Church Times: Bishop Calls for Churches to Appoint Christian Bookshop Champions

"Welcome to the secret world of Christian books":  John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford, Church Times, 10 Sept 2010, p.12

Church Times, 10 Sept 2010, p.12: Welcome to the secret world of Christian books

WRITING IN THE CHURCH TIMES last Friday, 10 Sept 2010, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford, has issued a challenge to churches to wake up to the importance of reading Christian books and supporting Christian bookshops.

Acknowledging the inevitability of change with the growth of online sales, the Bishop nonetheless remains convinced that bookshops have a part to play in the church’s strategic thinking:

The disappearance of Christian books from the High Street makes them seem esoteric and cult-like. We want people to select from a range of available titles, not just go online to buy the one that has got through to popular consciousness. We want people to browse, explore, and be attracted to alternative titles.

What, then, is the answer? Reading champions:

The key, of course, is finding someone, or preferably a team of people, with real enthusiasm to lead this ministry of reading, with permission to badger the incumbent. They could keep up with reviews of new books through websites such as www.thegoodbookstall.org.uk.

They could also encourage us to buy from Christian bookshops rather than online, and give us a lead in praying for those shops and their unobtrusive ministry. They could be reading champions for an increasingly literate Church. As so often, under God, the answer lies in our hands.

That, beloved reader, means your hands and mine: the Bishop has issued a challenge to the churches. Now it’s our turn: carpe diem! Why not contact your diocesan or area bishop and invite him to the shop to discover first hand what you can offer to the churches under his wing? Tell him you’ve just read the Bishop of Oxford’s article (links below) and you’re keen to follow up on the ideas he’s put forward. Offer to hold an Open Day for local clergy! Offer a regular book review column for church magazines and websites! Liaise with publishers and suppliers to ensure that you’ve got see-safe supply then send someone in to freshen up those dire bookstalls the Bishop of Oxford describes. The opportunities are endless — and God has placed them in our hands.

Read the full article:

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8 thoughts on “Church Times: Bishop Calls for Churches to Appoint Christian Bookshop Champions

  1. Agreed! Obviously all those book launches I did for Bp John and all the bookstalls at events reinforced the message about the value of Christian bookshops. He was always so supportive of our shop so this article is not really a surprise. Were there more like him!

  2. I would like to make a comment that doesn’t have a lot to do with this post directly, but has to do with the Church Times, the source of the article in this post.

    I have for a long time wanted to stock the Church Times at Cornerstone, but their trade policy has simply made it impossible to do so. Unless they have changed it recently, CT only offer any discount if you take 5 or more copies, and that only 25%; as well as this, there is no possibility of sale or return. I stocked CT on this basis for six months two or three years ago (I had managed to get two subscription customers), and made a loss over the period of £35.

    I have, despite numerous letters and emails, never been able to have a sensible conversation with anybody at CT about this. The only response I could ever get was that it was not commercially viable for them to
    offer a sensible discount structure or sale or return. This from a paper that was at that time offering thousands of half price
    subscriptions at Greenbelt each year.

    I occasionally get enquiries as to whether we stock CT. When I explain that I would like to but am unable to, I am asked ‘Do you know where I can get it’. Last time I was asked on a Saturday. My response was ‘No idea! – unless you want to go all the way into town and visit Church House Bookshop. Oh no, wait! – they are closed on Saturday. No, I have no idea where in the U.K. you can get it today, sorry.’

    Is it not inconceivable that, were CT to decide to offer us sale or return, they might actually get some NEW READERS from their paper being out on display in an environment where many potential readers pass through daily? Could we not be a small but effective sales channel? Is there anyone at CT who would be prepared to rethink this?

    • I have to agree with you, this too is a question we get asked on a reasonably regular basis and like you have to go to the same lengths to explain why we haven’t got it and that I have no idea of anywhere else that might have a copy in stock in the near vicinity of Lincoln.

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