Christian Book Expo: My Take

I didn’t attend the final day of the Christian Book Expo yesterday in Dallas. Instead, Gail and I visited my parents in Waco. However, I promised I would share my summary thoughts on the event.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/RBFried, Image #4641268

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/RBFried

Let’s start with the obvious. The attendance at the show was abysmal. There’s no way to spin this or ignore it. We only got a fraction of the audience we were anticipating. According to ECPA (as quoted in Publishers Weekly), only about 1,500 consumers showed up. Frankly, we were hoping for 15,000 to 20,000.

If consumers had come, this would have been an incredible show. The “product” itself was superb. Programming, production, logistics, displays—everything was first class. The evening events were especially well-produced and effective. (Thank you Chris Thomason.) I could not have been happier with the quality of the show.

So then, why didn’t it work? We built it. But they didn’t come. Why?

Before we beat ourselves up too much, let’s remember two facts: first, we planned this more than two years ago. It was a very different economy. Many things made sense then that don’t make sense now. Our goal was to raise the visibility of Christian products, and this seemed like a great way to do it. What we didn’t anticipate was the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Second, hindsight is 20/20. Any of us can look back and see the obvious misses. Unfortunately, things aren’t always so clear before they happen. Despite the fact that things didn’t turn out as we hoped, I’m proud of the fact that we abandoned “business as usual” and tried something new.

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, here are some of the “mistakes” I think we made and which can inform us going forward, should we decide to do so.

  1. The venue was too big. As Chip MacGregor stated,”the leadership at ECPA swung for the fences,… But they whiffed.” We should have probably done this in a mega-church in a more accessible part of town. The enormous scale of the Dallas Convention Center only highlighted the smallness of the crowd.
  2. The venue was in the wrong part of town. As I discovered in talking to locals, no one wants to come downtown for an event. The challenge and expense of parking is just more hassle than it’s worth. Plus people were concerned for their safety, especially at night.
  3. The event overlapped with spring break. Thousands of people were on vacation. But the mothers who stayed home couldn’t get away, because the kids were out of school and childcare would have been an added expense. I’m not sure how this happened; my guess is that we didn’t really have a choice. As a first-time event, you don’t have a lot of leverage with venues.
  4. We shouldn’t have charged for the event. I don’t know how we would have made the business model work, but the truth is, it didn’t work any way. Again, as Chip pointed out, people aren’t going to pay for the privilege of being able to buy books. Not in today’s environment.
  5. We should have given ECPA a bigger marketing budget. We spent all our money on the venue, production, and logistics. We should have downsized all of this and spent our money on marketing—especially on billboards and lots and lots of radio. We counted on our member publishers and local churches to get the word out. Frankly, it just wasn’t enough. Either it didn’t happen or it wasn’t effective. People stayed home in droves.

I am not sure publishers are going to want to try this again next year. With the current economic realities we are all facing, we really can’t afford to try too many things that don’t promise an immediate payback. That doesn’t mean that Christian Book Expo is a bad idea. It may just mean that we have to re-launch this at a different time with a different model.

One final comment: I am proud of Mark Kuyper, President and CEO of ECPA. Anyone can be a “Monday Morning Quarterback” and second-guess the decisions that were made. But the truth is that Mark executed the plan exactly as approved by the board. He and his team poured their life into this project and gave it their very best effort. I think we can all feel very good about the quality of the event. We simply need to determine where we go from here.

Question: What do you think it would take to make an event like this a success? Should we move forward?
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  • Colleen Coble

    Great wrap-up, Mike. I'm putting some notes together culled from other authors at the event that I'll share with you later. I've been telling everyone that I wish all of America could have been at the Friday night event. It was truly life-changing. I'm still mulling over Max Lucado's words. America needs his new book so we can all Fear LESS.

    Mark and his team did an amazing job and I applaud them!

  • Colleen Coble

    Great wrap-up, Mike. I'm putting some notes together culled from other authors at the event that I'll share with you later. I've been telling everyone that I wish all of America could have been at the Friday night event. It was truly life-changing. I'm still mulling over Max Lucado's words. America needs his new book so we can all Fear LESS.

    Mark and his team did an amazing job and I applaud them!

  • http://www.lawrencewilson.com/ Lawrence W. Wilson

    I think a regional event like this needs grass roots support. It's much harder for ECPA to "bring the hype" than for local or regional entities to build a constituency.

    This has been the model for events in the church market, such as Christian education conventions, which tend to have have both strong regional organization and buy-in from publishers.

    • Mark Kuyper

      Lawrence, I totally agree. We attempted to do that through several visits to leading churches, organizations, ministries, local leaders, etc. The goal was to inform them about the event and get their input and buy in. We believed people would pay more attention to communication from someone they knew rather than ECPA or CBE. it was not hard to get them enthused and several followed through. Kerby Anderson, who attended one of the meetings, did several email blasts to his constituency in the area (one went to 40,000!) and had me as a guest on Criswell Live for 20-25 minutes. He also used my radio interview with USA Radio Network for his Point of View program. He is just one example, but we needed many more Kerbys with more follow through like that. If we get the chance to do it again, we will work to expand our reach tremendously.

  • http://www.lawrencewilson.com Lawrence W. Wilson

    I think a regional event like this needs grass roots support. It's much harder for ECPA to "bring the hype" than for local or regional entities to build a constituency.

    This has been the model for events in the church market, such as Christian education conventions, which tend to have have both strong regional organization and buy-in from publishers.

    • Mark Kuyper

      Lawrence, I totally agree. We attempted to do that through several visits to leading churches, organizations, ministries, local leaders, etc. The goal was to inform them about the event and get their input and buy in. We believed people would pay more attention to communication from someone they knew rather than ECPA or CBE. it was not hard to get them enthused and several followed through. Kerby Anderson, who attended one of the meetings, did several email blasts to his constituency in the area (one went to 40,000!) and had me as a guest on Criswell Live for 20-25 minutes. He also used my radio interview with USA Radio Network for his Point of View program. He is just one example, but we needed many more Kerbys with more follow through like that. If we get the chance to do it again, we will work to expand our reach tremendously.

  • http://lisafayeharman.blogspot.com/ Lisa Harman

    My heart is just broken that the folks in Dallas who had the opportunity to attend missed such a wonderful event. I so much wanted to attend and would have if it had been closer. Maybe a different business model with smaller events held in multiple cities around the country.

  • http://lisafayeharman.blogspot.com/ Lisa Harman

    My heart is just broken that the folks in Dallas who had the opportunity to attend missed such a wonderful event. I so much wanted to attend and would have if it had been closer. Maybe a different business model with smaller events held in multiple cities around the country.

  • Larry

    I wonder if the branding was part of the issue. "Book Expo" feels targeted to book sellers and authors. To reach consumers, I wonder if selling a speaking conference high lighting famous authors would have had more draw. Maybe emphasizing authors or "Christian thought" would have had more bang.

    I just returned from speaking at Willow last week. There numbers were down from last year as well. The economy is definitely dampening things.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Yes, "Expo" may be the wrong word. I think we are wide open to considering any and all possibilities.

    • Mark Kuyper

      Larry, I agree. We started with the word "Fair" instead of "Expo" and had input to change it. From the feedback we have had too many people thought it was trade oriented. Book Fairs traditionally have workshops and seminars, so now I wish we had stuck with it. There are some other good options as well.
      In all of our communication we focused on the authors and the workshops. All of our promotional material featured authors front and center, with the phrasing, "More than 150 Transforming Seminars Led by Authors" (or some variation). I think we just didn't get enough people to see more than the name of the conference.

  • Larry

    I wonder if the branding was part of the issue. "Book Expo" feels targeted to book sellers and authors. To reach consumers, I wonder if selling a speaking conference high lighting famous authors would have had more draw. Maybe emphasizing authors or "Christian thought" would have had more bang.

    I just returned from speaking at Willow last week. There numbers were down from last year as well. The economy is definitely dampening things.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Yes, "Expo" may be the wrong word. I think we are wide open to considering any and all possibilities.

    • Mark Kuyper

      Larry, I agree. We started with the word "Fair" instead of "Expo" and had input to change it. From the feedback we have had too many people thought it was trade oriented. Book Fairs traditionally have workshops and seminars, so now I wish we had stuck with it. There are some other good options as well.
      In all of our communication we focused on the authors and the workshops. All of our promotional material featured authors front and center, with the phrasing, "More than 150 Transforming Seminars Led by Authors" (or some variation). I think we just didn't get enough people to see more than the name of the conference.

  • http://www.twitter.com/danieldecker Daniel Decker

    Love your perspective on this. You approach rationally and from a "both sides" perspective. That's fair.

    Curious… Has anyone asked book buyers what they wanted in an event or was it all assumed? Asking them what would make them come out? Are there any post event surveys being done to those CBE marketed to by member publishers and local churches to try and assess where the gap / disconnect was? Compensating them for their time in responding by offering a % off or some downloadable? I don't know all the details but sure seems that in the conference / event world (overall), far too often there are too many assumptions in play without finding answers from those whom the event was supposed to be directed towards (prior to putting the event on). Shoot first and ask questions later (if it fails) type of thing.

  • http://www.twitter.com/danieldecker Daniel Decker

    Love your perspective on this. You approach rationally and from a "both sides" perspective. That's fair.

    Curious… Has anyone asked book buyers what they wanted in an event or was it all assumed? Asking them what would make them come out? Are there any post event surveys being done to those CBE marketed to by member publishers and local churches to try and assess where the gap / disconnect was? Compensating them for their time in responding by offering a % off or some downloadable? I don't know all the details but sure seems that in the conference / event world (overall), far too often there are too many assumptions in play without finding answers from those whom the event was supposed to be directed towards (prior to putting the event on). Shoot first and ask questions later (if it fails) type of thing.

  • http://www.laurelwreathsreflections.com/ Lori

    I agree a different venue, plus shorten it by a day. Personally I was incredibly blessed, but also I was not there in hopes of selling books. From a layman's perspective, I had the opportunity to meet and actually chat with people I have looked up to.

    I pray they don't cancel it all together, I believe people will come next year. This year was a learning experience for all. The concept is something that can really bless authors and readers a like, just a few kinks need to be worked out.

    I also want to thank everyone who was involved in putting CBE together, they worked hard and I pray the Lord blesses them.

  • http://www.laurelwreathsreflections.com Lori

    I agree a different venue, plus shorten it by a day. Personally I was incredibly blessed, but also I was not there in hopes of selling books. From a layman's perspective, I had the opportunity to meet and actually chat with people I have looked up to.

    I pray they don't cancel it all together, I believe people will come next year. This year was a learning experience for all. The concept is something that can really bless authors and readers a like, just a few kinks need to be worked out.

    I also want to thank everyone who was involved in putting CBE together, they worked hard and I pray the Lord blesses them.

  • http://www.RumorsOfGlory.net/blog Lucille

    I agree with Larry, and his comments about the Expo being geared towards sellers and authors. I had heard about this for months, but didn't realize regular folks could come until I saw your Twitter invites happening during the event. Don't know that I would have come from Denver, but I might have.

  • http://www.RumorsOfGlory.net/blog Lucille

    I agree with Larry, and his comments about the Expo being geared towards sellers and authors. I had heard about this for months, but didn't realize regular folks could come until I saw your Twitter invites happening during the event. Don't know that I would have come from Denver, but I might have.

  • http://Danieldarling.com/ Daniel Darling

    Mike I agree with tour assessments. The Expo was awesome it just that nobody showed up. I think more on-the-ground marketing would bring out folks. Nobody in Dallas knew it as happening. We did well with online and social networks but we probably need a full-time Liason to the area churches. Maybe a panel that feautures the local pastors. Maybe posters or DVDs for churches to use for marketing.

    • Mark Kuyper, ECPA

      Daniel, I think we got something started. Since the event we have had several people and organization who are now "Super Fans" offer to spearhead work with churches, schools etc. in the area.

      • Daniel Darling

        Mark, that's great to know. I really think it was a first-class operation. Honestly, I'm not sure I've attended something so well-run. I especially loved the people with the CBE t-shirts offering to help. I want to applaud you for your hard work. If it helps, I'd like to do anything I can to help spread the word about a future CBE. I think the model is good.

        By the way, your wife and I are fellow New Hope authors.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/chownage Chownage

      I would wonder what it would have been like if all 150 speakers would have emailed their fan base a couple of times?

      • http://www.emergingintofaith.com/ Dr. David Frisbie

        We did several e-mail blasts. Our fan base wanted to take us out for coffee or even dinner. "We can take you out to a really nice dinner for less than it would cost our family to park and pay for admission," one couple told us. For our fan base (we're not Max Lucado, and we get that) the price of parking and admission offset the perceived benefit of seeing the various authors and learning more about the books. We ended up having blessed and meaningful coffee times and meal times with some of our readers. A few of them (God bless them, one and all) did buy tickets, come to the show, and then buy books: ours and others.

        • http://southernreviewofbooks.blogspot.com/ Noel Griese

          Nothing wrong with buyers and vendors getting shmoozed at dinner. But one of the problems with the CIROBE book show in Chicago is the number of vendors renting inexpensive suites apart from the show to vend their products. Someone started that at the Spring Book Show, and Larry May put a quick stop to it with a tactful email to all the vendors and registered buyer attendees discouraging commerce with the parasite.

  • http://Danieldarling.com/ Daniel Darling

    Mike I agree with tour assessments. The Expo was awesome it just that nobody showed up. I think more on-the-ground marketing would bring out folks. Nobody in Dallas knew it as happening. We did well with online and social networks but we probably need a full-time Liason to the area churches. Maybe a panel that feautures the local pastors. Maybe posters or DVDs for churches to use for marketing.

    • Mark Kuyper, ECPA

      Daniel, I think we got something started. Since the event we have had several people and organization who are now "Super Fans" offer to spearhead work with churches, schools etc. in the area.

      • Daniel Darling

        Mark, that's great to know. I really think it was a first-class operation. Honestly, I'm not sure I've attended something so well-run. I especially loved the people with the CBE t-shirts offering to help. I want to applaud you for your hard work. If it helps, I'd like to do anything I can to help spread the word about a future CBE. I think the model is good.

        By the way, your wife and I are fellow New Hope authors.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/chownage Chownage

      I would wonder what it would have been like if all 150 speakers would have emailed their fan base a couple of times?

      • http://www.emergingintofaith.com/ Dr. David Frisbie

        We did several e-mail blasts. Our fan base wanted to take us out for coffee or even dinner. "We can take you out to a really nice dinner for less than it would cost our family to park and pay for admission," one couple told us. For our fan base (we're not Max Lucado, and we get that) the price of parking and admission offset the perceived benefit of seeing the various authors and learning more about the books. We ended up having blessed and meaningful coffee times and meal times with some of our readers. A few of them (God bless them, one and all) did buy tickets, come to the show, and then buy books: ours and others.

        • http://southernreviewofbooks.blogspot.com/ Noel Griese

          Nothing wrong with buyers and vendors getting shmoozed at dinner. But one of the problems with the CIROBE book show in Chicago is the number of vendors renting inexpensive suites apart from the show to vend their products. Someone started that at the Spring Book Show, and Larry May put a quick stop to it with a tactful email to all the vendors and registered buyer attendees discouraging commerce with the parasite.

  • Penny Hunter

    Just spoke at an incredible event outside of LA – The Idea Camp. Totally free. Noone received compensation. Very organic and lots of great ideas. The model wouldn't fit perfectly, but is worth looking at. A life, face-to-face experience can never be replaced by an entirely online experience, but we need to find ways to make live events easier to attend, less expensive and more integrated with technology. SXSW seemed to be a success. Regional events with lower cost of entry like WinterJam seem to also be thriving.

  • Penny Hunter

    Just spoke at an incredible event outside of LA – The Idea Camp. Totally free. Noone received compensation. Very organic and lots of great ideas. The model wouldn't fit perfectly, but is worth looking at. A life, face-to-face experience can never be replaced by an entirely online experience, but we need to find ways to make live events easier to attend, less expensive and more integrated with technology. SXSW seemed to be a success. Regional events with lower cost of entry like WinterJam seem to also be thriving.

  • http://www.margaretmcsweeney.com/ margaret mcsweeney

    Congratulations to ECPA on thinking out of the box. Creative marketing and distribution are key factors in today's environment in addition to economies of scale. Readers are indeed the end market. Could CBE partner with retailers for large booksignings? Costco, Walmart, Barnes and Noble and Lifeway would welcome the high profile talent. Additional end users are aspiring writers such as those who attended Colleen Coble's Christian fiction writing workshop. (She's a wonderful writer, and I enjoyed her latest blog post). Perhaps Christian writing workshops could be further expanded as an important part of CBE. Aspiring writers often travel great distances to attend writers' conferences. Perhaps additional sponsors for those workshops could be well established conferences that could further promote their annual events, i.e. Writing for the Soul, Class, Write to Publish. Also, I like your idea about a venue at a mega church. Living a couple of miles down the road from Willow Creek Church, I enjoy attending the various events that are held there. Bottom line, it's about connecting. CBE has great potential.

    • Mark Kuyper, ECPA

      Margaret, thank you. We did have Jerry Jenkins' Writers Guild schedule a writers conference, but they had just completed one in Colorado Springs less than a month before the CBE so they didn't have much time to market the one at our event so they canceled. I do think it is still a good idea. So many readers are wannabe authors the connection is natural.

  • http://www.chipmacgregor.com/ Chip

    You are absolutely right, Mike — the actual "product" was fabulous. Incredible authors. Great workshops. Fabulous shows. That side of CBE was something that really worked. My jaw dropped when I saw all the talent Thomas Nelson was bringing in — a nonstop array of bestselling and influential authors. Nobody can fault the publishers for not trying.

  • http://www.chipmacgregor.com/ Chip

    You are absolutely right, Mike — the actual "product" was fabulous. Incredible authors. Great workshops. Fabulous shows. That side of CBE was something that really worked. My jaw dropped when I saw all the talent Thomas Nelson was bringing in — a nonstop array of bestselling and influential authors. Nobody can fault the publishers for not trying.

  • http://www.margaretmcsweeney.com/ margaret mcsweeney

    Congratulations to ECPA on thinking out of the box. Creative marketing and distribution are key factors in today's environment in addition to economies of scale. Readers are indeed the end market. Could CBE partner with retailers for large booksignings? Costco, Walmart, Barnes and Noble and Lifeway would welcome the high profile talent. Additional end users are aspiring writers such as those who attended Colleen Coble's Christian fiction writing workshop. (She's a wonderful writer, and I enjoyed her latest blog post). Perhaps Christian writing workshops could be further expanded as an important part of CBE. Aspiring writers often travel great distances to attend writers' conferences. Perhaps additional sponsors for those workshops could be well established conferences that could further promote their annual events, i.e. Writing for the Soul, Class, Write to Publish. Also, I like your idea about a venue at a mega church. Living a couple of miles down the road from Willow Creek Church, I enjoy attending the various events that are held there. Bottom line, it's about connecting. CBE has great potential.

    • Mark Kuyper, ECPA

      Margaret, thank you. We did have Jerry Jenkins' Writers Guild schedule a writers conference, but they had just completed one in Colorado Springs less than a month before the CBE so they didn't have much time to market the one at our event so they canceled. I do think it is still a good idea. So many readers are wannabe authors the connection is natural.

  • Pingback: Your Take on the First Christian Book Expo | Christian Publishing Tips()

  • http://www.aimforperfectionediting.com/ Jodi Whisenhunt

    I completely agree with Lori. I had an excellent experience at the Expo and hope it returns next year. I met many authors and industry professionals and was truly blessed by the workshops and speaking events.

    I live in the Dallas area, but I don't like downtown Dallas at all, so I chose not to attend the evening portions. I regret that now after hearing about the performances. If you do choose to bring CBE back to Dallas, perhaps the Plano Center (on Spring Creek near I-75 in Plano, TX) or Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano would be more suitable venues.

    Thank you for this event! I appreciate everyone's hard work to produce such a quality program.

  • http://www.aimforperfectionediting.com Jodi Whisenhunt

    I completely agree with Lori. I had an excellent experience at the Expo and hope it returns next year. I met many authors and industry professionals and was truly blessed by the workshops and speaking events.

    I live in the Dallas area, but I don't like downtown Dallas at all, so I chose not to attend the evening portions. I regret that now after hearing about the performances. If you do choose to bring CBE back to Dallas, perhaps the Plano Center (on Spring Creek near I-75 in Plano, TX) or Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano would be more suitable venues.

    Thank you for this event! I appreciate everyone's hard work to produce such a quality program.

  • http://www.godhungry.org/ Jim Martin

    Mike–ECPA put on a wonderful event at the Dallas Convention Center. The product was wonderful. I am grateful to have been a part of the event on Saturday.

    I think your assessment is very good. I like what you said regarding moving this to a mega church site.

    In my view, the lack of attendance was primarily due to the unawareness and disconnection between the venue and the people in churches. Some thought it was a convention of booksellers and authors. Others seemed to think it was a convention, etc. Also, I agree with you regarding the location. (I am from Dallas) I would guess that many, many people in churches have not been downtown in years (other than to pass through enroute to somewhere else.)

    I just read Margaret's comment above. What if on a Saturday (assuming a three day event) that Christian writers appeared in the places she mentioned all over the DFW area, during the same two or three hour time slot?

    Mike, one of the real positives of this event was the accessibility of these writers. They were all over the Exhibit hall. Is it possible to arrange "coffee" with these authors? For example, the first forty or fifty people to sign up could have the opportunity for a 30-40 minute coffee with an author. A low key, informal time where people could ask questions.

    The events, seminars, etc. are great but it seems to me that what could continue to be a very special characteristic of this event is the accessibility of the authors to people in the churches.

    Thanks so much for asking for the opinion of your readers on this.

    • Mark Kuyper, ECPA

      Great ideas!!

  • Teri Smith

    I'm one of the lowly, no-big-name, attendees, but I've got to say that I loved the event. I was so sad the folks in Dallas area didn't rise to the occassion. While I was there I kept saying to myself that every Christian school in the area should have cancelled school for the day and taken the entire school. The activities for kids would have made their best field trip ever. And where were the hundreds and hundreds of homeschoolers? If those two groups alone had known what was going on, it could have made a difference.

    I talked to some local Christians on Sunday afternoon who said they hadn't heard about it at all.

    Somehow, the local Christians didn't understand the significance of the event.

    For those of us who attended, it was awesome.

    • Mark Kuyper, ECPA

      Teri, I couldn't agree with you more. We got a list of Christian Schools and homeschool organizations and emailed them with information to pass along to their students and families. We followed up with telemarketing. We know some got the message out, but not all. This was a tough week because of Spring Break. We had good feedback and would expect more participation next year (if we do it again) and the Association of Christian Schools has agreed to help us.

  • Teri Smith

    I'm one of the lowly, no-big-name, attendees, but I've got to say that I loved the event. I was so sad the folks in Dallas area didn't rise to the occassion. While I was there I kept saying to myself that every Christian school in the area should have cancelled school for the day and taken the entire school. The activities for kids would have made their best field trip ever. And where were the hundreds and hundreds of homeschoolers? If those two groups alone had known what was going on, it could have made a difference.

    I talked to some local Christians on Sunday afternoon who said they hadn't heard about it at all.

    Somehow, the local Christians didn't understand the significance of the event.

    For those of us who attended, it was awesome.

    • Mark Kuyper, ECPA

      Teri, I couldn't agree with you more. We got a list of Christian Schools and homeschool organizations and emailed them with information to pass along to their students and families. We followed up with telemarketing. We know some got the message out, but not all. This was a tough week because of Spring Break. We had good feedback and would expect more participation next year (if we do it again) and the Association of Christian Schools has agreed to help us.

  • http://www.godhungry.org Jim Martin

    Mike–ECPA put on a wonderful event at the Dallas Convention Center. The product was wonderful. I am grateful to have been a part of the event on Saturday.

    I think your assessment is very good. I like what you said regarding moving this to a mega church site.

    In my view, the lack of attendance was primarily due to the unawareness and disconnection between the venue and the people in churches. Some thought it was a convention of booksellers and authors. Others seemed to think it was a convention, etc. Also, I agree with you regarding the location. (I am from Dallas) I would guess that many, many people in churches have not been downtown in years (other than to pass through enroute to somewhere else.)

    I just read Margaret's comment above. What if on a Saturday (assuming a three day event) that Christian writers appeared in the places she mentioned all over the DFW area, during the same two or three hour time slot?

    Mike, one of the real positives of this event was the accessibility of these writers. They were all over the Exhibit hall. Is it possible to arrange "coffee" with these authors? For example, the first forty or fifty people to sign up could have the opportunity for a 30-40 minute coffee with an author. A low key, informal time where people could ask questions.

    The events, seminars, etc. are great but it seems to me that what could continue to be a very special characteristic of this event is the accessibility of the authors to people in the churches.

    Thanks so much for asking for the opinion of your readers on this.

    • Mark Kuyper, ECPA

      Great ideas!!

  • Cecil Price

    Mike's suggestions are insightful. Hopefully, the expo will regroup and try again.

    The Arlington Convention Center (about 15 miles west of Dallas toward Fort Worth), would be much more suitable. I heard talk of having it at the Gaylord Texan Resort near the DFW airport, but it doesn't have as much exhibit and meeting room space. And, the locals consider it a bit "ritzy," so if they select it for a future expo, I think they'll be doing another serious re-evaluation afterward.

    Arlington is in the center of the 6+ million people of the DFW Metroplex. Both Dallas and Fort Worth Christians wouldn't think twice about driving to this mid-city location for an expo. Also, families would have Six Flags nearby and they could tour the new Dallas Cowboys stadium that is within walking distance. Exhibitors could have a choice of area hotels instead of being confined to one such as the Gaylord Texan if it should be selected for the venue.

    I hope the EPCA leadership will consult with the locals here in North Texas regarding improvement suggestions before trying this event again.

    Cecil Price
    Author and Researcher
    Dallas, Texas

  • Cecil Price

    Mike's suggestions are insightful. Hopefully, the expo will regroup and try again.

    The Arlington Convention Center (about 15 miles west of Dallas toward Fort Worth), would be much more suitable. I heard talk of having it at the Gaylord Texan Resort near the DFW airport, but it doesn't have as much exhibit and meeting room space. And, the locals consider it a bit "ritzy," so if they select it for a future expo, I think they'll be doing another serious re-evaluation afterward.

    Arlington is in the center of the 6+ million people of the DFW Metroplex. Both Dallas and Fort Worth Christians wouldn't think twice about driving to this mid-city location for an expo. Also, families would have Six Flags nearby and they could tour the new Dallas Cowboys stadium that is within walking distance. Exhibitors could have a choice of area hotels instead of being confined to one such as the Gaylord Texan if it should be selected for the venue.

    I hope the EPCA leadership will consult with the locals here in North Texas regarding improvement suggestions before trying this event again.

    Cecil Price
    Author and Researcher
    Dallas, Texas

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shelliet shelliet

    First, I love the honesty of saying it didn't work, let's fix it. Count me among those who didn't hear about it until it was too late and I was booked elsewhere. My sister lives in Dallas. I would've been delighted to combine a six hour drive to the Expo with a family visit.

    I agree with Larry that branding is crucial. A lot of people simply don't realize that it's not an industry only thing, but a chance to hear and interact with their favorite authors.

    I hope y'all give it another whirl next year. I'll be glad to promote it as far as my circle of influence goes.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shelliet shelliet

    First, I love the honesty of saying it didn't work, let's fix it. Count me among those who didn't hear about it until it was too late and I was booked elsewhere. My sister lives in Dallas. I would've been delighted to combine a six hour drive to the Expo with a family visit.

    I agree with Larry that branding is crucial. A lot of people simply don't realize that it's not an industry only thing, but a chance to hear and interact with their favorite authors.

    I hope y'all give it another whirl next year. I'll be glad to promote it as far as my circle of influence goes.

  • http://BuildingHisBody.com/ Anne Lang Bundy

    If you want consumers to attend, a more central location may also help. Answers in Genesis located their Creation Museum in northern Kentucky, seven miles from the Cincinnati airport and easily accessible by freeway. I couldn't locate the stats, but I recall it being something like within a day's drive to more than half the country's population.

  • http://BuildingHisBody.com/ Anne Lang Bundy

    If you want consumers to attend, a more central location may also help. Answers in Genesis located their Creation Museum in northern Kentucky, seven miles from the Cincinnati airport and easily accessible by freeway. I couldn't locate the stats, but I recall it being something like within a day's drive to more than half the country's population.

  • John Young

    Mike I know this was not easy for you to write. But it's reality. I recall some blogs you had last year of putting a ban on media watching saying the negative news was killing you. And then comments how "the media is now the problem and the solution" showed the reporting was just wearing us all down.

    Even comments here in response, remind me that many in publishing find it unbelieveable that book sales are down. Every industry gets cultures of being too close to the product to see the consumer reality, and this industry is no different. Less than 20% of the population even buy a book a year.

    Book publishing has survived because of fanatical loyal fans who bought ever thought Lucado and Maxwell have, the repeat customer.

    It's not over. But it's very different. I believe your honest reporting and the peers who saw this reality check that is different from the enthused in house meetings will give a lot of people a new conversation to have. Somethings I feel, we just didn't want to see then or now.

  • John Young

    Mike I know this was not easy for you to write. But it's reality. I recall some blogs you had last year of putting a ban on media watching saying the negative news was killing you. And then comments how "the media is now the problem and the solution" showed the reporting was just wearing us all down.

    Even comments here in response, remind me that many in publishing find it unbelieveable that book sales are down. Every industry gets cultures of being too close to the product to see the consumer reality, and this industry is no different. Less than 20% of the population even buy a book a year.

    Book publishing has survived because of fanatical loyal fans who bought ever thought Lucado and Maxwell have, the repeat customer.

    It's not over. But it's very different. I believe your honest reporting and the peers who saw this reality check that is different from the enthused in house meetings will give a lot of people a new conversation to have. Somethings I feel, we just didn't want to see then or now.

  • http://advocace.typepad.com/paul_martin_grow/ Paul Martin

    Thanks for your candid comments on the event, Mike. I agree with all. We threw a great party and just didn't send out enough invitations.

    On the venue front: Texans can be a bit 'theologically persnickity' so you might want to consider a suburban, yet theologically neutral location. Although Prestonwood is an incredible facility in an incredible location, unfortunately, it would attract a very small portion of the theologial spectrum. The Arlington convention center would be strong suburban location–thous something a bit farther north would be even better.

    Engaging consumers is the present and the future of Christian consumer goods. This kind of event–as well as other consumer engagement initiatives can revolutionize our industry–as well as the host community.

    Thanks for pushing this kind of event early and often.

    • Mark Kuyper, ECPA

      Paul, thanks for your comments on the use of a church. I have had a similar experience with a church before that didn't want a particular music artist to be present because they had been divorced. i believe many churches would express reservations about authors and their books being available because of theological issues. We are going to ask around, but I think centers like Arlington are a better options. (Arlington will have a fantastic new center in 24-36 months.)

  • http://advocace.typepad.com/paul_martin_grow/ Paul Martin

    Thanks for your candid comments on the event, Mike. I agree with all. We threw a great party and just didn't send out enough invitations.

    On the venue front: Texans can be a bit 'theologically persnickity' so you might want to consider a suburban, yet theologically neutral location. Although Prestonwood is an incredible facility in an incredible location, unfortunately, it would attract a very small portion of the theologial spectrum. The Arlington convention center would be strong suburban location–thous something a bit farther north would be even better.

    Engaging consumers is the present and the future of Christian consumer goods. This kind of event–as well as other consumer engagement initiatives can revolutionize our industry–as well as the host community.

    Thanks for pushing this kind of event early and often.

    • Mark Kuyper, ECPA

      Paul, thanks for your comments on the use of a church. I have had a similar experience with a church before that didn't want a particular music artist to be present because they had been divorced. i believe many churches would express reservations about authors and their books being available because of theological issues. We are going to ask around, but I think centers like Arlington are a better options. (Arlington will have a fantastic new center in 24-36 months.)

  • http://www.emergingintofaith.blogspot.com/ Dr. David Frisbie

    Thanks for noticing that Mark Kuyper and his team did excellent work. They were positive, professional, helpful and focused. EXCELLENT WORK by everyone on the ECPA team.

    YES — Let's go forward with an event of this type. In Dallas, Prestonwood Baptist would be a great host venue, so might Stonebriar. Both are larger church campus environments with high visibility in Christian circles.

    FREE ADMISSION — Easier if a host church is cooperative. Lower overhead helps everyone thrive in this economy.

    KUDOS TO ECPA — board, leaders, and team. Everyone stayed positive and worked hard and the result was an AMAZING experience for those who had the blessing of attending.

  • http://www.emergingintofaith.blogspot.com Dr. David Frisbie

    Thanks for noticing that Mark Kuyper and his team did excellent work. They were positive, professional, helpful and focused. EXCELLENT WORK by everyone on the ECPA team.

    YES — Let's go forward with an event of this type. In Dallas, Prestonwood Baptist would be a great host venue, so might Stonebriar. Both are larger church campus environments with high visibility in Christian circles.

    FREE ADMISSION — Easier if a host church is cooperative. Lower overhead helps everyone thrive in this economy.

    KUDOS TO ECPA — board, leaders, and team. Everyone stayed positive and worked hard and the result was an AMAZING experience for those who had the blessing of attending.

  • http://www.MarriageStudies.com/ Dr. David Frisbie

    Great idea, Jim! As authors we did book-signings all three days at CBE; we had steady traffic and enjoyed meeting readers, bookstore managers, editors, publishers and others. We would be very available for coffee, and/or informal Q&A sessions with interested readers. We are family counselors and glad to do some free, "open-air counseling" in that environment.

  • http://www.MarriageStudies.com/ Dr. David Frisbie

    Great idea, Jim! As authors we did book-signings all three days at CBE; we had steady traffic and enjoyed meeting readers, bookstore managers, editors, publishers and others. We would be very available for coffee, and/or informal Q&A sessions with interested readers. We are family counselors and glad to do some free, "open-air counseling" in that environment.

  • http://www.betachristian.com beta christian

    What about bringing the event to New York City? With good promotion, Facebook groups, Church promotions and plenty of great public transportation, it would make for a good idea. However, I do admit that during hard economic times like these, people tend to stay home more often. Sad, but true.

  • http://www.harrisonfarr.com/ Harrison

    Any thoughts on shrinking the Expo and making it a traveling event? I'm in a completely different industry, but when we have expos and tradeshows, our company attends the west coast version (I live in California). There are east coast and midwest versions of the same thing. I know there are mega churches in each region, so getting a central location shouldn't be difficult.

    • Mark Kuyper, ECPA

      I think after this year it will naturally shrink! When we did our location research we identified three additional areas that have the church base and population to host an event like this, and it includes So Cal. We need to get this one working first!! Mike is right, we don't want move the event or you keep having your "first year". This takes a lot of work to get going. We don't want to start over year after year.

  • http://www.harrisonfarr.com/ Harrison

    Any thoughts on shrinking the Expo and making it a traveling event? I'm in a completely different industry, but when we have expos and tradeshows, our company attends the west coast version (I live in California). There are east coast and midwest versions of the same thing. I know there are mega churches in each region, so getting a central location shouldn't be difficult.

    • Mark Kuyper, ECPA

      I think after this year it will naturally shrink! When we did our location research we identified three additional areas that have the church base and population to host an event like this, and it includes So Cal. We need to get this one working first!! Mike is right, we don't want move the event or you keep having your "first year". This takes a lot of work to get going. We don't want to start over year after year.

  • http://www.betachristian.com beta christian

    What about bringing the event to New York City? With good promotion, Facebook groups, Church promotions and plenty of great public transportation, it would make for a good idea. However, I do admit that during hard economic times like these, people tend to stay home more often. Sad, but true.

  • http://the-walrus-said.blogspot.com/ Janet

    "Build it and they will come" is a line from a movie, not legitimate business wisdom. (I have read so many articles on marketing over the years mocking that line.) You have to make people want to come. They have to know you exist and have some compelling reason to go. And you have to give value on the dollar. I never ever pay to go to exhibitions that are primarily opportunities to buy. It makes as much sense as paying for admittance to a retail store. Not going to happen in any economy. It sounds like the only thing being offered to consumers that they couldn't get in a bookstore – retail or online – was the chance to schmooze with authors. Only very dedicated readers were going to pay that much.

    While it's true that hindsight is 20/20, did nobody organizing this stop and try to see it through the eyes of the consumers they were trying to reach? And it seems simply wrong-headed to rely on churches to do the promotion. Any church worth the name is going to be very leery of becoming a seller in the temple. I know as a former pastor's wife that all you could have counted on from us was a brief mention in the announcements and a poster on the bulletin board. Christian publishers may see themselves as ministries – legitimately, I hope – but they are still businesses, making it ethically problematic to be shilling them from the pulpit.

    Renting out facilities is less problematic, strangely enough. Many churches rent out their venues when not in use for services, without considering that an endorsement.

  • http://the-walrus-said.blogspot.com Janet

    "Build it and they will come" is a line from a movie, not legitimate business wisdom. (I have read so many articles on marketing over the years mocking that line.) You have to make people want to come. They have to know you exist and have some compelling reason to go. And you have to give value on the dollar. I never ever pay to go to exhibitions that are primarily opportunities to buy. It makes as much sense as paying for admittance to a retail store. Not going to happen in any economy. It sounds like the only thing being offered to consumers that they couldn't get in a bookstore – retail or online – was the chance to schmooze with authors. Only very dedicated readers were going to pay that much.

    While it's true that hindsight is 20/20, did nobody organizing this stop and try to see it through the eyes of the consumers they were trying to reach? And it seems simply wrong-headed to rely on churches to do the promotion. Any church worth the name is going to be very leery of becoming a seller in the temple. I know as a former pastor's wife that all you could have counted on from us was a brief mention in the announcements and a poster on the bulletin board. Christian publishers may see themselves as ministries – legitimately, I hope – but they are still businesses, making it ethically problematic to be shilling them from the pulpit.

    Renting out facilities is less problematic, strangely enough. Many churches rent out their venues when not in use for services, without considering that an endorsement.

  • http://www.danicafavorite.blogspot.com/ Danica

    A lot of good points made here- I was very excited about it, but could not attend. I think it definitely would be a better draw to have it in a more convenient place and no charge for admission. I used to attend a regional book expo, but they changed the format and began charging what I felt to be too high of an admission price, so I haven't been in years.

    I hope publishers will give it another shot… hopefully if they can implement these suggestions and start on a smaller scale, they'll be able to generate a buzz. Sometimes it's better to start small.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I totally agree with your "start small" comment. You can always make it larger.

  • http://www.danicafavorite.blogspot.com/ Danica

    A lot of good points made here- I was very excited about it, but could not attend. I think it definitely would be a better draw to have it in a more convenient place and no charge for admission. I used to attend a regional book expo, but they changed the format and began charging what I felt to be too high of an admission price, so I haven't been in years.

    I hope publishers will give it another shot… hopefully if they can implement these suggestions and start on a smaller scale, they'll be able to generate a buzz. Sometimes it's better to start small.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I totally agree with your "start small" comment. You can always make it larger.

  • Claire Efird

    Do you think Mike, that perhaps book expo was not a success because the public deep down wants to support the local retailer, either the "brick and mortar "or website? Maybe, with the economic down turn they see that events where publishers circumvent the retailer means less retail opportunity in the local market and with less retail space thriving, less jobs. I can say that at my store, even though the customers want the merchandse at a good price, more and more desire to support the local merchant. With job losses rising, they see the importance of local retail and employment opportunities. Perhaps publishers leaving THEIR customer out of the loop is not a healthy decision in the long run.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Actually, publishers didn't leave retailers out of the loop. It might not have been apparent to the public, but most publishers had retailers actually handling the sales. We had booksellers from Family Christian Stores staffing our cash register, and they got all the sales.

  • Claire Efird

    Do you think Mike, that perhaps book expo was not a success because the public deep down wants to support the local retailer, either the "brick and mortar "or website? Maybe, with the economic down turn they see that events where publishers circumvent the retailer means less retail opportunity in the local market and with less retail space thriving, less jobs. I can say that at my store, even though the customers want the merchandse at a good price, more and more desire to support the local merchant. With job losses rising, they see the importance of local retail and employment opportunities. Perhaps publishers leaving THEIR customer out of the loop is not a healthy decision in the long run.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Actually, publishers didn't leave retailers out of the loop. It might not have been apparent to the public, but most publishers had retailers actually handling the sales. We had booksellers from Family Christian Stores staffing our cash register, and they got all the sales.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Most of the book expos and festivals we studied stay in one location. They build the audience from year to year. We tried to find the area of the country that had the highest concentration of Christians and churches. Dallas had the added benefit of being easily accessible from most of the country.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Most of the book expos and festivals we studied stay in one location. They build the audience from year to year. We tried to find the area of the country that had the highest concentration of Christians and churches. Dallas had the added benefit of being easily accessible from most of the country.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    We're open to anything, but I personally don't think New York would be a good location. While lots of general market publishers are located there, no Christian publishers are. In addition, the costs to publishers and consumers would be an order of magnitude higher than almost anywhere else.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    We're open to anything, but I personally don't think New York would be a good location. While lots of general market publishers are located there, no Christian publishers are. In addition, the costs to publishers and consumers would be an order of magnitude higher than almost anywhere else.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Thanks for your positive comments, David. The last thing we want to do is punish anyone for trying something new. Very few things I have ever attempted in my life worked the first time. Usually, you fall flat on your face, pick yourself up, and then try again. This is no exception.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Thanks for your positive comments, David. The last thing we want to do is punish anyone for trying something new. Very few things I have ever attempted in my life worked the first time. Usually, you fall flat on your face, pick yourself up, and then try again. This is no exception.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Thanks for the tip on the Arlington convention center. That might be a good option!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Thanks for the tip on the Arlington convention center. That might be a good option!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    You are right about it being very different, John. The things we used to take for granted no longer work. The great news is that crisis can lead to breakthrough, if we let it.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    You are right about it being very different, John. The things we used to take for granted no longer work. The great news is that crisis can lead to breakthrough, if we let it.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Dallas had those attributes, too. Plus I think it has a higher density of Christians and churches. We did evaluate several locations, prior to selecting Dallas. If memory serves, Atlanta was our second choice. Thanks.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Dallas had those attributes, too. Plus I think it has a higher density of Christians and churches. We did evaluate several locations, prior to selecting Dallas. If memory serves, Atlanta was our second choice. Thanks.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    These are all great suggestions, Cecil. Thanks.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    These are all great suggestions, Cecil. Thanks.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Great ideas, Jim. I know Mark is getting lots and lots of input. We'll just have to see where all this goes.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Great ideas, Jim. I know Mark is getting lots and lots of input. We'll just have to see where all this goes.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    There's no question that we completely missed it when it came to getting the message out. Despite the fact that it was on the front page of the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday before the event, that we sent hundreds of thousands of email, and tagged radio commercials, the simple fact is that the message didn't connect. This is the part that was missing, and the part we need to figure out.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    There's no question that we completely missed it when it came to getting the message out. Despite the fact that it was on the front page of the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday before the event, that we sent hundreds of thousands of email, and tagged radio commercials, the simple fact is that the message didn't connect. This is the part that was missing, and the part we need to figure out.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    We did partner with local retailers for signings in advance of the show. Unfortunately, at least for us at Thomas Nelson, they didn't work either. I think a large part of this is the current retail environment. We can't let that be an excuse, but, at the same time, we need to face the reality of the market.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    We did partner with local retailers for signings in advance of the show. Unfortunately, at least for us at Thomas Nelson, they didn't work either. I think a large part of this is the current retail environment. We can't let that be an excuse, but, at the same time, we need to face the reality of the market.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Thanks, Chip. That's how I felt. At least we tried something new.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Thanks, Chip. That's how I felt. At least we tried something new.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Thanks for your positive spirit, Colleen. I so appreciate you coming to the show. Gail and I loved being with you and Dave.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Thanks for your positive spirit, Colleen. I so appreciate you coming to the show. Gail and I loved being with you and Dave.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Yes, I agree: "free" is the right idea. We don't need any obstacles that would deter consumers from showing up.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/chownage Chownage

      Or offer an entrance fee with a 25% discount on all products. If someone spends $80 on products, they got their entrance fee back.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Yes, I agree: "free" is the right idea. We don't need any obstacles that would deter consumers from showing up.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/chownage Chownage

      Or offer an entrance fee with a 25% discount on all products. If someone spends $80 on products, they got their entrance fee back.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    This is a valid point, and something we need to give serious thought to. Thanks.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    This is a valid point, and something we need to give serious thought to. Thanks.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    In retrospect, I also think it could have been a day shorter.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    I know Mark and his team are doing post-event surveys. I am eager tto get my hands on the research. We could have no doubt done a better job on the front-end. I think we did indeed make too many assumptions.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    In retrospect, I also think it could have been a day shorter.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    I know Mark and his team are doing post-event surveys. I am eager tto get my hands on the research. We could have no doubt done a better job on the front-end. I think we did indeed make too many assumptions.

  • George

    I attended 4 days of the event, yes, I was there for exhibitor check in and saw it coming, both the good and bad…..It was truly an awesome set up and I believe that Mr. Hyatt has properly handicapped all of the issues…

    Problem with Prestonwood is that they like to protect their own bookstore and charge a decent amount for the rental. I would suggest talking to Brent Tree Bible Fellowship. Brisco has built an incredible brand new 5,000 – 6,000 seat facility and would look at this as a major outreach opportunity. You would cut your budget by a million right there.

    You could still charge $5.00 a person to get in and hear the break -outs….this would allow you to grow it and if it works bigger it would be able to move to various mega-churches each year. I would go down this route, advertize it a month in advance on major Christian radio and charge the $5.00 to keep an handle on the crowd.

    I think you would do 5,000 a day easy……Friday and Saturday event only.

  • George

    I attended 4 days of the event, yes, I was there for exhibitor check in and saw it coming, both the good and bad…..It was truly an awesome set up and I believe that Mr. Hyatt has properly handicapped all of the issues…

    Problem with Prestonwood is that they like to protect their own bookstore and charge a decent amount for the rental. I would suggest talking to Brent Tree Bible Fellowship. Brisco has built an incredible brand new 5,000 – 6,000 seat facility and would look at this as a major outreach opportunity. You would cut your budget by a million right there.

    You could still charge $5.00 a person to get in and hear the break -outs….this would allow you to grow it and if it works bigger it would be able to move to various mega-churches each year. I would go down this route, advertize it a month in advance on major Christian radio and charge the $5.00 to keep an handle on the crowd.

    I think you would do 5,000 a day easy……Friday and Saturday event only.

  • Claire Efird

    Is'nt that the point, "it wasn't apparent to the consumer" Doesn't that confuse the consumer more and in the long run hurt the local merchant be they chain or independent. Not to mention that Thomas Nelson left the independent retailer out of the loop. (at Book Expo and CBA)

  • Claire Efird

    Is'nt that the point, "it wasn't apparent to the consumer" Doesn't that confuse the consumer more and in the long run hurt the local merchant be they chain or independent. Not to mention that Thomas Nelson left the independent retailer out of the loop. (at Book Expo and CBA)

  • http://www.relevantblog.blogspot.com/ Mary E DeMuth

    I've shared my insights about CBE here: http://www.relevantblog.blogspot.com. I echo much of what you said, Mike. I do believe in the intrinsic value of the event, and think it should be attempted on a smaller scale again.

  • http://www.relevantblog.blogspot.com/ Mary E DeMuth

    I've shared my insights about CBE here: http://www.relevantblog.blogspot.com. I echo much of what you said, Mike. I do believe in the intrinsic value of the event, and think it should be attempted on a smaller scale again.

  • http://www.dawnstephensbooks.com/ Dawn Stephens

    I flew all the way from VA – and took on air fare, hotel expense, plus the expense of attending the show. I bought one book from an author thay I met on linked in. The benefit for me was talking with authors and publishers about their professions. My first book is being released next month and I mainly went not to shop but to see how others were marketing their product. The show discounts weren't all that attractive. Local christian bookstores offer 30% discounts all the time, so other than meeting an author -I didnt see the point in one massive book sale. Most of the attendees I saw were there to meet and learn from authors. However, there were so many authors sitting around the hall at times, that it lost the thrill. I actually felt sorry for some of them. And like others have stated "expo" means wholesale to the general public. However if you make the event free, there is the sense that it isn't worth attending. I would do something to encourage church groups, Homeschool groups, Christian Schools to attend more than just individuals.

  • http://www.dawnstephensbooks.com/ Dawn Stephens

    I flew all the way from VA – and took on air fare, hotel expense, plus the expense of attending the show. I bought one book from an author thay I met on linked in. The benefit for me was talking with authors and publishers about their professions. My first book is being released next month and I mainly went not to shop but to see how others were marketing their product. The show discounts weren't all that attractive. Local christian bookstores offer 30% discounts all the time, so other than meeting an author -I didnt see the point in one massive book sale. Most of the attendees I saw were there to meet and learn from authors. However, there were so many authors sitting around the hall at times, that it lost the thrill. I actually felt sorry for some of them. And like others have stated "expo" means wholesale to the general public. However if you make the event free, there is the sense that it isn't worth attending. I would do something to encourage church groups, Homeschool groups, Christian Schools to attend more than just individuals.

  • http://timothyfish.blogspot.com/ Timothy Fish

    “We counted on…local churches to get the word out.”

    That is a huge mistake. Churches have their own slush piles, only it isn’t manuscripts but fliers and catalogs from people wanting help with this ministry or that ministry, to sell this or that. Most of it gets tossed.

    Even after looking at the promotional material, I couldn’t look at the blurbs for the authors who were speaking and answer the question, “What will I be able to do after I attend this talk that I couldn’t do before?” Mostly, the blurbs told me about the book and I figured I could make the decision to buy or not buy the book without listening to the author talk about it. If I’m going to listen to an author talk, I want to hear them do more than just rehash what they put in the book. Give me an inside track so that, when other people mention the author or the book, I’ll be the expert and I can tell them something they don’t know.

  • http://timothyfish.blogspot.com Timothy Fish

    “We counted on…local churches to get the word out.”

    That is a huge mistake. Churches have their own slush piles, only it isn’t manuscripts but fliers and catalogs from people wanting help with this ministry or that ministry, to sell this or that. Most of it gets tossed.

    Even after looking at the promotional material, I couldn’t look at the blurbs for the authors who were speaking and answer the question, “What will I be able to do after I attend this talk that I couldn’t do before?” Mostly, the blurbs told me about the book and I figured I could make the decision to buy or not buy the book without listening to the author talk about it. If I’m going to listen to an author talk, I want to hear them do more than just rehash what they put in the book. Give me an inside track so that, when other people mention the author or the book, I’ll be the expert and I can tell them something they don’t know.

  • http://curtharding.wordpress.com/ Curt Harding

    Has anyone suggested that March Madness is also not a good time for these types of events? Even my pastor this past weekend said if he had it his way he'd put the tournament on the big screen and put the Bible down. You may laugh, but check the ratings. People were watching TV this past weekend.

  • http://curtharding.wordpress.com/ Curt Harding

    Has anyone suggested that March Madness is also not a good time for these types of events? Even my pastor this past weekend said if he had it his way he'd put the tournament on the big screen and put the Bible down. You may laugh, but check the ratings. People were watching TV this past weekend.

  • Wendy

    I did not attend but followed the fiction showcase/Christy finalist announcement live. Over the web it came across as vibrant and exciting. Until I began hearing the reports of disappointing attendance, I had a sense (from tweets and web reports) and those at CBE were having a wonderful time and the event was successful. I think the broadcast side of the event worked well.

    Successful book events/signings always rely heavily on television interviews just prior. With the authors you had available, there should have been an author on every Friday morning Dallas wake-up show and some on the people segments of the news Friday night. Then on Saturday night there should have been special interest pieces done live at the show. The Hitchens debate certainly would have appealed to any number of national shows. None of that would have cost a cent except for the right publicity people.

  • Wendy

    I did not attend but followed the fiction showcase/Christy finalist announcement live. Over the web it came across as vibrant and exciting. Until I began hearing the reports of disappointing attendance, I had a sense (from tweets and web reports) and those at CBE were having a wonderful time and the event was successful. I think the broadcast side of the event worked well.

    Successful book events/signings always rely heavily on television interviews just prior. With the authors you had available, there should have been an author on every Friday morning Dallas wake-up show and some on the people segments of the news Friday night. Then on Saturday night there should have been special interest pieces done live at the show. The Hitchens debate certainly would have appealed to any number of national shows. None of that would have cost a cent except for the right publicity people.

  • http://www.harrisonfarr.com/ Harrison

    That makes sense. Like I said, different industries do it different ways. Anyway, if it was ever done in CA, I'd be there in a heartbeat.

  • http://www.harrisonfarr.com/ Harrison

    That makes sense. Like I said, different industries do it different ways. Anyway, if it was ever done in CA, I'd be there in a heartbeat.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Yes, I should have mentioned that. It was also a competing event.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Yes, I should have mentioned that. It was also a competing event.

  • Mark Kuyper

    Colleen,
    Thanks for the affirmation. i was proud of my team as well. it was good to see you there and I would love to get copied on any notes that would be appropriate. Blessings.

  • Mark Kuyper

    Colleen,
    Thanks for the affirmation. i was proud of my team as well. it was good to see you there and I would love to get copied on any notes that would be appropriate. Blessings.

  • Mark Kuyper

    Larry, I agree. We started with the word "Fair" instead of "Expo" and had input to change it. From the feedback we have had too many people thought it was trade oriented. Book Fairs traditionally have workshops and seminars, so now I wish we had stuck with it. There are some other good options as well.
    In all of our communication we focused on the authors and the workshops. All of our promotional material featured authors front and center, with the phrasing, "More than 150 Transforming Seminars Led by Authors" (or some variation). I think we just didn't get enough people to see more than the name of the conference.

  • Mark Kuyper

    Larry, I agree. We started with the word "Fair" instead of "Expo" and had input to change it. From the feedback we have had too many people thought it was trade oriented. Book Fairs traditionally have workshops and seminars, so now I wish we had stuck with it. There are some other good options as well.
    In all of our communication we focused on the authors and the workshops. All of our promotional material featured authors front and center, with the phrasing, "More than 150 Transforming Seminars Led by Authors" (or some variation). I think we just didn't get enough people to see more than the name of the conference.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Thanks, Mary. I read your post and agreed with almost everything you said.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Thanks, Mary. I read your post and agreed with almost everything you said.

  • Mark Kuyper

    Daniel, you are right. We really need to know who we are marketing to if we are to be effective. Before the event we asked consumers about their interest in a book fair concept with workshops and exhibits and got a very enthusiastic response. This is consistent with the anecdotal response we have had so far from everyone who attended. We also met with church leaders to find out what elements or content they would want to be a part of the event so they could enthusiastically support it with their congregations. Most of the feedback supported what we had already proposed but we did make modifications based on their input. We also researched tag lines and the clear winner was word "Transformation" which we added to our marketing materials. We surveyed pastors via Barna Research and found that most pastors would value the program at between $200-$300 for admission. When people thought of it as a conference, the price was not too high. We got the same feedback from live discussions with pastors and consumers. Of course we went with a fraction of that amount. Depending where attendees (or potential attendees) got their information, if they saw it merely as a huge bookstore, then our price was too high. We have had a lot of feedback on creative pricing options, so we will likely adopt a different strategy if we continue in the future. We will be doing follow up surveys with attendees and exhibitors.

  • Mark Kuyper

    Daniel, you are right. We really need to know who we are marketing to if we are to be effective. Before the event we asked consumers about their interest in a book fair concept with workshops and exhibits and got a very enthusiastic response. This is consistent with the anecdotal response we have had so far from everyone who attended. We also met with church leaders to find out what elements or content they would want to be a part of the event so they could enthusiastically support it with their congregations. Most of the feedback supported what we had already proposed but we did make modifications based on their input. We also researched tag lines and the clear winner was word "Transformation" which we added to our marketing materials. We surveyed pastors via Barna Research and found that most pastors would value the program at between $200-$300 for admission. When people thought of it as a conference, the price was not too high. We got the same feedback from live discussions with pastors and consumers. Of course we went with a fraction of that amount. Depending where attendees (or potential attendees) got their information, if they saw it merely as a huge bookstore, then our price was too high. We have had a lot of feedback on creative pricing options, so we will likely adopt a different strategy if we continue in the future. We will be doing follow up surveys with attendees and exhibitors.

  • Mark Kuyper, ECPA

    I am so glad it was such a wonderful experience for you, and I thank you for your suggestions and encouraging words

  • Mark Kuyper, ECPA

    I am so glad it was such a wonderful experience for you, and I thank you for your suggestions and encouraging words

  • Mark Kuyper, ECPA

    Cecil, it was good to see you there. We will definitely consider your suggestions and look at those options as we put together a possible plan for next time. We did consider many of these for 2009. Our challenge was space. We asked publishers how much booth space they would expect to use and how many authors/workshops they would need. If we were to try to accommodate thier requests, our only option was the Dallas Convention Center. if we were to move ahead we would likely have far fewer publishers and authors so we could fit into one of the other options available. By the way thanks for volunteering to help spread the word next time!! (If there is one.)

  • Mark Kuyper, ECPA

    Cecil, it was good to see you there. We will definitely consider your suggestions and look at those options as we put together a possible plan for next time. We did consider many of these for 2009. Our challenge was space. We asked publishers how much booth space they would expect to use and how many authors/workshops they would need. If we were to try to accommodate thier requests, our only option was the Dallas Convention Center. if we were to move ahead we would likely have far fewer publishers and authors so we could fit into one of the other options available. By the way thanks for volunteering to help spread the word next time!! (If there is one.)

  • Todd Hoyt

    I agree with much of your post, but would add some of the following. To blame much of it on the economy is maybe too strong. Of the attendees that came to the audio booth shared by Christianaudio/Oasis Audio, none had any misgivings regarding purchases. They were thrilled with the significant discounts and great selection. We had a great response from those that purchased. The main issue was the fact there were no consumers in attendance in spite of the great looking facilities, amazing authors in attendance and workshops provided, and other educational opportunities available. Speaking with various other publishers, authors, and event attendees, I heard multiple similar issues. 1)Publicity. There was no event information from local Christian radio, pastor/church email, bookstore offerings, etc. 2) The convention center was great, but was not a destination for an Expo such as this. 3) The cost to get in. To spend a sizable sum to attend, consumers must see the value in going. It is riskier in attempting something like this on a grand scale.

    I would also be hesitant to recommend one of the area mega churches for the reason being many pastors don’t send their flock to a different church. As the discussion continues, it would be great to offer suggestions regarding possibilities for next year. Hopefully, the lessons learned from this can be applied to CBE 2010.

  • Todd Hoyt

    I agree with much of your post, but would add some of the following. To blame much of it on the economy is maybe too strong. Of the attendees that came to the audio booth shared by Christianaudio/Oasis Audio, none had any misgivings regarding purchases. They were thrilled with the significant discounts and great selection. We had a great response from those that purchased. The main issue was the fact there were no consumers in attendance in spite of the great looking facilities, amazing authors in attendance and workshops provided, and other educational opportunities available. Speaking with various other publishers, authors, and event attendees, I heard multiple similar issues. 1)Publicity. There was no event information from local Christian radio, pastor/church email, bookstore offerings, etc. 2) The convention center was great, but was not a destination for an Expo such as this. 3) The cost to get in. To spend a sizable sum to attend, consumers must see the value in going. It is riskier in attempting something like this on a grand scale.

    I would also be hesitant to recommend one of the area mega churches for the reason being many pastors don’t send their flock to a different church. As the discussion continues, it would be great to offer suggestions regarding possibilities for next year. Hopefully, the lessons learned from this can be applied to CBE 2010.

  • Cecil Price

    Mark, your team and you provided a first-class event during this CBE. We North Texans just wish more of our people would have know about it.

  • Cecil Price

    Mark, your team and you provided a first-class event during this CBE. We North Texans just wish more of our people would have know about it.

  • Mark Kuyper, ECPA

    Janet, yes, we paid careful attention to what both consumers and churches thought about the development of the event. This was first and foremost a conference with 150+ workshops and seminars. We had several sessions directed toward pastoral staff and topics they would find interesting. We encouraged our publishers to provide programming for everyone from theologians to casual readers, and i think they had it covered. One Dallas area pastor with a congregation of 10,000-12,000 said he believed it was the largest Christian conference ever held in this country. The exhibit floor is like the retail outlet at the end of a ride in a theme park. Many attendees were there for the experience of the workshop and wound up wanting to buy something. Every pastor I spoke with was a reader himself, and was excited about encouraging his congregation to read by promoting the event. Christians who take in the Word of God and the wise counsel of Godly men and women on a regular basis, are more likely to become fully devoted followers of Christ. I never had an objection from them pastors about sending their staff or encouraging their congregation to attend. By the time the event was nearing, I think something was lost between the pastors decision when I was in the office and those who would actually distribute the information. I do agree that a church is probably not the best venue for this event.

  • Mark Kuyper, ECPA

    Janet, yes, we paid careful attention to what both consumers and churches thought about the development of the event. This was first and foremost a conference with 150+ workshops and seminars. We had several sessions directed toward pastoral staff and topics they would find interesting. We encouraged our publishers to provide programming for everyone from theologians to casual readers, and i think they had it covered. One Dallas area pastor with a congregation of 10,000-12,000 said he believed it was the largest Christian conference ever held in this country. The exhibit floor is like the retail outlet at the end of a ride in a theme park. Many attendees were there for the experience of the workshop and wound up wanting to buy something. Every pastor I spoke with was a reader himself, and was excited about encouraging his congregation to read by promoting the event. Christians who take in the Word of God and the wise counsel of Godly men and women on a regular basis, are more likely to become fully devoted followers of Christ. I never had an objection from them pastors about sending their staff or encouraging their congregation to attend. By the time the event was nearing, I think something was lost between the pastors decision when I was in the office and those who would actually distribute the information. I do agree that a church is probably not the best venue for this event.

  • http://www.tradingfathers.com/ Karen Rabbitt

    I was an exhibiting author at CBE. My impression is that many of the attendees were aspiring authors. They seemed to see it as a way to increase their understanding of the industry. I talked for ten minutes with one couple who were asking basic questions such as the difference between royalty and custom publishers.

    As others have said, few local people I talked to had heard or seen very much publicity about it.

    Indeed, Mike, thanks for working on learning from the mistakes.

  • http://www.tradingfathers.com Karen Rabbitt

    I was an exhibiting author at CBE. My impression is that many of the attendees were aspiring authors. They seemed to see it as a way to increase their understanding of the industry. I talked for ten minutes with one couple who were asking basic questions such as the difference between royalty and custom publishers.

    As others have said, few local people I talked to had heard or seen very much publicity about it.

    Indeed, Mike, thanks for working on learning from the mistakes.

  • http://www.tradingfathers.com/ Karen Rabbitt

    I was an exhibiting author at CBE. My impression is that many of the attendees were aspiring authors. They seemed to see it as a way to increase their understanding of the industry. I talked for ten minutes with one couple who were asking basic questions such as the difference between royalty and custom publishers.

    As others have said, few local people I talked to had heard or seen very much publicity about it.

    Indeed, Mike, thanks for learning from the mistakes.

  • http://www.tradingfathers.com Karen Rabbitt

    I was an exhibiting author at CBE. My impression is that many of the attendees were aspiring authors. They seemed to see it as a way to increase their understanding of the industry. I talked for ten minutes with one couple who were asking basic questions such as the difference between royalty and custom publishers.

    As others have said, few local people I talked to had heard or seen very much publicity about it.

    Indeed, Mike, thanks for learning from the mistakes.

  • http://www.twitter.com/danieldecker Daniel Decker

    Good stuff Mark. Glad you guys are taking a proactive stance on this and doing your best. Anything new is always a risk. Kudos to you and your team for taking that risk. If you do it again next year, which it sounds like you should, I'd be happy to offer my marketing services to help.

  • http://www.twitter.com/danieldecker Daniel Decker

    Good stuff Mark. Glad you guys are taking a proactive stance on this and doing your best. Anything new is always a risk. Kudos to you and your team for taking that risk. If you do it again next year, which it sounds like you should, I'd be happy to offer my marketing services to help.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/RonSharp RonSharp

    I forgot to mention that the Festival of Books is free to attendees, but parking at UCLA is $8.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/RonSharp RonSharp

    I forgot to mention that the Festival of Books is free to attendees, but parking at UCLA is $8.

  • http://www.javawithjennifer.com/ Philip Rothschild

    Cudos for trying Mark and ECPA. And great wrap up here Mike (Wonderful to see you and Gail there). Agree, production values were second to none, great opportunity to meet authors. Agree with improvements noted above. One new thought may be to not create our own event but instead tie into other well known events. Wouldn't it be FANtastic to have signfiicant presence at the well established MIAMI BOOK FESTIVAL, or other festivals across the country. Just noodling here.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/RonSharp RonSharp

      I like that idea a lot. One thing lacking at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is a strong Christian presence. It would be great to go "coast to coast" with Los Angeles and Miami!

  • http://www.javawithjennifer.com/ Philip Rothschild

    Cudos for trying Mark and ECPA. And great wrap up here Mike (Wonderful to see you and Gail there). Agree, production values were second to none, great opportunity to meet authors. Agree with improvements noted above. One new thought may be to not create our own event but instead tie into other well known events. Wouldn't it be FANtastic to have signfiicant presence at the well established MIAMI BOOK FESTIVAL, or other festivals across the country. Just noodling here.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/RonSharp RonSharp

      I like that idea a lot. One thing lacking at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is a strong Christian presence. It would be great to go "coast to coast" with Los Angeles and Miami!

  • Mark Kuyper

    Ha! I just asked our event planner to check Miami and LA out yesterday!! Glad you think it's a good idea!!

  • Mark Kuyper

    Ha! I just asked our event planner to check Miami and LA out yesterday!! Glad you think it's a good idea!!

  • Dan

    I had no idea it was for the general public. I thought it was for book buyers from stores like the other large book events. So my questions would be:

    – why would a Christian book buyer pay to go inside a large book store? To meet some authors? To browse a large selection of books? what was the point of this expo? I am still confused.

    – as someone who buys a lot of books, why would I fly to Dallas for this? what advantage does going there help me as a book consumer? were there a lot of seminars like a conference? what would draw me to this when I can look online for books to browse vs. flying somewhere? Or was this for Dallas folks primarily?

    I would maybe go if:

    – there were enough seminars of interest for the average person, not just church leaders

  • Dan

    - it was known this would be a massive discount on books at this event (at least as much as amazon.com)

    – it was free, or close to free. maybe a minimal fee.

    – maybe if it s was designed more like ComicCon in San Diego. that draws tens of thousands. I have been there and it is a Comic Expo, but much more. Maybe you should look at that model to see what they are doing in drawing in such large numbers.

    those are some thoughts!

  • Dan

    I had no idea it was for the general public. I thought it was for book buyers from stores like the other large book events. So my questions would be:

    – why would a Christian book buyer pay to go inside a large book store? To meet some authors? To browse a large selection of books? what was the point of this expo? I am still confused.

    – as someone who buys a lot of books, why would I fly to Dallas for this? what advantage does going there help me as a book consumer? were there a lot of seminars like a conference? what would draw me to this when I can look online for books to browse vs. flying somewhere? Or was this for Dallas folks primarily?

    I would maybe go if:

    – there were enough seminars of interest for the average person, not just church leaders

  • Dan

    – it was known this would be a massive discount on books at this event (at least as much as amazon.com)

    – it was free, or close to free. maybe a minimal fee.

    – maybe if it s was designed more like ComicCon in San Diego. that draws tens of thousands. I have been there and it is a Comic Expo, but much more. Maybe you should look at that model to see what they are doing in drawing in such large numbers.

    those are some thoughts!

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/RonSharp RonSharp

    Mike – I wanted to encourage you and the industry as a whole that this type of consumer driven show can work and work tremendously. As you know, I lived in southern California for years, and one of the highlights of the year for me is the Festival of Books held on the last weekend of April at UCLA. It is amazing to see publishers, retailers, and consumers massing at the UCLA campus to celebrate books and reading. It is really something else. And even though we moved to Arizona, my 15 year old son and I are going back. It's something we plan on doing every year. The link for info is <a href="http://www.latimes.com/fob” target=”_blank”>www.latimes.com/fob (the stages and panels are not yet set for 2009, but I believe you can see who was there in 2008). Blessings to you. Ron

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/RonSharp RonSharp

    Mike – I wanted to encourage you and the industry as a whole that this type of consumer driven show can work and work tremendously. As you know, I lived in southern California for years, and one of the highlights of the year for me is the Festival of Books held on the last weekend of April at UCLA. It is amazing to see publishers, retailers, and consumers massing at the UCLA campus to celebrate books and reading. It is really something else. And even though we moved to Arizona, my 15 year old son and I are going back. It's something we plan on doing every year. The link for info is <a href=”http://www.latimes.com/fob” target=”_blank”>www.latimes.com/fob (the stages and panels are not yet set for 2009, but I believe you can see who was there in 2008). Blessings to you. Ron

  • http://www.tyoramoody.com/ Tyora

    Out of curiosity, were meetings set-up with local pastors of the mega-churches in TX? I'm sure they would have announced the events and publicized them in the church book stores.

    I know Max Lucado was included, but were invites given to Rick Warren, T.D. Jakes, John Hagee, Joel Osteen – there are so many pastors that are well-known. I know Joyce Meyer and Beth Moore would have been big attraction for women.

    I'm a big Christian Fiction fan, but it seemed your nonfiction authors and their platforms should have been highlighted up front. A lot of Christians still prefer nonficion and fiction is still new to them.

    Also, I've learned that the African American audience was included more as an after thought instead of integrated more into the expo. There are CBA African American authors that are well-loved and would have brought you an enthusiastic crowd. I hope this is considered next time.

    Didn't mean for this to be such a long post. But I've been curious about the expo since this past weekend. I hope to see it rise up in a year or two with more success.

  • http://www.tyoramoody.com Tyora

    Out of curiosity, were meetings set-up with local pastors of the mega-churches in TX? I'm sure they would have announced the events and publicized them in the church book stores.

    I know Max Lucado was included, but were invites given to Rick Warren, T.D. Jakes, John Hagee, Joel Osteen – there are so many pastors that are well-known. I know Joyce Meyer and Beth Moore would have been big attraction for women.

    I'm a big Christian Fiction fan, but it seemed your nonfiction authors and their platforms should have been highlighted up front. A lot of Christians still prefer nonficion and fiction is still new to them.

    Also, I've learned that the African American audience was included more as an after thought instead of integrated more into the expo. There are CBA African American authors that are well-loved and would have brought you an enthusiastic crowd. I hope this is considered next time.

    Didn't mean for this to be such a long post. But I've been curious about the expo since this past weekend. I hope to see it rise up in a year or two with more success.

  • http://www.marketingthemuse.com marketingthemuse

    I didn't read all these threads but I think you may have missed an obvious: the christian movement is moving toward the margins again. it's not just that the economy stinks, many of the people at the center of this mess are leaders who label themselves christians. the former president, Tom Debay, that Senator caught in the public bathroom co-noogling with a young man—the list goes on.I live in Orange County, specifically Newport Beach, home of the christian far right. Last week, president obama's visit here caused traffic jams and brought people from all walks to the fair grounds. Young Republicans love this man; they've moved beyond their parent's ideology that defines christianity narrowly. If you want your next book expo to be successful, catch this wave.

  • http://www.marketingthemuse.com marketingthemuse

    I didn't read all these threads but I think you may have missed an obvious: the christian movement is moving toward the margins again. it's not just that the economy stinks, many of the people at the center of this mess are leaders who label themselves christians. the former president, Tom Debay, that Senator caught in the public bathroom co-noogling with a young man—the list goes on.I live in Orange County, specifically Newport Beach, home of the christian far right. Last week, president obama's visit here caused traffic jams and brought people from all walks to the fair grounds. Young Republicans love this man; they've moved beyond their parent's ideology that defines christianity narrowly. If you want your next book expo to be successful, catch this wave.

  • Pingback: Portrait of a Writer…Interrupted » Christian Book Expo: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly...()

  • Michael

    I'd be careful to not get sidetracked by the #2 comment of "no one wants to come downtown for an event," because to begin with, 1,500 apparently did in this case, and I know there are plenty of well-attended events in downtown Dallas.

    So "only 1,500 people wanted to come downtown for this event," or "the people we are targeting for this event tend to not attend events downtown" may lead you in a more productive direction, and immediately open up the question of "where would our target audience most likely show up for this event?" which could help something like this in the future.

  • Michael

    I'd be careful to not get sidetracked by the #2 comment of "no one wants to come downtown for an event," because to begin with, 1,500 apparently did in this case, and I know there are plenty of well-attended events in downtown Dallas.

    So "only 1,500 people wanted to come downtown for this event," or "the people we are targeting for this event tend to not attend events downtown" may lead you in a more productive direction, and immediately open up the question of "where would our target audience most likely show up for this event?" which could help something like this in the future.

  • ddd

    Maybe nobody believes in the crap your selling.
    All religions are Fairy Tales.

  • ddd

    Maybe nobody believes in the crap your selling.
    All religions are Fairy Tales.

  • http://www.dynamicdads.blogspot.com/ Paul Pettit

    We need to remember this was a beginning effort.
    1) The event (authors mixing with readers) could easily become a tradition consumers look forward to it each spring.
    2) The golf outing and Thurs. night dinner were wonderful and would probably both grow in size next year.
    3) Adjust the model, somehow, to make it free at the door.
    4) I agree with a smaller venue.
    Anyway, thanks for choosing Dallas, TX. Hope we can hold it here again next spring as I think it will organically grow through reputation and human (face-to-face and word-of-mouth interactions.

  • http://www.dynamicdads.blogspot.com/ Paul Pettit

    We need to remember this was a beginning effort.
    1) The event (authors mixing with readers) could easily become a tradition consumers look forward to it each spring.
    2) The golf outing and Thurs. night dinner were wonderful and would probably both grow in size next year.
    3) Adjust the model, somehow, to make it free at the door.
    4) I agree with a smaller venue.
    Anyway, thanks for choosing Dallas, TX. Hope we can hold it here again next spring as I think it will organically grow through reputation and human (face-to-face and word-of-mouth interactions.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/RichardMabry RichardMabry

    Mike,

    I appreciate your candor in not trying to sugar-coat the results and being willing to consider some of the factors (in hindsight) that contributed to the lack of success of the event. I'm a member of one of the largest churches in the Dallas area and to my knowledge not one bit of information was ever passed on to our congregation. Did our staff know and ignore it? I doubt it. Lack of publicity was one of the major problems in my view. Was any effort made to enlist the help of the authors in the area (there are quite a few of us) in publicizing CBE? If so, it didn't reach me or most of my colleagues.

    I do hope ECPA can pick themselves up, dust themselves off, take a long look at what needs to be done to make this work, and try again next year.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/RichardMabry RichardMabry

    Mike,

    I appreciate your candor in not trying to sugar-coat the results and being willing to consider some of the factors (in hindsight) that contributed to the lack of success of the event. I'm a member of one of the largest churches in the Dallas area and to my knowledge not one bit of information was ever passed on to our congregation. Did our staff know and ignore it? I doubt it. Lack of publicity was one of the major problems in my view. Was any effort made to enlist the help of the authors in the area (there are quite a few of us) in publicizing CBE? If so, it didn't reach me or most of my colleagues.

    I do hope ECPA can pick themselves up, dust themselves off, take a long look at what needs to be done to make this work, and try again next year.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/trent1280 trent1280

    Has no one considered the obvious? The fixation by the 'Christian Right' on gay marriage, so-called Intelligent Design, constant money-raising, and internal theological disputes has left much of your audience alienated.

    Who would be interested in attending an event so divisive, so smug, and so contrary to American precepts of tolerance? I daresay that the wildly popular writings of Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are having an effect as well. To say nothing of the father-son disputes at ORU and the Crystal Cathedral, church pedophile scandals, and 'faith-healing' exposés…

    As long as your 'leaders' include such bullies and crackpots as James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Benny Hinn, the exposed charlatan Peter Popoff, Earl Pauk, Ted Haggard, Creflo Dollar and the rest, few and fewer decent people will be interested in your message. No wonder.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/trent1280 trent1280

    Has no one considered the obvious? The fixation by the 'Christian Right' on gay marriage, so-called Intelligent Design, constant money-raising, and internal theological disputes has left much of your audience alienated.

    Who would be interested in attending an event so divisive, so smug, and so contrary to American precepts of tolerance? I daresay that the wildly popular writings of Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are having an effect as well. To say nothing of the father-son disputes at ORU and the Crystal Cathedral, church pedophile scandals, and 'faith-healing' exposés…

    As long as your 'leaders' include such bullies and crackpots as James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Benny Hinn, the exposed charlatan Peter Popoff, Earl Pauk, Ted Haggard, Creflo Dollar and the rest, few and fewer decent people will be interested in your message. No wonder.

  • http://cre8ive-yyyguy.blogspot.com/ curtis fletcher

    Just back from vacation and catching up on some reading…it seems I've made it in time to land amongst the angry folks.
    In all of the comments I've read through I'm still missing an important definition:
    Who is the target market for the event?
    The event seems to have been targeted at: publishers, retailers, homeschoolers, christian schoolers, church attenders, and perhaps christian readers in general. In that last category alone you'd have a vast chasm between the needs, wants, desires of a 65 year old grandmother and a 21 year old college student…and the answer "we have something for everyone" typically means "you have very little that applies to me"…especially if I have to pay to attend and then sort out which bits, if any, really do apply to me.
    Even at large events where there are different "tracks" those that do not apply to me are non-entities. They are pure cost with no return because I don't care about them. The more tracks then, or the more audience segments, the larger you have to have in each "successful" track to make up for the ones that don't draw.

    Even as I was reading your daily posts, Michael, I still thought it was an industry trade show you were talking about. Reading through this post and the various comments that follow I still can't figure out if this was anything I might have been enticed to attend, no matter where or when it was held or what it was called, or how it was valuated by pastors.
    I would have asked myself, as a potential attendee, a standard marketing question: What problem does this solve for me or value does it provide for me?
    But then again, I may not have been the audience you were hoping for.

    This almost sounds like it was planned as "a cool thing for the industry" that had some chance of being successful as a marketing tool in and of itself.
    So again it makes me wonder..who was the intended customer?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I think our target audience was readers of Christian books and prospective readers of Christian books. That may have been too broad; I don't know. Regardless, we clearly did not connect with this audience in any meaningful way.

  • http://cre8ive-yyyguy.blogspot.com/ curtis fletcher

    Just back from vacation and catching up on some reading…it seems I've made it in time to land amongst the angry folks.
    In all of the comments I've read through I'm still missing an important definition:
    Who is the target market for the event?
    The event seems to have been targeted at: publishers, retailers, homeschoolers, christian schoolers, church attenders, and perhaps christian readers in general. In that last category alone you'd have a vast chasm between the needs, wants, desires of a 65 year old grandmother and a 21 year old college student…and the answer "we have something for everyone" typically means "you have very little that applies to me"…especially if I have to pay to attend and then sort out which bits, if any, really do apply to me.
    Even at large events where there are different "tracks" those that do not apply to me are non-entities. They are pure cost with no return because I don't care about them. The more tracks then, or the more audience segments, the larger you have to have in each "successful" track to make up for the ones that don't draw.

    Even as I was reading your daily posts, Michael, I still thought it was an industry trade show you were talking about. Reading through this post and the various comments that follow I still can't figure out if this was anything I might have been enticed to attend, no matter where or when it was held or what it was called, or how it was valuated by pastors.
    I would have asked myself, as a potential attendee, a standard marketing question: What problem does this solve for me or value does it provide for me?
    But then again, I may not have been the audience you were hoping for.

    This almost sounds like it was planned as "a cool thing for the industry" that had some chance of being successful as a marketing tool in and of itself.
    So again it makes me wonder..who was the intended customer?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I think our target audience was readers of Christian books and prospective readers of Christian books. That may have been too broad; I don't know. Regardless, we clearly did not connect with this audience in any meaningful way.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shopgirl77 shopgirl77

    While the logistics of this event failed it is in the philosophy of this event that was it’s true demise. The Christian products industry is deeply fractured. Groups have decided to host their own shows instead of pulling together. If CBA, MUNCE, Strang, GMA and ECPA actually could work together a successful show might be possible, but until that happens all you are getting is a bunch of failed shows that is deeply hurting the market. With much due respect Mr. Hyatt it is also very concerning to me that some publishers had such a large presence at this failed event yet have pulled out of ICRS where your buyers are actually attending. To the stores and buyers this is a rather insulting. I am open to proactive solutions, but it doesn’t take a genius to recognize this show was D.O.A (Dead on Arrival) even before the recession. Failed philosophy = Failed event.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shopgirl77 shopgirl77

    While the logistics of this event failed it is in the philosophy of this event that was it’s true demise. The Christian products industry is deeply fractured. Groups have decided to host their own shows instead of pulling together. If CBA, MUNCE, Strang, GMA and ECPA actually could work together a successful show might be possible, but until that happens all you are getting is a bunch of failed shows that is deeply hurting the market. With much due respect Mr. Hyatt it is also very concerning to me that some publishers had such a large presence at this failed event yet have pulled out of ICRS where your buyers are actually attending. To the stores and buyers this is a rather insulting. I am open to proactive solutions, but it doesn’t take a genius to recognize this show was D.O.A (Dead on Arrival) even before the recession. Failed philosophy = Failed event.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Thanks for your comments. This show was intended to be a CONSUMER show. All the others you mentioned are TRADE shows. If this were intended to be a trade show, then I agree: we don't need another one. The fact that it was perceived as such, is probably why it did, in fact, fail.

    We pulled out of ICRS because we do not believe that trade shows are a cost-effective way of connecting with retailers. Instead, we spend a ton of money each year to actually call on 95% of these accounts either face-to-face or via the phone.

    Trade shows are fine for small publishers who don't have sales forces or for small retailers who don't do enough sales volume to warrant the visit of publisher reps. But this cost is shouldered by the big publishers who, frankly, don't need the added expense.

    In my view, we don't need more events where we are talking to each other (i.e., TRADE shows). However, we still need an event that raises CONSUMER awareness to the incredible products that are being produced by Christian publishers.

    • http://www.emergingintofaith.com/ Dr. David Frisbie

      Thanks, Michael — This is the clearest "mission statement" I've heard for the event. Your statement resonates: There's a clear need for this kind of connection between publishers/authors and their readership. Well done!

      Although I'd personally love to see this event held in Southern California, let me suggest a couple of "out of the box" ideas: Indianapolis & Tulsa. Indy has an historically strong Christian presence, i.e. people would actually turn out for this — it would draw them. Tulsa has ORU, Rhema, Victory Fellowship, Church on the Move, et al — a surprisingly large and vibrant Christian community that, again, would actually turn out.

      I'm not a "small market" fan in general, but either of these venues might be a "large turnout" locale. Larger markets may be too jaded (?) or have such diverse options that any given opportunity is just 'more noise.'

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

        You may have a point about Dallas. It has the highest density of Christians and large churches in the country—which is why we picked it. But it may also have too many competing opportunities.

        Believe me, we are looking at every facet of this show. Nothing is sacred other than the mission.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Thanks for your comments. This show was intended to be a CONSUMER show. All the others you mentioned are TRADE shows. If this were intended to be a trade show, then I agree: we don't need another one. The fact that it was perceived as such, is probably why it did, in fact, fail.

    We pulled out of ICRS because we do not believe that trade shows are a cost-effective way of connecting with retailers. Instead, we spend a ton of money each year to actually call on 95% of these accounts either face-to-face or via the phone.

    Trade shows are fine for small publishers who don't have sales forces or for small retailers who don't do enough sales volume to warrant the visit of publisher reps. But this cost is shouldered by the big publishers who, frankly, don't need the added expense.

    In my view, we don't need more events where we are talking to each other (i.e., TRADE shows). However, we still need an event that raises CONSUMER awareness to the incredible products that are being produced by Christian publishers.

    • http://www.emergingintofaith.com Dr. David Frisbie

      Thanks, Michael — This is the clearest "mission statement" I've heard for the event. Your statement resonates: There's a clear need for this kind of connection between publishers/authors and their readership. Well done!

      Although I'd personally love to see this event held in Southern California, let me suggest a couple of "out of the box" ideas: Indianapolis & Tulsa. Indy has an historically strong Christian presence, i.e. people would actually turn out for this — it would draw them. Tulsa has ORU, Rhema, Victory Fellowship, Church on the Move, et al — a surprisingly large and vibrant Christian community that, again, would actually turn out.

      I'm not a "small market" fan in general, but either of these venues might be a "large turnout" locale. Larger markets may be too jaded (?) or have such diverse options that any given opportunity is just 'more noise.'

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

        You may have a point about Dallas. It has the highest density of Christians and large churches in the country—which is why we picked it. But it may also have too many competing opportunities.

        Believe me, we are looking at every facet of this show. Nothing is sacred other than the mission.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shopgirl77 shopgirl77

    That is why I said the philosophy failed– it was direct to consumer. But I firmly believe you help consumer awareness by working with the industry at large. You also raise consumer awareness by assisting those on the frontlines who have relationships with their consumers not by bypassing the them and going direct to consumers in the form of a book EXPO ( modern name for book fair). Let's call a spade a spade- publishers need/want a bigger margin and thinking direct to consumer is more profitable than going through stores. The money spent on this event would have been better used if the publishers had used coop advertising and partnered with stores or authors in several markets rather than hosting a book fair in one market already saturated with Christian products.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shopgirl77 shopgirl77

    That is why I said the philosophy failed– it was direct to consumer. But I firmly believe you help consumer awareness by working with the industry at large. You also raise consumer awareness by assisting those on the frontlines who have relationships with their consumers not by bypassing the them and going direct to consumers in the form of a book EXPO ( modern name for book fair). Let's call a spade a spade- publishers need/want a bigger margin and thinking direct to consumer is more profitable than going through stores. The money spent on this event would have been better used if the publishers had used coop advertising and partnered with stores or authors in several markets rather than hosting a book fair in one market already saturated with Christian products.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/NoelGriese NoelGriese

    I think Thomas Nelson is on the right track by downplaying its presence at ICRS. ICRS, in my experience, has behaved as a moribund, exclusionary show that goes out of its way to roadblock rather than invite participation by exhibitors. I think CBA is stuck in a 20th century mentality, when the industry is experiencing sea changes not unlike those that dislocated monks and scrolls when Gutenberg introduced movable type. Indie booksellers now have only eight percent of the overall $32 billion book retail market. Christian booksellers have a small slice of the indie market. As for diagnosing the reason for low attendance by consumers in Dallas, I'm still waiting for information that will help me in writing an article about the show for the Southern Review of Books, of which I am the editor.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I know Mark Kuyper sent you an email on Tuesday, March 24th. He copied me. Did the two of you ever get a chance to talk?

      • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/NoelGriese NoelGriese

        Mark Kuyper and I are going to talk. I sent him a few more things to think about before we get together by phone. Didn't want to bother you – surprised you can find time to read all the traffic on your blog. Meanwhile, I'm helping to plan a national seminar on self-publishing, a seminar for writers at the Great American Bargain Book Show in Boston in August and trying to help Clark Atlanta University launch a new TV show on books and authors – initially via Comcast to Atlanta metroplex, but already being test-marketed for digital streaming internationally. Also just posted a story on my Energy Pipeline News blog about how Goldman Sachs, Citibank and Merrill Lynch last summer manipulated the crude oil futures market, driving the price of crude oil to $147/bbl. in order to drive SemGroup into bankruptcy and pick clean the bones. Highest traffic I've had at that site since I ran a story about how KBR Halliburton failed to inform U.S. soldiers protecting it in Iraq that they were being exposed to hexavalent chromium – the bad stuff that got Erin Brokovich angry. Brings back memories of my early days as an investigative reporter in Chicago.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/NoelGriese NoelGriese

    I think Thomas Nelson is on the right track by downplaying its presence at ICRS. ICRS, in my experience, has behaved as a moribund, exclusionary show that goes out of its way to roadblock rather than invite participation by exhibitors. I think CBA is stuck in a 20th century mentality, when the industry is experiencing sea changes not unlike those that dislocated monks and scrolls when Gutenberg introduced movable type. Indie booksellers now have only eight percent of the overall $32 billion book retail market. Christian booksellers have a small slice of the indie market. As for diagnosing the reason for low attendance by consumers in Dallas, I'm still waiting for information that will help me in writing an article about the show for the Southern Review of Books, of which I am the editor.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I know Mark Kuyper sent you an email on Tuesday, March 24th. He copied me. Did the two of you ever get a chance to talk?

      • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/NoelGriese NoelGriese

        Mark Kuyper and I are going to talk. I sent him a few more things to think about before we get together by phone. Didn't want to bother you – surprised you can find time to read all the traffic on your blog. Meanwhile, I'm helping to plan a national seminar on self-publishing, a seminar for writers at the Great American Bargain Book Show in Boston in August and trying to help Clark Atlanta University launch a new TV show on books and authors – initially via Comcast to Atlanta metroplex, but already being test-marketed for digital streaming internationally. Also just posted a story on my Energy Pipeline News blog about how Goldman Sachs, Citibank and Merrill Lynch last summer manipulated the crude oil futures market, driving the price of crude oil to $147/bbl. in order to drive SemGroup into bankruptcy and pick clean the bones. Highest traffic I've had at that site since I ran a story about how KBR Halliburton failed to inform U.S. soldiers protecting it in Iraq that they were being exposed to hexavalent chromium – the bad stuff that got Erin Brokovich angry. Brings back memories of my early days as an investigative reporter in Chicago.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shopgirl77 shopgirl77

    I was there – I walked around the empty show floor and watched well known amazing authors sitting uncomfortably as only a few people waited in line to get a book signed. I was there- and I was embarrased for our industry.

    Although the retailer got 100%… ( although 100% profits probably didn't even cover their employees parking) it still was a publisher to vendor show.

    I mean no disrespect- I just care about our very fragmented industry which is tanking and making poor decisions.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shopgirl77 shopgirl77

    I was there – I walked around the empty show floor and watched well known amazing authors sitting uncomfortably as only a few people waited in line to get a book signed. I was there- and I was embarrased for our industry.

    Although the retailer got 100%… ( although 100% profits probably didn't even cover their employees parking) it still was a publisher to vendor show.

    I mean no disrespect- I just care about our very fragmented industry which is tanking and making poor decisions.

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Were you there? Where are you getting your information?

    Actually, we didn't sell directly to consumers. We worked with a Christian retailer. They had their registers and their staff in our booth. They took 100% of the retail sales. We sold them our product at our normal trade discounts. Nearly all of the other publishers did the same thing.

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Were you there? Where are you getting your information?

    Actually, we didn't sell directly to consumers. We worked with a Christian retailer. They had their registers and their staff in our booth. They took 100% of the retail sales. We sold them our product at our normal trade discounts. Nearly all of the other publishers did the same thing.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/chownage Chownage

    This was my assumption…especially when you have what used to be CBA Expo around the same time just a handful of years ago.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/chownage Chownage

    This was my assumption…especially when you have what used to be CBA Expo around the same time just a handful of years ago.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/LynCote LynCote

    Hi, I was there too. One idea that might be entertained is to break it up into regions and smaller venues. More authors would be available then since they could drive over. And finally no entrance fee! Let people choose from a menu and pay for what the workshops and events that are above and beyond the floor. And authors, I gave away books. I viewed this as an opportunity to get new readers.
    Well, I'm late in commenting, but thanks for the insightful analysis, Mike.
    Lyn Cote

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/LynCote LynCote

    Hi, I was there too. One idea that might be entertained is to break it up into regions and smaller venues. More authors would be available then since they could drive over. And finally no entrance fee! Let people choose from a menu and pay for what the workshops and events that are above and beyond the floor. And authors, I gave away books. I viewed this as an opportunity to get new readers.
    Well, I'm late in commenting, but thanks for the insightful analysis, Mike.
    Lyn Cote

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  • http://www.squidoo.com/missionary-stories-for-kids Meryl van der Merwe

    I would loved to have attend a Christian Book Fair – but I don’t think I would have been prepared to pay. Have you though about a virtual fair? I have noticed quite a few of these recently and that would make it accessible to more people – plus reduce costs.

  • Laurie Winslow Sargent

    Christian Book Expo combined with ICRS–same place, same time–I think would be a huge success. ICRS needs to welcome all Christian book lovers: from editors and publishers to authors and readers, bloggers and tweeters, in the same way BookExpo does.

    For ICRS to focus primarily on publishers selling to bookstores (when they can do this online anytime) seems shortsighted in this digital age. But if they allow the Christian masses to attend  author signings, and get review copies or book samples (paper chapbooks), buzz would begin on new titles more quickly, and  bookstores would then have consumers to order books for! 

    BookExpo this year merged with a digital book conference and book bloggers conference, and has connected with the Writers Digest conference. ICRS could do similarly, merging with a Christian bloggers conference, and all Christian Book Expo events.

    • Laurie Winslow Sargent

      BTW, I’m referring to the secular huge annual  BookExpo America event in this post, which this year (2011) claimed attendance of
      21,664 attendees, including those from a connected book bloggers conference & digital book conference. They also claim to have had 775 author signings. I did book signings at both BookExpo Amercia and at ICRS, in the Tyndale booths.

    • Laurie Winslow Sargent

      In 2003 & 2005.  Can’t seem to get one post clear here. Rats.

  • Christina Harper

    I just stumbled across your article after searching google for a 2012 date. I came to this event, flew from Hilo,HI to attend. I agree with the entire article. As a consumer, I loved hearing from my favorite authors, meeting new ones, the night service/worship was fantastic, and after it was all said and done, I had to ship 29 books back to Hawaii!
    I would love to see this type of event offered again. One thing not mentioned in your article is the slow death of the printed material at the hands of the digital media. More and more people I know are going to Kindles, Kobos, etc…so maybe marketing it in a way that peaks their interest would be helpful.
    Thanks for the write up!