Media Correction: Our Decision Not to Attend ICRS

Today, Christian Retailing ran a story about Thomas Nelson pulling out of the International Christian Retail Show (i.e., “ICRS,” the show formerly known as “CBA”). The article was entitled, “Thomas Nelson: ICRS Pull Out.” Unfortunately, it is not available online, so I can’t link to it.

Pencil and eraser

For the most part, CR got the story right. However, there are two items I’d like to correct. Both of them are near the end of the article. The first item is a simple omission.   A few weeks ago, in response to our decision not to attend ICRS, CBA issued a press release. The last paragraph said,


Despite Nelson’s short cancellation notice, CBA expects the six booth spaces reserved by the publisher to fill quickly.

The implication is that we left CBA high and dry. What neither CBA nor Christian Retailing noted is that we, in fact, had already paid for the booth space. As a result, CBA isn’t out a dime. If they re-sell the space—which clearly they expect to do—it’s all gravy.

Second, the article indirectly misquotes me. It says,


But Nelson pointed out that less than 5% of Nelson’s total Christian retail revenue comes from retailers who attend ICRS.

Not exactly. The way it is written the article suggests that Christian retail channel only accounts for 5% of Thomas Nelson’s total revenue. By inference, it is therefore unimportant to us. But this is not what I said, nor is it how we feel. Christian Retail is still our single largest sales channel.

In an email to the reporter, Eric Tiansay, I stated:


We personally visit our top 600 accounts [in the Christian Retail channel] four times a year. Those accounts represent 90% of our revenue in this channel. We phone the next 600 accounts 12 times a year. This takes the total up to 95% of our revenue in this channel. The remaining retail accounts—the ones that we would only see at ICRS—are less than 5% of our total Christian retail revenue. I am not saying they are unimportant, but no business can afford to structure its sales and marketing efforts around its smallest customers.

I don’t mind Christian Retailing summarizing my comments. I understand the space constraints of traditional media. But a more accurate summary would have been:


But Nelson pointed out that it connects on a regular basis with those accounts that represent 95% of its revenue in this channel. The remaining retail accounts—the ones that it would only see at ICRS—are less than 5% of its total Christian retail revenue.

The bottom line is two-fold: First, we honored our commitment to CBA by paying our booth fee, even though we will not be attending. Second, the Christian Retail channel is very important to us, but we believe we can reclaim the dollars that we spend at trade shows and do things that matter more to our best customers, like driving traffic and sell-through.

Update: Andy Butcher, editor for Christian Retailing, sent me the following email this morning (Tuesday, May 13). He has given me permission to post it here:


Hi from Christian Retailing. I hope you are well. I just read your latest blog and wanted to follow up with you directly. Yes, we were squeezed for space; our original report was considerably longer before we had to cut it on the page. However it’s still our responsibility to be fair and accurate, of course.

We were inaccurate in paraphrasing that less than 5% of Nelson’s Christian retail revenues came from retailers who attend ICRS; as you point out, it should have been that less than 5% of revenues from Christian retailers with whom Nelson did not have other regular contact came from ICRS.

We intend to run a correction in that regard in our next issue. You’re welcome to submit a letter to the editor, too, of course if you would want to do that.


Andy Butcher

I have to hand it to Andy for stepping up and taking responsibility. In my experience, this is rare. I should also point out that Christian Retailing gave us a tremendous amount of ink in the current issue. I am grateful for that.

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