Big Barnes & Noble Surprise! It Celebrates Lincoln

BLOG #38, SERIES #6
WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE
BIG BARNES & NOBLE SURPRISE!
IT CELEBRATES LINCOLN
September 23, 2015

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Some months ago, my editors at Howard/Simon & Schuster alerted me that a big serendipity would be coming our way on August 8. And sure enough, it happened.

My Abraham Lincoln biography, Abraham Lincoln: A Man of Faith and Courage, was first published in 2008, and has done very well; it is still in print. Since that time many thank-you letters have come our way, a number coming from adolescents, tweens, and teens. The common denominator: Thank you for bringing back the spiritual dimension of Lincoln’s life. I prayed daily that this would be so during the research and writing of the book. Readers also point out how readable it is—hard to put down (unlike most ponderous biographies).

Something most interesting has been gradually taking place during the last two years: Barnes & Noble managers tell me that more and more browsers are searching for spiritual books (young readers as well as old). Apparently, under the radar of the secular hedonistic media leaders of our time, a spiritual awakening is beginning to make itself felt.

So much so that key leaders of Barnes & Noble’s Sterling Division singled out this seven-year-old biography as one worthy of re-emphasis. Worthy of a special proprietary printing that they have now made available at a bargain price. Not only that, but since August 8, they have sent—not single copies, which is the norm—but 8 – 10 copies of each to their 500 plus stores across the nation!

My Howard editors are thrilled with the honor implied by this unexpected event. I am merely humbled and view it as an answer to prayer. For some time now I have asked God each day that, if it be His will, the Lincoln biography will sweep the nation—but only if it be to His honor and glory—not mine! For if ever the values represented by Lincoln’s selfless life should come back, it certainly ought to be now!

So here’s the big opportunity for each of you. The regular Howard/Simon & Schuster printings are still available at $22.99. They will continue to be sold at this price. However the Barnes & Noble limited edition of 5,000 will be available at about a 65% reduction (lower by far than regular wholesale): $7.98 each [Barnes & Noble members will be able to take an additional 10% discount, picking them up at $7.18 each]. Should the first-print-run sell through, they will either leave it at that or ask for another printing. If they do not reprint, the regular edition will still be available at $22.99.

I just heard from someone who bought nearly all the copies available at his closest Barnes & Noble outlet; he plans to give them all away. If each of you should take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get these inspirational biographies into the hands of friends and young people, what a blessing that might be! Since the Barnes & Noble edition looks almost the same (hardback with dust jacket) as the First Edition, and since I certainly can’t afford to sell them at that price, I would encourage our readers to buy these from Barnes & Noble rather than from me. What wonderful Christmas presents they’d make! To schools public as well as private. Both as Corporate or personal gifts.

Now here’s how you can tell them apart:

Barnes & Noble Edition: Copyright Page

Copyright © 2008 by Howard Books
This Howard Books proprietary edition August 2015
Howard and Colophon are trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
The Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau paragraph
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 [Howard’s regular printing currently indicates 4th printing]
Instead of the regular ISBN numbers, this Barnes & Noble printing has three:
ISBN 978-1-4165-5096-9
ISBN 978-1-5011-2271-2 (prop)
ISBN 978-1-4165-6431-5 (ebook)

Will be interested in hearing back from you as to responses you get by availing yourself of this printing.

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Greed Attacks Thanksgiving

BLOG #47, SERIES #5
WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE
GREED ATTACKS THANKSGIVING

November 19, 2014

In case you haven’t noticed, the forces of Greed and Secularism appear determined to obliterate all remnants of the spiritual dimensions of America’s holidays: they’ve been all too successful with Easter, and even more successful with Halloween. For several generations now they’ve been attacking Christmas from every possible direction.

Now, they appear determined to bulldoze Thanksgiving (morphing Thanksgiving into Black Thursday) off the calendar. Abraham Lincoln founded Thanksgiving as a profoundly spiritual day. It remained so for over a hundred years. But not so today.

If you haven’t read it yet, I strongly urge you to track down Drew Harwell’s Nov. 17 Washington Post article, “Thanksgiving Day Shopping: Retailers vs. Black Thursday.”

Harwell quotes Peter Foley of Bloomberg News: “Shoppers rush through the doors at a Macy’s store in New York on Thanksgiving. Not long ago, the practice of a store staying closed on the holiday was simply a given, but now a core of retailers is pushing back, vowing to stay closed.”

Harwell’s lead paragraph is in the same vein: “Not so long ago, the practice of a store staying closed on Thanksgiving was simply a given; one more holiday in which workers assumed they’d get some time off. Then, amid the corporate tug-of-war over Black Friday crowds, retailers began eying the juicy hours of Turkey Day as the best time to kick off their crucial holiday shopping seasons. The move drew both sales and backlash from shoppers, who worried the sacred day was being plowed beneath the tough work schedules of Black Friday creep.”

What far too few of us appear to realize is this: every time Christians cave in to secular forces determined to destroy all Christian institutions and holidays, they simultaneously erode the remaining few opportunities families have of maintaining ties with each other. Requiring workers to work on religious days and holidays results in the attendant dismantling of the family structure and Judeo-Christian values.

Result: this year, 45% of Americans plan to shop on Thanksgiving, up from 38% last Thanksgiving.

Walmart, the nation’s biggest private employer, plans to be open all day. J.C. Penney, Best Buy, and Toys R Us will munificently wait until 5:00 p.m.; Kohl’s, Macy’s Sears, and Target, tiptoe in an hour later.

But we all know what that means: their employees will be forced to leave the Thanksgiving dinner table early, or miss it entirely, in order to get to the store in time to get ready for the crowds. Some of the stores will stay open all night and marathon into Black Friday.

A big question well worth serious thought is this: Every time Christians or strong believers in family values and togetherness votes with their feet by shopping on Thanksgiving, they are betraying their own core values.

Not all is lost, however. Harwell notes that “The stores refusing to open on the holiday, however, may feel the moral capital they gain from looking like the good guys could mean more for their brand in the long run. A study last month by retail site RichRelevance found more than 60% of Americans said they disliked that stories opened on Thanksgiving, and only 12% said they liked the trend. The movement is gaining steam: A ‘Boycott Black Thursday’ Facebook page has more than 79,000 likes.

It is indeed time for each of us to stand up and be counted on this issue. Next time you shop in stores that remain closed on Thanksgiving, take the time to speak to the managers personally and thank them. Do more: in gratitude for their stand—patronize them. Among those who this year put families and those who work them first, valuing them more than profits, are the likes of American Girl, Barnes & Noble, Bed Bath & Beyond, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Burlington Coat Factory, Costco [Costco is renowned for putting its employees first], Crate and Barrel, Dillard’s, DSW, GameStop, Hobby Lobby, HomeGoods, Home Depot, Jo Ann Fabrics, Lowe’s, Mardel’s, Marshall’s, Nordstrom, Patagonia, Petco, Pier 1, Publix, and REI.

What a statement it would make to all these purveyors of greed if Americans would unitedly rise in support of the “Good Guys,” and put teeth in this act by boycotting the “Bad Guys!”

Well, might it be possible….if we all get angry at once and say, Enough is Enough!

KPOF RADIO, AM91, THE POINT OF FAITH

BLOG #35, SERIES 4
WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE
KPOF RADIO, AM91, THE POINT OF FAITH
STUDIO IN A CASTLE TURRET, ROUND TABLE BROADCAST, MARDEL’S,
OWLS, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, COFFEE, AND DAWN OVER DENVER
August 28 2013

How is that for a mouthful of a title?

It was still dark when my alarm clock shattered my dreams that morning of August 14, two weeks ago. I was out the door of the Grey House high on Conifer Mountain by 5:20. By 6:30, I could see the castle with its red-lighted beacon silhouetted against a cloudy dawn. As I approached the Westminister destination, I stopped, got out of my SUV, and unlimbered my legs so I’d be ready to sit down for the two-hour broadcast.

Afterwards, as I walked up the time-weathered steps, dawn’s gilding paintbrush gave the castle an otherworldly glow. Inside, all was already in progress for “The Breakfast Table Show: table-in-the-round, headphones and mikes, cups of steaming coffee, Roy Hanschke and Gordon Scott,–glaringly absent: Denise Washington Blomberg—, and an empty chair for me. How often, over the years had I thus joined this precious circle!

Fortunately, Denise would be back; but I gained a renewed sense of the fragility of life when Roy later shared with me the story of the dark days and nights when cancer came way too close to ending his part of the morning broadcast.

I thought back to the day in March when the station celebrated 85 years of broadcasting of KPOF Denver. 85 years under the same ministry ownership sharing the same gospel message.

What a milestone!

My thoughts drifted back even further, as I looked out the turret windows, to the days when the castle was a stagecoach stop. Yet here it still was, an anachronism when compared to the steel and glass skyscrapers just waking up to our southeast.

My reveries were abruptly terminated by a motion from Roy: In seconds, the commercial would end, and we’d be on the air. Ah the magic of radio! Still magical even in this age of nano-technology-driven instant obsolescence.

Once again, I was introduced to the listening audience–only, for the very first time, I was not here to talk about my latest Christmas in My Heart® book, but rather about my just-out Abraham Lincoln Civil War Stories (Howard/Simon & Schuster). It was also announced that, periodically during the two-hour broadcast, we’d be giving away copies of the book to listeners who called in when invited to do so.

And, it was noted to listeners that I’d be sharing several stories with them each hour.

Denise’s empty chair reminded me each time we missed her effervescent presence–which was every time we looked in the direction of that chair–how irreplaceable each of us is. For each of us is a one-of-a-kind: in eternity itself, there has never been, nor ever will be, another Denise, another Roy, another Gordy, another me, another you.

Even without her, the old electricity re-ignited, having flared again and again during years past. What one didn’t think of, another did: thus there were no awkward pauses, but rather a continuous flow of Abraham Lincoln, the gentle giant who still rules over our hearts–both in America and around the world.

Every so many minutes, just before a commercial break, it would be announced that next, I’d be reading a story from the book–and so the conversational flow would stop: for “How Lincoln Paid for His First Book,” “Only a Mother,” “Tenderness in a Ruined City,” and “The Heart of Lincoln,” four of the shortest stories in the collection, yet each simple little story deeply moving in a unique way. Each revealing another dimension of America’s only Servant President: accessible to all, be it a broken-hearted little boy, a shy little girl pleading for her brother’s life, a dying young man in a makeshift hospital, or a young Confederate wife and baby in the still burning city of Richmond who apprehensively opened her front door, only to see a tall gaunt figure standing there, who, to her stunned exclamation, “The President!” simply responded, “No, ma’am; no, ma’am; just Abraham Lincoln, George’s old friend.” [“George,” being the now near immortal general, George Pickett, who led the greatest charge in our history, Pickett’s Charge, in a losing cause at Gettysburg].

We could all hear the voices of listeners as they called in, overjoyed that I’d be personally inscribing their books. We’d also hear the voices of those whose calls were relayed in from the switchboard during commercial breaks. More often than not, calls from those who were deeply troubled about illness, privation, inner torment, each asking for intercessory prayers.

It was at such times that I became more fully aware that this was not merely a commercial radio station, but rather a group of dedicated prayer warriors, each, from station manager, Jack Pelon, on down, committed to selfless service to all God’s sheep who looked to those inhabiting the Castle on the Hill as undershepherds to the Great Shepherd. All across the great city of Denver, they were listening to every word we spoke.

I thought too, both then and later, about the station’s 85-years of daily struggling to remain alive in an increasingly secular age, especially in recent years when Christianity and those who believe in God are openly mocked by a society that has apparently lost its spiritual moorings.

Every so many minutes, it would be announced that I’d be signing the Lincoln book at two locations that week: downtown Denver’s Barnes & Noble on Friday and Mardel’s Christian Bookstore on Wadsworth on Saturday.

It would be at Mardel’s where I’d fully realize the power of KPOF’s spiritual ministry to the people of Colorado: All day they came, all but two there because they’d heard Wednesday’s broadcast, they loved Lincoln and yearned to learn more about him in the new book and in my earlier biography, Abraham Lincoln: A Man of Faith and Courage–, but mainly, they were there because they trusted those dear folk in the Castle they listened to so faithfully, day in and day out; spring, summer, autumn, and winter, year after year. And, because they’d heard me before, heard my voice breaking in deeply moving stories, they opened up their hearts to me, considering me also to be another undershepherd. What greater honor could there be? Furthermore, they were at Mardel’s because it was one of that dying-breed: an overtly Christian bookstore, courageously day by day fighting the forces of secularism determined to eradicate such spiritual holdouts as this one.

After we’d sold out all the Lincoln books early, I debriefed with Dana Oswalt, long-time Mardel’s bookstore manager, about all I’d experienced. Since she’d tuned in to the broadcast herself, she knew they’d be coming. She now confessed how deeply moved she’d been by what she’d seen and heard at my booksigning table.

* * * * *

But back to the Castle. All too soon, we took off our headphones, breathed giant sighs of relief that we’d made it through the two hours without a glitch–even without Denise. But mainly, we were almost incapable of speech because of the intensity of it all. Then G.M. Jack Pelon came in to thank us. Which led to some needed semi-comic relief. “Have you seen our owls?” His office, it turns out, is full of owl photographs he’s taken. Serendipitously, even though it was now day, several of the owls, high up the castle wall, blearingly peered down at us–but their owlet babies were evidently taking a nap so never got to see them.

It is said that owls are wise birds. Judging by this family of owls that condescends to share their castle with its human inhabitants, it appears that they too can sense the calming, peaceful, yet energizing presence of the Great God of Us All in the rooms below.

A Lincoln Civil War Stories                                                                                                                                                                                          Scan_Pic0049

I Have Seen Tomorrow! Part Three

BLOG #33, SERIES #3
WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE
I HAVE SEEN TOMORROW!
Part Three
August 15, 2012

So, building on the last two blogs, where do all these wondrous technological breakthroughs leave all of us lesser lights? Is it lights out for us?

It’s anything but.

It’s all shades of Chris Anderson’s landmark book, The Long Tail (Hyperion, 2006). If you haven’t yet read a copy, grab one, for it prophesies the tomorrow Terry Bolinger and I just experienced.

The era dominated by mega bestsellers, mega TV ratings, mega music, mega films, etc – is not gone, but it has more than peaked. In its place is the world of The Long Tail. Anderson famously predicted six years ago that the world-wide-web was accelerating the demise of dominant anything. In other words, think of a large animal [perhaps a rat] with a long tail, representing say 2% of its body height. When sales shrank to 2% in that ancent world, it was curtains for those books—not any more!

Let’s back up a bit so Anderson’s premise will make more sense. Up until around 20 years ago, most books, for instance, that were salable at all, could be found somewhere. Bookstores were much more eclectic then: bestsellers, recent good-sellers, classics, and other books that stood the test of time, stayed in print as long as they sold a steady number. But then in roared the mega-everything. Publishers developed the constancy of a rabbit, with no loyalty to anything. As long as a given book or author was selling through the roof, the chain stores would sell it—sell it at cheaper prices than the smaller stores could. The big chain stores gobbled up the bestsellers that had been the life-blood of the lesser chain stores and stand-alones. Even the Christian chain stores. They have all but put them out of business. Just look at how many have closed their doors.

Now comes the Long Tail world. Borders is reeling, and Barnes and Noble is much weaker than it was—and they have been the nation’s dominant booksellers!

We used to be ruled by a world where publishers marketed their books and promoted their authors. They stored their books in big warehouses, from which they shipped out inventory, then accepted all those books back that didn’t sell quickly. Then came the digital age and the decline of print. Now publishers went broke sitting on unsold inventory.

So a new template is rising: print by demand. Terry and I were shown that world: Let’s say I’m a teacher [which happens to have been my career], now I can bypass an academic publishing house and put together my own books, go to a given printer, send it the digital manuscript and illustrations (b/w and color will be same price), then notify printer – I need 300 books by such a date – or 200, or 100, or 50, or 25, or 15, or 5, – or one! Presto! Those books will be printed and mailed to you in such a short time that it will boggle your mind. Price will shock you as well. What makes all this possible? No inventory gathering dust in warehouses. No publisher marketing.

And the Long Tail? As long as a book sells at all, it can stay alive. It no longer has to sell through the roof. Just sell. The book world, like everything else, has exploded into untold millions of small pieces, making possible a Brave New World where anyone, anywhere, can survive—as long as they’re satisfied with a small margin of profit per item.

In parting, I asked our guide about the future of print. He said, “Nothing’s going to destroy print, but more and more of it will be read digitally. But not to worry: books have been around for several thousand years, print for 600. In the future, the educated elite will pride themselves on gathering around themselves the best in printed books.” In other words, those who care enough to surround themselves with the printed bullion of the centuries will be tomorrow’s truly rich people. And you don’t have to have a lot of money to accumulate that kind of inner wealth.

That, my friends, is the new world of the Long Tail.