The recent announcement that Family Christian are closing all their stores has been a hot topic of conversation. Industry veterans have shared their thoughts on why the business has failed and how it will impact Christian book selling.
In Australia we have a very small Christian publishing industry compared to last century. We’ve seen major market disruptions that have impacted on the financial viability our local Christian book stores.
In 2000 our government introduced a 10 percent GST (goods and services tax) that replaced existing sales taxes. The cost of living rose overnight and book sales were impacted by the GST levied on all books sold in Australia.
Exchange rate fluctuations between the US Dollar and Australian Dollar affect book prices in the Aussie stores who import direct from US suppliers. It’s not uncommon for books within longer series to vary by as much as $5 due to changes over time in the exchange rates.
Our local market has also been a dumping ground for remaindered print books from the US market. It was difficult for local publishers to compete with the cheap imported books. I’ve also learned that authors may not have earned any royalties from many of the bargain priced print books I’ve purchased over the years.
I grew up in Sydney and our local Christian book store was only a ten minute drive from home. My childhood church had a book stall. I remember admiring the hardcover books and Bibles behind the glass in a tall cabinet at the back of the church. I discovered Love Inspired books in the late 1990’s in a romance book store in Sydney.
In 2017 many Aussies do not live near a Christian book store. The last remaining Christian book store in Canberra, where I live, is a half hour drive from home.
I love browsing in book stores and enjoy the tactile experience of reading a print book. But the convenience of buying online, the joy from having immediate access to brand new releases, and the ability to read on my phone or tablet is just too good to resist. I don’t need to try and create space on my bulging bookshelves to store ebooks.
Do you live near a Christian book store? Have your buying and reading habits changed over the years? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.