A Cautionary Tale

Humans are tactile beings. We have five senses: hearing, smelling, seeing, tasting, and touching. Good marketers know that one key to reaching people is to engage more than just one of the five human senses with your message.


One problem with advertising using digital mediums is that it often only engages one of the five senses: seeing. Printed advertising, on the other hand, often engage at least two of the senses: seeing and touching. After all, you usually hold printed materials such as catalogs and mailings in your hands.

While print is able to engage more senses, it is often more expensive than digital for advertising. As a result, some companies have begun to do away with various forms of print advertising in an effort to save money. In this shift to the digital medium for advertising, the print catalog has been one of the casualties.

When was the last time you received a Sears catalog in the mail? How about one from JCPenney?

Interestingly, JCPenney (JCP) has recently announced that they are bringing back their print catalog. Five years ago, JCP ditched their printed catalog to focus on advertising more on the Internet. Now, they are switching their tactic and again putting money into a print catalog.

Why? Well, it seems that JCP has data that suggests that its online sales were driven, not by web advertising, but by what shoppers saw in a print catalog.

Publishers can take a lesson from JCP. I know some small publishers who have made the move to digital catalogs only. For those interested in continuing to drive sales of books, I would caution against getting rid of your print catalogs just yet. Large retailers like Ikea, JCP, and ChristianBooks.com know that print catalogs drive sales. That is why these retailers are still using print. So should you.

At Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) we understand the value of print catalogs. That is why we are again producing our annual cooperative product catalog showcasing our member publishers’ products in print format for 2015. We distribute this print catalog to book buyers throughout the United States.

CSPA’s print product catalog is just one of the many affordable marketing benefits we provide our members. You can learn more about what membership in CSPA can do for you and your books on our website by clicking here. If you want to view the 2014 CSPA Product Catalog, you can do so by clicking here.

If you are not yet a member of CSPA but are eligible for membership and want to be part of our 2015 Cooperative Product Catalog, it is not too late. Simply become a member today by clicking here, and we will send you the information on how to be part of the 2015 CSPA Product Catalog.

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A Golden Review

Best Book I Ever Read”…

So begins a recent review by a BookCrash book reviewer for The Proof, a book by a Christian Small Publishers Association (CPSA) member publisher. These are words every author and publisher would love to hear about one of their books.


These types of words and glowing reviews are wonderful to receive. Nuggets from such reviews can be used over and over again in marketing materials when promoting a book.

Of course, not all reviews given by BookCrash reviewers are glowing. Sometimes the reviews are negative. Often, when a negative review is given, the author or publisher is not happy. Many feel that a negative review will turn readers off to their book.

However, unless an author is receiving multiple negative reviews—a signal that the book may need more work—negative reviews do not necessarily ruin a book’s marketing campaign. In fact, marketing studies show that when consumers find negative reviews sprinkled among the reviews that are gushing about a product, they’re more confident that the good reviews are trustworthy.

Don’t let a negative review derail your marketing efforts. If the majority of reviews you are receiving for a book are positive, proceed with your book promotion efforts as though the negative review does not exist. After all, you probably don’t like every book you ever read.

This particular BookCrash reviewer went on to state in her review, “Well, let me tell you, don’t underestimate small publishers. This is possibly my favorite book out of all the books that I have ever read.

That line is music to my ears. It is what Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) believes. We exist to share the same message: Don’t underestimate small publishers. Small publishers produce quality books.

BookCrash is a program of CSPA and was created to help spread the word that small publishers and independently published authors books are worth reading.

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Get Caught Reading!

May is “Get Caught Reading Month!”

What will you be caught reading this month?

Are you looking for a good book to read? If so, check out the 87 books featured in this year’s Christian Small Publisher Association’s Product Catalog. The catalog is a cooperative effort of CSPA’s member publishers.

Just click on the catalog cover below to view the 87 books and find something new to read!

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How Much Tape…

Each year, CSPA receives a number of books nominated for the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award. Each one of these books is sent to us through the mail.

Every once in awhile, we get a book that is packaged so thoroughly that we actually end up damaging the book trying to get it untangled from its wrapping. I am not talking about a book placed in a padded envelope. I am speaking of a book wrapped in bubble wrap with tape wound all around the wrap. Then it is placed into a padded envelope and taped again. Finally, it is put into a cardboard box or envelope for secure shipping.

Of course, the publisher’s intent with the extensive packaging is to keep the book from becoming damaged in transit. While this excessive wrapping and taping is effective in keeping the book safe during the shipping, it ends up being a hazard when extracting the book.

Rarely does a book damaged in transit cross my desk. Most books packed into a padded envelope (or even a Priority Mail envelope) arrive in great condition.

There really is no need to go to great lengths to ensure your book is packed extra securely. The time and money you save by simply placing your book in a padded envelope or correctly-sized cardboard box will cover the potential cost of the one out of every 100 or 200 books shipped that ends up receiving some damage in transit. Having shipped at least a thousand books, I cannot think of one instance where I had to resend a book due to damage in transit (although, I have had to send replacements for lost in transit).

My words of advice are to skip the extra packaging and save yourself the headache of time and materials when shipping your books. A well-fitted package will do the job just fine.


Christian Book-Buying Behavior

Each year, the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) puts out a Consumer Demographics & Buying Behaviors Report on Christian book shoppers. The report costs $599 for non-ECPA members, pricing it out of the majority of small publishers’ budgets.

Being a small publisher, in addition to the Director of Christian Small Publishers Association, I find the price too steep. So, I make sure that I read the press release that ECPA sends out about their report each year. This release usually contains a few interesting and important statistics about Christian book-buying.

Here are a few of the nuggets from this year’s press release for the 2009 report:

Christian fiction (19%) nearly rivaling Bible purchases (23%) among Christians was among the key findings from the report.

Christian fiction continues to grow. This finding indicates that Christians are looking for clean wholesome books for pleasure reading. Historically, small and self-publishers have been told that fiction is the hardest sell. I think this data indicates that is changing.

Households with combined incomes between $50,000 and $74,999 purchased the most Christian nonfiction and fiction books.

Solid middle-class families purchase the most books. This data is not new, but shows that Christians mirror the general population when it comes to income and book-buying behavior. Targeting middle-class Christians is a good strategy when selling books.

Active Christians, described as evangelicals having high belief and high church involvement, in the 18- to 29-year-old demographic purchased a smaller share of books compared with all book buyers in that age range.

This finding, although it did not surprise me, depressed me. While I have talked before about the decline of book reading in the younger generations, this finding indicates that Christian young adults are reading even less than the general young adult population when they should be reading more.

A year ago, I posted the following quote on this blog:

Reading Christians are growing Christians. When Christians cease to read, they cease to grow. ~John Wesley

I fear that our Christian witness in the United States is being weakened by our lack of spiritual contemplation and knowledge. I pray that younger Christians will begin to read and grow so that the message of Christ may go forth in power and change lives.

It may be that we just need some creative marketing methods that speak to this age-group to reach these younger Christians. Do you have any good ideas for marketing to this generation?