Around twenty years ago, I was looking in the magazine section of the Borders in downtown Washington DC, and observed that they had a tiny selection of Christian titles. First Things and Christianity Today, maybe, but that was about it. But they had a huge selection of New Age and Eastern religion titles. I found that very strange. This was Washington DC. Surely there was a greater market for Christian magazines than for New Age magazines. Right? Maybe not. It just seemed bizarre.
Over the years, as I’ve traveled around, I’ve checked out the magazine sections of major bookstores. I notice the same dynamic: lots of titles for New Age and Eastern religions, but few if any Christian titles. I was just in a major bookstore here in Baton Rouge, and counted 19 New Age, Pagan, and Buddhist magazine titles, and only one Christian magazine — and that one was something called Gospel Today, which is fairly obscure. And it was the Nov/Dec 2012 issue!
Nineteen vs. one — this, in an overwhelmingly Christian, fairly observant and conservative city. I don’t understand how this makes economic sense. Who chooses the religious titles on magazine racks in bookstores? I’m guessing that the local manager doesn’t have a lot of discretion, inasmuch as I’ve seen this dearth of Christian titles in bookstore chains around the country.
I know some readers work in bookstores. Can you help me understand how they decide which magazines to carry? I have been in some major bookstores in big cities in which the New Age sections have been as big or bigger than the Christian sections. Is this justified by sales, or what?