The fourth annual Catholic Marketing Network trade show met June 8-11 at the Valley Forge Convention Center in King of Prussia, Pa. This year, 279 buying stores (up from 256 in 1998) and 1200 attendees (up from 1000) perused the wares of 167 companies (156 last year).

Designed to serve Roman Catholic specialty stores, the show is dominated by religious articles, sidelines and music, but book publishers-28 this year compared to 22 in 1998-are a growing presence. Publishers who spoke with PW agreed that the show has been successful and predicted it would be increasingly important for houses whose titles have specifically Catholic appeal. Commented Jill Kurtz, marketing manager for Our Sunday Visitor, "This show is growing as rapidly as RBTE [the Religious Booksellers Trade Exhibit] did in the beginning. And for us this is a true ordering show."

When it was noted that CMN appeared to be nipping at the heels of RBTE, CMN president Alan Napleton told PW he was not consciously competing with that show. The timing of CMN (the week following RBTE), however, meant that some Catholic houses had to choose to attend one or the other. Furthermore, many in the industry recall events at previous RBTEs during which some Catholic booksellers walked out in protest, offended by the views of presenting authors and not pleased overall with RBTE's consciously inclusive mix of exhibitors. "We wanted to do something strictly Catholic," noted Napleton. As for the timing of this year's CMN, "There are only limited dates available," he explained.

For all the exhibitors and attendees who spoke with PW, the mood was upbeat. Referring to the potential Catholic market, Patrick Madrid, editor-in-chief of Envoy magazine and publisher at Basillica Press, remarked, "There's a huge pie out there, and Catholic bookstores are being energized by this show to go after it."

Napleton told PW that a second show-planned for January 25-28, 2000, in Baltimore-is being added.