November 8, 2012
Methodist Publisher Will Close All Cokesbury Bookstores, Sell Online Instead (Updated)
All 38 retail stores, plus 19 seminary locations, will close by April 2013.
(Update: UMC.org has a report on how seminaries are scrambling to figure out how students will access resources once the bookstores close.)
For Nashville-based United Methodist Publishing House (UMPH), the future of book sales will be wholly digital.
UMPH announced this week that it will shut down all of its Cokesbury retail bookstores across the country in order to focus on online and phone sales. Citing increased sales on those channels—coupled with declining sales in "brick-and-mortar" stores—UMPH also announced that it will launch a new "transition initiative," called CokesburyNext, to expand its services.
“A shift toward all things digital and the convenience of placing orders at any time is the reality of Cokesbury today," said UMPH president and publisher Neil Alexander in a Nov. 5 statement. "It is difficult to see the closure of Cokesbury local stores, but doing so will allow us to make a greater investment in the ways of shopping with Cokesbury that customers increasingly prefer.”
R. Carl Frazier, chair of the UMPH board, called the decision "most difficult"—but it is not altogether surprising. In recent years, UMPH already had reduced the number of Cokesbury locations and increased investment in online and call center operations.
CT previously noted that Cokesbury laid off 30 staff members "in response to declining sales and rising costs" in 2007.