A new survey found that Christian booksellers in the country are optimistic for 2021 despite the challenges brought by the pandemic to the publishing industry.
According to the Christian Retailer Association 2020 Annual Report, 87% of Christian bookstores said they see a “healthy, strong future” for the coming year compared to data in 2019 where only 75% sellers said they were confident for 2020.
Out of 82 independent Christian bookstores, 22 reported an increase in sales, 54 stores were down, and six were flat.
Kevin VanDuyne from Indiana-based Joy Christian Bookstore, said, “For being shut down 8 months for two stores, we were only down 17% for the year compared to 2019. If we looked at Wabash only, with being shut down for 6 weeks for the year, we were up 7.4%. Summary: GOD IS SO AMAZING, GOD IS SO….GOOD!!!”
Out of 82 independent Christian bookstores, 22 reported an increase in sales, 54 stores were down, and six were flat. —Christian Retailer Association 2020 Annual Report
Another bookstore owner, Kelli Malm of Christian Connection, noted that, “We did well—$12,000 down for the whole year, but October-December was better than 2019. We ended the year in the black.”
Store owners shared that they introduced new services to keep the business afloat in 2020 such as curbside pickup, ship to home, website sales, and social media sales and they will continue with these services in 2021, reports Publishers Weekly.
The report also showed that the Bible remains the top-selling product in 2020, followed by face masks and fellowship cups. Phyllis Cowan of Bread of Life said, “We have seen a great interest in Bibles since we opened back up. Also, prophecy and end-times books are selling as well as books and gifts with the ‘Hope’ theme.”
Instead of questioning the reason for why the pandemic is happening, many Americans chose God to find comfort and solace. Charlene Wiggs of On the Third Day, said, “Many people have come into the store with a real desire to get to know who Jesus is and who He is to them. First time in their lives they want a Bible!”
Covid-19 threw a curveball that affected the whole world. During lockdowns, e-book sales went up since people stayed at home while many bookstores closed their brick and mortar shops. Despite major changes in the industry, the demand for print books remains, reports The Christian Science Monitor.
“People want to be comforted,” explained New Yorker staff writer Katy Waldman. “They want to return to familiar reads. There’s a lot less bandwidth in the cultural imagination for new works.”
Despite the sudden halt Coronavirus brought to retailers, independent bookstores found strength to carry on from their community. David Yarborough of The Carpenter’s Shop, who participated in the survey, said, “We saw tremendous generosity from our church—over $400,000 raised to give to those affected by the pandemic—including supporting other smaller churches.”
Meantime, Angela Meyer of The Well Bookstore said, “Our local community has shown us tremendous support, and we have increased our reach and social media presence, and our business has been able to support more local ministry projects than in previous years.”