We received the June 'Evangelical Times' this week. An interesting letter was printed, written by Gordon Hoppe owner of the Christian Bookshop in Pratt's Bottom Orpington. I think it is worth quoting in full:
Everyone enjoys a bargain but the growing practice of discounts being offered by authors and publishers on the sale of books at meetings, conferences and exhibitions is damaging bookshops.
While I applaud the selling of good Christian books on every occasion possible, it is not unusual to find books being offered at prices below those at which a bookshop can buy them. This can only add to the struggles of those seeking to maintain a presence and witness in the streets and shopping centres of our towns.
Bookshops provide a service to the churchgoing public by enabling them to examine, compare and purchase books. They will order books for customers and advise on choice. They normally give a small discount to churches, schools and charities and will provide bookstalls and 'sale or return' books for special occasions. They seek to assist the churches' witness in a given neighbourhood.
But they usually have rent, rates and staff to pay and cannot compete with these unnecessary discounts. May I suggest that authors and publishers cease this discounting and that the book-buying public make an effort to pay the right price for books they value?
I do, of course, have a vested interest in writing this letter. But my main concern is to ensure that the 600 or so Christian bookshops can survive - to continue to provide a service to writers, publishers and readers alike, and maintain a witness in a needy world.
Food for thought?