Christian bookstores are following their secular counterparts by creating mega-bookstores that stay open late -- some 24 hours a day -- have cappuccino bars, wing-backed easy chairs and tables where patrons can relax and read.
"Our stores are changing," said Bill Anderson, president of the Christian Booksellers Association, which is holding its national convention in Denver this week. "No amount of the love for Christ will exempt them from running good businesses."
"It's a whole new day," said Bill Speight, who heads a company that redesigns Christian bookstores. "Our benchmarks for creating new stores are mega-stores like Barnes & Noble and Borders," huge secular bookstores that have coffee bars, reading areas, sofas and other enticements.
Joshua's Christian Stores, a subsidiary of Fort Worth-based Tandycrafts, has already jumped into the fray with two superstores, the Lord's Vineyard. The original is in Colorado Springs, Colo., with a second in Phoenix.
Mr. Speight said a 25,000-square-foot superstore is being opened in Birmingham, Ala., that includes "extended stay strategies" such as a coffee bar.
The Birmingham store expects to offer 25,000 titles, he said.
Bibles are still on the best seller list but the New International Version of the Bible has eclipsed the venerable King James Version as the best-selling translation, publishers said.