New Zealand Christian Bookshop Closures a Sign of the Times

Nearly half of Manna Christian bookstores are shutting down, leaving some without a Christian bookstore in their town and highlighting concerns of misinformation.

For the last 25 years, Colin Marshall has been able to walk a minute down the road from his church in Auckland, New Zealand, to pick up Christian books and materials from his local Manna Christian bookstore. But come the end of March, that will no longer be the case.

When he first heard the news about the closure, the minister of St. John Presbyterian Church said he felt “sadness” more than anything else. “It’s a reflection of the economic realities out there, I think as much as anything,” he said.

Bible Society New Zealand, which runs 14 Manna Christian bookstores across the country, has announced that it’s shutting down nearly half of its bookstores—three this month and another three in May. It’s also shutting down its offices in Wellington and said its services would be consolidated at its head office in Auckland by the end of March.

The decisions were made “in response to the dynamic challenges the economic climate presents,” and sustaining retail operations at some of the stores has been “financially challenging for some time,” the ministry stated in a press release.

Rachel Afeaki, the World Evangelical Alliance’s South Pacific regional general secretary and board member for the New Zealand Christian Network, said the bookstores’ departure was a reflection of “the times that we live in.” She said the digital age had a “huge impact” on people wanting to read books, as customers find better deals online and increasingly embrace digital formats.

In her own family, she encourages her four young boys to read for 20 minutes a day but said it was quite a “struggle” because they were so accustomed to screens. Even …

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