ICRS

ICRS 2012 – Observations

By Steve Laube

This year’s ICRS (International Christian Retailing Show) was a great time of celebration and doing a lot of business.

First I have to celebrate with Four award winning clients!

AWSA (Advance Writers & Speakers Association)
Fiction Book of the Year

Susan May Warren – Heiress (Summerside)

The Christy Awards

Ronie Kendig – Wolfsbane (Barbour) – best Contemporary Romance

Ginny Yttrup – Words (B&H Publishing Group) – best First Novel

Lisa Bergren – Waterfall (David C. Cook) – best Young Adult

I am so honored to represent such wonderful writers! It is especially meaningful having traveled the journey of each book with each author. Ask the authors for the story behind their story!

As for business, we had a lot of great meetings with publishers, editors, and authors. Tamela Hancock Murray and I had 23 scheduled appointments on Monday and Tuesday. It meant flitting from place to place in record time, especially since some appointments were on the convention floor and others were at one of the main convention hotels. (See Tamela’s post later this week for her perspective on the event.)

We also had over 20 of our clients in attendance which made it fun to say hello and enjoy some short “hallway” conversations.

This was my 31st consecutive booksellers convention. Tamela was a witness that when we walked into the convention hall for the first time I audibly gasped. I stood there in a stunned posture for a moment because, for the first time in three decades, I could see both ends of the convention hall from where I stood. It felt so small! But after a few hours it became evident that virtually every publisher and distributor was there, but their footprint was smaller. In other words instead of having a massive display booth, the publisher had a third of the floor space as they have had in the past. This shrank the total square footage of the event. It is interesting that every year we comment on how small the convention feels. But everyone was in agreement on this year’s event.

In addition there were fewer gift product booths than I remembered and really only one big music booth (EMI). I suspect the entire event could have been held in a super-sized hotel ballroom instead of a convention center.

The International Marketplace was a buzz of busyness as usual. They really should expand that section of the sales floor because there was barely enough room to move around and not enough places to have meetings.

The tone and attitude of the industry was one of “we have survived the worst.” And one of enthusiasm and excitement about new properties and new opportunities, especially in the digital arena. Since our agency has had an author in the Tyndale Digital First program and one of Tamela’s clients is the launch author for Zondervan’s new digital fiction program (see last Thursday’s post), we had a number of conversations about what works and what doesn’t in this fledgling category.

We were very glad that a couple publishers brought a full roster of editorial staff to the event. This allowed us to have some one-on-one time with acquisitions editors we normally do not get to see at conferences or even during visits to publisher’s headquarters.

All in all I would say this was a great year for further cementing great relationships and for building a number of new ones.

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More Convention Highlights!

As you know from reading our own Steve Laube’s excellent insights on this blog about ICRS, the days were busy, exciting, and invigorating. The convention confirmed our optimism about Christian publishing’s bright future.

I’ve been to the convention a number of times and have always been blessed. This year, it took place in Atlanta, a lovely city that offers hot, sunny, humid weather. My biggest challenge was trying to keep my hair presentable.

A writer following ICRS news would think this event has shrunk to nothing, but in fact, the Convention Center overflowed with exhibitors. All total, 21 writers from The Steve Laube Agency were in attendance.

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Convention Time!

by Steve Laube

Last week was the 2011 International Christian Retailing Show (ICRS) in Atlanta, Georgia. Tamela Hancock Murray and I  had a busy time. Statistics released declared that professional attendance was up 9.7% to 1,748, primarily representing buyers. Total attendance was up 5.83% to 4,918. International attendance was up 16.17% to 431 attendees from 61 countries.

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ICRS Observations 2010

Some have asked for my thoughts on this past week’s International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) in St. Louis. I’m glad to answer. This was my 29th consecutive booksellers convention. At its height there were approximately 14,000 in attendance, many years ago. That is no longer the case. Statistics released indicate …

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2009 ICRS Observations

Like many going into the 2009 ICRS convention (aka CBA or the Christian Booksellers Association convention) I was wondering what would be found. It was great to see that instead of the projected doom and gloom there was light and hope. (Yes, that is Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber in the photo to the left – courtesy of Christian Retailing Magazine.) A few observations:

1) The total convention exhibit floor was about 30% smaller than in past years and the middle section, housing CBA’s events and displays was HUGE. In fact you could walk through the entire book section very rapidly for the first time in years. Everything seemed condensed.

2) The net effect of the smaller sales floor was that you felt the crowds. There was noise, energy, and excitement in the air. This was a major change over previous years where it always felt so quiet.

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ICRS / CBA Bookseller’s Convention

Today is the official opening of the convention in Denver. This year will be my 28th consecutive ICRS (International Christian Retail Show) or CBA as we veterans still call it (Christian Booksellers Association Convention). I absolutely love the experience. I’ve attended as a retailer, as an exhibitor, and now as an “industry professional.” I find it amusing that each name badge is color-coded to help exhibitors know whether the person in their booth is a bookseller (and thereby a potential customer) or a browser, like me. What makes it particularly fun is that the “agent” color is black….the color of an agent’s soul.

PRO: There is nothing like the experience of walking the floor of the world’s largest Christian bookstore. Everything is there, the good, the bad, and the outrageous (like the balloon art crucifix or the painting of a junkie shooting heroin into the arm of Jesus). The spirit is electric. It can be overwhelming, but ultimately it is a picture of God at work. As a writer you can meet key people, network with fellow writers, collect catalogs (those that aren’t digital), and simply increase knowledge of what the industry is all about.

CON: Unrealized expectations. Too many writers think the convention should be all about them. It isn’t. Disappointment is palatable with some folks at the end of the experience. Their publisher didn’t pay enough attention to them; not enough people came to their signing; no editor was available for an appointment…etc. Go to the convention with modest expectations and the chance of disappointment with be minimized.

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Christy Awards

Tonight was the tenth annual Christy Awards which honors the best in Christian fiction. We were very proud to have six clients as finalists!

To my eternal delight two clients won!

Marlo Schalesky won in the contemporary romance category for her book Beyond the Night (Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group).

Tracey Bateman won in the contemporary series category for her book You Had Me at Goodbye (Faithwords).

Since neither Marlo or Tracey could attend, I had the privilege of accepting their awards and reading their speech. A thrill and an honor.

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