Curse you, Christian Fiction!

Those of you who run bookstores will understand whereof I speak. You will laugh knowingly at this question.

WHY THE HELL ARE THE CHRISTIAN FICTION SHELVES ALWAYS DISORGANIZED?

The people who shop Christian fiction tend to fall into a certain demographic: female, circling retirement age on one side or the other, sweet, watching their pennies, and looking for the latest of some series. I’m waiting for the day when a writer realizes the market for Christian Amish fantasy space exploration novels is still wide open.

Don’t get me wrong; I read Christian fiction, some for enjoyment, some for sarcasm factor. C. S. Lewis changed my life, but I’ve also enjoyed an occasional aga saga (that’s a British term for a domestic novel) here and there. We’ll not talk about the Left Behind series; observation suggests that opening such a dialogue is the fastest way to start a fist fight at a church’s fellowship supper.

But it is not so much the writing as the selling of them that I now query: if the customers are sensible, quiet, gentle people, then why are these bookshelves so eternally … untidy? As in the B’s are visiting the Q’s and the pocket romances are sliding behind the Gilbert Morrises? (And that’s a BIG space to hide behind; he’s got his kids writing now, sigh.)

One night I spent two hours re-alphabetizing, stacking, assigning “this far and no farther shall your boundaries be” spaces to Okes, Morrises, and Dekkers, feeling vaguely Genesis 1 about the whole thing as I parsed into order what had already been created.

I went to bed with those books lined up straight and tall as soldiers in the army of the Lord (not the Joseph Kony one). A few days later I brought a stack of new acquisitions over to shelve, and it looked as though someone had taken a leaf blower to the place. Bs and Q’s openly fraternizing, pocket romances hanging with Copeland westerns…..

I glanced suspiciously at a mother-daughter combo, Mom a dignified woman bent with age in a twin sweater set, saying “read that one” as her daughter, blond highlighted hair sculpted into perfect little “I am a teacher” waves, moved a stack of books from her arms one by one back onto the shelves.

Willy-nilly, in random order. They looked up and smiled at me in a friendly way before returning to their task.

It’s enough to make a bookslinger lose faith.

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12 Comments

Filed under Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, humor, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA

12 responses to “Curse you, Christian Fiction!

  1. Tony

    “That’s me in the corner, that’s me on the floor shelving disheveled books, loosing my religion. Trying to keep up with you and I don’t know if I can do it.”

  2. Maggie

    I don’t have that particular problem. The sections that get all messed up in my store are children’s, YA, and history….. But I think I may know why-most of my inspirational fiction readers are little old ladies who need help finding things on the shelves, so I’m right there when they’re looking.

  3. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha………And I thought I was the only one who has this problem.

  4. Janice Brooks-Headrick

    consider putting a note up: BLESS YOU FOR PUTTING BOOKS BACK WHERE YOU FOUND THEM
    or Books are filed by last name of Author or
    If you don’t know where you took it from, drop it on the floor, its easier for both of us or
    If I can’t find it, you can’t buy it.
    Is Christian Fiction and oxymoron?

  5. Amusing dilemma ! How about a basket on a little table with a picture of Uncle Sam pointing- I WANT YOU to put your re-shelvable books here ?

    (This is a side note. I work in the public library. See many women my age and older checking out the more explicit romances. Pretty amusing. How about a post on the different styles of “closet” romance seekers. )

    I really enjoyed your carefully worded comment about the fist fight potential of the Left Behind series.

    • Oh, that’s a GOOD idea! We keep most romances in the “Luv Shack” so readers have privacy, but Paranormal and Christian are inside the shop’s main building. I’ll ponder this one. Thanks

  6. When we were getting ready to open I noticed the Christian fiction and bibles ended up on a dark shelf right off the floor. No bias on our part….maybe a little disinterest. I worried about offending people and moved the section. Not much action in our Christian fiction.

  7. Pingback: Curse you, Christian Fiction! | ChristianBookBarn.com

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