Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Recession hits Wesley Owen

One of the latest victims of the recession is Wesley Owen - Britain’s largest chain of Christian Bookshops.

Across the country many of their shops look like they will be closing shortly unless more buyers step in. Some have been taken over by CLC and some – including the one in Birmingham - by Australian Christian bookshop chain Koorong who have also taken over the related publishing business of Authentic Books. Authentic Music has been taken over by Kingsway.

Not long ago we saw the collapse of SPCK and possibly this is partly due to a knock-on effect. I also suspect that a lot of people now buy books through Amazon rather than making the trek to their local bookshop. If you consider that a lot of Christian bookshops rely on volunteers then you will realise that situation is even worse than you might have thought.

This means that a lot of the Christian bookshops in the UK are now either closed, for sale or broke. Is this the end of Christian bookshops in the UK? Some like St Andrews still appear to be going strong. But generally the future of Christian bookshops doesn't look promising.

Lord we pray for those affected who might be worrying about their jobs over Christmas. Give them your peace.

HT: Church Times on Wesley Owen


philgroom said...

The end, or a new beginning? If — and granted it's a big if — local churches are prepared to work together, there's no reason why these shops that are suddenly bereft of their owners can't become the beacons of light in their communities that most Christian bookshops have always aspired to be.

There's a lot of creative thinking going on: check out my post on The Future Shape of Christian Bookselling for links to some; join in the conversation; please think about what action you can take; and maybe, just maybe, we'll see something far better emerge out of this...

philgroom said...

Sorry - meant to add an example where this has just happened: St Olav Christian Bookshop, Chichester: ruined by the Brewers, resurrected by the local Christian community. If Chichester can do it, why not others?

prodigalthought said...

Maybe these bookshops could consider providing some more modern opportunities that appeal to the customer - like adding a coffee shop, Wi-fi internet, etc. This is what might be of help to places like Waterstone's or WH Smith's going. And, to be honest, I always went to Barnes & Noble rather than the Christian bookshop when I lived in the US. And they had Starbucks coffee there. Of course, adding these things does call for investment. But it's just a thought. Yet, it means we fully take on board a more capitalistic mindset, which many churches are already do so (especially in the US). Just some things to ponder.

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