A Word on our Product Selection
This letter outlines the basic principles with which Christianbook.com chooses to carry the products that we do.
We do receive comments from customers in regard to some of our product choices, this is an issue that we have had to deal with in the past, and constantly have to make decisions on as a matter of our everyday work.
There are products we carry that I personally would simply prefer to not read, watch, listen to, wear (in the case of T-shirts) or see (in the case of gifts.) On the other hand, something that doesn't appeal to me, others might consider useful, inspirational, or simply fun and entertaining. What theology I might consider incorrect, again others might consider valid, accurate, thought-provoking, and Biblical. The difficulty we face comes in trying to balance our personal views about products that we carry while serving a great variety of customers, reflecting the entire spectrum of the Christian market and beyond.
From a very early point in our company's history, we had to choose whether we wanted to become "censors" for our customers, and not carry books with which we might disagree. Our overall position is to make available a wide assortment of products to a wide variety of customers, to let you choose what is important and useful to you, rather than to make that decision for you or keep you from ordering those books.
We have carried The Works of John Wesley and Calvin's Commentaries side by side in catalogs, works of differing (and in some cases opposing) theology, without considering this to be a conflict or inappropriate in any way. We tend to be more inclusive than exclusive in carrying a range of theological positions and products. We tend to carry both sides of the issue and let you decide which you wish to read, or give you access to both sides so you can even order books with which you would personally disagree. Yes, you have to draw the line somewhere, and we do. And on occasion, we'll make mistakes in our judgment. But generally, we'll choose to err on the side of carrying more than less, and letting our customers decide, rather than deciding for you.
I am fully aware that this position could be, and is, criticized as being simply the self-interested motivation to "make money on anything, regardless." I can assure you that is not the case. It is rather the desire to serve our customers in the best way possible, by making available the resources and products that serve your needs, whatever your needs are, based on your own beliefs. Yes, we do have to make a profit to pay the bills, provide a living for our employees, and remain a credit-worthy business. But that's not why we carry the products we carry. It's really not to censor, but rather to offer you all of your options.
We do occasionally receive letters from customers who are concerned about our inclusive product selection. They sometimes ask, "How can you carry this product given (fill in the blank) reason," or state, "I can't in good conscience continue to order from you if you continue to carry the following product, which I find to be offensive." We would never intentionally wish to offend a customer. But, again, please remember what we think we should accomplish – make available as much as possible and serve you well in the process. If you disagree with a product we carry, don't buy it! Our goal is not to tell you what to read, but to be the best resource of a wide selection of products; to accurately inform you, as best as possible, about their content so you can make an informed choice when purchasing; to make those products available at the best price possible; and finally, to provide you with the excellent customer service you deserve, by efficient fulfillment and courteous (even friendly!) direct contact. Only you can judge whether we succeed on these points, but that's what we're trying to do.
This issue becomes ever more poignant as we try to be as good a resource to our customers as non-Christianbook suppliers on the Web (the name of a large South American river seems strangely to come to mind), who "carry everything." Our product selection is growing wider every day, particularly as we expand our selection of products available on our Web site. We're not there yet, but our goal is to make available to our customers virtually every product that would be of interest to the Christian customer, even choosing products that might not be overtly "Christian" but which are useful to our customers nonetheless (for example, reference books for writers – dictionaries, thesauruses, etc. — and books for children, which might not necessarily have a "Christian" message but are good, clean, entertaining, or educational).
A final word; we do take seriously the products that we carry. And there are some products which we intentionally don't carry, or stop carrying for a variety of reasons. We do carefully consider the selection of products that we offer in our catalogs, where we promote them, and how we describe them. We hope to serve you well, as you are stewards of your time and resources in selecting what you read, and what you buy.
Thank you for taking the time to read and respond. And, on behalf of all our employees, thank you for your business.