The Need for Church Bookstores

As someone relatively familiar with the publishing industry, having just published my twentieth book, I read Philip Yancey’s recent article in Books and Culture with great interest. Titled “Farewell to the Golden Age,” it is an informed and insightful analysis of the end of publishing as we have known it.

Beyond just analyzing the rise of e-books and self-publishing and the demise of bookstores and back catalogs, Yancey explores what has been lost. Here are a few of his points, along with some of my own:
1.        No longer can you walk into a bookstore and browse through multiple titles you didn’t know existed. Instead, if a particular book is of interest, you order it through Amazon without any awareness of either better titles on the subject, other titles on the subject, or just other books in general that would serve your life.
2.        Authors are published and promoted not on the basis of writing skill or excellent content, but whether they front a large enough organization to buy large quantities of the title, have a marketing arm of their own, or the social media presence of the author is substantial. “Forget sample chapters; tell us how many followers you have on Twitter.”
3.        What bookstores still exist are driven, by necessity, to sell what sells. Good and important books that have stood the test of time and need to be introduced to new readers (and new Christians) are not available – and thus unknown – because stores don’t have the ability to keep large catalogs of books. They have to stock the latest bestsellers, whether of high quality or not, and not much more.
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In an era of increasing complexity and religious apathy, James Emery White has written a book that is helpful, informative, challenging, and timely. Those who care about communicating the gospel in this complex culture and think the church must regroup and re-engage should read "The Rise of the Nones."
Happy reading!
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