Today I needed to purchase the texts for my upcoming class on the New Testament so I turned to the internet and Cokesbury.com, the online presence of the soon-to-be-closed Cokesbury bookstores. According to leadership at UMPH (the United Methodist Publishing House), Cokesbury.com is poised to compete with Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Well Neil (Alexander, President and Publisher at UMPH), I hate to break the news to you, but if my experience today was any indication, you just need to go ahead and shutter the whole works right now. I would imagine that the property at UMPH headquarters in Nashville, with its proximity to the new convention center, would make a pretty penny for the UMC if we were to sell it in the current market.
The class that I am taking is COS311-New Testament I at United Theological Seminary. The text books are all common and respected titles. At Cokesbury.com, I could only find 4 of the titles. I could only locate 2 of those tiles by their ISBN. I did not have this problem at Barnes & Noble or at Amazon. At both of the commercial sites I was easily able to find all of the texts by ISBN without fail. To top it off, the cost of the 4 books that I could locate at Cokesbury.com came to $133.88 before tax. The cost at Barnes & Noble was $110.75 and the cost at Amazon was $110.72, both before taxes. Plus, I would get free shipping at all but Cokesbury. Needless to say, Cokesbury.com did not get my business.
What can we expect in the future? If my experience today is any indication, I don’t really hold out much hope that there is much of a future for Cokesbury. And when the lights are turned off, I have to wonder just what kind of future there will be for Wesleyan theology without a voice. And that is the biggest disappointment of all.