Els de Jong-van Gurp from Brancheorganisatie voor het Christelijke Boeken (BCB) shares her experiences of working in the Christian trade in the Netherlands
Could you introduce yourself for those who haven’t met you before?
I am Els de Jong-van Gurp, managing director of BCB (the Dutch trade organisation for the Christian book and music industry). I very much love to read. Reading brings joy, informs me, shows me the way. I’m married to my husband and have three grown up children, and even two grandchildren. And it will probably not surprise anyone to learn that as I am Dutch, I love cycling.
Can you tell Together readers about BCB’s history and what it does today?
BCB represents the interests of retailers, distributors and publishing companies towards third parties. It supports them in their mission to publish and sell Christian books, music and other products that can change lives and tries to help them do so through healthy, well-developed businesses.
This year is BCB’s 10-year anniversary. We now represent 210 bookstores and 90 publishers and distributors. We have a staffof five.
BCB’s motto is ‘working together as professionals to improve quality’. BCB is convinced that working together is key to creating and realising a common goal of spreading Christian books and music.
Can you give us an insight into the development of the Dutch market right now?
The turnover in the Christian trade dropped by -3.4% in 2014. But in the secular bookstores, the drop was -7.9%. So the Christian bookstores performed better than the secular bookstores!
A lot of secular bookstores are looking for more sources of income. The Christian bookstores have an edge as they already combine books, music, film and gifts.
What are the major challenges that the trade in the Netherlands are facing?
Consumers are spending less, and online sales are growing. Another aspect is that publishers are focusing more and more on sales to the consumer, and so become a competitor of the bookstores.
What can be done to encourage people to work together more?
BCB offers all partners of the Christian industry a place to cooperate and to meet each other, so they can share experiences, share information and knowledge, learn from each other and encourage each other.
We want businesses to be strong and healthy and prepared for the challenges of the future. We all work in the Kingdom of the Lord and we want to share His message with everyone and be meaningful in the society.
Is there potential in the recent launch of Seismos Press to allow fresh writing talent and also encourage people to work together through the BibleKiosk platform?
One of the developments in publishing is that there are less books being published. So it is more difficult for new writers to get their story or message published. Seismos Press provides them a way to bring their story of message to the consumer.
Seismos and Biblekiosk also use the bookstores for the distribution of these books, and I think that is important for the Christian bookstores. It is also great for the publishers to open up their warehouses of out-of-print books and give them back to the readers.
What can the UK learn from your experiences in the Netherlands?
Difficult question. Maybe I should ask you what we can learn from the UK?
But from my side, I am very grateful with the market being so willing and determined to cooperate and share. Of course there is competition, and that’s OK. But there is a desire to cooperate and find ways to be stronger as a market by working together.
Do you think there needs to be more cooperation between the Christian trade in various European countries?
I believe we need more networking between people and businesses that work in the Christian Trade in Europe. It would be good to do business together, but also to meet each other, to exchange information and experiences and speak about challenges and developments.
Maybe it is possible to create some networks by ourselves? Bottom-up. Maybe this interview can be a start?
June 8th, 2015 - Posted & Written by Together Magazine