(Part 2) I have decided to make a PART 2 for this blog, because I don't ever want to constructively criticize something and offer nothing as a solution. So I am going to list some things that I think would be good or helpful for Christian bookstores. Keep in mind, these are just my opinions and my opinions are formed from my own experiences and knowledge.
First, I have to ask, should we continue to have Christian bookstores? As far as books go, you can go to the closest Barnes and Noble or Borders for that stuff. With music, you have all kinds of places to go (Best Buy, Barnes & Noble) including iTunes. With music and books out of the way, most of the products in the bookstore are now covered. In fact, the rest of the stuff in the bookstore (gifts, paintings, sculptures, trinkets, Testamints) can be bought on a variety of websites.
I'm going to move forward assuming that these bookstores are good and needed. Here are some points.
1. Get rid of bad products. This sounds simple, but I really do think that we need to prune the products and resources.
2. Create a great environment/experience. If you go into a Christian bookstore today, there is nowhere to sit; the ceiling, walls, and carpet are bland. Take a cue from Starbucks or Barnes & Noble. Change out all the fluorescent light for better, more intimate lighting. Use some color on the walls. Get a designer to construct the layout and the check-out area. Have several places to sit, read, and talk. Which leads me to my next point.
3. Add a cafe or coffeehouse area. Look what it did for Barnes & Noble or Borders. This could become a very inviting place to spend some time reading, reflecting, and sipping on a latte. In essence, an area to hang-out. Which leads to the next one.
4. Offer free Wi-Fi. I am convinced that everyone will end of doing this eventually, but it's perfect for a bookstore/coffeehouse place.
Some of you may now decide to make fun of me because I have just turned it into a Starbucks that sells books. But I really do think that some drastic changes like this would make it so much more appealing. Especially for the under 45 crowd. When I am at a Christian bookstore, I often see an absence of young adults, and that is a problem.
I have one final thought or caution. In some ways, this could fuel the ever-growing fire of having a Christian version of everything. The Christian music industry struggles with this for sure. I'm not suggesting that we create places that enable us to forever stay in our Christian bubble. I would hope these places would become inviting to anyone. Anyone that wants to talk deeply about life, God, culture, etc.
Just thoughts. What are yours?