The Difficulties Faced by an Online Mormon Lit Bookstore

A couple of weeks ago Jonathan Langford posted his vision of an online Mormon Lit bookstore–something I’m also quite interested in. I very much believe in that vision, and if I had the resources and connections necessary, I’d start the bookstore he describes as soon as possible. I think such a bookstore could be successful, and would likely be a great help to building and audience for Mormon literature.

There are, however, some large hurdles to overcome.

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The Concept of an Online Mormon Lit Bookstore

Many of us (here and elsewhere) have lamented over the problem of trying to reach and/or create an audience of Mormon readers who might have an interest in fiction reflecting a Mormon perspective but grittier or more realistic than what standard LDS bookstores can or will carry.

I don’t have any new ideas about how to find those readers. However, I do have an idea about a different piece of the puzzle. At the moment, there’s no single place to send people where they can browse for authors and titles that might interest them. My suggestion: an online store that caters specifically to Mormon literature, organized to make browsing easy — like a good brick-and-mortar bookstore — with a broad and inclusive enough selection that people could explore with a fair confidence of finding what they’re looking for.

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The Last 20 Years in Mormon Lit: Major Developments

What are some of the major developments in Mormon literature over the past 20 years? Being under the painfully pleasant necessity of writing a short article (500-1000 words) during the next week on Mormon literature for a forthcoming reference work, this is something I’ve had occasion to ponder. I have an excellent source for up to about 1990 with the articles that were written for the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, but there’s an awful lot that has happened since then.

The Writing Rookie #10: Marketing Thoughts

For the complete list of columns in this series, .

A couple of months ago, I was listening to an interview on NPR with someone who was talking about the death of mass marketing and mass media. I can’t really do justice to the man’s arguments — I didn’t hear the whole thing, and besides, I was paying more attention to the thoughts inside my head, some of which I may write up someday as a post about the future of book publishing.

The other part of my thinking had to do with marketing for my book, which — now that the book is wending its way toward actual publication, past the editing and desktop publishing process — has been taking up an increasing share of my mental attention, as to my dismay I realize all over again that publication notwithstanding, Books Don’t Sell Themselves.

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Interview: LDS Archive Publishers

On the face of it, LDS Archive Publishers may not seem of much interest. Because it publishes mainly reprints, its not interested in new works–what LDS authors are usually selling. And because demand for reprints is relatively small, booksellers often aren’t willing to think too much about them. But in fact, publishing reprints is important, because it allows readers access to the basic works that helped create a market for LDS books in the first place. And, LDS Archive Publishers is also interesting for its involvement in a segment of the LDS market most of us never see: the homeschool market.

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What About Agreka Books?

Add to the perennial question “What Makes a Book Mormon?” another: “What Makes a Publisher Mormon?” A look at Agreka Books, of Scottsdale, Arizona, may help us at least decide what is not a Mormon publisher.

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Echos of the Decline of Mormon Retail

The April 2008 issue of Christianity Today featured an article on the changes that have affected Christian retail over the last two decades. The description is surprisingly similar to what has happened to LDS retailers — so much so that I thought the article’s claims bore some analysis here.

The article indicates that the CBA, the former Christian Booksellers Association, “has reported a drop from more than 3,000 members out of an estimated 4,000 Christian retail stores in the mid-1980s to a mere 1,813 members today out of an estimated 2,800 stores in existence.” The same kind of drop has been seen by the LDSBA, which has seen attendance by bookstores at its annual convention drop by half.

Unfortunately, the article is long on description of the problems and short on answers. But there are a few ideas that may help LDS retailers improve.

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