A Higher Calling
Another way HCCP is leveraging its print and content business is with the live events business Women of Faith. These one- or two-day gatherings feature music and inspirational speeches by HCCP authors; books are sold in the concourse, making them akin to pop-up bookstores.
Schoenwald is positive about the division's domestic book sales. While CBA sales have followed the results of the channel as a whole, with growth at the strongest retailers, the ABA is very hit-driven. One area of focus is augmenting backlist sales, especially in the ABA stores. Currently, backlist represents 65 percent of HCCP's business and is a strength of its partnership with the CBA. After retooling its sell-in and carefully controlling returns, the division is seeing increases through the mass merch channel.
Now that the structure of the new division is in place, the concentration is on growth. In terms of products, the division has identified four areas:
- Bible engagement (particularly for teens and young readers), bible study and devotionals.
- Children's publishing.
- Selling directly to churches and ministries, so pastors and ministers can be brand ambassadors for HCCP's authors and products.
- Getting the right digital/print mix and growing digital so that it enhances print publications.
The international marketplace is a long-term growth opportunity for the division both in terms of export and partnering with foreign-language publishers. It is another area where HCCP is leveraging its connection with HarperCollins, working with the parent company's Australian, Canadian and U.K. teams, which are much bigger players in those markets than HCCP could ever be on its own.
Spanish-language publishing, both domestically and internationally, is another source of growth. The division is expanding its Thomas Nelson presence in Mexico to encompass all of HCCP, and a joint venture in Brazil is doing extremely well.
Closing the Books on Year One
As a leader, Schoenwald believes you have to embrace change even in an organization whose foundation is decades, even centuries, old. Agility and growth are essential, but so is focus. "We are in the content business, long-form narrative content is our business and our core competencies are editorial and marketing. Marketing with a big M, meaning sales, marketing etc."