It’s Our 7th Birthday at Christian Book Shop Talk
It was seven years ago today that I wrote:
Do you ever feel like an odd duck when you go to church? You’re in ministry, but not in the sense that pastors, counselors and missionaries are. You’re working hard for little return, but some people think you’re making big bucks off the gospel. You’re kind of interested in getting to know the guy at church who manages the Home Depot and the woman who has a chain of clothing stores, but you’re experience of retail is just so different from theirs. You’re an expert on different strains of theology, can use a concordance or Bible dictionary with your eyes closed, and have experience dealing with people from umpteen different denominations, but nobody ever thinks of you as the go-to person when they have some deep questions. You have a four-drawer filing cabinet filled with glossy catalogs, but you’re rarely asked to recommend a specific resource for a specific church project...
…In Canada, changes to our industry are coming fast and furious and it’s really hard to keep up. It’s also hard to find someone to talk to who really knows and really understands the unique features of our commercial ministries.
So by putting this blog up, and leaving the comments section open, I’m hoping that those who want to talk can talk, and those who want to rant can rant, and those who have questions can ask them.
This is intended as a forum for CANADIAN Christian Bookstore OWNERS and STAFF, but if you’re reading this from the USA or the UK, or you’re just a big huge fan of Christian books; feel free to chime in, but identify yourself as such. Stores which want to can SIGN their comments, or you can just use your username, or you can create something anonymous. Feel free to come back to the discussion often; and feel free to post comments to various discussions at the same time.
…but it didn’t take long before the blog started serving another purpose, as a news conduit. The first day we had four posts, and the last announced both the closing of CMC Distribution and the end of print editions for CCM Magazine. Just three weeks later, it was our sad duty to report the shuttering of both the retail and wholesale divisions of R. G. Mitchell.
I recently tweeted this:
Bad news clomps around in construction boots;
Good news tiptoes in sock feet.
~ Adapted from a Welsh proverb
Sometimes the bad news seems to dominate my writing. There have been changes, store closings, and the roller coaster ride that is the Canadian-American currency exchange rate. But we’ve also celebrated some great people, great products and great ideas. I have no regrets about starting this little project 7 years ago.
Our readers are presently three-quarters Canadian and one-quarter American (which is according to plan) but we also have enjoyed having readers in the UK, Australia, India, South Africa, Germany, New Zealand, The Philippines and France. For all time, popular stories include the closing of Salem Storehouse in Ottawa, the controversy over The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, and other posts on store closing and (in Windsor) a reopening. I especially love it when other media picks up the thread of items that originated here.
Christian Book Shop Talk also shares stories with my other two dominant blogs, Thinking Out Loud and Christianity 201, where I often post excerpts of books reviewed here and at Thinking O. L.
We don’t ask for donations here, and are not part of any affiliate programs. Occasionally, people we’ve met through the blog purchase remainder boxes from Searchlight, which helps make this possible. I am especially grateful for the excellent book review relationship we have with Thomas Nelson, Zondervan, and Baker Books, but if I had it to over again, I might have insisted on more books from IVP where, a lifetime ago, I once worked.
Although my purpose here is not to help self-published authors, the blog has led to a number of interactions, some of which have helped writers get contracts, or get better contracts.
Over the last few years, I have become a bit of a recluse when it comes to attending industry events. I realize I now write as a bit of industry outsider, not an insider, but I am very thankful that my one remaining store continues to operate and I hope the insights I can offer from the way we do things a bit differently there are helpful to store owners, managers and front-line staff. With the news-gathering capabilities of Thinking Out Loud — even though it no longer has the connection to Christianity Today — I hope we can find information that you read here first.
Thanks to all of you who tell me you read this on a regular basis, and especially those who leave comments.
Happy Birthday to us!