Christian Book Stores Are Closing

The force that kept Christian books stores open was conformity. People of a certain branch of the faith expected to visit these stores and know that what they bought reinforced what they already believed. As conformity began to lose its grip, the bookstores that used it for their own success found sales dropping.

Conformity is also hurting church denominations. The faith has had a history of top down authority.  The Bible is an authority. The denomination and then the preacher/priest are figures of authority. All this to ensure conformity.

The internet has hurt large parts of the retail system and religious book stores are falling by the wayside like Sears and other retail stores. I always think of churches themselves as retail institutions selling what was provided them by manufactures/wholesalers, the seminaries and central offices of denominations. Now, the retail shopper for religion has other stores, their computer, where she can find exactly what she wants. The conformity demanded by the denomination has sprung leaks.

The traditional Christian book store would not stock a book that argued gay marriage is unaddressed in the Bible. Probably it would have a tough time with books advocating abortion rights or even birth control. This conformity based business model is now failing.

One commercial aspect of the faith that does seem to be doing well is the Christian firm, Hobby Lobby.  Some local bookstores that sell such “collectibles” are doing OK as well.

Another term for our growing diversity of thought is post modernism. It continues without pause.

7 Responses

  1. Juan Ruiz

    I believe has had a great deal to do with this. Small retailers just can’t compete. On our infrequent trips to Fargo, we would stop by at Hurley’s. They just didn’t have the inventory and selection. I was looking for a copy of the Latin Vulgate. They didn’t have it. Ended up getting it on line.

  2. Rob

    Someone searching for a Christian book, can still find a Christian book; it’s just much easier now.
    Those same Christians who are now experiencing non Christian things on the internet, used to experience non Christian things on their hike to the bookstore; like atheists swearing at the elderly for example. ?
    Nothing has changed; it’s just a lot more convenient to get a message out, and find the type of message you’re looking for.

    1. entech

      atheists swearing at the elderly I would imagine this is quite rare, as is an anecdote I would like to share.
      One evening in the city where I live I was going towards one of my evening classes, a young man, obviously more than a little the worse for wear stumbled towards me singing happily about Jesus loves me, as he draw near he said something to me along the lines of “how are things between you and Jesus”, when “off site” i don’t have much to say so something like, “OK I suppose” , he picked up on this said a little more belligerently ” , ÿou believe in God don’t you”. Well mummy taught me not to lie so I said, “no”, well fuck you he shouted.

      1. Rob

        That’s a great story.
        Getting back to Jon’s post, I hope the advent of being able to see Christian-like stuff on the internet does not crumble your atheistic beliefs, as this somehow seems to be the concern in reverse for Christians according to Jon.
        Next thing you know people won’t be going to blockbuster video to rent VHS movies. The horror.

  3. Trevour Meyer

    It’s as if countless brick and mortar locations that specialize(d) in the selling of books, music, and other physical media have shuttered nationwide over the past decade due to a biblical (ha) shift in shopping habits. Including those that catered to the Christian crowds. Because there were also chains of Christian bookstores. Just like chains of Borders and B. Daltons and Sam Goodys and Media Plays. Where’d all those go? The way of the dinosaur, because we conveniently buy it all online now. Sometimes consumed digitally, sometimes still physical. What’s next? A bible on an e-reader? Paying tithes online? Listening to a sermon podcast?!? Insanity! Seems like practicing Christians adapt to modern changes like anyone else. On a bookstore level alone, I think this has less to do with declining congregation numbers (which is a reality), and more to do with the normalization of a digital lifestyle AND marketplace.

    1. entech

      What’s next? A bible on an e-reader? Paying tithes online? Listening to a sermon podcast? It does seem that we are unduly putting them down, they are way ahead of the pack. Especially ahead at collecting pennies! See number three – There’s an app for that

      The Definitive Guide to Starting a Podcast for Your Church

      Your favorite version for your eReader!

      echurch logo
      We’ve made giving simple.

      But wait, there’s more:-

      Welcome to the eConfessional!
      You must read the disclaimer if this is your first visit.
      In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
      Please select a sin, start by selecting a category (some sins occur in more than one section).
      Ten Commandments
      The Seven Deadly Sins
      Internal Sins
      Physical Sins
      General Sins

      Perhaps the next big thing will be a virtual tour of heaven, hell, purgatory ???

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