As long as man ponders his existence, he will always include the question of which is harder: to be a growing youth or no longer to be a growing youth.

Some 7,300 members of the Christian booksellers industry were confronted with this question—some more consciously than others—as the industry held its thirty-second annual convention at the spacious Anaheim Convention Center in California’s Orange County in late July.

And the facilities must be spacious: the yearly trade show and convention of the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) is among the 25 largest in the U.S.—too large for the convention facilities of all but a handful of the largest metropolitan areas in this country.

Christian “bookselling” is now an $800 million undertaking, a result of tremendous, and tumultuous, growth—recounted incredulously in our daily newspapers and national magazines—that took place during the early and middle seventies.

The American Booksellers Association’s annual trade show for secular bookstores has always been limited to books. When the CBA held its first shows, however, beginning in 1950, prospects for attendance were wisely bolstered by inclusion of gift, greeting card, calendar, and record producers. (Each of these is a separate trade show for the secular bookseller, except for records, which few stock.) Furthermore, it can be shown that relatively few appropriate books were available to Christian stores in that era (CT, July 17, p. 76).

But what was prudent in the fifties and sixties became something else again in the seventies. Although the number of exhibitors and the number of items they offered continued to grow until 1978, participants commonly pronounced the show “too big” as early as 1978. “Too big,” they said—but always ...

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