Christian Bookstores Closing at High Rates

Christian bookstores are dwindling in numbers according to reports from bookstores in the U.S. and U.K.

The decline in Christian bookstores is directly related to the decline of the print publishing industry. Both religious and commercial bookstores are facing challenges posed by e-readers, online retailers and a culturally linked decline in readers.

Print books sold in retail stores in the U.S. fell 10.2 percent in 2011. Physical audio books declined 11.1 percent.

Christian bookstores in the U.S. are finding it tough to keep up with changing industry trends.

Janet Dearman, who owns The Bible and Book Center in Baton Rouge, La., told Fox News that her bookstore might have to close due to the low demand.

“We’ve downsized our store from 9,000 square feet to 4,000 square feet in the past few years,” Dearman said. “We used to have 15 employees, and now we are down to three.”

Dearman said the store has endured a 20 percent decline in holiday sales. She speculated that online Christian retailers and mega-chains like Barnes & Noble are gaining the customers she has lost.

The decline of Christian bookstores is not limited to the U.S. A 50-year-old Christian store in Bournemouth, England has seen the amount of customers fall by 33 percent since the store’s peak in 2005.

"The Internet has had a massive effect on independent retailers, particularly on booksellers and music sellers - we want a piece of that market and have our own online presence,” Manager Darren Peach told the BBC.

"We were very lucky to be offered the lease to buy a few years ago. If we had to pay town center rates, I don't think we'd still be going," Peach said.

Bournemouth has several other bookstores, including a Christian store, besides the Keith Jones Christian Bookshop.

Baton Rouge isn’t as fortunate.

The Bible and Book Center is the only Christian bookstore remaining in Baton Rouge, and like many owners fearful of going out of business, Dearman is concerned about the impact it will have on the local Christian community.

“It breaks my heart, because we have such a ministry for our customers and that ministry might be taken away,” Dearman said.

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