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June 02, 2007

Comments

Fr. J

In homilies I encourage people to read good Catholic books. I count Amy's among those and have given her Prove It books to my altar servers. I have brought the local catholic bookstore to my parish to display books. So far it is like pulling teeth. They will buy some for 1st communion children. A few will buy a book for themselves. Most simply don't read any books at all, much less catholic ones. I really honestly try, but it is discouraging.

Deacon V.

We have the blessing in our very small rural parish to have a small but determined band of Catholics that are thirsting for good solid-doctrine, Catholic books. We are equally blessed to have a fine small bookstore only 30 minutes from us that is helping to fullfill that thirst! We MUST support our Catholic retailers!!

Bender

Ah, Logos bookstore. Wow, I remember them. They were on South University in Ann Arbor years and years and years ago. (And I just looked it up that that was their very first store.) Being just a little kid, I didn't know that it was a "Christian" bookstore. They're no longer there anymore.

Samuel J. Howard

Catholic parishes should consider operating book stores (and paying knowledgable people a living wage to run them.)

Maureen

Well, Christian bookstores are there. My hometown had a Christian bookstore for years and years (with everything from New Testament Greek to Maria Monk and the Protocols of Zion, God help them). Now it's gone but the mall has one, and the next town over has one, etc.

There's one Catholic bookstore downtown, which really is a church supply store with a jumble of books in back. (Good luck finding anything, and many of the same books have apparently been taking up shelf space since the sixties.) Across the street is a large Christian (Episcopal, maybe?) bookstore with a lovely setup, which carries more Catholic books of interest than the church supply store does or could.

Ten years back, somebody did try to start up a Catholic bookstore in our parish, run by some of the parish women. But it was never open! Honestly, you'd think, "I'll go over to the bookstore", and it would be closed! Of course it went out of business within months; it was never _in_ business! I guess there was another one started over by my parents', but we didn't even know it was around until after it was gone. You can't get business if you never reveal your existence to your customers!

It's a bit frustrating.

scotch meg

Marketing is the key needed to unlock the floodgates. I think this is why you can read Edmund Campion's "Helena" and "Edmund Campion" and why Loyola reprints "In This House of Brede" but hasn't seriously tried contemporary fiction. A partnership between publishers, EWTN, Catholic bookstores, and men's and women's conferences would bear fruit.

If Catholics are buying Christian books, it's because they can't find explicitly Catholic literature. By which I mean books which engage the contemporary world and offer explicitly Catholic solutions. But publishers, not knowing how to tap the market, are not inclined to risk their money on something new, especially when the tried-and-true is barely keeping them afloat. Having had a novel rejected by Doubleday as "not commercial enough" and by Loyola as not fitting into the game plan, I see the horns of the dilemma.

Eventually, the solution will be a blockbuster novel that gets its start because the author is someone publishers will take chances on... hopefully Amy Welborn! Hurry up and finish an adult novel, Amy.

Christopher Fotos

Re Hitchens:

His basic thesis: you're either a fundamentalist or you're not really a believer, even if you go to church, synagogue or mosque.

I wonder if that's influenced by what sounds to be a weak faith as expressed by his brother Peter in the review you excerpt above. Peter:

My claims, you see, are much milder than his. When I skulk in the pew of a nearly-empty church, repeating the lovely, poetic formulas of the Church of England, I do not imagine that I am saved for all eternity.

I wonder if Christopher Hitchens knows anyone who does believe. If not, well, you see how that turned out. (And I don't doubt that Hitchens could easily be dismantled on the facts in this area. For starters I keep thinking of Benedict's Regensburg address, that little masterpiece of tribute to faith and reason, reason and faith).

As for bookselling, I wonder with Fr. J about modern reading habits. Obviously people are reading something with all those bookstore chains out there. But the homes of my friends have precious few books in them, and what I see is fairly undemanding. I wonder how many of the "CBA-type" books are in the self-help mode with a Christian wrapper. I mean self-help in terms of a breezy style that occasionally smuggles in Christian granite. I suspect many of those books have their best-seller moment and are soon forgotten.

Fr. Augustine Thompson O.P.

Re: Christopher Hitchings.

Mr. Hitchings was at Univ. of Virginia last fall selling his wears. As Peter observed for the recent showing, the attendence here too was merely adequate.

In contrast, the theologian Janet Soskice (Cambridge U., Jesus College) was the Page-Barbour Lecturer at the same time. Her three lectures were not only well attended but the numbers increased for each one. for both students and faculty.

The reality is this. The secularists who would agree with Hitchings don't need his light-weight ventilations. Serious religious reflection draws the best and the brightest in college environments.

By the way Janet is a really major thinker and author, well known to the pope (he appointed her to the Pontifical Theological Commission), but sadly not so well known in the US. By the way, she is also a convert and sang with our Gregorian schola during her semester here.

In short, the best way to treat someone like Mr. Hitchings is to ignore him and leave him to people like the NYTimes. His (their?) day has passed. Catholics sould get on with our own business.

Dave Hartline

Excellent point Samuel Howard. I can't tell you how many parish events I have been to either giving talks and signing my book, "The Tide Is Turning Toward Catholicism," or just singing books after Mass where a number of people told me they would buy more books if they were available in the parish. These parishes should make some sort of deals with their local Catholic bookstore. A number of Evangelicals have told me that it wasn't until the 1980s that their books took off. Maybe we are closer than we think, but we need a launch off point and the parish may just be that point.

Kevin Hammer

A very nice parish-run bookstore:

http://www.st-clarence.org/galilee.html

Sherry Weddell

Just FYI:

The Logos bookstores still exist - the association has 24 bookstores in it, including a renewed version of the Seattle Logos where Mark Shea and I met as young evangelicals years ago and first started reading Catholic stuff.

Here's their website:

http://www.logosbookstores.com/joomla/

Joshua Mercer

My Catholic bookstore succeeds only because it is a part of what we do, not the main thing.

For about 800-1200 people in northern Michigan, we are known primarily for our big annual conference we've put on for each of the last 16 years. Having an event for people to go to and to talk about is great free publicity. When they arrive, we sell books.

And we keep in regular contact with our supporters by publishing a newsletter that features articles on the faith written by priests we know. The newsletter generates outright donations as well as direct mail sales with a catalog in the back.

So far, it's been working for us. The other Christian store in our town shut down just last year, but we're still going.

TerryC

Unfortunately in my area the only Catholic bookstore, which was 35 miles away just closed. The local Christian bookstore has very little in the way of Catholic books. In the spring they stock a few rosaries for Confirmation and First Communion, and if you're lucky they will have Catholic Bible tab sets, but no Catholic Bibles.
I've found Barnes & Noble stocks a good number of Catholic books. Jesus of Nazareth was located on their best seller rack. They use to have a specific Catholic section in their religeous book area, but unfortunately decided to group all of their religious books together, which makes browsing treacherous, you're just as likely to find a poorly identified anti-Christian tome in the religious book section as a good orthodox book. So you have to know what you're looking for or end up buying something you'll toss after the first chapter. They will order any book I ask for, and save me shipping.
As for who reads? I work with teens and some might think that with all they have to read for school and the reputation todays youth has garnered as poor readers that they would not be a major market share, yet we talk about the books they're reading. Amy's books. Scott Hahn's books. The Holy Father's books (and JPII also.) And one even "The Story of a Soul," a constant companion to a young lady who left us last year for university, and who has a special devotion to the "Little way."
We've even done some adult book clubs. Last winter they read "The Screwtape Letters."
I put my plug into our Life Teen small group just tonight for them to pick a book written by a saint to read this summer. Maybe not modern Catholic writing per se, but a start along the path I think.

G

Amy, We have a Pauline media run bookstore in our city. The upside is that they don't carry anything heretical. The downside is that its much easier to order anything that's not in their stock online. That situation has to put smaller writers/publishers in a more restrictive position because to get them to special order anything is just about not worth the effort.

Lynne

I'm in the process of revamping our parish library. Once I get an adequate collection in it, i.e. several hundred solid orthodox books, I'll begin marketing them at the "Coffee and Donut Ministry" after the 9:30 Mass and via blurbs in the bulletin. There will book reviews available and lists of books geared to very specific interests, light reading, medium-weight, etc. Also, I also want to appeal to men's interests and teenagers'.

People don't read Catholic books because they don't know what's out there.

I'm hoping to inspire our parish book club to move beyond The Red Tent, The Kite Runner and The Secret Life of Bees which I'm sure are all very nice books but nothing that will deepen one's faith...

MarkAA

There is an absolutely fantastic Catholic bookstore called "Our Lady of Grace" in Ann Arbor, at the Domino's Farm complex. They have something like 8,000 items: Lots of art, rosaries, prayer materials, a wide array of Bibles, a huge amount of apologetical books, DVDs and CDs, Liturgy of the Hours, some music, kids' books, Byzantine and Roman icons, just all kinds of stuff. I go there fairly regularly and always end up buying something. They don't have a website (a shame, really) but their phone number is available though Google. If it's serious Catholic stuff, they've *probably* got it. (I have no connection to the place ... just a very enthusiastic shopper.)

MarkAA

Here's info for that Ann Arbor bookstore, Our Lady of Grace.

The store is at 24 Frank Lloyd Wright Drive in Domino’s Farms, Lobby C, Ann Arbor. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Information: 734-930-3747.

david

Poor merchandising has to play a part.

I don't believe I've seen a catholic bookstore that looks like a bookstore. Typically, they seem to be church supply stores with windows full of candles, sun-faded statues, etc. Any other style of bookstore, emphasises....books.

Brigid

One must see this well-run bookstore from The Franciscans in Cincinnati. Doing so well, in fact esp. with its aggressive online presence, that it moved to bigger digs in a more populated part of town:

http://www.stfrancisonline.com/aboutus.html

There are a few other stores in Cincinnati as well but this is the one well *stocked* in all types of Catholic books and gifts.

I am also a big fan of christianbook.com...

Old Zhou

My local Catholic bookstore is doing quite well. I wonder why?

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