Challenges and Changes: Your Help Needed

LST Books & Resources

LST Books & Resources

If you’re brave (or foolhardy) enough to follow my personal blog or my twitterstream then you’ll have already gathered that something’s afoot. To cut a long story short, my tenure as Bookshop Manager at London School of Theology is about to come to an end: on July 28th my assistant, Nick, and I were formally invited to volunteer for redundancy. We’re  now in a limbo situation that many of you will be all too familiar with: the ground has vanished from beneath our feet but somehow — like cartoon characters running off the edge of a cliff — we’re still standing there, waiting for gravity to kick in.

Rather than carry out a postmortem on the LST situation (I’ll have plenty of time for that during my notice period), today I’d like to explore a few thoughts on ways forward here: UKCBD and this blog are a free service, a project that I’ve pursued in my spare time, effectively subsidised by the fact that I’ve had full time paid employment and covering basic costs (such as domain registrations and web hosting) by revenue drawn in from Google advertising, a handful of (currently lapsed) trade sponsorships and commissions on affiliate web sales, primarily via Amazon and Eden.

The reason UKCBD exists is as stated on the About page:

UKCBD, the UK Christian Bookshops Directory, is an independent, voluntarily maintained project which exists to promote the Christian faith by providing a two-way resource to the Christian community: an easy way to find your nearest Christian Bookshop, and an easy way for Christian Bookshops to get online.

And this part of the site, the blog? From the Guest Posts page:

The aim of this blog is to provide a place for Christian booksellers, authors, publishers, suppliers and their customers — in short, anyone with an interest in Christian books and music — to exchange ideas, news and views, discuss the latest reviews and generally get more interactive.

On balance, I think that purpose and those aims are being fairly well fulfilled — but I’ve often said I’d love to have more time to develop things further: now it seems that I am to receive that gift. The challenge is whether I can afford to invest that time in the project, whether or not it can generate an income — and this is where I need your help, please:

  • Will you consider becoming — along similar lines to those we’ve seen with Illuminate, Shrewsbury — a non-profit shareholder in UKCBD?
  • If you’re a retailer, will you consider subscribing to the site: say £10 per year to support the project and guarantee that your entry is reviewed and updated annually?
  • If you’re a publisher or trade supplier, will you consider sponsoring the site? The current trade sponsorships, as mentioned above, have lapsed and I plan to follow those up within the next week or so, but new partners from within the trade would be very welcome.

At the moment these are tentative suggestions for a way forward both for the site as a service to the trade and for me personally — following in the spirit of this year’s trade mantra, Stronger Together, Weaker Apart. Other suggestions are more than welcome: if you’d like to discuss any of these ideas, put forward your own or make a proposal, please get in touch or, of course, leave a comment.

My thanks to everyone who has already been in touch expressing concern for Nick, myself and the future of the LST Bookshop: your prayers and support are very much appreciated.

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14 thoughts on “Challenges and Changes: Your Help Needed

  1. Hi Phil,

    I’m sorry to hear of your situation, but perhaps you will have the time to focus on more writing – for which you have an obvious gift. I did make a donation a few months ago (a small token of appreciation!). May God continue to bless your efforts in His service!

    I am not sure if emails to webmaster@… are sometimes lost in spam, so I include current information regarding my book below (as sent by email) and hope you find time to read it:

    “Now that I have completed my revisions of the book, I have made a print
    version available online, together with some print instructions (to be
    found here: http://bible-study-online.org/). I have simplified the format
    for printing purposes, allowing only an Introduction (new) before the main
    chapters (1-11 and Addenda).

    I hope to be advertising the book more widely, beginning with past
    correspondents. Any feedback from you would be most welcome (private or
    otherwise).”

    Print version can be accessed directly @
    http://bible-study-online.org/jesus_atonement/

    God bless!

    Norman McIlwain

  2. It’s a hard life out there, so, like Melanie, count me and mine in. As an information specialist I hate a lack of good sources of information, directories etc

  3. I’d be interested in finding a way to support you if we could get a bit of advertising – a sponsorship logo or something. Not sure how we could do it, but if you would be interested in this sort of thing let’s talk.

    Would it be worth setting up a small charity to support the blog? That would allow access to a few other income streams. It wouldn’t need to be a huge administrative effort.

  4. Hi Phil,

    You know from FB that I’ve been praying, and will continue to do so, for opportunities to open up for you. You know, too, how grateful I am for the opportunity you gave me to post an interview on this site a month or so ago, as the author of a number of books.

    What you may not know is that I lead a Readers’ Group for our church. We meet bi-monthly and, in the course of the year, read 3 Christian books and 3 secular books. Discussions on the latter are from a Christian perspective, because we believe that this gives us a tool to witness to non-believers.

    Before and after every meeting I put a Book Review on my website, followed by the Questions I compile (purely as an aide memoire – they are not prescriptive)and the Discussion Summary. These – like many of the articles on my website – are a free, downloadable resource for non-commercial users. I’m also trying to start an Online Book Club though, to date, no one has had the courage to put up any comments on the books we read.

    Currently, I make no money whatever from my website – a deliberate policy which, because I am employed (by The Jubilate Group) I am privileged enough to be be able to do.

    I would willingly donate £10 per annum to your website if you think that there would be any mileage in your displaying links to my articles, or if there is any other way in which – given the pressures on my time – I might be able to contribute. Let me know if you’re interested. God bless!
    Mel

  5. Speaking from the remoter parts of the UK we have really appreciated the chance to be in contact with others ‘in the trade’. Would be more than willing to contribute to maintaining this presence. Thanks for all you do Phil, and trust your wider work situation resolves over future weeks.

  6. With all the changes taking place in the UK Christian publishing world, I would think that a person who has a more intimate knowledge of the industry would be a tremendous asset, especially to those newer to this type of ministry. I’d encourage you to look to other possibilities within the Christian retail sector first, before looking beyond. I’d encourage everyone else to keep your eyes open for places where Phil can use the gifts and abilities he has demonstrated.

    Paul at Christian Book Shop Talk, Canada

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  8. I have a tiny Christian Book/Card shop.
    I would be delighted to contribute to the
    support of the the Web site.
    I don’t have a Web site myself but I am wondering about setting up a Facebook presence for “Number 62”. Perhaps someone else who has done it could help me!!!!

    • Thanks Morag: appreciate that. You (or anyone else reading) can donate or subscribe online via PayPal if you’d like to do so, please.

      Although you don’t have a website, you do have your own dedicated web page as part of your UKCBD entry; in fact every shop whose entry has been updated within the last couple of years has a dedicated page — yours is here: Number 62, Blairgowrie.

      I’ve just updated it for you but there’s room for a lot more information if you’d like to send it to me: I’ll email you a copy of the shop registration form so that you can complete the missing details and send me a few other things such as your shop logo and, if you become a subscriber, a photo.

      To give you an idea of what a full entry can look like, check out my own entry for LST Books & Resources — there’s no reason you shouldn’t have an entry like that too 🙂

      Subscribers’ entries are ad-free and subscribers are also entitled to an @christianbookshops.org.uk email address — not a bad deal for only £10 per year, I’d say…

      Finally for now, I’d certainly be happy to help you with setting up a facebook page or group: more info to follow by email…

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