Tuesday, July 24, 2007
As promised, here's the second half of the letter from Michael Covington (posted with permission).
Lastly, I find it fascinating to see how enamored Christian authors are with the ICRS experience. As one who has attended more than a dozen of the summer shows and an equal number of the CBA winter events (which is being replaced with more of a conference event next year), I can understand the excitement of having that many people together in one place to celebrate all of the Christian wares that Christian retailers are offering these days. Blog after blog tell the story of how many authors look forward to the ICRS week. However, just as with data, those in attendance at this show, though a viable channel for the books these authors write, only represent a segment of their respective markets and ultimately they are not the final decision maker as to whether a book leaves the shelf or not (that would be the consumer). Trade shows have become a model of the past, it’s the reason that ECPA shut down its regional trade shows two years ago. Though our members found our shows to be very beneficial (retailers had their travel/accommodations paid for if they placed a min. # of orders), they felt that many stores no longer used trade shows to place orders for products, instead preferring to order from the convenience of their stores, utilizing their inventory control systems to make more informed decisions. In fact, in my former life as a retailer we stopped placing book orders at the CBA show more than ten years ago.
For this reason, ECPA has launched the Christian Book Expo. Far from a trade show, the CBE will be focused on connecting the author with the reader. The show will be marketed to anyone who makes or influences a book buying decision. Similar to a Book Fair concept, these types of shows are in a static location year after year (the first being in Dallas) in order to build a local brand and feature hundreds of author seminars, workshops, etc. to attract the person they really need to connect with. I am sending you an article from our monthly member newsletter, written by our board chairman Mike Hyatt (Pres. & CEO of Thomas Nelson) to give you a better, and more thorough description. You can also read his comments that he made from his blog during ICRS by going to: http://www.michaelhyatt.com/fromwhereisit/2007/07/icrs-day-one.html.
At this point I am only sending this to you, because of all the blogging Christian authors I have found out there, you seem to really have a grasp on the information/data side of things as well as the importance of reaching the reader (the two not being mutually exclusive). My hope is that Christian authors will grab a hold of the vision for this show and make it a tremendous event that will help to raise awareness for Christian books, wherever the consumer decides to buy them. We officially launched the show last week during ICRS and already have formal commitments from more than 30 Christian publishers to participate. Indeed, this will be the only event of its kind and could attract upwards of 10 – 15k people. The Dallas/Ft Worth metroplex is the single largest mega-church market in America and it only makes sense to hold CBE there each year. If the format is successful and the metrics work for our members, then we will look at replicating the event in cities such as Atlanta, LA, and Chicago. But, one step at a time.
Sorry for the really long e-mail, but I have a sense this may give you fodder for your “bloggees”. Oh, and a curious side-note, your publisher helped us in designing the logo for the first ever CBE.
Final note: Although I hear from many of you BGs that you are interested in being updated about issues in our publishing world such as data-gathering systems, these kinds of posts typically don't generate many comments. I think most people read the information, go "Hm, interesting, didn't know that"--but don't think of much to comment about. Today, I hope some of you will chime in and help me thank Michael Covington for taking the time to write this letter that is informative to us all. Thanks, Michael!
"Sneak Pique" for tomorrow ... The Photo from ICRS. You'll see it here first, folks.