The Information Superhighway to Heaven
Barbour decided to increase its Web presence and its ability to offer content for sale, and in turn, its ability to market directly to its readership.
“We used to joke, 15 and 20 years ago, in the Christian industry, that we’re about 10 years behind general trade,” he says. “I suppose there are few areas where that is true, but technology is not one of them. In terms of workflow, even the smallest publishers have benefited from technology. Technology has been a great accelerator for growth. Most of that has been forced on us by the market.”
The company’s Web site has come into focus during the past year, Martins says. A relaunched site with information about the publishing company’s history, authors and available books came online in January. The new BarbourBooks.com also includes the option for those interested in Barbour to receive RSS news feeds about the company’s top-selling titles, upcoming releases and press releases.
“It has become an important strategy,” he says of the company’s Internet presence.
With plans to launch an e-commerce-based Web site—HumbleCreek.com—by year’s end, Barbour Publishing is taking control of digital technology by taking control of what titles its readers will have direct access to buy. Currently, the publisher’s direct-to-consumer sales is 12 percent of its sales volume.
Barbour frontlists nearly 200 impulse and value-priced books a year. In 2005, it shipped 17 million units.
“The strategy is to move that sales mix to about 50 percent, while continuing to grow the wholesale market,” Martins says. “Our focus is on publishing that will be continuity-driven and marketing directly to consumers.”
Once HumbleCreek.com goes online, it will serve as a community of 25,000 active club members. The company has operated Heartsong Presents book club, a Christian romance book club, for more than a decade. It included more than 200,000 members during that time, Martins says. The club offers its members both historical and contemporary romance novels written by Christian authors. Four novels are mailed out each month, along with The Official Newsletter of Heartsong Presents!, a newsletter for club members.