ve found that in most cases they are keen to address the situation: if you encounter problems, please do let them know — and remember to keep an eye on the STL Blog and follow @STLDistribution on twitter for updates.

Whilst we’re talking STL, how helpful are you finding their daily/weekly specials? I personally find the offers more frustrating than helpful: I’d rather have consistently better terms across their entire range than lots of one-off limited-period extra-discount deals, which to me seem more suited to a retail than to a wholesale operation. But perhaps that’s just me…

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17 thoughts on “VeggieTales and Other Supply Shortages

  1. My understanding is that UK suppliers (probably Kingsway & Integrity) have been negotiating to obtain the rights to distribute Veggietales in the U.K., those rights having originally been held by Authentic/STL, now defunct). It was suggested to me shortly after Christmas that it ‘would not take long’ for these rights to be renegotiated as it was ‘in everybody’s interests’ for these products to be on the market. That seemed at the time to make sense (& still does), but still no Veggietales. Why?

    The same applies to Hillsongs music product, still unavailable in the U.K. for precisely the same reasons. Also the very popular NCV youth and ICB children’s bibles, although I gather the situation is rather more complex with these as there are translation rights issues involved.

    Most of my customers simply look confused when I attempt to explain to them why I cannot supply them at the moment, and I can hardly blame them. Some hard information would be very helpful.

    • John, it seems we have been given very similar information, from i would guess similar sources.

      It is important to remember that much of what we know, or think we know, is purely hearsay and conjecture, however, the small nuggets i have been able to garner lead me to believe that something along the lines of the following has occurred.

      Kingsway brought Authentic Music and video, and all Authentic stock (inc, so i have been lead to believe, Veggie Tales and Hillsong) was moved to the Kingsway warehouse.

      Soon after, it became apparent that the rights to “distributed” (Veggie, Hillsong, Gaither) product did not transfer with the purchase of “owned” product, and interested parties were asked to bid for the distribution rights again.

      Most of the major players (I have heard rumors of Kingsway, Integrity and “some others”) seem to have done so and we are waiting for the results.

      The Gaither deal was fairly simple… Integrity it would seem already had something in the pipeline with this one well in advance.

      As for Veggie Tales, the RUMOUR (and I stress that it is only that) I have heard is that one party over here in the UK is handling negotiations for all three remaining licenses, and is looking to sign one combined deal with all three parties, to just one distributor.

      This (obviously) slows down the process immensely, as it means that all three parties (Hillsong Music, Big Idea – Part of Classic Media / Boomerang Media and the NCV Youth Bible Team) need to agree to the same terms.

      In addition, the whole mess is probably made more complicated by the fact that the NCV rights are held by Thomas Nelson, but ICB and Youth Bible Rights appear to be separate to all of that at the moment (in the UK at least) and Nelson is probably trying to unify this independently of the other negotiations.

      As it stands, my understanding of the situation is that stock remains plentiful, and is still in situ at a warehouse somewhere (either STL or Kingsway if what i have heard is correct) waiting for pen to hit paper, and the Okay being given to unwrap it and get the stock moving. Other than that, as no-one has the rights to distribute it, legally, no-one can although the stock still exists.

      As for why you will occasionally see some show up at STL or other Wholesalers, i guess it is owned (as in, already paid for before the rights transfered) stock, which they are wholesaling, rather than distributing (a small, but significant distinction) and is indicative of improvements, rather than problems at STL (it means they are finally clearing our those dark corners, and getting stock back into the system).

  2. NCV Youth Bible – I’ve transferred my customers to NLT Live – to be honest I think it’s better anyway.

    Daily offers – I haven’t bought any of them since it started – enough said.

    • Thanks for the suggestion of NLT Live, Mike. I’m not familiar with it but it looks good. Unfortunately STL are out of stock of the H/B, but assure me that a consigment is due in soon!

  3. I realise that it is frustrating on the VeggieTales front and I am afraid that I can shed no further light on that topic. However Phil Vischer (as you have mentioned him by name Phil) has recently developed a new series of DVDs called What’s in the Bible which I believe will have an even bigger sales potential moving forward, more information can be found on :

    http://whatsinthebible.com/

    These are going to be distributed by Kingsway and the first two DVDs are released in May and are retailing at £9.99. I would encourage you to take a look.

  4. I would have thought that 6 months of lost sales would have spurred them on to getting a deal sorted by now. Looks like the ministry aspect of the product is way down on the list of priorities.
    We’ve got about 7 copies of Pirates that we can’t sell at Maranatha.

  5. Fully agree with John’s point that customer’s are just not interested in all these legal goings on. If we can’t supply- they will/are just going online to buy. Who cares about NTSC/region codings these days? Google & buy- my customers can do that in much less than the time it takes for me to try & explain all these shenanigans- so who can blame them?

    All these legal discussions are, frankly, just fiddling about while some bookshops will struggle & close. I know these things are not easy to resolve, especially when there are rights issues etc, and I don’t envy the task of those involved.

    But, for the sake of all of us, these issues need to be sorted. Sooner, preferably, rather than too late…..

    • … which seems to bring us round, full circle, to the politics of publishing … *sigh*

      Another problem, I guess, is that the UK marketplace is so small, relatively speaking, when compared to the USA that the sales lost here are inconsequential given the scale of VeggieTales operations … that friendly face on a cucumber hides an abominable pecuniary monster, methinks…

  6. For me, the biggest problem, as I see it is this. When it comes to importing / exporting, the rules just aren’t that clear cut, and they need to be simpler.

    We live in an increasingly global climate, and as such the onus should be on exporters, rather than importers to ensure compliance, or at least an equal responsibility.

    The fact is, these suppliers know they shouldn’t be selling our customers, but by just putting a small disclaimer about the buyer being the importer of record on their site, all of the rights restrictions consequences (not that there would be any) pass to the customer, not the seller.

    Our customers won’t even know that by importing a rights restricted product, they are unintentionally breaking the law. All they want is a Veggie Tales DVD that I can’t sell them, what they get is unscrupulous multinationals (technically) making them criminals without even realizing it.

    As long as rights restrictions exist (and in this global economy we live in, I don’t see why they should any more) it should be the responsibility of both buyers AND sellers to ensure they are compliant.

    I’m not saying that i want my customers to not be able to get hold of Veggie Tales, or any other rights managed product, I just think if everyone was forced to play by the same rules, hopefully a lot of this mess would have been sorted much quicker.

  7. I personally am not holding my breath over the VeggieTales mess. I seem to remember when they switched over from Video to DVD we were virtually 2 years with no VeggieTales product. Actually that was not strictly true – you could get an endless supply of tie-in product from the gift companies but none of the video/DVD which actually contain the Christian content.

    Numerous emails to Big Idea (or whichever faceless corporation was behind them at the time) elicited no response beyond a bland “DVDs will soon be available in your country” [insert name of country]

    I’m afraid Phil [Groom] is right – the market over here is tiny compared to the US and as such I suspect the rights issue is a long way down a very full in-tray somewhere.

    BTW just been shown the new Phil Vischer stuff – looks great. I shall be definitely marketing this as “Son of VeggieTales”

  8. Press release confirms Kingsway have Hillsongs!

    My guess is Veggietales will go the same way.

    • The Hillsong announcement is certainly very good news, and while it does not necessarily translate to veggie tales going “the same way”, it does calm my worst fears, that we will have to continue to wait untold lengths of time for a “combined” deal to be worked out.

      Also of note was Garath Russel’s appointment as new head of Hillsong Music’s european operations. I’m not sure what it means for the Aussie mega church, but knowing Garath, i am certain that it means very good things in store. Garath, and the team he built around him at Authentic, were some of the few remaining real visionaries in our industry, and with very limited funds, built authentic’s catalogue into one which was to die for. I’m very excited to see what he can do with the financial backing of a Church like Hillsong who are much more financially abundant than Authentic.

      We shall wait and see, but at least on the Veggie Tales issue, it seems we may be in for a marathon rather than a sprint. Let’s hope i’m wrong

      • Nice to have some news on Hillsongs at last! My chief concern here (hopefully a short-term one) is the effect this extra burden will have on Kingsway’s distribution operation, which is still struggling badly to get up to speed in my experience.

      • I agree. Kingsway are certainly still in ‘catch up’ mode in my experience.

        I like kingsway a lot, they have a brilliant catalogue, and some great people working for them, and I (perhaps unlike some others here) still believe that in spite of the problems, moving distribution in house was the right decision.

        Clearly the fact that Hillsong signed with them implies that things are improving, and they trust that they can handle the supply, so hopefully this is a good sign.

        I think the bulk of the problems stem from the fact that at the moment ordering is so fragmented, and they don’t have a trade website set up. the bulk of the slowdown i have experienced is when my order is only passed from my sales rep to the warehouse in part, or long after i placed it with them. I know being a sales rep at the moment is a mammoth task, but being able to order directly through a trade website (which they have promised me is going live shortly) will hopefully lessen a lot of the human strains, and improve things immensely.

        Luke

  9. Pingback: Kingsway Confirmed as Hillsong’s UK and Europe Distributor « UKCBD: The Christian Bookshops Blog

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