On buying books

tsslogo.jpgChristianity Today says ‘Christian’ book sales are in a lull as readers await the next blockbuster. It’s not just the Christian publishers that are slow. Publisher’s Weekly is reporting that overall book sales continue to decline each of the first five months of 2007 despite an overall increase in retail sales. Michael Hyatt, President and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, has some ideas on the decline of Christian books. Competing media — television, movies, music, computer games, live events and the Internet – seem to play a big role. He also suggests that ‘Christian’ blockbusters get people into bookstores and than helps the sales across the board because “while they are buying that big book, they often pick up other books on their way to the cash register.” So here is the pressing problem in ‘Christian’ publishing: There are no huge blockbusters driving people in the local Christian bookstores. This all suggests that readers in general — and Christians in particular – wait until the mass hype to buy books. To hedge against the hype this is a good time to ask ourselves two questions: What books best care for my soul? And how am I watching for these books? On the outside it may appear Christian publishing is having an ‘off’ year when in fact great titles abound in 2007.

7 thoughts on “On buying books

  1. IMHO it is a sad commentary on the Christian book buyers that they wait for so called ‘Blockbusters’. Many of this so called variety of book would be better off not being bought at all.
    Maybe many of these buyers should stop allowing the society around them to influence them and their expectations and get back to serious study of Gods word and taking advantage of the books published by people who have a true gifting from God to expound His word in a way that truly honours Him.

  2. If they’re in a slump, it’s not from lack of trying on my part :) Though I do have to admit, I buy used books if I can — eBay and Amazon are probably the worst thing to hit the bookstores since the television.

  3. I can agree with ChrisB. In my case, I feel like I need to put the brakes on the book buying from time to time. Then comes the even more important part, are we actually reading the books that we buy and thereby helping to feed our souls? Even as someone who has grown in their love of reading and has been impacted spiritually by books, it can be tough to motivate myself to sit down and read sometimes.

  4. Thanks for the comments! Buying more books than we can read highlights the similar problem: What standards of discernment have we set on our reading purchases? Why do we buy what we buy? T

  5. Good question Tony. Also, whatever happened to the library? If only there was a way that public libraries could have a better theological selection.

    As far as my buying goes, I have an Amazon wishlist. When I hear of a book, whether from a blog or a sermon or recommendation, I add it to my list. This keeps me from buying it at a moment’s notice. Then, I plan out the next three books I’m going to read. Once I finish a book, I add another from my wishlist (whichever I may be interested in at the time) to my reading list. I have found that planning out my reading, while it may appear systematic and boring, helps to prevent me from being in the middle of five or six books at the same time. And since I am in no rush to buy the book, as I still have two more to read until I get to it, I can shop around and pay less on regular shipping. It’s a good habit to get into, and at the very least, let’s you remember what book you finished reading a month ago.

    But then again, Desiring God has $5 book sales that throw everything out of kilter. Shame once again!

  6. Reformed One … Excellent! I wish more Christians had your reading/buying strategy. There would be less of a mass hysteria over the ‘blockbusters.’ Being in a church where good books are recommended is another excellent help for book buyers. My first two books after being converted at age 22 were ‘The Gagging of God’ by Carson and ‘God in the Wasteland’ by Wells. These were over my head but later proved to be priceless recommendations from my pastor! … Darn that $5 DG book sale! Thinking they can willy-nilly flood the market with great books for a green Abe Lincoln. What are they thinkin’? Now we need time to recover from the trauma. :-) … TRO, thanks for your comments, these will be insightful for other readers! Tony

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