Popular questions and requests

Christian MARKET recently spoke with a sampling of Christian retailers who responded to publishers’ questions about Bible sales in their stores. One such question was: How much do customers know about the differences in Bible translations?

Answers varied store-by-store, but most agree with The Bookery Parable Christian Store Manager Tammie Owens: “Customers do not seem to be too knowledgeable.”

“They know the King James Version is ‘old,’” says Bethany Martin, manager at Faith & Life Bookstore in Newton, Kansas Martin. “We do have customers who are more aware of the differences, but their opinions are limited to what pastors or friends have told them or what they’ve read on the internet.”

If shoppers come to Cedar Springs Christian Stores to buy a Bible for someone else, staffers personally help them understand the differences between the translations. “This is another value-add that customers won’t get online,” notes Link McGinnis, co-owner and Bible buyer.

Some of that help includes answering a variety of questions: “Which one is easier-to-read?” “Does the print come any bigger?” “What is the best study Bible?” “Why are there so many choices?” “How do I know which one is right for me?”

Donna Baker, president of Dightmans Bible Book Center in Tacoma, Washington, says common questions she hears are “Is this red letter?” “Can this be indexed?” and “Does this large-print study Bible come in a small size?”

Answering such questions can be challenging, but staff knowledge of the different versions comes with experience. Martin, however, says it would be beneficial to have printed training materials to send home with staff to read through.

“I know most of the training is done on the computer, but there’s something about having an actual paper to look at that is helpful, too,” she says.

All the Extras

Retailers also indicated that extras can make all the difference.

“I’m not sure that customers come in the store and announce that they want a nice looking cover, but as we get into the search, you can see them gravitate to a cover that appeals to them,” says McGinnis, adding that for older customers, font size is certainly an issue, especially in study Bibles.

“Most people who want large print are surprised by how small the print still is in most ‘large print’ Bibles,” Martin agrees. “When we find a Bible with print big enough, they often don’t like the size or weight of the Bible.”

At Dightman’s, Baker has noticed customers want a nice cover, but they also want “red letters and maps, charts, and introductions to the books. A concordance/dictionary is also requested.”

Read the full article on Bible sales at cbaonline.org/Biblesales.

—Lora Schrock