Trade Show Overview

Mary Keeley

Blogger: Mary Keeley

The 2015 International Christian Retail Show, ICRS, held in Orlando, came to a close yesterday. This annual trade show is a switch in gears for agents from the writers conferences we attend during the year. Instead of teaching workshops and meeting with writers who pitch their projects to us, we are the ones pitching our clients’ projects to editors. All five Books & Such agents were there this year. Living in different parts of the country, we so enjoy our in-person time together, and our combined cognitive wheels were turning in high gear. I thought you might like to have a glimpse into our activity and a trade show overview.ICRS 2015

We covered a lot of ground, literally, as we navigated 18 scheduled meetings, multiple events, and ad hoc meetings in two and a half days. We attend primarily because ICRS is a time- and cost-efficient way to meet with editors from numerous publishing houses in one trip. This year we especially wanted to get an update on each publisher’s assessment of the industry in response to the ongoing Family Christian Stores sale or bankruptcy saga. Another priority was learning what editors seek to acquire in the months ahead. This informed us about which of our clients’ projects to present to them then and to send to them in the months ahead. I’ll talk about that more in a bit.

After our individual versions of devotional time and cereal-bar breakfast, we headed to back-to-back meetings for two days. Some were in our hotel lobby or publisher’s meeting suite, some at publishers’ exhibit spaces on the convention floor, and others at different hotels.

Sharing perspectives on publishing trends is always an illuminating discussion because we want to hear what publishers’ perceptions are as well as communicate what we observe about readers. Some publishers continue to be stuck, waiting to react after the next big thing appears, while a few editors are beginning to sense it’s time to go with their gut and risk something new, possibly creating the next big trend in CBA. We didn’t hear this last year, and it was encouraging news.

The problems slowing the process are that Christian publishers have to find ways to adjust their sales, marketing, and distribution systems to have success with new genres that are popular in the general market, not to mention the blurring of traditional genres. For example, questions arise about what BISAC code to assign to a split story, an important issue because it determines were books are shelved in stores and affects how to search for a book online. We need to be praying that these publishers figure it out soon.

The Golden Scroll Awards Banquet always coincides with ICRS, usually occurring on Sunday, the day before ICRS officially begins. View the list of winners here. The Christy Awards banquet was on Monday night. View all the winners here. I’m happy to report that Books & Such clients were winners at both events.

Does this trade show overview describe what you thought goes on at ICRS? If you’ve been to the trade show, what was your reaction the first time you were there? Do you agree with me that nonfiction writers deserve their version of the Christy Awards?

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ICRS provides an efficient means for agents to meet with editors from multiple publishing houses in one location. Click to Tweet.