Kingsway: John Paculabo Responds

My thanks to John Paculabo of Kingsway for taking time out of his busy schedule to respond to some of the concerns that have been raised in recent posts here and in the letters section of Christian Marketplace over the last three issues (April | May | June).

Since John’s comment is fairly long, I’ll take it section by section:

Dear Bloggers,

I have been cautious with regards to contributing to this site again, as some of the comments I have seen here over recent months have been questionable to say the least. That Phil Groom feels that for the sake of transparency it is acceptable to create a blog that has no editorial checks is in my view dangerous as it allows those who wish to simply vent, name call, and at times pour abuse on individuals a free platform to do so with impunity.

I realize that Kingsway is a significant provider and throughout our history have never wanted to be offensive, repugnant, or competitive with a trade that we hope we have faithfully served for over 50 years. It is with dismay that I see on parts of the blog comments such as ‘Kingsway is a bully’, and quotes such as ‘hopefully Kingsway have not sunken that low yet’  and ‘As blatantly immoral as Kingsway’ both by Phil Groom suggesting that what we do is immoral and implying while we may have sunk low, not that low at least not Yet!

It appears to me that there are times when this blog serves the purpose of telling folks what to be afraid of, and fingering who’s to blame for it, which in turn opens the floodgates for suggestions as to what the real intentions may be, I have to say that speculation, accusation and inflammatory remarks are seldom helpful.

John, I’m glad that you overcame your reluctance and have seen fit to engage with us in open conversation. I’m not sure where you got the idea that this blog has no editorial checks, however: please be assured that it is checked and monitored quite rigorously and inappropriate comments are moderated and either countered or removed as necessary. In particular, I do not provide a platform for contributors “to simply vent, name call, and at times pour abuse on individuals” (and, incidentally, I find it offensive that you choose to make such an allegation). I invite you to read my Comments Policy for clarification.

I am encouraged by your dismay to learn that some of your customers perceive Kingsway to be a bully, and I hope that you will take the opportunity to discuss things with your staff to find out what has caused this perception and to address it. I know from private conversation as well as from comments left here that some of your customers fear the consequences of daring to speak out about what they regard as your inequitable business practices. Part of my aim with this blog is to provide a venue where people can speak freely, without intimidation or fear of reprisals, hence my decision to allow pseudonymous comments.

So, John, this blog does not exist to facilitate fear but to offer freedom, it does not exist to lay blame or to open those floodgates you fear but to open the door to informed dialogue — and I have to say that whilst I very much welcome your participation, I find your speculations about my intentions and your running this forum down singularly unhelpful.

I am more than willing to address the issues raised in the blog in recent weeks with regards to Kingsway, pricing, internet etc, and I am more than willing to share with you our aspirations and many other issues and their possible impact including a generation that expects; no demands that music is free!

However I am not willing to commit discussion to a blog where those with any axe to grind can snipe from the cover of their office, but face to face is different. I am more than happy to meet in London or anywhere else for that matter at a suitable location, and with an independent chairman. (Board meetings and Charity work means that I would not be available until the middle of July), so let’s set a date of Wednesday July 21st at 11am, venue to be decided.

I am delighted that you are willing to address the issues and I look forward to learning more of your aspirations — and I once again extend my invitation to you to contribute a guest post outlining your hopes and dreams and their possible impact. As a point of correction, however, whilst there may be some who expect music to be free, the vast majority (especially in our sector of the marketplace) still expect to pay for it: witness the success of Apple’s iTunes store, amongst others. Musicians and singers deserve to be paid and let us not take any steps to undermine their work!

To reiterate: this blog does not exist for “those with any axe to grind [to] snipe from the cover of their office” — and any who have attempted to highjack it for such purposes have been politely but firmly rebuffed, and will continue to receive short shrift.

Your offer of a face to face meeting is commendable and appreciated: thank you. The problem with that, however, has been highlighted by Melanie Carroll

Thanks for your response but I am not able to make London on the 21st July, making London is generally very difficult due to both cost & time but on days other than monday or tuesday it is pretty much an impossibility due to staffing, and getting there & to a venue by 11am next to impossible too – however I would be more than happy to meet with you in Lincoln.

… and as Melanie has also pointed out, you have a team of on the road reps. May I suggest that you authorise and empower them to address the concerns raised? Whilst is would be wonderful if you could visit every shop yourself in person, your situation is a bit like that of Moses, who wore himself out with attempting to deal with all the people’s problems by himself: I’m sure you’re familiar with the story.

The only statement I am willing to make on this blog is that the internet exists, there is a dedicated community of people, some presumably who live miles from a Christian bookshop who either choose to, or have no alternative but to purchase a wide range of resources this way.

The general perception is that the internet is cheaper we’re not first into this market, we’ve not pioneered it, we’ve not driven prices down, neither are we the lowest price, but like it or not the expectation is that it is cheaper, that’s why ALL OF US from time to time use it for holidays, shopping, air fares etc instead of those local retailers who can supply those services.

We do not wish to take business from Christian bookshops; we’ve worked with the trade for many decades have many friends, and there are many who support us.

In the midst of the most difficult transition in our history we are still trying to introduce a partnership scheme with no risk to the trade.  There are so many reasons why we want a healthy trade, but we don’t control the buying habits of the public, or where and how they want to purchase. Our on-line prices are directed toward the ON-LINE community, the community that already exists and purchase on-line.

Have we made mistakes in this area ….probably, but not purposefully or maliciously, and none of our on-line advertising is intended to nor do we want to take business from Christian stores, it is targeted as I have said instead at those who shop this way already, and are buying resources from a number of established on-line suppliers.

John, I’m sorry to have to point out what should be blindingly obvious, but there is no separate online shopping community. The people who shop in bricks and mortar outlets are the very same people who shop online — “all of us”, as you yourself point out — and your online shop is in no way directed or targeted towards a separate online community.

So whilst you may say that you “do not wish to take business from Christian bookshops” the simple fact remains that you are doing so: your “discounting” of your own prices against your own RRPs — which I do regard as an immoral practice, especially when you do this to new titles that have never been on sale at your so-called RRPs — is undermining our trade and taking away those who would have been our customers. As per Michael Gibson’s letter in June’s Christian Marketplace: actions speak louder than words.

I am pleased that you acknowledge the possibility of having made mistakes in this area: may I encourage you to take this opportunity to rectify them?

You rightly say that the “general perception is that the internet is cheaper” and point out that you did not pioneer this — but do you really need to feed that perception? My perception — which I think you’ll find is shared by many in this trade of ours — is that you are creating artificially inflated RRPs in order to offer apparent discounts. That may not be your intention — but it is the impression you are giving.

I’ll refrain from commenting on your removal of stock from STL’s warehouse last year: that’s part of another discussion, which I’m happy to address separately if others wish to pursue it further.

Once again, then, John: I invite you to contribute a guest post outlining your vision, your goals and ambitions, here, in a venue that is open to all, regardless of geographic location and time of day. If you prefer to talk rather than write, please feel free to record a video and I’ll gladly post that.

Thank you.

34 thoughts on “Kingsway: John Paculabo Responds

  1. Sigh – you know i just don’t get the train of thought at all….

    If John thought you and your readers (of which i am one) were just Internutters loaded with opinions etc etc then why even bother to interact in the way that he has? Why not just ignore it?

    I understand that when you “comment” on a blog, its said, its typed and it stays in the public eye and it can come back to haunt you – goodness knows i’m well aware of that ………

    But, if you have aspirations that will have an impact on a generation then why not post it on our own website? start your own blog? Put out a press release if you want to be all 80’s about it? Send a memo… a carrier pigeon!

    To insist that people meet you to face to face with independent chairman’s etc ………….seriously? Is this whats expected to simply hear a reasonable answer to why your pricing is the way it is?

  2. I have offered to meet and talk these issues through I cannot be more open than that. This blog is not an appropriate vehicle for discussion it’s a vehicle for comment.
    Those who live near London have the option to do so, sorry I can’t take it on the road.
    If a day time meeting is inconvenient then we can meet in the evening.
    An independent chairman simply enesures that any discussion does not get bogged down in rhetoric etc.
    Phil you can bring the above questions with you and I will deal with them there.

    • There’s a sad, almost comical irony to this conversation, isn’t there, John? You talk about targeting the online community, but when I offer you the opportunity to engage online in an open forum, you back away and declare that forum to be inappropriate. Please note, by the way, that comment and discussion are not alternatives: rather, comment and response are how discussion works.

      You say that you cannot be more open than your idea of meeting to talk things through. Of course you can: you can continue the conversation here, in a venue that is — as I’ve already said — open to all, regardless of geographic location and time of day, and which doesn’t require people to take time out of their businesses or to spend money on travel costs.

      If this was a London issue then a London meeting might make sense; but it isn’t: it’s a trade-wide issue which affects most of your trade partners, and I’ve raised it here because I think it warrants trade-wide discussion. I thus fail to see how a meeting that only a few can attend is either appropriate or necessary.

      As for “the above questions” — there’s only one question: on what basis do you consider it an acceptable business practice to compare your own prices with your own RRPs to give the impression of offering a discount — especially on new titles which have never been on sale at the so-called RRP?

      It doesn’t need a meeting to answer that: just some straight talking. Your call, John…

      • Phil – I disagree. Blog comment sections are no substitute for face-to-face meetings (perhaps a hosted video conference would be better)? People have a tendency to write things in a way that they wouldn’t say them, and the subtle to and fro of discussions cannot be replicated here, especially for complex issues such as we are discussing here (and they are complex).

        As far as I am aware there have been perhaps a dozen people publicly complaining about this – through Christian Marketplace and here – so maybe the discontent isn’t as widespread as the internet can make it appear. The truth is that if Kingsway did a bad job, poor sales would soon change that – nobody needs to sell their stuff if they are not happy. As far as I can tell there isn’t a groundswell of opinion against Kingsway, unless someone can point in the direction where I have missed it.

        • Ian,

          May I respectfully disagree with you.

          If you have a dozen people actaully publicly speaking out then it is a pretty big thing – because truth is most people don’t publicly speak out, they quietly simmer or assume the problem is just them, or they just politely stay quiet for fear of upsetting someone or causing a problem – and in our business that’s more likely than in others due to us all trying to be ‘Christian’ about things ;0)

          If in a pond as relatively small as ours there are a dozen speaking out publicly not just in the small space of Phil’s blog but in the larger space of Christian Marketplace then you do have a problem and it’s not really a small one, it’s one people are obviously feeling a little incensed over.
          For each one speaking out quietly how many haven’t OR are doing so privately – something we obviously don’t know.

          As to face to face, yes it is always better when people can meet up together, face to face – however for some of us (as most who know me and most of my rep’s can testify) you won’t actually get a different conversation, I write as I speak and I say it as I think it and believe it, I am at all times me, it’s just the way i’m made ;0)

          As to a/the complex situation not being put into writing due to it’s subtlety at discussion level – erm can I just say CONTRACTS.
          We generally put things in writing to ensure clarity and to ensure there is no ground for confusion/mistake/misunderstandings that can occur during verbal discussions.

          Here, Christian Marketplace,or in a letter/email/press release to all the trade would be fine in disseminating the information as it would ensure all have the straight and accurate facts as opposed to just a few who can make a meeting – though I do personally like your idea of a video conference, but again we are excluding those not technically savvy or not online from making the meeting ;0)

          The problem here is it’s fine to say nobody needs to sell their stuff – indeed some have already publicly said they aren’t and others have said we are stocking less but that doesn’t really resolve the issue at heart does it.

        • There’s a lot that could be said about the pros and cons of meetings v/s online discussions, Ian, and I guess we could devote an entire blog or series of meetings to that topic. Meetings have their place, but they inevitably exclude people who can’t be there; and I fail to see what’s so complex about the question we’re dealing with here.

          The situation is simple: Kingsway sell their products by comparing their price to their own RRP. That’s not a discount, it’s a deception, all the more so when it’s done on brand new products which have never been sold — anywhere, let alone by them — at the RRP. If they were billing their supposedly discounted prices as introductory prices or time-limited offers, it would be a different story; but they don’t: it’s straightforward Kingsway price v/s Kingsway RRP all the way.

          In real terms then it’s Kingsway’s “discounted” price that we as retailers must match if we are to have any real hope of selling the product — because despite John’s protestations, it’s our customers that are going to Kingsway’s online shop, not some separate online community.

          You’re right in what you affirm Ian: Kingsway produce some great product. Great: long may it continue! Nobody I know wants to stop selling Kingsway product — we love it, our customers love it — but Kingsway themselves are pricing us out of the market by their pricing policy.

          If — as John claims — Kingsway’s “on-line prices are directed toward the ON-LINE community, the community that already exists and purchase on-line” why is there a half-page ad in the May issue of Christian Marketplace (supposedly a trade magazine) pointing readers to to buy Graham Kendrick’s new album? As Michael Gibson rightly points out in the latest issue, actions speak louder than words. John says Kingsway does not wish to undermine its trade partners — but that is precisely what they are doing.

          Is there a groundswell of opinion against Kingsway? No: but there is a groundswell of trade customers concerned by the direction the company is going — and yes, poor sales are a big part of that.

          My message to Kingsway is this:

          Please stop undermining your retail partners with your dishonest discounts. You make a beautiful noise — but that noise is no more than a resounding gong, a clanging cymbal if you build it upon deceptive business practices. The beauty of your worship recordings is marred by your behaviour — as Amos said so long ago, “Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

  3. You said it wasn’t an appropriate vehicle for discussion……i disagree but then i would imagine that fundamentally we will disagree on the purpose, importance and relevance of social media/web2.0 & blogging so…..

    Fair enough…

    Perhaps not being able to “take it on the road” is a good reason for why you could make something available online via the Kingsway website where you can have control over what is said & what is published?

    I realise you have said you cannot be more open so i’ll just leave it…

  4. Can I just pick up one small point which Phil has pointed out well and which I had previously overlooked in my reading of John’s posting and that is to say –

    Actaully don’t tar us all with the ‘we all buy our stuff cheaper online instead of locally’ because you know some of us actually don’t if we can possibly help it, some of us believe in the ethics of community and believe it to be an issue of fair trade that we support our local community and that in so doing we build a stronger, better place both locally and globally, some of us really do go local.

    No I’m not an internet hating freak immitating an ostrich burying my head in the sand and resisting change for it’s own sake and trying to live in the past, actaully I’m in love with the internet and always have been but that doesn’t mean I get to be virtual in my commitments and beliefs and live the modern mantra of here, now, me and net instead!

    You see I honestly think if we think local, buy local and be local the whole community and economy naturally and vigorously grows strong and healthy and vibrant!

    All we have to do is start sharing, playing our part and spreading the message, start thinking of each other as part of the whole – the community, the body – each with our own special job to do and role to play that builds up and supports the whole.
    For me it’s not just an ethics thing or an economic thing or a business thing though it is all of these, but it’s a biblical principle – do a study on it and figure it out for yourself and you won’t be able to deny the truth of it – and yes it does hurt when you find yourself having to condemn yourself – but you know what there is freedom in truth because the truth does set you free.

    In fact please check out my blog posts at especially the ones dated Saturday january 9th & Monday December 21st.

  5. If you don’t want to meet then clearly you don’t want disscusion, if you don’t want discussion, then you’ve already decided what’s black and what’s white.
    Phil I suggest you read the verses that Amos writes prior to those that you quote, for when hearts really understand his principle it changes perspective forever. Worship. justice and the poor and our reponsibility toward them as individuals and as a first world Christian Cmmunity are so far removed from the commercial argument that you wish to engage me in.

    • Thanks for coming back, John, but please don’t try to conflate the ideas of meeting and discussion: I’m perfectly happy with a discussion in an open forum such as we have here, and I’ve already outlined why I regard this as a better meeting place than London.

      I’m well familiar with the rest of Amos — and I think any attempt to divorce the way we do business with one another from our responsibilities towards the poor is mistaken at best, as Amos and numerous other biblical writers made abundantly clear to ancient Israel. Our commercial activities can’t be neatly separated from our social responsibilities, can they? Everything’s connected — so far from being far removed, I’d say there’s a direct correlation: trade justice applies globally, across the whole of our lives, whether we’re dealing with trade partners in the UK or people in any other setting.

      I have no desire to engage you in a commercial argument, but I’d love for you to explain your pricing policy, please: do you consider it a fair practice to compare your own prices to your own RRPs in order to present things at a discount? If so, on what basis? Are you aware of the impact this practice is having on retailers, your trade partners? Does this concern you and if so, how do you propose to address it, please?

  6. We noted the remarks concerning the question of RRP’s from day one. Any issue raised by sections of the trade we talk about internally and thereafter discuss with certain retailers who over many years have helped us find a balanced view over a wide range of issues, and in these consultations there are several things we have changed/stepped back from etc, and yes we’ve made mistakes.

    I have offered you dialogue in an open forum, which you do not want.
    This blog is not a vehicle for dscussion, and I note a previous poster suggested that and your response is simply to tell him he is wrong.

    I am happy to talk face to face with you or anyone else………There is so much more than the RRP and the Kingsway site to talk about, we can even discuss the application of those verses in Amos.

    I have made the offer however I cannot make you or others take it, you have my email if you change your mind.
    This is my last, absolutely once and forever last posting on this blog, which ensures you can have the fnal word Phil.

    • Once again, John, my thanks for coming back and for keeping the conversation going, though I am rather puzzled by your attitude — in fact I’m beginning to feel rather like a Today Programme interviewer asking a politician questions: instead of answering the questions the politician talks around them, walks all over them and then storms off in a huff… entertaining for the audience but not really helpful, is it?

      You say that you’ve noted the concerns raised over your RRPs: that’s encouraging: thank you. Will you now answer the questions, please? Allow me to repeat them:

      Do you consider it a fair practice to compare your own prices to your own RRPs in order to present things at a discount? If so, on what basis? Are you aware of the impact this practice is having on retailers, your trade partners? Does this concern you and if so, how do you propose to address it, please?

      I’m also puzzled by your assertion that I don’t want a dialogue in an open forum: that’s the very thing I’ve repeatedly invited you to take part in, here, where everyone and anyone can take part irrespective of time or place. You keep insisting that this is not an appropriate venue for that dialogue or, to use your phrase, “vehicle for discussion”.

      I’ve explained why I believe that it is — and if you return to my response to Ian, you’ll find that I didn’t “simply […] tell him he is wrong”. On the contrary, I agreed with him that meetings have their place — but I do not understand why this particular issue needs a meeting to address it. So I invite you to explain why you believe that it does, John. A meeting is your proposal: I haven’t asked for one (and nor, incidentally have I declined one) so please, go ahead: persuade me. Persuade me — and all this blog’s readers — that a meeting such as you’ve called for is needed to resolve this issue.

      But if you have an answer, why hold it back until July 21st and why restrict it to a meeting that only few people will be able to attend? Just tell us straight: once again I ask,

      Do you consider it a fair practice to compare your own prices to your own RRPs in order to present things at a discount? If so, on what basis? Are you aware of the impact this practice is having on retailers, your trade partners? Does this concern you and if so, how do you propose to address it, please?

    • You know what John?

      Just because you & one other person say this blog or any blog is not an appropriate vehicle for discussion does not necessarily make that so ….

      Here is what i see…..
      you will do whatever you wish, on your terms….and justify it however you wish

      Your implication that Phil doesn’t understand the passage in Amos that he quoted pretty much says it all!

  7. In the context of these discussions, and the future of book-selling generally, it might be worth reading Steve Mitchell’s remarks made yesterday:

    Being a distance learning course, he focussed on how we could access the libraries online books, and with a throw away comment, he added….

    ‘As as University we buy nearly a million pounds worth of books, journals and reference works each year, and we try and and buy as few actual physical books as possible, we aim to get as many as we can as e-books’.

    Most of the other students smiled and nodded, but I sat there as if the world had stopped around me and thought, “my world of bookselling has truly changed irrevocably”.

    The implications of this quite logical step for the university are profound. Not only are they not buying physical books, which undermines the logistics of a viable booktrade, they are training a generation to read in ways which will change the face of bookselling.

    … So what is important to the book trade now is “content” and “the customer”, because the rest of the book supply chain is imploding.”

    It is worth reading the rest of his article (here: The scariest comment for booksellers that I have ever heard….) – he does mention Melanie’s shop in a positive way. I’m not sure what the future holds.

    • LST library is adopting the same policy and wherever possible students are using online reference materials. This is not a new phenomenon…

      • No, it isn’t new – but the growth of consumer products means it is growing faster than ever now.

        Here is a question: if there is a question over the morality of buying from an on-line retailer (the morality being the support of a local bookshop for reasons other than price/range) is there a problem with buying ebooks?

      • It’s an issue that’s exercising the entire book trade, Ian — I guess you saw Sharon Murray’s shout out to publishers, reported in the Bookseller:

        Our current sales are funding the changes in your future business models. Don’t lock us out. We want the opportunity to trade in these new formats. Bookshops and booksellers are still your most significant route to market and retailing diversity is important to our future.

        Retailers and publishers can work together on this if we put our minds to it: see Melanie’s comment on my earlier post for some ideas: Ebook Hotspot Zones or ebook giftcards, for example. Might be worth continuing this discussion there rather than going off on a tangent here…

  8. Pingback: Kingsway Polls: Because the questions won’t go away… « UKCBD: The Christian Bookshops Blog

  9. I am one of those who has voiced concern publicly more than most. I have done so out of frustration more than anything else. I honestly believe that Kingsway have misunderstood the motives behind many of the comments so let me make my position clear. I WANT TO TRADE WITH KINGSWAY! I just can’t in the current circumstances. John you may not be contributing to this any more but if you’re still reading it then get my remark…see my problem…see my heart and give me a reason to smile and buy from you. That’s what I want to do and I believe that’s what many of us want to do.

    • Good shout, Michael: echoed 100%

      To quote myself from above:

      Kingsway produce some great product. Great: long may it continue! Nobody I know wants to stop selling Kingsway product — we love it, our customers love it — but Kingsway themselves are pricing us out of the market by their pricing policy.

      John — please don’t slam the door on dialogue. This conversation needs your input.

  10. Pingback: Truth, Lies and CD Prices: Taking a Closer Look at Kingsway’s Price Comparisons « UKCBD: The Christian Bookshops Blog

  11. John Paculabo wrote: “This blog is not an appropriate vehicle for discussion it’s a vehicle for comment.”

    That is absolutely correct.

    As someone who has contributed to internet blogs for quite some time on a number of issues, I am of the view that it is simply unrealistic to expect the internet to provide the appropriate forum for the kind of discussion, which would do justice to the matter being raised here.

    Blogs are great when dealing with strangers, and the anonymity provides a place of safety and freedom for people to get things “off their chest”. But a blog that is properly moderated would steer clear of anything that smacks of slander or snide language against named individuals and, in many instances, companies.

    It may be acceptable to expatiate about, for example, philosophical issues with strangers on the internet (as I have done many times), but, even in discussion about such general matters, the lack of direct human contact seems to encourage intemperate language and misunderstandings. But this tendency is particularly grievous when people’s livelihoods are being discussed (as here), because of the obvious sensitivities involved.

    I have found this blog helpful when it contributes news – such as the ongoing takeover of the Wesley Owen shops. So thank you for that. But I really think that this discussion about Kingsway is treading a dangerous path, and the line between “freedom of speech” and “slander” is being breached, in my opinion.

    It’s one thing to criticise Kingsway’s “business practices”, but the “business practice” of this blog leaves a lot to be desired, and there are many Bible verses and “Bible challenges” that I could enlist to support that view!

    • Fire away, Al: as I’ve said, it’s an open forum … but before you get too carried away, please do familiarise yourself with the comments policy.

      And as I’ve said to John Paculabo, both publicly and privately, if any factual errors are brought to my attention, I’ll gladly correct them; but thus far none have been.

      You may not consider blogs to be suitable venues for discussion: millions of online discussions say otherwise; and you’ve just joined in…

      But now I’m in a quandary: you’ve just made a snide comment about my moderation … perhaps I should I moderate you away? Or call you out for making what might be construed as libellous remarks about this blog? Hmmm…

      Tell you what, Al: you can stay — but only if you agree to post under your real or full name from now on. Because one thing this blog does not exist for is to provide a venue for people to snipe from under cover of pseudonyms. You may feel that “blogs are great for dealing with strangers” but this blog exists to provide a service to an identifiable community: not strangers but brothers and sisters in Christ, seeking the better way Christ calls us to… and part of that better way includes speaking out when we see injustice or unfair business practices.

      I allow pseudonymous commenting because some contributors have genuine fears of reprisals if they speak under their real names; but that’s not a license to be snarky.

      Thank you.

  12. Al,
    we’ll have to agree to disagree on the appropriateness of a blog – I’ve put my position on this one forward elsewhere on this blog, indeed it might even be in this posts comments somewhere.

    However I accept and have ackowledged that there are other avenues for this to be addressed – I have asked for direct contact and heard nothing – absolutely nothing despite being open to a visit, a phone call, a letter, an email etc.

    I have raised my issues face to face and in person with my Kingsway Representative – and said pretty much what I said here – and asked him to relay it to his bosses.

    I do not hide behind anonymity in anyway here, my name is my name and is also a hyperlink to my website which includes full contact details etc. Actaully come to that I pretty don’t do anonymity much on any forum on the internet.

    I do where possible try to be temperate – but you know you are right when you say what we are discussing here very much directly effects my livelihood and my business in a very real and personal way indeed as a totally indie retailer, however as I have said before and as anyone that knows me can testify what I write is pretty much how it’s said by me in person, yes warts and all!

    So anyway I have tried the other methods and yet have been left with no response on these issues directly, therefore the only medium left to for me is here on this blog as I am not getting any reply, response, answer or discussion from elsewhere despite having asked for it and being very amenable to it.

  13. Phil,

    From what you have written you may not allow this comment, as it is again offered under a pseudonym. But you wrote: “I allow pseudonymous commenting because some contributors have genuine fears of reprisals if they speak under their real names”. So therefore you will understand why I will not give my real name, as I have too much to lose if I did. Interpret that however you like.

    I am not being snarky or sniping – I am simply speaking out against an attack on a company I respect. Defending others against accusations hardly counts as snarky, but seems decidedly Christian to me.

    You say that this is a community of “brothers and sisters in Christ”. Well, you could have fooled me. Making comments such as saying that John Paculabo has “stormed off in a huff” hardly counts as the sort of public (or private!) comment appropriate for that kind of community, which should be characterised by respect and grace. Therefore, given the sort of language and tone being used, I cannot but remain anonymous! Who can blame me?

    Since I will not divulge my real name, I suppose this conversation is over – in accordance with the terms you have set.

    So it’s goodbye from me.

    • Given your explanation, Al, I’ll allow you to continue commenting under your pseudonym if you wish to, though I’m sorry that you feel as you do about revealing your identity. Personally I think you’d gain more respect if you joined the discussion openly, but only you can weigh up the relative merits of that.

      Being a Christian community doesn’t mean that we have to be unrestrainedly nice to one another, wrapping everything up in cotton wool — and as I said over on my personal blog (Seek ye the good…), whilst we can do our best to speak the best of everyone, if that’s all we ever do we’re in serious danger of becoming hypocrites: isn’t it better to be honest and if someone’s being a prat, tell them so? Some of Jesus’ publicly recorded conversations with the Pharisees come to mind…

      So, Al, how does truth speak to power? I suppose I could have come up with a rich man/poor man parable like Nathan when he was called to tackle King David: there are many parallels with that story here (though I hasten to add that Kingsway have done nothing as heinous as David’s adultery and murder: this episode pales into insignificance against that). But given that Kingsway have so far sidestepped the questions rather than deal with them, how would you tackle this situation?

      • Phil,
        Perhaps I’ll call you Betty from now :0)

        Glad you’ve decided to let another Paul Simon fan stay :0)

        Al, just to make sure you understand that is not a gibe but an acknowledgment that I hear what your saying and hope you hear what I and others are trying to say too.

        Thanks for sharing with us, perhaps together we can get some responses and reach an understanding and accord with our talks and discussions here, because I know that’s what I would like to see happen.

  14. I cannot understand how drawing attention to these pricing issues, as Phil has done, gains more attention & criticism than the actual problem ……………..

    And Al, seriously?

    Saying that John Paculabo has “stormed off in the huff” means this might not be a community of “brothers & sisters in Christ?”

    I would have said that comment is observational at best & cheeky at worst – but you are WAY off the mark with your remark!

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