ICRS 2016 Recap

The president of ABA (American Booksellers Association) recently had this to say about BEA (Book Expo America):

Newly returned from BookExpo America, I was struck by a couple of things: one that was great, one worrying. The first is the growing emphasis on the relationship between independent booksellers and publishers—a terrific thing from our perspective. The second, something that worries me, is that what has always set BEA apart—the books themselves—seems to have a diminishing presence on the trade show floor.

Having just returned from ICRS (International Christian Retail Show), the Christian marketplace equivalent to BEA, I have to say that this shift is being mirrored at ICRS. This year, very few of the major Christian publishing houses sponsored authors book signing and speakers at ICRS. Most of these were done by small presses and self-publishing houses. Few of the larger publishing houses were even giving away books as they have done in the past. As a result, the smaller presses ended up getting more interaction time with retailers at the show. In the past retailers time was often consumed with book signings from authors of major publishing houses.

The reality is that only about 20% of a bookstore’s space is devoted to books. Research shows that 80% of the floor space of most bookstores is now focused on other products. Additionally, only 17% of Christian products are actually sold through brick-and-mortar Christian bookstores.

In essence, as the sales through brick-and-mortar stores shrink, publishers will naturally put less of their marketing dollars into this channel and more into the places where consumers are buying books. This shift is simply reflected at ICRS—the largest gathering of Christian retailers for the Christian market in the United States.

I believe there is still value in attending ICRS. It is a great place to learn, make connections, and network. Many of the authors and publishers attending ICRS with Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) report that the money spent to attend the show was well worth their time. The contacts, connections, and opportunities that came their way at the show will broaden their reach and exposure for their books.

CSPA’s booth at the show was busy. Watch the video featuring pictures of our booth and author book signings at the show below:

Related Posts:
ICRS 2015
CSPA at ICRS 2014
Reflections on ICRS 2013

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Trade Show Value

Are you thinking about attending a book industry trade show such as Book Expo America (BEA) or the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS)? These venues present wonderful opportunities to learn about the industry, network, and promote your books.

I encourage you to listen to these testimonials from three members of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) who attended ICRS with us this summer in Orlando. Hear what they have to say about their experience at the show.

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BookCon: A Success!

In a struggling economy and changing book publishing and buying landscape, BEA (Book Expo America) the industry’s largest book trade show tried something new this year to breathe fresh life into the event. BEA added a consumer day to the final day of the show. They named this event BookCon and opened it to the reading public.


For $30 individuals could purchase tickets to attend BookCon (similar idea to the existing Comic-Con show). This final day of BEA show featured authors appearance, book giveaways, and other events for book lovers. The event was so successful that BEA had to cap the attendance at 10,000 individuals. As a result, they are looking to add an additional day to BookCon next year at the end of BEA for a three-day trade show and then a two-day BookCon event.

Interestingly, a number of years ago (I think 2009) ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) attempted a similar event. This event, Christian Book Expo, was held in Dallas. It turned out to be a complete flop.

I wonder if CBA, the Association for Christian Retail, will attempt a similar idea for the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) in the next few years. After all, CBA generally follows BEA’s lead. For example, a couple years ago, BEA added a conference for self-published authors, uPublishU. CBA then added a conference to ICRS for self-published authors, Author BootCamp.

In a struggling industry with fewer Christian retail stores and larger consolidation of publishers (leaving fewer publishers to exhibit), CBA will have to do something to try to reinvigorate a trade show that has shrunk considerably since its heyday in the 1990s. It would not surprise me at all to see CBA attempt an event similar to BookCon with ICRS.

However, should CBA add a consumer day, I think getting the numbers would be more of a challenge as the Christian subset is a smaller portion of the reading public. I am sure holding the event in New York City helped boost BookCon’s attendance. ECPA felt Dallas was the right city to hold their Christian Book Expo in due to the high numbers of Christians in the city, yet the people did not show up.

Do you think CBA should add a consumer day to the International Christian Retail Show (a BookCon for Christian consumers)? If so, what city do you think would draw the biggest Christian reading crowd?

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The Importance of Tradeshows

Book Expo America (BEA) was held in New York City a few weeks ago. Book Business magazine was there and interviewed some vendors as to their take on the tradeshow. These publishers and authors talked about why they felt physical tradeshows were still important in the book industry.

Whether it is BEA or the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS), tradeshows play a valuable role in selling books.  CBA Executive Director Curtis Riskey says, “While there is great concern, hysteria and hype about creating digital content and selling it through new technologies, there is also a real concern that without stores, the publishing industry will be squeezed and cash starved.”

Watch this video and see why publishers attending BEA feel that tradeshows are still important in selling books.

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