Changing Market Indicators
Last week the April issue of Christianity Today arrived in my mailbox. The online version isn't out or I would be pointing to it. The cover story blared, "How To Save The Christian Bookstore (Hint: Stop making it so religious.)" by Cindy Crosby. While I found the topic and the article fascinating, it took me several days before I could read this reality check on the Christian (and general market) bookstore market.
I've known Cindy Crosby for many years and followed her writings. Her husband Jeff is an associate publisher at a Christian publishing house. Until I read this article, I didn't know about their background of running a Christian bookstore in Bloomington, Indiana, which is a college town because of Indiana University. According to the opening of the article, there were four Christian bookstores when the Crosbys were there from 1983 to 1993 and "today, not one of the four is left." It was a sobering sentence to me because of my own experience with books as well as the four years I spent at Indiana University. If you've never read my story, I'd invite you to read this magazine article which first appeared in print in 1988. As you read it, notice the impact of a Christian bookstore and the book that I purchased. It's one of the major events of my life and could not have happened without the presence of that bookstore.
The article points out statistics such as the shrinking number of Christian bookstores as well as the smaller numbers of general market bookstores. It shows again the ever-changing marketplace. Recently I took my wife to a major shopping area in Scottsdale. While she shopped for some clothing, I checked out the mall directory for a bookstore. Several years ago there was a bookstore in this mall but not today. Yes, there is a Border's bookstore about a block from the mall but no bookstore is located inside this shopping area.
Within a couple of miles from my home, a couple from my church has opened a Christian bookstore. It's in a good location near a busy grocery store with lots of traffic and visibility. The doors have been open for about two months, yet every time I pass it, I notice their customer traffic. Is anyone buying books there? Sadly the answer is rarely. The store is attractive and has great displays and even a few comfortable chairs yet customers who buy will be the way they can keep their doors open. I'm concerned for them and have been trying to support them with anything I can purchase in their shop.
The article is well-worth your attention even if you have to track down a copy. As writers and communicators, we need to be aware of where books are selling. It points out once again the necessity of every author do to something each day to promote their presence online and their own books.
As I complete this entry, watch for a forthcoming announcement about a teleseminar that I have scheduled for next month. My guest will be someone who knows firsthand how to keep books alive in the marketplace. It will be worth your time and effort to make sure you catch this event. I'll be announcing it soon.