Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Save Coffee By the Books!

You may remember that, about a year and a half ago, I pleaded with my readers (many of whom have connections to Fuller Theological Seminary, where I work) to lend their support to save the Fuller Bookstore, which was threatened with closure as the seminary needed to find ways of saving money in tight economic times.

As my similar plea today (and a similar — but not identical! — image to go with it) will no doubt indicate, the bookstore was saved back then, but the struggle is by no means over, as a press release that came out Monday night has demonstrated.

If you've compared the image on this post with the one from 2011, you may have noticed that the Fuller Bookstore is now run by Cokesbury, and if you've already clicked on the link to the press release, you'll have noticed that Cokesbury has recently decided to close down all of their brick-and-mortar stores — including all 19 of their seminary-based stores. This means that the Fuller Bookstore is being threatened with closure once again.

Although all of the reasons I cited in my former post for why the bookstore is worth saving are still valid, I'm not going to rehash that. In fact, because Cokesbury represented, in a very real sense, the bookstore's last chance in 2011, I'm not entirely sure what hope there is of a different miracle coming along this time around. Whether or not the bookstore can be saved, it is nonetheless an undeniable truth that bookstores (and, indeed, print publishing in general) are in a much more precarious position in the modern economic reality than they used to be. If we cannot acknowledge this fact, no effort to save the bookstore will be successful, or even healthy for the seminary as a whole.

Thankfully, the same cannot be said of the bookstore's coffee shop, Coffee By the Books. I think that it is entirely possible to save Coffee By the Books. In fact, if the right kind of person can be found willing to take on the task of managing the coffee shop, I think it might well be able to thrive in its location in Pasadena as part of the seminary community. Theoretically, it might even be able to serve some of the bookstore's functions, while moving from a predominately-bookstore model to a predominately-coffee shop one.

So, this is my plea this time around. Save Coffee By the Books! Even if we might ultimately have to change the name, that's a question for later. Right now, let's work on saving the coffee shop. I'd been told that a Twitter campaign had already been started for this effort, but I have to confess that I have been unable to locate it. I suggest making posts using the hashtag #savecbb. Either way, please also consider following Coffee By the Books at @Coffeebybooks, and post your thoughts and support.


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