Christianity Today had this article a couple of months back about "How To Save the Christian Bookstore". It seems more and more are falling on hard times. It was an interesting article, especially as I buy a lot of books but rarely at the so-called "Christian" bookstore. So here are some of my thoughts on the subject...
- Be Nice: Two of my coworkers went to a local Christian bookstore to use some giftcards we had. They were having problems finding what they were looking for, so they grabbed a store employee and politely asked if they stocked Shane Claiborne. His reply? "No. We're a CHRISTIAN bookstore." Hmmmmmm. So they asked for some NT Wright. The second response? "No. But if we did, I'd throw it at you." Wow. Not a big fan of the archbishop of Canterbury, I take it. Needless to say, none of us have ever been back.
- Be More Open: I'd go to Christian bookstores more if they had what I wanted. I read a lot of books that inform my faith and contribute to my worldview as a Christ-follower, but probably half of those books can't be found at the Christian bookstore in my church. No Anne Lamott. No Shack. No Ethical Realism. And all of that is fine. Look, far be it from me to make my brothers or sisters stumble because they see me carrying around a book where The Trinity is represented by a Black woman, an Asian woman and a Middle Eastern man. And I understand that the bookstore will order that stuff in for me. But I'm terribly impatient (a character flaw of mine) and prideful (I don't enjoy stuffing Anne Lamott into a brown paper sack and thus feeling like I'm sneaking porn out of the church), so I'm probably just going to order my books at bn.com and get it shipped to my house for free in just under 3 days.
- Be Realistic: The Christian Bookstore has probably maxed out its market share. It is catering to such a particularly thin slice of the reading population, that it's just never going to be a huge seller. That's fine. Just adjust your business model accordingly.