A Higher Calling
In April, Zondervan announced the debut of a new YA imprint designed for the general trade market. Dubbed Blink, the first titles will appear this fall. Blink books will explore issues that teens face such as cutting, relationships and dieting, while remaining inspirational and hopeful. By publishing all of these books in Blink, the publisher can focus its marketing efforts as well as clearly communicate to consumers, librarians and educators that the content is appropriate for secular readers.
In addition to the two core publishing groups, Westbow is a self-publishing entity that provides another source of author discoverability. The imprint is a strategic partnership with Author Solutions and an example of Schoenwald's belief that HCCP doesn't have to do everything by itself.
Building in a Time of Change
The challenge for HCCP's leadership is not only shaping the new division, but also addressing the many changes in the industry as a whole. Digital has had a lower penetration in the Christian publishing segment in large part because Bible-reading is not a linear experience as well as the strength of physical gift books in this market. Nonetheless, the digital sphere is expanding, so HCCP is emphasizing two things: innovation and execution. Schoenwald says it's important to "take a chance and learn. It's okay to fail, you're going to learn as you go, but you've got to tell people what happened."
The separateness of the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) market has allowed HCCP to try new promotions and merchandising, concentrating on how to add value rather than use giveaways. They have shared their learning with HarperCollins and in turn benefited from the results of HarperCollins' own experiments with dynamic pricing in the digital space.
Leveraging existing online platforms is another initiative. An example is BibleGateway.com; with 15 million unique visitors every month, it is the world's largest website dedicated to Bible research. Although it does sell books and related products, the site is religiously neutral, allowing users to read and research the site's nearly 200 Bible translations. As a way to bring some of BibleGateway's audience to a destination where they can discover and connect with HCCP content and authors, the division's eMedia and marketing teams developed FaithGateway.com. Now in beta, it is an online community of top Christian authors that provides all kinds of information - from tips for Christian parenting to laymen's bible study guides - in the form of blog posts, book excerpts, videos and newsletters. The site's e-commerce platform will allow visitors to buy directly or discover a local retailer. In February, FaithGateway launched the e-newsletter Devotionals Daily that already has more than 42,000 subscribers and exemplifies how HCCP is using digital content to drive discoverability and build a community.