ICRS: Day One

Gail and I are attending the International Christian Retail Show (the show formerly known as “CBA”) in Atlanta this week. I always dread coming to Atlanta in July, but yesterday was unseasonably cool. Believe it or not, the temperature was in the mid-70s.

trade show crowd

I played golf Sunday morning in the Global Publishers Alliance Invitational Golf Tournament. Every single golfing spot was filled. We even had a waiting list. We also raised $52,000 for GPA. This money goes toward helping small Christian publishers in other parts of the world.

Thomas Nelson is the major sponsor of this event and the organizer. Jack and Marsha Countryman and Whitney Connell (all Nelson employees) organized a fabulous event. By every measure, this was the most successful GPA event ever. Next year, we will be in Orlando. The gold tournament will be held at Mystic Dunes. If you intend to play, you better register early!

On Sunday afternoon, I attended an introductory meeting for the Christian Book Expo (CBE) event which launches in March of 2009. This is a new consumer-focused book fair designed to raise the visibility of Christian books. Mark Kuyper, President of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA), gave an overview of the event, including the goals, basic features and structure, site election, marketing plan, and pricing.

As Chairman of ECPA, I also shared my enthusiasm for the event. Generally speaking, I’m not a big fan of trade shows. But this isn’t a trade show; it’s a consumer show. I think this event has the potential to really make a big splash in the marketplace, much like the Guadalajara International Book Fair I attended lat fall. And, I love the fact that it is focused exclusively on books. No gifts, music, or Jesus-junk.

After the CBE meeting, Gail and I drove to Marietta, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta. We attended the annual Thomas Nelson Fiction Authors Dinner, hosted by Allen Arnold, our fiction publisher. The dinner was at Sal Grosso, a classic Brazilian barbecue (known in Brazil as a Churrasco). There were about fifty of us, and we had a blast. We also ate more meat than should be allowed by law.

We sat across the table from Dave and Colleen Coble and Rachel Hauck, two of our favorite fiction authors. We talked the evening away on a variety of subjects, including blogging.

True to form, Allen had us each stand and answer two questions: (1) what was our favorite breakfast cereal and (2) what legacy did we hope to leave when we were gone. My favorite cereal (when I eat it) is Crispex with Agave nectar on top. In terms of my legacy, I said that I hope to be remembered as a man who “walked his talk.”

Gail and I drove back to the hotel and arrived at about 10:00 p.m. We collapsed into bed after a very long day. I have an equally full day at the show today. Hopefully, I can report more later.

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