By now you’ve heard that
participation at ICRS, the International Christian Retailers Show
(formerly the Christian Booksellers Association show), was down. The
event was in Orlando, Florida, and was smaller in both the number of
booths and attendees, the lowest since the ’80s. The price of travel
probably had something to do with it.
A lot of business took place,
though. Three agents from our agency, Joyce Hart, Diana Flegal, and
myself, met with editors from various houses in a whirlwind of
appointments thirty minutes apart. I left the show with a contract from
Kregal on Graham Garrison’s Tribute, and I met with
the editorial, sales, and publicity folks from BJU Press on one of my
own titles Beyond the Smoke, a YA coming out in
January. I also came away with several other working leads.
The Christy Awards led the show,
and those winners have been well publicized. Having a month lead time
for this column, I’ll try to concentrate more on tidbits that aren’t as
widely known. We saw special screenings of a new movie from the
creators of Facing the Giants entitled Fireproof.
I didn’t get to one of the screenings, but everybody at ICRS was
talking about what an awesome show it was. It’s set to hit the big
screen September 26. I plan to see it.
For the second year in a row,
the ECPA Christian Book of the Year has made history. In 2007, the
award went to a novel and a woman for the first time, when Karen
Kingsbury took the top prize for Ever After. This
year also broke the mold in two ways: It’s the first time an audio book
has won, and the first time a Bible has won. Thomas Nelson’s The
Word of Promise New Testament Audio Bible beat 229 other
entries from thirty-five Christian publishers. It also tied for the
Retailers Choice Award for best audio book, sharing the award with
Zondervan for its Inspired By . . . The Bible Experience: The
At Crossings Book Club’s annual
opening night ICRS reception, held on July 13 at The Peabody Orlando,
Crossings editor-in-chief, Brigitte Weeks, made the surprise
announcement of Bertelsmann’s sales of all of its book clubs to Najafi
Companies of Phoenix, a private investment group. Not to be outdone,
Zondervan created a big buzz by unveiling Symtio, a new program
designed to help retailers compete in the emerging digital world. It
will use store kiosks to allow consumers to buy books the way they have
been buying iTunes.
The Advanced Writers and
Speakers Association (AWSA) gave their award for Publisher of the year
to Crossway Books. The Golden Scroll for Editor of the year went to
Phyllis Boultinghouse of Howard Books, Fiction Editor to Nick Harrison
of Harvest House, and Member of the Year to Kathi Macias. A Lifetime
Achievement award went to Florence Littauer.
More tidbits? Amazon, already
the world’s largest bookstore, just bought one of its major competitors
ABE Books. So the biggest kid in the playground just keeps getting
bigger. David Shepherd and David Webb have left B
& H. Karen
Ball will be heading up fiction acquisition there.
David (Webb) said he
is pleased with the role he had in fiction at B & H and plans
to continue working in the industry, “going where the Lord sends me.”
Ron Benrey is joining his wife,
Janet, in her literary agency. I spent time with them at the Oregon
Christian Writers Conference in Portland, and he is very much enjoying
his new role. He worked with her closely early on, particularly doing
legal and contract work.
Speaking of the Portland
conference, the attendance was excellent, and the secluded conference
center was cool and refreshing. I went from there to Houston, where I
am now, for the Inspirational Writers Alive, and while cool and
refreshing is not in the cards, it looks to be a good workshop and will
lead off with a multi-author public book signing tonight out at the
Charlene Patterson and Dave Long
at Bethany said they were adding a new editorial assistant to their
department to allow them to handle things more efficiently. Tony
Collins at Lion-Hudson said that 70 percent of their fiction was
American fiction with American authors. Ken Peterson said he is now the
publisher for both Waterbrook and Multnomah, even though they are
treated as separate entities under the Random House umbrella. And I
know you join those of us at Hartline when we extend our sympathy to
Chris Howard, whose dad passed away recently.
Many opinions circulate about
ICRS because of attendance and the absence of a number of significant
booths. Is it coming back stronger next year? Christian Book Expo will
be held in Dallas March 20-22 next year, aimed at consumers rather than
retailers. What role will that play? Stay tuned, folks, the only thing
that is constant in this industry is change.