More Upset over the Restrictive Trade Terms on the New Catholic Altar Missals from CTS

FURTHER UPSET over the very low discount being offered to Christian Bookshops by the Catholic Truth Society on the New Altar Missals that all Catholic Churches will soon require was again raised when Internet Bookseller, The Book Depository, was seen to be offering the Missals at 25% off – an offer no other bookshop could seemingly match.

Stephen Moseling, Operations Co-ordinator for St Pauls Bookshops was quick to raise the issue with Mr Fergal Martin, the Society’s General Secretary, on behalf of all concerned booksellers.

Dear Fergal,

I am disappointed that you have not had the courtesy to reply to my email of 24th May, in which I expressed my dissatisfaction that you were not willing to meet with the signatories of the open letter sent to you to even discuss the discount policy of the CTS on the forthcoming Altar Missals. I understand that the other signatories to our original letter have received no further communication from you either.

What we have now seen on the website of The Book Depository http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Altar-Missal/9781860827297 makes us even more aggrieved. The Book Depository are offering their online customers each of the three editions of the Altar Missal at a 25% discounted price, with free delivery.

As you well appreciate, an online retailer does not have the same level of overheads that a high street retailer does.

We understood the policy of the CTS was to offer a “non-negotiable” 10% discount to the trade. This unacceptable level of discount prohibits bookshops from stocking these books and thereby making them available to their customers.

In the light of what The Book Depository are offering, how can you now justify the discount policy of the CTS to bookshops?

Yours in Christ,

Stephen T Moseling
Operations Co-ordinator
ST PAULS by Westminster Cathedral
Morpeth Terrace
London
SW1P 1EP

The Book Depository has itself been in the news recently of course when it was announced last week that an agreement had been reached between themselves and Amazon that would see them come under the ownership of Amazon – thus giving market share indeed to Amazon here in the UK and also increasing Amazon’s reach into Australia and Europe.

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40 thoughts on “More Upset over the Restrictive Trade Terms on the New Catholic Altar Missals from CTS

  1. A further addition to the Church Hymnary pot….

    It seems that the new ‘Singing the Faith’ Methodist Hymn book, shortly to be distributed by Hymns Ancient & Modern for the Methodist Publishing House, will also not be available with any trade discount either! Apparently there is an introductory discount of approx 15% being offered direct to churches & online, but there will be no further discount AT ALL provided to Bookshops.

    https://secure2.cyberware.co.uk/~cb537/acatalog/Singing_the_Faith.html

    (just as an aside, note that customers cards will be charged NOW, rather than when the goods are despatched in SEPTEMBER- anyone tried that with a retail customer recently? What response did you get?!

    A very helpful lady at MPH apologetically explained to me that no decision had yet been taken on any trade discount after the introductory offer expired in December 2011. This, of course, follows the pretty meagre discounts that were offered by HA&M on the Church of Scotland Hymnary 4th edition- although, in fairness to HA&M, they did help us once so we could match advertised prices.

    It is hugely frustrating that these captive markets are effectively being creamed off by publishers, and bookshops are being very efficiently sidelined. Especially when we are the people who often do the work for the customer in making phone calls and trawling the web- and the only people who will benefit is the publisher.

    It will also be interesting to see whether the Methodist Hymn Book turns up on the Book Depository lists at even larger disounts in due course……..

    • Andrew,
      Is this something we as booksellers should consider doing an open letter on rather like Stephen did to CTS and the press?

      There were 13 signatories on the one to CTS (I Think) and I’m assuming that many more Christian Bookshops deal with Methodist Churches as a matter of course than possibly with Catholic Churches – thus the effect is greater, especially when one considers that this is a hymn book which traditionally have more sales than Altar Missals generally do.

      Do you know has this been raised with the BA-CBG and what if any response has been had.

      This really is a serious and concerning trend that just seems to be moving from bad to worse indeed.

      • Melanie, not raised with BA-CBG by us, anyway- we just came across the issue because a customer had asked us to order one when it is released.

        Not sure if any of the CBG group monitor UKCB blog on a regular basis- or if we should contact Mark Clifford directly?

        As you say, it is a concerning trend. Discounts have been lower on hymnboks for years, but it now seems publishers are deliberately pulling this particular rug from under the feet of Bookshops.

        • I think some on the BA-CBG baord do drop in occassionally but I don’t think it would hurt to make direct contact anyway – this is a serious and growing issue and one we really need to deal with seriously and collectively I think – not that I can talk on that one re BA as I’m not actually currently subbed up to the BA, but it is something they probably need to be aware of and may already be working on.

  2. I do recall an occasion when a publisher wanted money up front. When “Common Worship” was published, Church House Publishing offered discounts to churches if orders were placed by September, for delivery in November. In my SPCK Bookshop we were able to offer a fairly decent discount to churches and suggested that if they opened an account with us they’d not have to pay until the end of December. Of course in those days interest payable on savings accounts were much better, so money left in a bank even for a few months, earnt something.

  3. Its not just the hymnary pot that is becoming infected competition with Amazon / Book Depository is getting ridiculous – and publishers aren’t being particularly helpful – apologetic but not helpful.
    Just as an example today: Church House Publishing….
    Daily Prayer – Amazon offering 41% discount
    Church House Publishing response……oh sorry we can’t help you with that unless you want to do a bulk buy. I guess at least they did think about it.

    • I too am aquainted with that response from some places – including from wholesalers and distributors who I know are supplying them 😦
      I do recommend setting up an affilliate programme with the big internet shops because that way if you can’t match amazons price and stop your customer going direct you can ask them nicely and grovellingly to at least go through/use your affilliate code so you get a 5% affilliate fee and they still get the amazon price without any extra cost – it does sometimes work – especially if they support you enough to ask you to get them a quote in the first place 😉

      • Or, of course, you can use your own amazon account, paid for with your own credit card, through your own affiliate link, and just agree to match amazon prices without the grovelling.

        We regularly use Amazon as a supplier, if their discount is significantly higher than that offered by the suppliers, and have never had an issue using our own affiliate site (watches as this link gets his affiliate account shut down).

        • Luke,
          You can indeed do that – but for many the question there must be is it really the right thing to do given they specifically preclude you doing it in the t&c 😉
          I admit I used to use TBD affilliate scheme for just that purpose as before last year they did not preclude you doing such, however strangely for some reason this year they changed their t&c to preclude it! 😦

          I too use Amazon etc as a supplier on items with higher terms (sometimes even with items on the same terms due to no minimum order carriage charges!) however I do have to say that in these instances I haven’t tended to use my affilliate code – after all I’m already getting better terms than I would have been so I figure why be greedy for that few percent extra on the already best percentage terms I can get and risk losing the affilliate shop and it’s future revenue.

          Lol – there’s a thought, do the t&c’s preclude us using each others or another shops affilliate site/code for purchases for our individual shops – that way we still get best discount and future affilliate revenue as well as helping another bookshop out too, and possibly stay within the rules 😉

          However in general I do find though that there are a percentage of customers that are going away determined to buy from amazon ‘because it’s easier, because they can etc etc ‘ add here own excuse given by customer in shop, even when I do offer to price match then and there… because truthfully they are just using the shop as a display room and have already determined where they are buying it, so by giving them the card with the affiliate shop addy, explaining they are still buying through amazon but supporting us so we stay here so they can browse and touch it prior to buying it at least gives us a very small chance of recouping that sale.

        • That’s interesting.

          I hadn’t spotted the change in T&Cs.

          When I read the T&Cs I specifically checked for that, and it seemed okay.

          I must confess, I haven’t made a habit of reading through the changes in the T&Cs closely enough.

          Seems to have changed at about the same time they stopped allowing the cashback sites to offer cashback on it too.

          Seems a little harsh, and I personally can’t see how purchasing on a customers behalf is all that different from asking them to do it themselves.

          I do, however, see nothing in the T&Cs which precludes us from using each other’s a-stores. I don’t think that we are associates

          “What is Amazon’s policy for Associates placing orders for themselves?

          You may not purchase products during sessions initiated THROUGH YOUR OWN Associates links and will not receive referral fees for such orders. This includes orders for customers, orders on behalf of customers, and orders for products to be used by you, your friends, your relatives, or your associates in any manner.” (Emphasis mine).

          I see no reason why we can’t set up some sort of “A-stores webring” (remember those!) and agree to make amazon purchases through each others links.

        • I used to order for the LST Bookshop using the UKCBD affilate link; and when I placed personal orders, I used the LST Bookshop affiliate link. It worked well for both of us and there was never any comeback from Amazon over my so doing.

          These days I use Melanie’s link.

          If anyone reading would like to use my UKCBD link and let me know that you have done so, I’ll gladly reciprocate on my next order. I should point out that my Amazon orders are fairly few and far between these days, however…

          Can’t help thinking of the shenanigans with the Brewers and Third Space Books a while back, when they were blatantly abusing Amazon’s system: Philip Brewer says, “Immediately post this…”. I put in a formal complaint to Amazon; they weren’t interested and the TSB astore page is still there. So with that piece of history on record, I’d say it’s highly unlikely that Amazon would ever actually enforce their T&C on this: as long as they’re making money from us, the ethics are irrelevant.

        • Surely, Phil, you mean “the ethics are irrelevant TO THEM”.

          Whether Amazon enforce them, whether they care about ethics or not should have no bearing on whether we act ethically or not!

          I think the fact of the matter is, whether or not the rules are arbitrary, enforced or even fair, unless they cause offence to God, then unfortunately, as christians we are expected to follow them.

        • Quite so, Luke. I thought the to them was implicit in what I said, but perhaps I should have spelt it out. I agree, and certainly wouldn’t condone signing up to an agreement then deliberately breaching it. My reference to the Brewers was intended as an example of how Christians ought not to conduct their business affairs but also highlighting the reality of Amazon’s practice v/s published policy.

  4. If Amazon are offering 41% and Church House less then I know where I would order it from. I can’t afford to lose discount for the sake of supporting a publisher that doesn’t support us.

    • Must admit that is becoming my response on the issue – mind you I do always tell them that’s what i’m going to do/doing so that they can factor that into their figures and work out the real potential loss if we indies really do close for good.

      • The potential problem with that is surely that it supports their current assumption–Indie’s aren’t really relevant, internet sales is where it’s at! If we don’t tell them, all they’ll see is another one in the amazon column, and another one less in the trade column.

        Surely it helps them justify meagre discounts for us and healthier ones for amazon!

        I make a point of telling them when their discount has caused me to go to amazon, or source it second hand etc. I wan them to know that if they’d given me 40ish%, I wouldn’t have to buy it from someone from whom they have had to give 50% or more

        • erm Luke, If you look I did say I always tell them and point out the downfall in their assumptions on internet sales and indie shops. Same goes when I get a higher margin from a wholesaler than a publishers – I point out for me to get the extra 2.5% or whatever from the wholesaler means they must be giving significantly more to the wholesaler whereas if they matched that level they’d get my sale direct.

          The truth is though that they factor these things into their figures and in some cases they count the loss of our sales against the cost of the individual invoicing and packaging and sometimes come up with an equation different to the one we would.

          I can understand this but we do still need educate everyone to think longer term, publishers and public and yes ourselves, to think through the fact that though online (& supermarkets) may seem to be the choice now, in time when large internet retailers (& supermarkets) have little to no competition left, they will start reducing the discounted price given to the public (indeed you can see that beginning to happen now in some cases) and those same retailers then won’t accept lower terms from publishers and then where will everyone be?

          Also if bookshops go from the high street to the extent that they seem to be then how do publishers really get the word out to the audience, and how do the audience get to choose in the way they like, ie to touch, look, read and feel it before making a purchase decision most often? – because the truth is we are the windows to the world of books, we are where people are still coming and browsing, footfall isn’t lessening in our shops significantly but buying customers are due to largely to the pricing issue (and this isn’t just down to Amazon or even just down to the internet, publishers) – however if the publishers don’t want to give me higher discount levels then I am happy to recieve a monthly/yearly advertising fee for them instead – what is the current cost of advertising a book in a mainstream venue like a city centre billboard or a full page ad in an area’s main local paper?

  5. Pingback: Concerns rise as Trade Terms situation crosses denominational boundaries. « The Christian Bookshops Blog

  6. I am afraid that the ‘news story’ that this blog post is based on is actually a misunderstanding by the Book Depository. They have negotiated no deal with CTS, and we finally managed to contact someone on the inside of the organisation last week and explained their error. I expect the offer to be withdrawn in the next few days, unless BD are prepared to run a 15% loss-leader. Hey, why not try contacting us before you post a story like this? Or is it a case of any stick to beat the CTS?

    • Dear R. Brown,
      I believe that there have been quite a few attempts made by various people to contact various people at CTS, most of which have gone largely unanswered, please note Phil’s comment above your’s – however thank you for now commenting 13 days after the post.

      The ‘news story’ remains factually accurate – BookDepository was and are still offering the book at 25% – an offer physical bookshops cannot match and that has caused upset to the trade as cited in the email Mr Mosling sent to Mr Martin.
      Though I accept this is down to a misunderstanding by TBD and not caused by CTS giving extra terms to them as it initially appeared it does not alter the fact of the matter as stated in the original post and does not offer a justification for the exceptionally low terms offered initially.

      Now would you like to offer comment on the discount levels being given to Parish Representatives?

      Please be sure that certainly from my position and stance this is not about beating CTS with a stick any more than the article dealing with MPH or HA&M or any other previous post dealing with seemingly unfair terms is about beating any publisher with a stick – it is about calling into question terms that would seem to be unfair to Physical Booksellers and raising the issue for trade wide consideration.

      • The original ‘open letter’ which was sent by a dozen booksellers to Mr Martin was indeed replied to. This clearly explained our position. But just to explain it again: as a publishing charity with a long history of serving Catholic parishes, we decided to prioritise the needs of the parishes when setting our pricing for these books. To illustrate this point, an edition of similar specification in the US is selling for $500, i.e. more than £300. We however are selling ours for £230. This illustrates clearly how we have priced as low as we can for such a high-spec edition, and cut our margins as close as we dare. We could have priced it higher in order to discount it for the book trade, but this was clearly not desired by the priests who have to buy the books nor by the bishops’ conference. I hope you can see the logic of our position.

        As for the 25% discount we give to parishes on books, booklets and leaflets, that has been in operation for a long time and allows parishes to stock and distribute our publications. It doesn’t apply to the priests’ missals.

        Our people’s Daily and Sunday missals will be available at full trade discount. We will be publicising these directly to the book trade in August and September (publication in November 2011 and Jan 2012 (Daily Missal)).

    • Hi Richard – thanks for this, and thanks for your response on facebook: it’s good to see someone from CTS willing to engage with us at last, hopefully constructively.

      To set the record straight: at the time of posting this report several attempts had, in fact, been made to contact you over the new missal issue. First, of course, the open letter from Stephen Moseling, to which Melanie Carroll of Unicorn Tree Books (the author of this post) is one of the signatories; second, I posted on your facebook discussion board at the time I posted my initial report citing that letter; and third, Stephen’s letter quoted above. I’m therefore bemused by your “Hey, why not try contacting us…” comment when that is precisely what Stephen has been doing and what I myself attempted via facebook…

      Setting that aside, however, thanks again for responding. From your explanation on facebook, would I be correct in understanding that you are producing the new missal as a charitable venture rather than a commercial one? Otherwise, there must surely be a better margin for trade discount than you are offering?

      • Hi Phil,
        Sorry, as I tried to explain, somehow you managed to post a comment on a Facebook test page set up by a former employee last year. I didn’t realise he hadn’t taken it down. That’s why I didn’t see your comment. Our proper FB page is facebook.com/CTSpublishers.

        Actually, when I say ‘contact us’ I’d prefer you actually wrote to us by letter or email, or even gave us a call. We don’t think an undated, unsigned open letter was a very pleasant way to get our attention. I understand why you are upset, but we are not unapproachable.

        Yes you are right that the Missal is, like all we do, a charitable venture. However it still has to be commercially viable especially when the level of investment and risk is so high. Bear in mind that we are having to keep this in print at the same price for many years to come, that we are publishing for three bishops’ conferences together, and it has been very difficult judging the print runs – reprints could be hugely expensive per copy. The printing and typesetting costs for this project are vast and have occupied our attention for a good two years. These projects have to pay their way.

        We have a lot of sympathy for the difficult times that the physical book trade is living through – we too run a shop (CTS bookshop in Westminster). So it is unfortunate that we weren’t able to involve booksellers this time. It’s just we have to prioritise the parishes for which CTS was founded.

        All the best.

        • Aha – a case of facebook #fail: I found that page by typing “Catholic” into facebook’s search box and it was the first thing to come up; it has all the appearance of an official page: might it be worth flagging up with facebook, or posting something on its wall to save others from the same trap?

          I’ve looked through your wall posts back to June and can find no discussion of this matter, and you don’t appear to have responded to Gavin’s post on your discussion board. Could you provide a link to the discussion you refer to, please?

  7. Just to clarify: Altar and Chapel Missals are short discount. Study Missal is normal trade discount. People’s Missals will be normal trade discount. Hope this helps.

  8. Phil & Richard,

    I think part of the problem here in this particular instanc is that Richard is not always the person being contacted directly, much correspondence has been to Mr Martin.

    Also sometimes we do phone the CTS –
    To ask questions like can they tell me why on TBD the missal was offered at better terms, at that time the very polite and well spoken gentleman, said he was sorry but he didn’t know. I did ask if he could find out and get back to me, unfortunately no one did.
    – however I can emote with the fact that phone messages don’t always get passed on or the message left may even lose something in translation perhaps.

    However I am happy now to know to direct my queries in future directly to Richard himself, thanks. 🙂

    • Yes indeed, that’s what I’m here for. You can contact me on r.brown [at] cts-online.org.uk if you want to bring anything to my attention (replace [at] with @ of course). I’m marketing and sales manager and am always happy to talk with booksellers.

  9. R. Brown.

    Thank you for the update. For the first time, we have got a real answer to real questions, rather than stock answers from a press junket which don’t really address our concerns.

    Many of us have tried contacting CTS directly before engaging here. I, for example am still waiting for a response to an email sent via the web-form several weeks ago.

    Indeed a warning like “At busy times there may be a delay of several days in responding to your message.” doesn’t inspire confidence.

    Good to know that we will at least be able to offer standard terms to our customers on at least some of the titles.

    It intrigues me to see you claim, however, that similarly specced US editions cost more than your own. It simply doesn’t seem to be supported by the facts.

    The most similar leather Alter Editions I have been able to find by an American publisher are

    * The Catholic Book Publishing Company’s “ROMAN MISSAL, THIRD EDITION (Deluxe Genuine Leather Altar Edition)” (http://www.catholicbookpublishing.com/ShowProduct.aspx?ProductID=845&DepartmentID=168&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1) which has an RRP of $159 (approx. £100)
    * The US Conference of Catholic Bishop’s “Roman Missal Alter Edition” (http://www.usccbpublishing.org/productdetails.cfm?PC=1584) which has an RRP of $169 (approx £106)

    All other publishers appear to have set comparable pricing to this.

    In all cases, they are able to set RRP’s much lower than your own, and still afford to offer reasonable trade discount (indeed, USCC Publishing is offering 25% discount on pre-publication offers to RETAIL customers).

    I wonder where you have seen this $500 “similar specification” edition. If using it to illustrate a point, it is important for us to be able to actually be able to compare these editions.

    I understand, if true, your desire to put retail price ahead of profit, and get it into the hands of those people who require it, but wonder how these US publishers, operating in a market where there are numerous competing publishers are still able to produce editions for significantly cheaper, while simultaneously offering normal trade discount.

    • There is a simple answer to that one: they are competing on price by producing to a much lower specification. Here is the near-equivalent edition I was referring to: http://www.theologicalforum.org/product.asp?ci&pi=432

      A key part of our tender to the 3 bishops’ conferences was that we would produce a durable and practical volume. The previous Missal is sadly known for falling apart. We worked closely with priests on this project to provide them with the tools they were asking for.

  10. Thanks for the link. I think it’s always best to provide links to the product when using them as an example.

    I must confess, however, I fail to see the difference between yours, the Midwest Theological Forum and the The Catholic Book Publishing Company’s, when comparing specs.

    All three are Smyth Sewn, Leather bound, board backed editions.

    All three include “durable” endsheets.

    All three include extra thick paper for the most frequently used parts (CTS and MTF 100gsm, CBP 118gsm.)

    All include Guilt edges, full colour pictures, “durable” leather tabs (CBP offer a lifetime guarantee on theirs)… I could go on.

    I may be wrong, I haven’t seen any of them in real life, but my feeling is, from looking at the websites, there isn’t a single thing you have listed as important that isn’t matched or superseded by the CBP edition.

    As I said, I could be wrong, yours may be of significantly superior construction, and represent much better value per use, but, even disregarding the difference in trade discount, I find it hard to find £130 of difference between the two. Indeed, your copy would need to last more than twice as long as the CBP edition to justify “Cost per use” difference.

    I am fully aware that bidding on this sort of thing is a tricky business, and you may have no flexibility in how this has been produced when it all comes down to it, and thank you for your honesty and the up-front discussions you have now chosen to engage with.

    We are all just trying to understand how we proceed with this particular situation, and it is made particularly difficult in light of what appears to be available elsewhere in the increasingly global marketplace in which we now live.

    Amazon in the UK, for example, is taking pre-orders on the USCCB American imports at prices we cannot hope to compete with, if we limit ourselves to your editions
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Roman-Missal-U-S-C/dp/0899420745/ref=pd_sim_sbs_b_3
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Roman-Missal-U-S-C/dp/0899420672/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1311607974&sr=8-2
    And we are deluding ourselves if we believe that customers will not compare these editions and complain that our price is more than three times more than the US price (£74.06 on pre-order right now), especially when we have to tell them that it will not be eligable for the 10% Church discount we normally offer.

    • Yes you have a good point. However the US editions are not authorised for this country, and they won’t be much use seeing as the national calendar of saints will be all different. The only reason we know that the MTF edition is slightly below our specification is because we are using the same printer in Italy, and they told us that ours is the higher specification.

      • Agreed.

        They will ultimately likely not actually buy the US Edition unless they want to make significant changes in order to actually use it. That will not, however, stop them from using it when comparing editions “like for like”.

        Customer: “What do you mean I don’t even get my usual church discount! I’ve seen almost exactly the same thing on amazon for £74.06. This is already 3x the price. ”
        Me: “That’s the US Edition. It has a different calendar of Saints.”
        Customer: “Oh… But otherwise, it’s identical”
        Me: “More or less, yes. Ours is slightly better specced I think.”
        Customer: “That’s one expensive calendar! So how come I have to pay three times the price for a calendar?”
        Me: “Urm… well… ahhh….”

        How do you expect me to finish this sentence?

        Please don’t think me belligerent. As I say, I appreciate how up front you have been about this.

        We are all just trying to understand how best to deal with this situation—one which is, I’m sure, causing you far more headaches than it will ever cause any of us.

        Generally, I feel information about this change over has been lacking. The vast majority of customers who’ve asked about it have been lay people who had not realised that the people’s missals don’t come until later.

        When asking yourselves and collins if and when the people’s missals were changing i got no reply at all from you, and my Collins rep answered “not that I know of”.

        Until recently, your website had no information at all about the people’s missals (Sunday and Weekday).

        I understand that approval takes time to get, but, as I say, information, both for the trade and general public, has been greatly lacking.

        It may sound aggressive and critical—it is certainly not meant to be so—we have just finally found someone who is actually informed enough to be able to answer questions, and given the lack of information to this point, I just want to make sure I am as well informed as it is possible to be.

        • I understand it takes some explaining, but our customer service team has found people are quite okay about the price when they understand what they are getting for their money. Many priests have commented that it’s actually very good value when you realise what you are getting.

          The people’s missals product pages have been up on our site since soon after Easter. Here http://www.cts-online.org.uk/acatalog/info_RM07.html and here http://www.cts-online.org.uk/acatalog/info_RM06.html

          We haven’t been able to confirm the RRP yet as we received approval for publication quite late, and as you may guess the typesetting is a huge job, and as the length of the book is one of the key determinants of price, we won’t be able to finalise the RRP until the typesetting is more or less done. Nevertheless we are committed to giving trade discounts on this one, and we’ll be contacting the trade with information as soon as we can. We are including Latin facing text for the Order of Mass and priest’s prayers, so that’s an additional selling point for many people. Also some devotional content. And the two editions are Sunday and Daily (not weekday) so the latter will include everything, Sundays and weekdays – first UK edition to do so. Sunday due out in November, Daily in January 2012.

  11. Once again. Thanks for the reply.

    Yes, the Peoples information has been available since easter. We first found those pages it in late may-early june.

    And, once again, we understand that the biggest issue you faced has been the rights issue.

    However, given that we have been being asked about this for more than a year, I still stand by the statement “information about this change over has been lacking.” Not necessarily from CTS or Collins (you yourselves have perhaps felt the same way) but in general.

    I appreciate that, when priests have been presented with the facts about this edition, they see it as good value. Perhaps there is some merit in producing a “Key Features” breakdown sheet for retailers, as we will unfortunately be the ones in the firing line, unable to explain why there is such a huge disparity in prices.

    Unlike you, as retailers, we have not been privy to the ins-and-outs of the production of this book, nor would we expect to be—there sort of difficulties are why we are not publishers. However, on the merit of the information available to us on your website, I cannot point out what the features (aside from it having the UK Calendar of Saints, and being a slightly higher specification to one of the US editions) which make this edition good value.

    Like many christian retailers, I am not a Roman Catholic, but do serve a significant number of them. Walsall used to be home of a dedicated Catholic bookshop, which has now unfortunately closed, and as such, we do have a pretty solid customer base.

    However, in my experience, finding information about these things has been somewhat akin to getting blood from a stone. For example, I (and, I hasten to add, the majority of my customers who purchase them) didn’t realise that there was a difference between the people’s missal, and the priests one, so many were horrified when I quoted them a minimum price of £50 for the new edition.

    I sell maybe 40-50 Sunday Missals each year, and a lot of my customers have been asking me for the new missal for, as I say, over a year, without any awareness that the priests missal, and the sunday missal they use every week are two different things. They are regular churchgoers who have for the last year or more heard both anecdotally and from the pulpit that a new translation of the missal is coming, and have been approaching me about it, and I have had little to no information to give them.

    My Church customers, who are a a much smaller, but significant, number, are beginning to approach me about the new missal, and are unable to understand why it is not available with their regular church discount (10%). I cannot tell them what features this new edition has, short of pointing them to your website.

    I have yet to have any churches actually place an order, and worry that they are not doing so because of price and lack of discount. I worry that they will take to the internet, (which will normally be amazon, rather than the CTS website) where they will find the aforementioned US imports, and, in spite of your being upfront about the difficulties you have faced, will ask me questions which I can still not sufficiently answer.

    As I’ve always said, We’re just trying to understand how to make the best of a difficult situation.

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