In recent months, a Costco store in California labeled Bibles with a fiction sticker. FOX News picked up the story when a pastor was unable to get anyone at Costco to acknowledge the problem. Christian Retailing also ran this story and remarked that this error by Costco “underscores the fact that Christian retailers generally know the Scriptures and related products better than general market retailers as a whole—and serve an important need in their communities.”
I completely agree with Christian Retailing’s thoughts on Christian bookstores. However, over the past few years, the number of Christian bookstores has declined and those that are around tend to be reducing their floor and shelf space.
There are a number of factors that have played into the decline of Christian bookstore, but I believe one significant factor has been that, by and large, Christian bookstores have not embraced independent authors. Rarely do I hear or read about a Christian bookstore that is making an effort to work with self-published authors.
Overall, the publishing industry is changing as self-published authors produce and sell more books. In not embracing this change, Christian bookstores have not piggybacked on the enthusiasm and energy many self-published authors exude (in promoting their books) to draw in customers.
Recently, I did read about a Christian bookstore in Berlin, Ohio, that is doing just that—partnering with local authors (traditional and independently published) to produce an event that draws a crowd and increases their sales. This bookstore, Gospel Book Store, has created an event called “Berlin’s Largest Book Signing Ever.” They began with 20 local authors and grew the event to over 40 authors.
Here is a bookstore that is not afraid to partner with both traditionally published and independently published authors to draw a crowd. The store reports that because the event is so large, people even come from a long way away to attend the event. The store also says that sales the day of the event are four times those of an average day.
I think that if more Christian bookstores were willing to partner with local independently published authors, they might find some new life breathed into them. What do you think?