Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Catholic Bookstores, Choices, and Reasons

The Catholic Marketing Network's 15th Anniversary Trade Show is about more than Catholic book stores: but book and gift shops aren't hard to find here.

A speaker at one of yesterday's sessions started with a rhetorical question: 'So you've got a Catholic bookstore. What should you sell?' The rest of this post isn't what the speaker said, quite: this is what I think about the subject.

"Catholic" Bibles are an obvious choice for a Catholic bookstore. So are the various 'Lives of the Saints' titles. After that, it gets - interesting.

Bad News, Good News, and Catholic Book Stores

First the bad news: Anything you put on the selves is going to offend somebody.

Now, the good news: Anything you put on the selves is going to offend somebody, so you're free to make your own choices.

Remember: I've got the authority of "some guy with a blog," and these are my opinions.

I suppose that the owner of a Catholic book store could put one of those 'the Pope is the antichrist' books on the shelves. That doesn't sound like a sensible thing to do, though.

The King James Bible isn't such an easy choice, though. As a work of literature, I think it's one of my cradle tongue's high points. As a Bible? I think it's a remarkable book, assembled by folks who used the best resources available to an island kingdom: back when saying 'me too' to Luther's ideas was kinda now, kinda wow.

Yesterday's speaker suggested keeping King James Bibles in the storeroom, available of a customer requested on. Or having them on a separate shelf, labeled to distinguish it from the New American Bible.

I sort of like the idea of the KJV as an 'under the counter' item - and that's almost another topic.

Why Run a Catholic Bookstore?

Someone at the trade show said that nobody opens a Catholic bookstore to get rich overnight. At least, nobody who knew the score would.

I think that's right. There may be less-lucrative sorts of business: but I'm pretty sure that there's more profit in a store that sells general-interest books, maybe with an emphasis on sports and entertainment magazines.

Evangelizing, Not Annoying

So, why run a Catholic bookstore? Wanting to evangelize is an obvious reason - and one of the few that makes sense to me.

Definition time. "Evangelize" means "preach the gospel (to)" or "convert to Christianity." (Princeton's WordNet)

Before someone has a stroke: I do not think "evangelizing" has to mean
  • Accosting strangers and launching into a wild-eyed recitation of Bible verses
  • Convincing folks that the world is going to end at some particular date
  • Telling your friends that they have to join your church
    • Right now
    • Or else
I'm all-too-familiar with folks who behave that way: and I don't think it's a good idea.

Because I'm a practicing Catholic, I have to believe that religious freedom is important. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2104-2109) For everybody. (Catechism, 160, 2104, 2106, 2107)

Getting back to the King James Bible and other-than-Catholic books in stock: provided that 'Catholic' and other materials are labeled.

Sour-Faced Saints?

I think being happy about our faith is important. "From sour-faced saints, deliver us," as the fellow said.

We've got joy, which isn't pleasure - and that's another topic.

Related posts:
More about the Catholic Marketing Network's trade show and me:

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.