Thursday, October 8, 2015


One of the great privileges of being in the Christian book trade is the annual opportunity to get together with the whole range of those others who are also involved in this trade. That includes writers, editors, publishers, wholesalers and distributors, and bookshop managers. The event is called Christian Resources Together, and is described as a retreat. Well, it's a trade event, so how can it be a retreat?
I am not sure of the answer to that, but this year's event in the middle of September certainly felt like more of a retreat than in previous years. As well as being a showcase for publishers, it is an opportunity for people, especially shop managers who often feel as though they are doing what they do all on their own, to find encouragement from others in the ecosystem. Bookshop managers come away (retreat) from their daily round to see what's new, but also to have genuine Christian fellowship with people who share their passion to get the word of the gospel out to readers, and to support ordinary Christians in their daily lives. Christian bookshops are the church on the street, open weekdays to anyone who wants to come in, and most don't look like churches or have that element to discourage people from entering; they're shops. And those who work in them are often ready to advise the unsure, encourage the discouraged, and to pray with those who seek that.
Two other things to mention. One is that central to the event is an awards evening. It is then that the closely interwoven nature of the trade becomes most apparent, when those whom everybody loves and admires are  recognised and congratulated. This year CLC, the WEC-related organisation with whom I have had close links over the years, won plaudits, but also CLC workers were recognised for their significant service to the Christian book trade and the kingdom of God around the world.
The other thing is that for delegates there are usually wonderful offers and free books from the publishers, for whom this is an unequalled opportunity to promote their products.

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