The latest issue of Christian Retailing includes an interesting article on the Rethink 2007 ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) Management Conference and Annual Meeting that took place at the end of April. Representatives of over thirty companies met to discuss such issues as business reorganizations and Internet marketing.
Michael Linder, VP and chief marketing officer for Dickinson Press, presented data from his company's publishing study conducted in 2006. According to the study, inspirational book readers bought an average of 8.2 titles during the year, 66% from B&N, 58% at discount stores, and 55% at local bookstores, including Christian outlets.
I found the most interesting information to be the data about marketing and book covers. (I'm assuming this includes fiction and nonfiction.) The study identified different types of readers, ranging from "inclusives"--who value things such as "community and expansion"-- to "loyalists"--who value "tradition, routine and predictability." The former category rated at 32% of respondents, while the latter was at 22%. Linder showed a selection of Christian book covers, noting that they tended to speak to the loyalists more than the inclusives because they often featured individual figures rather than showing diversity of community. He suggested that publishers rethink their designs.
In another session some of the Internet marketing efforts of publishers were critiqued by leading Internet marketing consultants Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg. These men warned that many online marketing efforts were ineffective, saying that the sale rates were the same for direct marketing, which is a historical (and lousy) 2-4%. They further said that most Web site visitors leave a site after three clicks. "Marketing has been redefined," Jeffrey Eisenberg said, with consumers not trusting what they consider to be sales pitches.
Well, drat. Book covers ain't workin', Internet sales ain't workin', and too few people shop at Christian bookstores. I'm off to take two aspirin and lie down.
This week on blog tour: These Boots Weren't Made For Walking, by Melody Carlson.