Concerns rise as Trade Terms situation crosses denominational boundaries.

In a comment under the post on the low discount to trade from CTS on the new Altar Missals a concerning trend has been found, highlighted and raised – one that crosses denominational boundaries and publishing houses and is perhaps of even more concern than the very low discount being given from CTS.

Andrew Lacey of Glo Bookshop posted:

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.

(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……..

This is, as Andrew has said, deeply concerning as it effectively shows that bookshops are not only being sidelined but actively excluded from being in a position to serve their local communities and supply them – communities that in many cases want to support their local bookshops and that the local bookshops have spent years working alongside them through changes of all types and in every day times as well – to see the publishing houses of these institutions and those chosen to represent them now seemingly actively sidelining these shops is  more than a deeply concerning issue and brings so many questions to bear – not least what has happened to the trade at large and how can we actively and corporately resolve this troubling trend and crisis.

This at a time when US based Christian Retailing Magazine have on their Facebook Page put out a call for Suppliers to sign up to the Supplier Pledge alongside Christian Retailers signing up to the Retailers Pledge posted of earlier.

The pledge reads:

I have been called to be part of extending God’s kingdom through the creation of Christian products that can change lives. While this calling means that I want to see these resources distributed as widely as possible, I believe that I enjoy a unique partnership in this endeavor with Christian retailers. Independent, church and other Christian retail stores are community lighthouses that share my ministry goal. I believe in the ministry of Christian retailers and want to work with and support them as much as possible. I will seek to honor my Lord in my business with the efforts of my hands, my heart, my staff and my commitment to His Word. I love Christian products and I thank God for my calling.

So far Caritas Music Publishing has signed up – maybe it’s time we actively call on all our UK Suppliers and Publishing Houses to also make a public commitment of support for the Christian Retailers trying to so hard to support them and the local Christian communities they actively work alongside of.

9 thoughts on “Concerns rise as Trade Terms situation crosses denominational boundaries.

  1. Christian retailing magazine keep moving this around their facebook page. Lindisfarne Scriptorium was one the first uk suppliers to sign up on the 8th and support it. Now they’ve moved it to notes section and lost all of the earlier support comments.

    • Hi Mark – actually you are signed up over on the Christian Retailers one, and yep you were quick off the draw there 😉 but you probably need to sign up to this one – the suppliers one – as well.
      But you are right and they do keep shifting it about a bit – still all the more chance to keep repeating the pledge I guess 🙂

    • The suppliers one didn’t appear until about a day after the retailers one did I think so probably easy to overlook 🙂 – at least you are committed and willing to demonstrate it in word and deed, there are to my mind many Christian Suppliers that need to ‘blush’ over this issue and pledge but you certainly are not one!

  2. Thanks for drawing attention to this. Caritas Music Publishing also signed the original pledge for Retailers (oops) but as you mentioned I have also signed the Suppliers pledge. Although as a small sole trader business, I can’t offer such large discounts as others, I do firmly believe in No minimum order requirements for any orders and also no carriage charge either, 2 things that I know the Chrisitan Bookshop Blog has highlighted many times before. Thanks for all of your support. Katharine

  3. Pingback: CTS – Are they actively working against physical bookshops? « The Christian Bookshops Blog

  4. The following communication has been received from Methodist Publishing.

    “It is correct that Methodist Publishing is currently offering Singing the Faith to churches and bookshops at the pre-publication prices. However, bookshops will be offered trade terms from 01 January 2012 (once the pre-publication price period has expired). These trade terms will be available when ordering from Hymns Ancient & Modern who are publishing the book on behalf of the Methodist Church in Britain. (Methodist Publishing itself is only acting as a channel to market which is why it is unable to pass on trade terms to bookshops.)

    I apologise if this information has not been clearly communicated to you.)

    Suzanne Johnson | Marketing Coordinator, Methodist Publishing

    Like CTS, this may explain their policy but that still doesn’t make it fair to bookshops.

    • Agreed – how is it that a situation of such great distance has occured between bookshops and the church authorities? That where once we worked cooperatively now there is no communication or even attempt to work with us it seems.

      This truly is something that really needs to be looked at and worked on at a much greater level, One supposes that perhaps it is becase with the demise of the big chains that had more in’s and more weight as it were that there is now no pro-active campaigning and concerted dealing or approach/negotiation that reminds them of the place bookshops have?
      No one actively keeping an eye on the market and being able to approach and make necessary noise, dealings and discussions – this perhaps is another one of those causalties of such closures that only now we truly begin to feel the weight of.

      Surely there must be way’s around this. So then perhaps it needs to be that we need to devise some sort of action group to watch these things, to begin to work on behalf of all bookshops to ensure that these things don’t keep happening as a matter of course, and perhaps it’s not the BA-CBG (and that’s not a criticism – i’m not in the BA so certainly can’t expect BA-CBG to advocate for me nor would I ever fault them as I know they are after all volunteers giving their precious time and with their own shops to run etc and a few can only physically do so much anyway! we need always to remember these things I think) though certainly they have a great and significant part to play and I would love to get their feedback on this sort of thing even though I’m not in the group as I value their skills and insights greatly.

      For myself these actions as we are witnessing with this undercutting and cutting out are almost faith destroying – well at least in as much as destroying one’s faith in the ability of us to work fairly and co-operatively together these days it seems.

      However I am at least glad that in this situation after the initial buy in price where there is no trade discount at least this time there will be standard trade terms allowing us to benefit from the top up and after sales in the future and going on.

      • Methinks it comes down to too much power handed over to one publishing house, namely Hymns Ancient & Modern. They’ve slowly but steadily acquired all the Church publishing divisions, Church House, Methodist Publishing, St Andrew Press (Church of Scotland), and the trade at large has simply let it happen. Do I need to mention their other publishing divisions, SCM-Canterbury for instance, all running alongside their own bookshop as well as the Church Times and Third Way?

        For Christian retail, this is probably a much more worrying monopolisation than Amazon & the Book Depository, but I suspect unlikely to be big enough for the Competition Commission to take an interest…

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