Christian bookstore sells Harry Potter
Most religious shops avoid the popular novels [Excerpts]
Walk into the Logos Bookstore in Oak Park, Ill., and you’ll find Bibles, the “Left Behind” novels and a lot of other works you’d expect at a Christian shop.
But go to the children’s section, through a make-believe castle door at the back of the store, and you’ll see a series of titles that make Logos unique among its peers: Harry Potter books.
“Our thinking is that because the mainstream public is reading the books, Christians should be aware of them and use them as an opportunity to bring in Christian themes and values,” manager Beth Ann O’Reilly-Amandes said.
“I know a lot of Christians who read them and enjoy them, but it just wouldn’t fit with what our customers expect of us,” said Chris Childers, owner of the Georgia-based Macon Christian Bookstore and chairman of the Christian Booksellers Association’s board of directors.
But O’Reilly-Amandes believes the Potter books fit the store’s mission to bring in more customers. The Oak Park Logos is part of a 30-store chain in the United States, Canada and the Bahamas that targets both Christians and non-Christians. The philosophy is to attract “hidden people,” including those who don’t shop in religious bookstores, and “are completely unaware of the wealth of Christian literature written on their level and addressed to their needs.”
At Logos of Ohio, based near Kent State University, store manager Shane Cardos said he has read all the Potter books and enjoyed them, but didn’t think it was “worth the fight” to actually sell them.
“I’ve had people complain about the ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and I feel like I’ve got good reasons for carrying that,” Cardos said. “But with the Harry Potter books, I don’t have the same number of arguments to use that would justify carrying them.”
O’Reilly-Amandes said that the Potter books are popular with her customers and that she is ordering 100 copies of “Half-Blood Prince,” comparable to what she would order for one of the “Left Behind” novels, the million-selling apocalyptic series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.
Her store carries other secular works, including Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code,” which has angered Catholics by implying that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married. The Oak Park Logos also sells J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, another fantasy series criticized by Christians.
“If a customer has a question about why we carry the Potter books, then we’ll suggest one of the Christian books, like (Connie Neal’s) ‘What’s a Christian to Do With Harry Potter?”’ said Amandes-O’Reilly, referring to a sympathetic Potter book.
“It’s a way of bringing more people into the conversation, without preaching to them. It’s something that opens us all up” (MSNBC.com, Feb. 1, 2005).