The Anglican Church of Canada and the Anglican Book Centre announced today that they scheduled to close the bookstore in Toronto on January 18, 2013, but Canadian Anglicans can still order books from the Centre online and by phone through Augsburg Fortress of Canada.
"Religious book and gift stores across Canada have faced significant challenges resulting in the closure of over 120 stores in the past 10 years," said Andy Seal, Director of Augsburg Fortress Canada/Anglican Book Centre.
"Sales at our Hayden St. store have decreased each year since 2009. By 2011 Toronto sales were 28% below the break-even level. In spite of hard work and innovation, the trend has continued in 2012."
Anglican Church of Canada news site reports that the bookstore’s sales have declined due to web-based sales of e-books and that the bookstore receives no funding from the Anglican or Lutheran churches in Canada.
Founded over 100 years ago, the Anglican Book Centre operated out of the General Synod office and eventually moved around the corner to a basement in 2004. Eventually, the Council of General Synod decided that the bookstore was no longer financially viable and decided to operate via their website and call center only.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada decided to offer the Anglican Church’s Book Centre a partnership via their Augsburg Fortress Publisher, a not-for-profit website. The two churches in Canada are in full-Communion with each other, so the Lutheran online bookstore and the Anglican Book Centre offered an opportunity in a ministry partnership.
Anglican Church of Canada news site reports:
"At the time, we were all happy to delay the implementation of COGS's decision," said Mr. Seal, "But the time has now come where good stewardship requires that we put our resources into the Augsburg Fortress Canada call centre and website."
The Ven. Dr. Michael Thompson, General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada also recognizes that this closure is a way of ensuring that the rest of Augsburg Fortress Canada can continue its ministry. However, he acknowledges this closure will be sad news for many Anglicans.
"We recognize that the Anglican Book Centre was for many years the hot stove of the Anglican Church of Canada," said Mr. Thompson.
"It's where people gathered to buy books and other things, and where you often would run into someone you want to see. We're already experiencing that loss and probably have since the store moved with us to 80 Hayden."
The two churches share similar histories and according to Seal, in a statement made in November 2009, the partnership between the Anglican Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church has worked about well.
"When we took [the Anglican Book Centre] over we deemed we would try to get it in a position where it was self-sustaining, and we have managed to do that," said Andy Seal, director of Augsburg Fortress Canada and the Anglican Book Centre. He said the store has even turned a small profit.
"We're an organization where everything we make in terms of profit gets turned back into ministry," said Mr. Seal. "So we're happy as long as we can spend a little bit less than what we received. That's the model we're called to deliver."
The Anglican Book Centre will stay open for Advent and Christmas, but will close the Friday before the second Sunday after the Epiphany in 2013. Both Mr. Thompson and Mr. Seal thank their patron and hope they will visit the Augsburg Fortress website for their ministry needs over the Church's holiday season.