Curated Story

What the Catholic Church can learn from the resurrection of Barnes & Noble

This article originally appeared on America Magazine

"Everything about this story is weird. Not only is a big-box store somehow having success against an online juggernaut; we’re rooting for it despite the fact that for years it was the juggernaut destroying independent booksellers and using many of the same techniques Amazon now uses against it—larger selection, deeper discounts."

"'The key element uniting all of [the company’s efforts],' Mr. Gioia writes, 'is putting books and readers first, and everything else second.' Put simply, Mr. Gioia says, if you really want to sell books, you need to love them and the people who do."

"While the Catholic Church and a bookseller may not seem to have a lot in common, some of the lessons Mr. Gioia draws from Barnes & Noble seem highly apropos of a church that finds itself also struggling with drops in attendance (especially among the young) and morale."

Lessons the Catholic Church can learn according to this article: 

1. Know what you have to offer

2. Hire the right people, and then let them run

3. Question the long accepted

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Ashoka insight

Picking up some of the lessons that culture critic Ted Gioia identified from Barnes & Noble's change in strategy, Jim McDermott invites us to see how shifting the way things have always been done could help the Catholic Church's goal of supporting people encounter Jesus.

By putting the readers and books first, Barnes and Noble has defied the model of attracting costumers with juicy discounts, and instead has built a place that celebrates good books and the people who love them. 


Questions to deepen the reflection:

How else might "changing the model" of houses of worship enable people to get excited about connecting with their spirituality?

Following on how bookstores display the most exciting releases by the window, what would you showcase about your faith to help others connect with what they are looking for?


Read more stories amplified through the Spiritual Changemakers Initiative here.