Friday, February 11, 2011

A Church Bookstall: How?

Yesterday we thought about the benefits of running a church bookstall. You might think it's a great idea, but then don't know how to go about it. Here's a few tips to help you setting up a new bookstall.

The Bookstall

If you're going to have a bookstall, then you'll obviously need somewhere to store and display the books. In our church, we have a cupboard with display shelves above. It's a permanent fixture, with a locking cupboard for the money box. If you have something like this it would be great, but its not essential.

The Church Bookstall

Other churches may just have somewhere to store books in a box, and a table set up each week to display the books. Either way, you'll want it to be somewhere accessible so that people can see the books easily.

The Books

Having decided on somewhere to store and display the books, you obviously need the books! There are various ways of doing it - our bookstall has always been run through the Evangelical Bookshop in Belfast, but other suppliers are available: The Good Book Shop in Belfast (not to be confused with The Good Book Company), or your local Christian bookshop.

Many shops or online booksellers may offer special discounts for bookstalls which can either be passed on to your congregation, or else can make a small bit of profit to be ploughed back into the mission of the parish.

It helps if the stock is rotated regularly - some suppliers may release stock on a sale or return basis for 30 days; we try to change the bookstall every month and a half or so. This means that if someone has read a book, they can think about buying another one, and the stock can more closely follow the preaching schedule and seasons of the church year approaching.

It's also good if you remember to have books for different ages and stages - the enquirer, the new Christian, the maturing Christian, older people, families, teenagers, children, amateur theologians, the ministry team etc.

Manning The Bookstall

Again, there are various ways of doing it. Perhaps there'll be someone in the congregation willing to man the bookstall for twenty minutes after the service, recommending and selling the books and looking after the money. Maybe there'll be a team of people who take turns to act in this way.

In our context, we have a small notebook in which people write down their name, the book they have bought, the price, and whether it is paid or unpaid. No one stays at the bookstall, and the honesty scheme seems to work (well, you would hope so, seeing as it's a church!). Occasionally, though, someone forgets to write down what book they've taken, but we normally manage to account for all the books sold!

The moneybox also sits on the bookstall, so that, as with a recent book, it may be one that you would prefer not to be seen buying or have to deal with someone (e.g. one on masturbation / lust), you can take the book and pay cash straight away without any problem.

It helps if those running the bookstall have some time to devote to managing the stock, the money, and getting to the supplier fairly regularly, as well as actually reading some of the books to check what is being sold and to target recommendations to those who would benefit from the books.

Happy reading and selling!

For more information on setting up a church bookstall, speak to John at the Evangelical Bookshop, Richard at The Good Book Shop, or The Good Book Company Bookstall page.

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