Are you an author or a publisher of books? Ask yourself:
Which do I spend more time doing: reading books or watching videos or TV?
While you might not think this is an important question, it is. Since you are in the business of making books, you should also be involved in the consumption of books.
I am in the process of updating my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace. While working on the Fourth Edition, I was surprised to discover that it’s not just bookstores that are on the decline. I already knew that reading rates were holding steady while the number of books published each year grows, but I was saddened by another trend I discovered.
Everyone knows that readers have begun buying more books online than they do in physical stores. As a result, bookstores are declining. After all, the largest Christian bookstore chain, Family Christian, shuttered the doors to its 240 stores in February of this year. The fourth largest general market bookstore chain, Book World, which operates 45 stores in the Midwest, will close all their stores in January 2018.
But it’s not just bookstores that are struggling. What surprised me is that church libraries are becoming nonexistent. This year, two of the largest church library associations shuttered their doors. Both associations cite declining membership and lack of interest in church libraries.
My first thought was maybe most churches were simply shuttering their libraries in exchange for church bookstores. However, research shows that this is not the case. While church bookstores thrived in the early part of the century, the number has actually shrunk over the past five years.
Here is the point. If we are publishing books and we want people to read these books, we must also be putting effort into helping people see the benefit of reading and encouraging them to read more.
How do we do this? We start by first modeling—being an example. That means that as an author or publisher you spend time reading books and talking about them with people. Then we move on to encouraging others to read. There are many ways that we can do this. Here are six ideas to get you started:
1. Regularly recommend books to people.
Don’t just recommend the books you write or publish, but talk about any good Christian title that will enrich people’s lives. Give these recommendations in person, on your blog, and on your social media sites.
2. Give books as gifts.
Books have the power to change people’s lives. Give them as gifts to encourage reading.
3. Start a lending library at your church.
If your church does not have a lending library, start one. It does not have to be large, simply a shelf or bookcase will do. Start with your own titles and books by other local Christian authors.
4. Make sure your church’s children’s ministry is stocked with good books.
Check out the children’s ministry rooms in your church. Are they stocked with good Christian books for the kids to engage with? If not, donate some or get others in the church to donate books to the Children’s ministry.
5. Start a book group.
Start a book group in your church or community. Gather interested people to read and discuss a good book once a month.
6. Put up a Little Free Library in your neighborhood.
Little Free Libraries encourage reading. You can find information on how to build or purchase a Little Free Library box on the organization’s website.
I believe that if we write and publish books, we also need to be about the business of promoting reading. Unless we encourage reading on a regular basis, we may wake up one day to find nobody reads books anymore.
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