I went to B.A.M. (Books-A-Million) today, against my better judgement. It is where Borders used to be and it is thoroughly depressing. I liked Borders. (More on that can be found here.) It was a place where I could find books on just about anything and be happily amused for hours.
My son wanted to go to B.A.M. today when we were in the area, so I reluctantly agreed. After all, there are still books there. Since the store opened, however, I have noticed that the Religion section has grown exponentially. I didn't think much about it at first but now I can't help but notice the sheer volume and prominence of Christian goods. There are some token books on religions other than Christianity, but the Christian section is gigantic. There are Bibles of every flavor, Bible covers, devotionals, and a variety of Christian gifts. It looks like a whole Christian bookstore in the middle of a store that also carries Christian literature.
I have also noticed that there are Christian-themed books cleverly interspersed throughout the store. The wall that used to have neat science and nature books and kits for kids now has a generous assortment of children's Christian literature, everything from a book from a child who says he met Jesus when he died to a Bible for toddlers. The toddler Bible has a convenient handle so Junior can carry it everywhere.
I tried an experiment. I found the Science/Nature section, which took up less space than the Laminated Maps section did in Borders. I looked carefully at the selection. There were the usual Idiot's Guide to Astronomy, The Smithsonian's Universe, etc, and, seemingly strategically placed, were books that were more Christian apologetics than books about science. I think some of them may legitimately belong there but it seemed suspicious to me. They weren't there in the science section at Borders.
The experience generated a discussion with my son, during which I told him that some Christians try to cleverly market their religion just like toy manufacturers try to sell their goods. He has spontaneously told me that he resents being marketed to so I used that concept to explain evangelical Christianity. I want him to understand that people will be duplicitous in order to convert others to their beliefs.
I think the store should present itself for what it is - a Christian bookstore that also sells other books. I wonder if I am being paranoid or overly critical. I feel a bit put off by this. Has anybody else experienced this type of thing or have any other thoughts about it? Before anyone says anything, I know I don't have to go to the store. What bothers me is that many, many others will go there and will not think twice about it at all. And bam! - there's a huge Christian bookstore in a main shopping center in New Hampshire's capitol. It looks like a creeping Christian state to me.
When I am in book stores I like to migrate the autobiographies of the likes of Tony Blair, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld to the True Crime section. Its petty I know but a girl has to have a hobby !
Oh, Judith that is cute. I will admit to turning a book cover around to its backside or setting it upside down if the topic is particularly evil or dishonest. Those poor bookstore workers have a lot of sorting on their hands thanks to disgruntled christians and liberals.
I get most of my reading material from the public library, which I visit four or five times every week. If I bought everything I read I'd need a small warehouse to store it all and probably a mortgage to pay for it all. But I make exceptions; I buy some books just to support new writers who are trying to establish themselves.
Annoyingly, the library always has a nativity scene in the lobby starting in early December. The Freedom From Religion Foundation has written to them on my behalf, asking them to remove it, but the library does not respond and Baby Jebus stays up until New Year's.
I'm a big fan of the library...I got to the bookstore to get ideas for the library! lol
Addendum: Wonderfully, one of the local book stores that survived the presence of Borders and now B.A.M. has expanded and incorporated a cafe and gift shop. It has only just opened and I have not been in there yet but I went to the old store to buy a book just before it closed. I inadvertently met and had a conversation with the owner. I was almost in tears I was so happy about what he was planning. I think I will go there today! I can support a local business and enjoy a real book store again. I know we are moving into the digital age and books may soon be a thing of the past but I still love a good book and a comfortable place to read it. This store has the potential to be much more than that but at the least it should be a more religion-neutral gathering place in the community.