Come November/December and the Christian village in Bangalore goes on a book buying spree. Reason – mega Christmas book sales. The biggest book sale of them all is the Bangalore International Christian Book Fair conducted by OM Books. Thousands and thousands of books are strewn all over the Campus Crusade Hall for people to buy. Its a sale for which people make a beeline even before the sale begins and certainly during the whole week.
However, many a times when I observed the way people buy books(me included; at least some years ago), I found a strange similarity between it and the way people buy vegetables in a grocery store! Just glance at all the books, take some of them, look at the front and the back, if you like it, put them into the basket (even the baskets in these sales look a lot like the ones in grocery store) and head to the billing counter. This is a hyperbole of course. People do take into account whether the books fall somewhere in their sphere of interest and then decide to buy it. However, many a times the reason to buy a particular book stops there. One more reason may be that its a book which is being sold in OM Book Sale; alas! it has to be good since it is found a Christian book fair, right?
Well, OM stands to gain a lot from this kind of naivete found among us Christians. The more ignorant we are the more money they make through us. If you take into account that Campus Crusade charges nearly 25-30 K per day for that hall, you can imagine their investment and the magnitude of the revenues they expect to earn from this week-long extravaganza.
Harsh though I may sound, I am of the opinion that OM does not do much to “advance the Christian faith” as stated in their mission statement. People may buy books from their store and grow in their Christian faith, but the credit for that should go to the author of that particular book and the buyer, who has been diligent in digging out the gold from the heap of hay and straw, not to OM. They are not really bothered about the kind of books you buy as much they are about whether you buy them or not. Theology plays no part in their selling policy. That is why you will find Good Morning Holy Spirit (which argues for faith healing) by Benny Hinn and the Healing Epidemic by Peter Masters (which counters such practices) next to each other. You will find Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren and also Fool’s Gold by John MacArthur (Warren’s critique and especially in this book) 2 shelfs away from each other. TD Jakes (who does not believe in the historic doctrine of Trinity) will find prime place in this our bookstore. John Hagee, who claims that Jesus never claimed himself to be the Messiah, will have his books publicized as the book of the month.
So, as Christians there is great need to exercise discernment even in a Christian book fair. An unsuspecting Christian who exercises no discernment while buying books will not only waste his money but also his precious future time when he does read those books. Life is too short to be spent on reading books which give us no spiritual meat and only feed us with Cerelac.
So, are there some ways to identify and buy good books? Yes there are, and they are a whole lot different from buying vegetables. I’ll suggest a few of them in my next post.