The international Christian retail show formerly known as Christian Booksellers Association International, lasting through Thursday, is expected to host up to 11,000 people at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.
CBA President Bill Anderson challenged retailers to develop a new level of enthusiasm for selling during their week at the International Christian Retail Show.
Many people had a passion for ministry but not the same zeal for retailing, he said, but "Ask God to give you a passion for excellence in retailing and an overwhelming desire to be the best retailers in your town," Anderson said during the opening worship service.
Over the past few years, Christian book sales have outpaced every other category, according to Albert Greco, a consultant with the Book Industry Study Group who has tracked the book business for 20 years.
Said Grego, "It is a significant trend in the marketplace."
Religious books represented 7 percent of book sales in 2004 with $1.95 billion in net revenues, stated the Book Industry Study Group, and Christian books are included.
However, although Christian book sales have risen, Christian retailers have taken a windfall as large corporations, such as Wal-Mart, Cosco and Target began to distribute Christian books.
The 56th annual show, which represents the largest networking and buying event for all Christian retailers, will address this and other critical issues through workshops, exhibits, and training sessions. It is not open to the public.
Thomas Nelson and Zondervan were the top winners in Christian Retailing's 2005 Retailers Choice Awards, claiming five trophies each during the International Christian Retail Show.
Because the titles are diverse, Karen Kingsbury and Max Lucado were the only authors to win more than one award in the 27 Retailers Choice Awards categories. Additional awards went to best-sellers, such as Lee Strobel, Ted Dekker and Beth Moore.
With 238 products nominated this year-nearly 100 more than last year-six new categories were added to respond to growing trends, including Women's Fiction, DVD/Video, Autobiography/Biography and Paper/Stationery products.
Retailers judged the nominees on the impact the products have had on staff and customers, including their ability to speak to people's hearts and evoke emotion, open people's minds to new ways of thinking and encourage and affirm Christ-like living.
The new global network for Christian suppliers and retailers was formally unveiled during the International Luncheon.
Founded with 16-member countries, the Christian Trade Association International (CTAI) will replace CBA's international chapters as an independent organization "committed to the fulfillment of the Great Commission through the distribution of Christian resources."
Jim Powell, trade association's former international director, will serve as president of the new group.
CBA's involvement grew to 18 chapter countries and 17 affiliates before "it became clear that the time had come for the international community to take a larger role in the dissection of the work," said Anderson to the 200 international guests.