THERE’S ALWAYS ROOM for improvement, and over the last few days I’ve completed one of the UK Christian Bookshops Directory improvements that’s been on the back burner for some time: a County Index to sit alongside the Shop Name Index and the Town & City Index. All updated entries now automatically include a link to the relevant county listings.
It’s simple to use: counties are listed A-Z, and towns and cities are listed A-Z within each county, whilst for anyone who isn’t sure which county they’re in — and it’s all too easy to get confused! — there’s a link to the Association of British Counties (ABC) Map of Britain’s Historic Counties at the top of the list. I’ve made extensive reference to that map and to the ABC Gazetteer & Directory but decided to follow what appears to be common usage rather than a strictly historical or traditional listing of the counties, so along with the traditional county names I’ve included some local government administrative areas and have acknowledged the county status of some towns. All feedback is welcome: if your nearest shop is missing or you believe I’ve allocated it to the wrong county or you notice any other errors/inconsistencies, please let me know.
Compiling the County Index has been an enlightening exercise: some counties (Yorkshire, Kent and the West Midlands, for instance) are very well served with Christian bookshops; others (such as Aberdeenshire, Cornwall and Northamptonshire) much less so. This begs the question of whether more people with a pioneering spirit can be encouraged to step out and follow the example of Richard Greatrex — who has brought Christian bookselling back to some otherwise poorly served areas of Somerset in the form of Aslan Books — by proactively liaising with local churches? Or has the Christian book trade become so insular and so afraid of online competition that it has lost that pioneering spirit that once provided its cutting edge, that allowed Christian booksellers to reach those people and places that so many churches couldn’t?
To all Christian booksellers, and especially those out there in some of the more remote counties, in the highlands and the islands: I salute you. May you go from strength to strength and may you, like Richard, hear Aslan roar his support for your work in Christ’s name!