I spent the first 11 years of my career working in a local Christian bookstore. It was a huge learning experience. I like to say, “The Christian bookstore is the only place in town where there is an ecumenical meeting every day. But no ones knows about it!” Ours was a large store (12,000 square feet) and served nearly 500 churches.
Recently, I heard it said that “bookstores are gone” and “Amazon is the only place you can buy anything any more.” While retail has received an economic blow, it is far from gone from our culture. It has only changed, once again.
Where did you buy your books in the 1950s? There weren’t chain bookstores or malls as we know them today. The answer is: department stores. Macy’s, Sears, J.C. Penny, Broadway, and others all had a book department. It wasn’t until the 70s that they were phased out as the chains (Waldens, Borders, Barnes & Noble, B. Dalton, Family Christian, etc.) took over that specialty.
Today many communities have vital and successful retail bookstores. You might have one in your community. Are you supporting yours?
Recently, I saw the new video below that was created by Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It is a great store that proves it can be done, and done well. And survive economic and shutdown challenges. It also has a used book section that is searchable on their website if you can’t visit the store.
If you don’t have a local store in your area that you can support, consider becoming a periodic patron of one in your region (city, state, multi-state areas). Do a quick search to see if there are any specials at a store. (Baker Book House, for example, is offering free U.S. shipping on orders over $10; and Mardels is offering any one item at 30% off.)
Check the Get it Local website for one of 1,800 Christian bookstores across the U.S. Plug in your zip code and see the map.
Of course, there are great online stores with great products and service too. Lifeway.com and Christianbook.com are two that immediately come to mind.
The point I’m making is that bookstores and book outlets still exist and are here to serve you and your community. Give one in your region a try this upcoming gift-giving season. You will be blessing some great people.
[If you cannot see the embedded video in your newsletter email, please click the headline and go directly to our site to view it.]
“I have just what you’re looking for,
and for you, I’ve kept it hidden.”
You will hear this at a bookstore,
but not from an algorthm
that offers bland comparatives,
suggestions by the flood,
but its game is a false narrative,
for it’s not the flesh and blood
that smiles upon your entry,
chats over what you buy,
and is willing to stand sentry
for that which may catch your eye
to share with you the victory
of human serendipity.
And that, my dear Andrew, is precisely the draw of the bookstore. The people who serve there.
So interesting, Steve.
When I am in the Grand Rapids area, I’ll be sure to check it out!
We in face had 2 Christian bookstores in Lansing.
One was a hallmark/gift and bible store and another was a Family Christian.
Family Christian obviously closed down. But the owner of Gift and Bible (who were were acquaintances with) said they would never close. Unfortunately, they did. So, we have none here in Lansing, and Gift and Bible was replaced with a Spirit Halloween store that opens every fall season. Pretty disappointing. The Gift and Bible store was my favorite place to go to (other than my own church) when I was a child. And when I turned 18, I was going to be working there (my dream job. I’m 20 now). Pray with us here in Lansing, that a Christian bookstore opens here.
Not in face, lol. IN FACT. 🙂
We have a wonderful independent book store here in Memphis. Novel Bookstore was very good to me when I published my first book. They provided a fantastic venue to give a talk about the book and they helped set up for the video presentation. As a new author, I knew I wouldn’t sell a lot of books there, but the goal was to connect with people and spend a couple of hours in an enjoyable environment with others who love to read. Mission accomplished.
That experience led us to provide a little support for them during this pandemic.
Oh, and they have an excellent cafe. Icing on the cake.
Kristen Joy Wilks
We have two bookstores in our area! A Book For All Seasons in Leavenworth, WA is a delightful general market bookstore that I visit frequently. I can order what I want and they arrive at the store where I get a local’s discount when I pick the books up. They also let you bring your dog inside, which is lovely as she is missing our campers what with the Covid shut-down. That store is about 30 minutes away. Encouraging Words is about 45 minutes away and is a lovely Christian Book Store in Wenatchee, WA! We are so blessed to have these determined store owners keeping us in books!
Janet Ann Collins
Like many other businesses, bookstores are loosing business due to covid and many are shutting down. That’s so sad.
You challenged me today. I looked up the local Bible book store in my home town, (Abilene, Texas) wondering if it still survived. It apparently has but doesn’t look like they are doing very well.
I’ve now lived overseas with the military for 17 years. Since then I’ve ordered most Christian books through christianbook.com. I don’t have much of a book budget these days but am considering offering to send them a box of my self-published books, free to sell however they wish.
My nearest bookstore is 30 miles to the west. And there’s a great one just 60 miles to the east. I don’t get either direction very often any more. But when I get that way, I always try to stop in.
It is so important to support our local bookstores. If we expect local bookstores to support us with book-signings and launch parties and by selling our books, then we can do no less than patronize them. My local bookstore, The Dog Earred Bookstore, has been going above and beyond with service during the COVID 19 pandemic, and I have been happy to buy books from them.