If you’re one of the fortunate few that have been able to gather at High Leigh for the Christian Resources Together Retailers and Suppliers Retreat running today and tomorrow, you’ll have the opportunity to register your shop in person for the all-new bright and shiny bi-monthly Christian Marketplace catalogue that’s set to replace the current magazine.
And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, here, to whet your appetite, are the opening paragraphs from Clem Jackson’s introductory feature in the May issue:
Christian Marketplace has for a number of years held a unique place in the world of Christian retailing in the UK and beyond these shores.
As the only independent voice in the industry we have consistently been able to bring retailers information and comment on a wide range of product available, based on what enthusiastic consumers feel rather than just what publishers want to say.
For example our book reviews are all written by people who love reading books and have a desire to let others know what an ordinary reader thinks of it. We know, because our readers tell us – and our website statistics back this up – that the book review section of the magazine is one of the most highly regarded and read sections of the magazine.
Similarly, our product features always include information about products which have been read, viewed or listened to by the feature writer – not just a re-hash of publisher information.
So every product review in the magazine is based on someone having actually tried the product.
There are two points I’d like to take issue with there, however: first, the claim to be “the only independent voice in the industry” — hello?? One of the few — I’ll go along with that; but the only? Clem, old buddy, you just know it ain’t so.
My second and more significant area of concern — coming at things from my perspective as a specialist in academic theology — is the tendency of the current crop of reviewers in Christian Marketplace to dismiss or rubbish anything that either tackles theological questions or which falls outside of a very narrow evangelical stream of thought.
Christianity is much bigger, broader and certainly more intellectually robust than many of the reviews in Christian Marketplace would seem to suggest. Please: let’s engage our brains and move beyond the fluff to some more serious thinking, and let’s be prepared to interact with the wider spectrum of Christian thought and tradition, to serve the whole church.
Apart from those concerns, however, this looks like an excellent move by Clem and his team which should enable us as retailers to benefit much more from the magazine and should also, I hope, help bring more (and better informed) customers into our shops.
Clem and company: I salute you.