MICHAEL FENSKE of Southend Christian Bookshop reflects on the current state of play in the UK Christian book trade and asks the questions that no one wants to hear…
I’d like to share a few thoughts before the coming together of the trade at the Christian Resources Together Retailers and Suppliers Retreat in June.
I know that publishers and distributors are as much under threat as us retailers, and I do believe the writing is on the wall for all of us in the not too distant future (if you are a publisher in full bloom and doubt that I am right, just have a look at the European Commission’s plans to offer a Europe-wide ebook lending library, which will lead to the big brother having nice profiles of everyone’s reading habits, apart from destroying bookshops, libraries and all. But that is another issue…).
I find it disturbing to see how things develop in the world of our suppliers. What I see is that there seems to be more and more of the mentality of “Eat or get ate” (I know it’s bad English). If you are not quick enough, you might find yourself devoid of the publishers you distributed yesterday. Distributors who were top dogs yesterday are dogs’ dinners today. It doesn’t look much like WWJD, does it, rather like WWII? For example, what was formerly known as a very healthy Integrity-Provident looks now like Israel after Nebuchadnezzar has been to visit.
The relationship between publishers/distributors and retailers has a slightly different slant. It seems that publishers/distributors are somewhat unsure whether we retailers are useful to them or not. Like the mortally wounded husband who finds out that his wife is already looking for a new husband, just to make sure she won’t be lonely after his death, so we retailers are rather wondering how much love there is between us and them.
ThinkIVP – scroll down the page and you may find some Helpful Links…
ThinkIVP is a case in point. My rejoicing yesterday that IVP are distributing the likes of EP, has turned sour at the thought that our customers are being wooed to the same beehive, discounts and all, with a little hint below the fold (scroll down: bottom left hand corner) that the mortally wounded husband still exists.
Then there is the full page advert of agreatread.co.uk in Christianity magazine which starts with “Has your Christian bookshop closed?” Christian readers can be confident in assuming that the husband is as good as dead. Christianity magazine itself goes down the same line with its subscription ads. The list goes on.
How are people meant to worship together at the upcoming CRT Retreat with this hanging over their heads? Are husband and wife going to smile at each other and do as if all is well, as usual? What will the husband say to his wife? Or the wife to her husband? Will there be a lot of cooing like “I really don’t mean to upset you, but I don’t want to catch your disease, darling”?
I am not sure whether I want to be there to find out. The cringe factor might be too distressing for words.
CRT2012: will you be there? And how will the conversations go?
- Tues 12th – Weds 13th June 2012
- Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick
- Facebook event page (Christian Authors, Booksellers and Publishers group)
Christian Resources Together Retailers and Suppliers Retreat