The Christian bookseller’s wasteland

The Christian bookseller’s wasteland

Amy Welborn has lots of good posts with her reflections on Evangelical sub-culture phenomenon. I worked at a Christian bookstore for several years in the late 80s and early 90s and can testify firsthand that what she says is true. There is huge market (billions of dollars) for materials that are all designed basically to spread the basic message of the Gospel and do it while covering every possible circumstance in which it will be done. And those materials take every imaginable form from niche-market Bibles to T-shirts to jewelry to self-help books to kids books to music of every genre.

Just look at Bibles alone. Even if you discount the binding variations (black leather, white leather, red leather, hardcover, etc.), there are still tens of thousands of different Bibles. And not just different translations (King James, New King James, RSV, NRSV, NIV, NASB, NAB, ad infinitum), but also Bibles with reflections designed for different groups. Bibles for single women. Bibles for married women. Bibles for divorced women. Bibles for moms. Bibles for grandmoms. Bibles for soldiers, for alcoholics, for teens, for salesmen, for doctors ... you name it! The old joke was that if someone came in asking for a Bible and when you said, “What translation?” and they answered, “English,” then they wanted one of the Catholic Bibles.

1 comment
  • Actually it wasn’t Catholic, at least not specifically. It was the “Christian” Booksellers Association’s annual meeting, a gathering of mainly Evangelical bookstore owners with publishers and other suppliers. Some Catholic bookstores and publishers do go to it, but they’re are heavily outnumbered (10 to 1?) And I was referring to an Evangelical bookstore (that’s where I worked) not a Catholic bookstore. Most Catholic bookstores, in my experience, are like what you’ve seen.