Home > Uncategorized > Why the Books Christian Bookstores Carry are not at Your Local Library

Why the Books Christian Bookstores Carry are not at Your Local Library

Although approaching this from a different perspective than that we might take as booksellers, it’s interesting to see how Mike Leake frames the problem with the realistic plight of Sam, a young man looking for answers:

“Maybe there really is a God.”

Young Sam has had this nagging sense in his heart for a few weeks now. But he’s always been an intellectual, so he’s not the type of guy that just goes on feelings. So he does what he always has done when he wants to find the answer to something—he goes to his local library.

libraryThis time he’s going to study the claims of Christianity against the claims of new atheism. He’s a little more familiar with what the new atheists teach. But he figures he had better check the books out anyways. It’s a familiar section for him and so he quickly pulls some of the more popular books off the shelf. He loads Harris, Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, and a couple others onto his arms.

Next he finds himself in a rather unfamiliar territory—the somewhat scant section in the library on Christianity. A few faces seem familiar—these are guys that he’s seen on television, so he figures they must be the best representatives.

On top of his books on New Atheism he’s loading himself down with books by Joel Osteen, TD Jakes, another book called the idiots guide to Christianity, a book written by one of the popes, and a book about the history of Christianity.

Christianity doesn’t stand a chance.

No Fault of the Library

This is not the fault of the librarian. She picks books based upon bestseller lists, professional reviews, and requests from patrons.

The books that are most popular in Christianity (sadly) are usually not intellectual or scholarly treatments. Truthfully they are more akin to self-help books than anything to do with the gospel. But most librarians don’t know this. They often have meager budgets and so if they are going to stock something in the non-fiction section then they need to be sure that its something that will be checked out. If Joel Osteen is a best-seller then it’s a pretty safe bet that somebody will want to read it.

But none of this bodes well for people like Sam trying to learn the truth about Christianity. We need to help our librarians and young learners like Sam at least be able to give the gospel a fair shake…

[…continue reading at Borrowed Light…] 

The disconnect between what’s in your local library and what’s in your local Christian bookstore is always a nagging question.  It’s the same question that plagues the Canadian market where stores like Chapters or Indigo don’t stock Christian bestsellers as do their counterparts at Barnes & Noble. Consequently, there are no filters for what constitutes entry into the “religion” section and customers might get seriously sidetracked into books that are cultic or not even Christian at all.

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  1. July 22, 2014 at 4:06 am

    This is most interesting, in the UK we have a charity called http://www.speakingvolumes.org.uk where Churches, Christian Bookshops, publishers and authors support this initiative to place good Christian books, suitable for people of little or no faith, on subjects that would interest them, into public libraries, schools, prisons, hospices, etc. basically anywhere a book can be borrowed and read by a wide readership. In its 40 years of existence every public library in the UK has received at least two Christian books under this scheme.

    Happy to talk to any Canadian Christian Charity that would like to set up the same scheme. Paula Renouf, Director of Speaking Volumes.

    • July 22, 2014 at 8:55 am

      I had heard of this once before. It would be wonderful to have an initiative like this here. Perhaps it works in the UK because of the C. of E. heritage; Canada tends to be more officially religiously pluralistic.

      • July 23, 2014 at 5:48 am

        Understand about religious pluralism and despite our CofE heritage we are definitely in a post religious age in the UK where there is much resistance to proselytism. Consequently 2/3rds of our children have scant knowledge of any bible story.

        I think the scheme works because many benefit. We are much blessed because we are funded by shares in a business set up to fund us and other Christian charities so we can make the books available to Churches at 50% reduction from retail price. They are purchased through Christian bookshops who collect 50% from the customer and 50% from us (Speaking Volumes). The church then gives the books as a gift to a library or school that they’ve been in contact with and have offered the books to. So basically everyone is a winner.

        Most importantly of all though – the books are in places where anyone can borrow them. That’s not forcing them on anyone, it’s simply making a good Christian book available to people if they want to borrow them. We know that SV books are borrowed above the average amount of times in public libraries and just think of the impact in prisons where inmates here can be in their cell 23 hours a day!

        Of course, being the UK we are also a much smaller area than Canada and that makes the management easier. All the Christian book publishers, suppliers, booksellers and authors know each other and can support initiatives like this much easier. God has used Speaking Volumes in amazing ways and we are very blessed and privileged to be part of that.

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