10 Things We Miss About '90s Christian Bookstores

The retail scene has changed a lot since Amazon came on the scene, and not always for the better.

The world is changing. You can feel it in the water. You can feel it in the sky. You can definitely feel it in the bookstores, where the digital revolution has taken its toll. Following the advent of eBay, Amazon and, well, blogs, bookstores are different places. Just ask the people who used to work at Borders. Things ain't what they used to be.

Christian bookstores aren't exempt from this. Family Christian Bookstores, the largest Christian bookstore chain in America, recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. They don't plan on laying off any employees, but it's a reminder of how different things are now from the bookstores many of us grew up around. And in the spirit of those bookstores, which are quickly going the way of all flesh, here's a list of a few things we'll miss about them.

Theologically Questionable Jesus Toys

We’re not saying that Jesus wouldn’t run the read option or take ride on a sweet hog, we’re just saying it may qualify as a grey area.


Read Option Jesus


American Chopper Jesus

Copyright-skirting Jesus Shirts

Nothing says “checkmate, atheists” like one of these.


Admit it, you owned this one.


Sweet.


There's a lot going on here.

Super Fancy Robes

They definitely look more comfortable than suits.


Crushed velvet is the new black.


A sleek, subtle choice.

Shofars

Surprisingly, these are only stores in the mall that still sell ancient instruments fashioned from the horns of large rams.


Own the whole collection.

Majestic Lions Printed on Stuff

We have C.S. Lewis to thank for this trend.


A perfect accessory to your power suit.


To drink your coffee from while wearing your faux-Starbucks shirt.

Patriotic Jesus Art

JesUSA


American flag robe sold separately, alas.


There’s also a lot going on here.

Edible Scriptures

Bread of Heaven. Snacks of earth.


Because your breath isn't the only thing that needs freshening.


"The red jellybeans represent Christ's blood shed for us."

Very Demographic-Specific Bibles

When an ordinary Bible just won't cut it.


Rad!

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No nerds allowed.

Loving Bumper Stickers

And they shall know we are Christians by our cars.


Not to be a stickler, but that fish definitely looks like it's about to fry.


Comic Sans, just to rub it in.

Katy Hudson CD's

Only true youth group kids know the full tale of the woman the world would come to know as Katy Perry. And Christian bookstores are about the only proof of her past that still exists.


Never forget.

Top Comments

Tim Worstell

2

Tim Worstell commented…

So, as a Christian Bookstore manager, I too find these items cheesy and wonder "what were we thinking?" (i.e. The Microscopic Bible for the scientist who doesn't want to carry his/her actual bible, but needs to read the scriptures between observing specimens) ...but to be honest there's so much that you can get from your local Christian Bookstore that Amazon could never give, like a sympathetic ear or advice on choosing the right Bible, or helping a grandma find music for her grand kids that the kids would actually like...we get to build so many relationships with the community and local church and potentially influence those relationships for the kingdom, not necessarily the bottom line. I love what I do, and hope that there will be a resurgence in Christian retailing...but a good one, not a cheesy one...

Delise Bento-Carrier

61

Delise Bento-Carrier commented…

We had a Christian bookstore close near us recently, the remains of which ended at our Church rummage sale. One of the bumper stickers said something to effect of "Are you going to face the book or twitter in hell?" I found it so incredibly corny that I had to snag it.

It's amazing how we so easily absorbed a counter-culture that was a commodity unto itself. Don't be fooled, this had marketing, at it's core, that once clearly worked but it's clear we're no longer in the market for the kitsch and the books and music can be purchased online.

I wonder if they can find a way to re-brand, Christian bookstores in general, finding a way to create a niche that Amazon can't fill.

BTW, the one thing I could never stand despite it's best intentions were those posters that hanged in the music section showing you what Christian artists would appeal to you based on your secular taste. It lied to me every single time.

6 Comments

Delise Bento-Carrier

61

Delise Bento-Carrier commented…

We had a Christian bookstore close near us recently, the remains of which ended at our Church rummage sale. One of the bumper stickers said something to effect of "Are you going to face the book or twitter in hell?" I found it so incredibly corny that I had to snag it.

It's amazing how we so easily absorbed a counter-culture that was a commodity unto itself. Don't be fooled, this had marketing, at it's core, that once clearly worked but it's clear we're no longer in the market for the kitsch and the books and music can be purchased online.

I wonder if they can find a way to re-brand, Christian bookstores in general, finding a way to create a niche that Amazon can't fill.

BTW, the one thing I could never stand despite it's best intentions were those posters that hanged in the music section showing you what Christian artists would appeal to you based on your secular taste. It lied to me every single time.

Billy Frick

1

Billy Frick commented…

I still rock the Sacrificed for Me T-shirt. I miss the days when I used to spend hours in the Gospel Shop in Salisbury, MD and Jack's Religious gift shop flipping through books and fellowshipping with the owners and employees. Many great memories of rushing to them when the new Hillsong CD and DVD were scheduled to arrive!!

Scott Korin

42

Scott Korin commented…

There's a family owned bookstore in my area that still has some of this, especially the t-shirts and the testamints.

I missed the 90's phase, because I was in college and transitioning between Catholic to God-hating to American Baptist. I didn't step into my first bible book store until my wife and I took over as co-directors of our church's VBS in the early 2000's.

PewPotato

1

PewPotato commented…

The one thing I do miss is the diversity of items in the various independent Christian bookstores. Now all the bookstores seem to carry basically the same inventory.

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