Selling Non Catholic Books...right or wrong

Hello everyone. I am struggling with this question and am looking for some advice. I own a catholic book business and originaly sold ONLY catholic books from catholic publishers. However as the business has grown I am getting new inquiries about books from non catholic sources. I have found myself ordering non catholic books although these books are christian books. Anyhow it has been on a small level thus far, but my business is really growing and I’m thinking so will the demand for more christian books.

All of my current clients are catholic churches, but the question has been raised about expanding the business to include christian churches as our clients also. I don’t necessairly have a delima about selling a non catholic book, but I do have a delima if that book promotes in some way the protestant worldview ie salvation by faith alone, or scripture as the sole authority, or anything else that is at odds with our catholic faith. So here is the problem. Most of the time when I’m asked to a book from a non catholic source I haven’t read that book so I really don’t know what it has in it…so is it right to take on christian churches as my clients and to start selling to them the books they want when the majority of those books will be non catholic books?

Any help will be greatly appreciated!

My thought is the non-Catholic buyers are going to buy the books somewhere - whether it’s you or somebody else. Is there a catalog you put out - or do you have an actual store? Because maybe after they purchase the non-Catholic books, a Catholic one might catch their eye and then who knows where that might lead?

I wouldn’t have a problem with it I don’t think - generic sort of non-Catholic writers like Max Lucado for example - I wouldn’t sell non-Catholic books that were blatantly anti-Catholic.

Are there other Christian, Non-Catholic, book stores around. I don’t know if there is any clear objective moral reasoned responces for this situation. I think your going to have to make the decision in context of the position you are in. One you don’t want to lead Catholics astray, on the other hand, you might be some of the first real exposure to Non-Catholics of what Catholics really are. I think your going to have to sit back rethink what exactly is the mission of your bookstore, especially if you are growing and expanding.

This is my wild suggestion. Perhaps it’s too wild.

It’s not clear from your post whether you own a bookstore or simply sell at conferences and online. But if you own a bookstore, try this:

I think you should create a location in which Catholic-Protestant-Orthodox DIALOGUE is encouraged.

Schedule panel discussions.

Invite speakers from all faiths to give talks with questions/answers.

Ask ministers and priests to hold “Community Meetings.” We do “Stump the Fathers” in our church–it would be even better in a non-church setting.

Schedule lots of book-signings and make sure the authors give a short talk about their books before they autograph and answer questions.

Get converts to and from various faiths to come and give their testimonies.

Ask ministers to come and do a series on “What My Denomination Believes”–I think you would have to book an auditorium to hold the audience, as so many people are curious about what other churches believe.

Ask local experts to give presentations on “Rosaries and Rosary Making”, various prayer styles (e.g. lecto divina), etc.

If you are really bold, schedule a series of debates.

I would SO ATTEND all of these events if they were held in my city at a local bookstore!! What a great place to meet people and make friends. And I would buy books from you! How cool would this be?!

I don’t think this would draw Catholics away from their faith. I think it would draw non-Catholics TO the Catholic faith. I firmly believe that the Catholic Church is the Church that Jesus established, and that by creating a place for dialogue, you would create a place where non-Catholics could learn the truth.

As for selling the non-Catholic books, I would sell those that are helpful to Catholics and are not anti-Catholic. Dr. Dobson’s books are a good example. We raised our kids the Dobson Way, and we’re so glad we did. He has always been supportive of Catholics and non-critical of Catholicism.

Is there any chance that you could put a “sticker” or something on your books indicating which are written by Catholics and which are written by non-Catholics? This gives people a little “warning” in case they prefer to read strictly Catholic or strictly Protestant authors.

Texan, if it helps you stay open then I think you should sell non-Catholic books. By being open you are doing the community a great service. Our local bookstore closed for good, and I miss it! (the closest one is 50 miles away) :frowning:

I agree that a lot of love is always a good idea. Not sure what this has to do with selling books though?

Oops. Sorry everyone, my last post was supposed to go in the “Rosie” thread.

I wonder if one of my “real” cats (probably the calico) stepped on the keyboard again?! :blush: :blush:

Do you need the extra business in order to stay in business at all, or would you be okay if you just stuck with Catholic materials?

Personally, I feel safer sending our RCIA participants to the all-Catholic book store than to the Catholic book store that also sells other stuff (even though it is very good, too) because I know they will not stumble across a Protestant Bible or other Protestant materials at the all-Catholic bookstore, and that they won’t accidentally buy something that goes against our faith.

Actually, the closest one is a CLICK away. :wink: But, I know that’s not the same thing.

My first thought would be, if I owned a Catholic bookstore I would NOT want to carry anything but Catholic materials. But then a few other thoughts occurred to me:

  1. I am offended by all of these “christian” bookstores out there who do NOT carry Catholic items or books. Would I want to lower myself to that level? or take the higher road and carry the things that non-cAtholics would come looking for just as I wish these other bookstores would carry Catholic items for me?

  2. Maybe you could corner off a corner of your store and put up a sign that says “Cults and other heretical practices” :smiley: just kidding!!!

I say sell 'em. Just don’t have any anti-Catholic books. I always get mad when I go to a non-Catholic Christian bookstore and can’t find any Catholic books (or rosaries, or crucifixes…)

Who knows, maybe if you can draw in a couple of non-Catholics maybe they’ll accidently stumble upon a book or two by Scott Hahn.

Why? It’s not a Catholic bookstore - why would you expect them to carry Catholic stuff? :shrug:

Who knows, maybe if you can draw in a couple of non-Catholics maybe they’ll accidently stumble upon a book or two by Scott Hahn.

Non-catholics don’t normally go to Catholic bookstores, other than to buy something that they perceive as being Catholic (such as Advent wreaths, etc.). They would not think of going to a Catholic store to buy non-Catholic stuff. The only people who would buy non-Catholic stuff in a Catholic bookstore would be Catholics who were buying something for their non-Catholic friends and relatives.

I think I’ve done much the same as Jebronie, :stuck_out_tongue: we might have even went to the same store. I think I felt it unfortunate too when I didn’t see much Catholic stuff. But I laugh thinking, well why would they. The nice thing is it really gives a sence of the contrast of cultures.

I’ve known NonCatholics, who found themselves wanting to go to a Christian bookstore, really found what they were looking for in the Catholic bookstore, and have now converted. That can happen to those who are really open. That really does seem to be a big difference, the Catholic book stores tend to have quite a depth of deeper books. I’d say the monastic movement really helps that out, that is more closely tied to sacramental Christians.

The Catholic bookstores tend to be rather small, and intiment. You probably can have a knowledgeable person really help guide a person to what they are seeking. With that, it can be easier to put the NonCatholic titles to use. It can be a help to the apologist, there needs to be an understanding of the point of view of the other on their terms, to know how to approach.

I’m not saying do it or don’t do it. I’m thinking, take in consideration of your mission of having the bookstore, and your customer needs.

We are interested in truth. Remember that Thomas Aquinas read not only Christian, but also Jewish and Islamic thinkers. And we’re not talking about pushovers, but the greatest of their commentators-- Moses Maimonides and Averroes, etc.

Selling a book does not include tacit endorsement of what is in it. I have a copy of Nietzsche’s The Twilight of the Idols and the Anti-Christ on my bookshelf-- I would hope it doesn’t! Anyone who has genuine interested in the search for truth eventually must read materials which contradict one’s worldview, or at least differ from it.

In that vein, it is a great resource to be able to read the great works of the Protestant tradition. As wrong as we may think they are, I would see no problem with carrying books which are Protestant. Both traditional and modern. How can one investigate traditional Protestantism if one doesn’t read Calvin’s Institutes of Christian Religion, for instance? What about modern Protestant theology-- it is undoubtable that the playing field of modern theology, yes, even Catholic theology, is influenced by thinkers such as Karl Barth. Or going back a bit, even the thinking of the liberal Protestants of the 19th century and before has greatly influenced the scholarship of the 20th century-- the Gotthold Lessings and Fredriech Schliermachers set the stage for Albert Schweitzer, etc., and the, “Third Quest” and such fantastic scholars as N.T. Wright stand notably in his debt. Come to think of it, someone like N.T. Wright is a great argument why you should carry non-Catholic Christian books. Although I haven’t had a chance to read him yet, I’ve heard Wolfhart Pannenberg is an excellent theologian as well.

This isn’t to say that you have to carry, as others have pointed out, blatantly anti-Catholic works. There is no need for Trail of Blood, Lorraine Boettner, Jack Chick, etc. But it is to say that the intellectual tradition of Christianity is something to be explored, and even explored of those who disagree with us. Those who disagree with us often have deep insights-- even those as deranged and evil as Nietzsche.

Naturally, it is easy to be misled by those who disagree with us, but, people who don’t know what they are looking for are unlikely to stumble on many of these books, the people who are most impressionable are the types who read the pop-theology and pop-Christianity books, not the people who delve into deeply intellectual matters dealing with the historical Jesus or the intricacies of various scholarly debates. I think you do more of a service by providing than by not.

But as in all things, take into account things fully, pray, and decide as your conscience sees best.

There is a difference. Catholics are Christians so a store claiming to be a “Christian” bookstore could still include a couple of Catholic books. I’m not saying they need to carry Catholic appologetics, but there’d be no harm in having some books about St. Francis, John Paul II, or Mother Teresa, for example.

Likewise, if you have a Catholic bookstore, why not have some books by C. S. Lewis or Lee Strobel, for example?

If they intend for the term “Christian” to be used in an ecumenical way, then you have a point.

In most cases, though, the term “Christian” that they use is in reference to the Disciples of Christ Christian (Campellite) Restorationist movement. The fact that they exclude everyone except the Restorationists from their store should not be taken as an insult - after all, they also exclude all other Protestants besides themselves, as well.

There are many moral non-catholic books being published.
If you consider the amount of trash which hits the top-seller list week after week, then perhaps opening your shop to ‘tasteful and moral’ non-catholic material would be doing the world a service.

I see three benefits:

  1. You encourage the sales of these ‘good’ works, thus making it profitable for those authors to continue to generate more along the same lines.

  2. You increase the sales of your business without compromising your ethics.

  3. You open your doors to non-Catholics who come for one purpose (to pick up secular material) but may end up taking home a Catholic article or two, thus evangelization happens.

I’m a Catholic and I teach at a Catholic University – and I require certain CS Lewis texts for some of my classes. I would not consider CS Lewis as inappropriate for a Catholic bookstore.

As another example, I am a fan of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series of commentaries, and have at times required certain of these books as well. These commentaries have been produced by Catholic, Orthodox and patristically minded Protestant scholars – all promoting the reading and the understanding of the Church Fathers with respect to Bible study.

As a children’s example, our whole family are fans of “VeggieTales” (yes, I use them at the University as well!) and there would be no reason why “VeggieTales” should not be part of your store.

So while I think that you need to use great discernment, by the same token, I would not make a “hard and fast” rule.

On another note, where is your store? Will you be attending the Religious Book and Trade Exhibition in Chicago next week?

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