America's largest distributor of Christian products has announced that it will soon be out of business as more independent Christian bookstores and chains close due to the inability to compete with internet retail giants like Amazon.com.
The Tennessee-based Send The Light Distribution, which has been around for over 42 years and ships Bibles, Christian books and other Christian literature to over 10,000 stores across the United States, is in the process of ending business operations and is preparing to close down in coming months.
The company's President Glenn Bailey told The Christian Post on Thursday that the organization plans to completely shut down by the end of the summer or the early fall.
Although Send The Light once shipped as many as 25,000 Bibles per day, Bailey explained that the rise of Amazon has forced many of the organization's clients to close down, which has shrunk the distributor's customer base.
Although last year's Chapter 11 bankruptcy of America's largest Christian bookstore chain, Family Christian Stores, caused a huge financial hit for Send The Light, Bailey told CP that the bigger issue is the fact that numerous independent Christian bookstores are closing down every year.
Even though Send The Light does much business with Amazon, Bailey says the rise of Amazon has hurt brick-and-mortar businesses that Send The Light does the majority of its business with.
Bailey said that most local stores that Send The Light distributes to get approximately 20 percent of their products distributed by Send The Light. By comparison, Amazon gets less than 1 percent of its products distributed by Send The Light.
"We got some of Amazon's business but we don't even get 1 percent of their business," Bailey said. "Our share of the independent bookstore market is much higher than our share of what Amazon does."
As for publishers, Bailey says they are also starting to realize the impact that Amazon is having on the bookstore industry.
"I am a small fish and it is easy for a publisher to dictate the terms under which I do business," he continued. "In the case of Amazon, a couple of years ago, publishers used to brag to me that 25 percent of their business was with Amazon. Now, they say 'They are getting too big. I am afraid I have taken a ride on the alligator here.'"
The closure of Christian bookstores and the largest distributor of Christian products likely won't have any effect on Christian readers, Bailey added.
"In theory, if they are Amazon Prime members, they have a big selection and they can get it in a day or two," he explained. "I don't think publishers are worried that their market and ultimate consumers won't be reached."
Bookstores are not the only businesses being affected by the rise of Amazon and other online retailers. As the sporting good chain Sports Authority announced last month that it is going out of business, Bailey believes Amazon will affect all brick-and-mortar retail stores.
"I think Amazon has an impact on people like Sports Authority as well," he said. "[Amazon is] not just the world's largest bookstore, they are the world's largest retailer — at least the U.S.'s largest retailer."