In a recent Barna Report from the Ventura, Calif.-based researcher, the company finds that as the crossover between technology and faith increases, book publishers and retailers can find new opportunities alongside of new challenges, according to David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group.
First, the digital revolution is changing the way people find, shop for, and purchase products. It also means the advantage of wide selection is neutralized for physical retailers, since innumerable products are available online. For Christian bookstores this means that the value proposition of great selection will not be sufficient for the long-term.
Second, the digital world is creating an environment in which people often don't have to buy a product to find content they are looking for; many times, that information is available for free online. This means that the only "cost" for consumers is their timethat is, how much time it takes them to search for, locate and read online content.
Third, the nature of Twitter and Facebook is making it easier for consumers to interact directly with authors, leaders, and influencers. There is a greater connectivity online between authors and their readers that creates the potential for more intimacy between content producers and consumers. Retailers, who have traditionally served as connectors of Christians to content, could be increasingly cut out of the picture, without strategic efforts to become more integral to the digital future. In short, social media is like a backstage pass to authors, so retailers have to be increasingly aware of the changing expectations related to access.
Additional insights about Barna's research are available in this report: "Christian Retail: The Rise of E-Reading," (https://www.barna.org/component/virtuemart/reports/christian-retail-pdf-detail?Itemid=0).