Comparing Notes: What a Bookshop Shouldn’t Look Like, and What It Should

Phil Groom writes:

Thanks to asingleblog for permission to repost these pictures from the Durham Cathedral Shop:

Holy Week in Durham Cathedral Shop, 1 and 2 Durham Cathedral Shop, Holy Week 2009, 3 and 4

This, then, is how the shelves were looking during Holy Week this year in what was once described as one of the UK’s finest theological bookshops; and these “are just a few photos,” says asingleblog. “Some shelves are entirely empty.” 

As asingleblog asks, How bad does it have to get? Instructing staff to lie to suppliers about the company’s liability for its debts, trading without a valid Certificate of Employers’ Liability Insurance and failing to keep the shelves adequately stocked — not to mention the question of how much of this remaining stock is in real terms stolen property, belonging to unpaid suppliers! This is now Durham Cathedral’s heritage, this is what Durham Cathedral now offers to its visitors courtesy of J Mark and Philip W Brewer.

At the time of writing our petition calling upon the Dean and Chapter “to take decisive action now to rescue the shop from further decimation” runs to 364 signatures. Alan Parker, the 357th person to sign it, asks:

Is the North East going to be the forgotten region for access to vital Christian literature? This is in fact the cradle of Christianity in England!

For comparison, I offer you these pictures which I took at the beginning of Lent, during a visit to Sarum Books, Salisbury, a fine example of how a Christian bookshop ought to be stocked, making the most of every inch of shelf space:

Ready for Lent at Sarum Books, 1 and 2 Ready for Lent at Sarum Books 3 and 4

3 responses to “Comparing Notes: What a Bookshop Shouldn’t Look Like, and What It Should

  1. Valiant for Truth

    In December 2007, people in the North-East of England voted Durham Cathedral as being the place that makes them the most proud of their region. One doubts they would now say that about the shop element of the Cathedral. At the same time, an article appeared in the Durham AdvertiserVisitor centre plan for cathedral and castle – about a new Visitor Centre for the extended World Heritage Site of Durham Castle, Durham Cathedral and the surrounding area. There was a hint that the new centre might include a shop, so one wonders what this would mean for the future of a shop inside the Cathedral. Indeed, in 2004 when SPCK were to be replaced in the Cathedral Shop by Jarrolds, many questioned the future of Christian bookselling in the shop as Jarrolds are known as Heritage Retailers, not Christian booksellers. So, in a year’s time, will The Great Kitchen resemble Sarum Books?

  2. That article in the “Durham Advertiser” is revealing. It would seem to reveal why the Brewers are allowed to remain. The end of their lease agreement will dovetail nicely with plans for the Heritage Site. Be nice if the Dean and Chapter told the staff and the Brewers then all would know where they stand.

  3. Pingback: No Signs of Change in Durham Cathedral « SPCK/SSG: News, Notes & Info

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