Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More on Thomas Nelson

I am inserting a few comments from the blog FROM WHERE I SIT by Michael Hyatt, President and CEO of Thomas Nelson. This will enlighten a few who may be worried about the future of Christian publishing and what cutbacks mean for lesser known or midlist authors.

Thomas Nelson has pulled out from participating in the Intl. Christian Booksellers Association convention this year in Orlando, claiming that the cost of attending trade shows can be better used elsewhere.

Let's face it folks, that's why anyone goes into business. Every company, even ones ran out of a corner of your dining room must make a profit in order to stay in business. If we're having a hard time making ends meet, imagine what Christian publishers and bookstore owners are going through.

An article in Christian Retailing indirectly misquotes Michael. It says;

"...Nelson pointed out that less than 5% of Nelson’s total Christian retail revenue comes from retailers who attend ICRS.

Not exactly. The way it is written the article suggests that Christian retail channel only accounts for 5% of Thomas Nelson’s total revenue. By inference, it is therefore unimportant to us. But this is not what I said, nor is it how we feel. Christian Retail is still our single largest sales channel.

In an email to the reporter, Eric Tiansay, I (Mr. Hyatt) stated:

We personally visit our top 600 accounts [in the Christian Retail channel] four times a year. Those accounts represent 90% of our revenue in this channel. We phone the next 600 accounts 12 times a year. This takes the total up to 95% of our revenue in this channel. The remaining retail accounts—the ones that we would only see at ICRS—are less than 5% of our total Christian retail revenue. I am not saying they are unimportant, but no business can afford to structure its sales and marketing efforts around its smallest customers.

I don’t mind Christian Retailing summarizing my comments. I understand the space constraints of traditional media. But a more accurate summary would have been:

But Nelson pointed out that it connects on a regular basis with those accounts that represent 95% of its revenue in this channel. The remaining retail accounts—the ones that it would only see at ICRS—are less than 5% of its total Christian retail revenue.

The bottom line is two-fold: First, we honored our commitment to CBA by paying our booth fee, even though we will not be attending. Second, the Christian Retail channel is very important to us, but we believe we can reclaim the dollars that we spend at trade shows and do things that matter more to our best customers, like driving traffic and sell-through."

Driving traffic and sell-through. That's the desired outcome for all of us. I think it's more important than ever that an author not rely on her publisher to move books. We need to get back to basics if we're going to survive the coming economic crisis. Word of mouth, personal appearances, and networking on a small scale. It's tough out there, but we will survive.

The King of Glory knew all about this recession before the foundation of the world. All we can do is be obedient to the calling he's put on our lives and let him work out the details.

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