Dearth: dry, parched, distressed, empty, in need of life-sustaining water and nutrients. The most prominent bookstores that serve Mormon readers are in a state of dearth. Let me explain.
This week I received my fall catalog for books and merchandise (emphasis on merchandise) for sale at an LDS bookstore chain. Of course, this anticipates “the most wonderful time of the year!” No, that is not Halloween. Halloween and Thanksgiving have yielded way to Christmas in October. The lovely full-color gloss catalog is about 23 pages long. Here is a general overview of the offering:
10 pages—Christmas gifts and crafts
5 pages—books geared to adults, teens, children
2 pages—crafts with no Christmas theme
2 pages—framed art
2 pages—dinnerware sets
1 page—various frozen doughs and other mail order food items
1—volume of the Joseph Smith Papers (BRAVO!)
0—Vampire novels (a fortunate evolution in the market—been mired there long enough)
18 pages arts, crafts, and food
5 pages books
Like yesterday, I’m at the largest interfaith conference in the world: The Parliament of the World’s Religions. The fact that we live in a very diverse world is ever present here. Are we engaging this world in a serious way through the books we read? I’d like to think so. However, if the catalog I received in the mail today is any indication of the reading habits of many Latter-day Saints, I have reason to wonder. We have been commissioned to read the very best books. I’m going to be more serious in my pursuit to find and read those books—wherever they may be. All the best as you engage in this pursuit on your terms.