Continued industry distress leaves us thirsty for inspiration as Christian retailers. When I come across any credible, firsthand encouragement, it is my privledge to pass it on to you. Such is the case with my friend David Almack, the former manager at CLC Bookcenter in Philadelphia, PA. He is now the national director for CLC USA and the author of The Bookstore That Matters.

Dave, why did you decide to write this book in the first place?

About three years ago I came across some information that really disturbed me. For many years, the big box bookstores had dominated the landscape, then Borders closed. This sudden and massive restructuring of the book retailing world had a really interesting outcome. Independent secular stores that belonged to the American Booksellers Association began growing again. They had been closing in droves for years and now a bunch of new ones were opening. At the same time, independent Christian bookstores continued closing in significant numbers and that trend hasn’t reversed itself.

How does your book respond to this reality?

My book’s premise is that if your bookstore matters to the community, people will come, they will shop, and they will tell their friends. This new Christian retailer will need to be agile, adaptable, and willing to experiment to meet the needs in his or her community. My book tells the remarkable story of a little bookstore in Philadelphia that did just that. In the face of stiff, new competition from the internet, big-box secular bookstores, and even Walmart now selling Christian books, this store grew and thrived.

Why did you decide to self-publish rather than find a traditional publishing partner?

This was a tricky decision for me as I am the publisher for CLC Publications and work with many authors in the traditional publishing world. That said, I recognized that this is a niche book and has a very targeted audience. It’s uniquely appropriate for the self-publishing strategy and I wanted to learn how to go about the process myself. Fairly often I will recommend self-publishing to new authors whose books aren’t  well-suited to the traditional publishing world. Now I can testify to what they will be going through.

What are your hopes for this book?

I hope to inspire a new generation of retailers who want to impact their communities. The book contains lots of stories and is a pretty quick read, so I hope that anyone who’s working in the Christian book industry will pick it up, read it, recommend it, and most importantly, apply the principles that I discuss. My prayer is that the book will be a catalyst for a wider discussion among industry leaders and influencers about how independent Christian retailing can grow and thrive in the years to come.

You can find David’s book at www.clcpublications.com