We popped over somewhere yesterday and happened to drop into the SPCK so, as a mystery shopper on behalf of those interested in the situation facing this chain I had nose around. There was a section that looked like it could have been a really welcoming area where you could sit and peruse a book or could listen to any CD (the sales assistant working there said we could try any CD out which we were interested in) . Unfortunately the shelves were pretty much totally empty of books upstairs and there were hardly any CDs. We were told this was because the new owners don't want them buying any more CDs except the huge stack of approved CDs which apparently had been ordered for them - they didn't seem to have control over what was going to be in stock (hence the vast empty spaces, I guess) - and worse still they're not going to be able to PLAY any Christian music in the shop soon except that which is going to be piped in from a central source by the new owners.
I did manage to see quite a few useful books - our Bishop John's excellent book on the priesthood was there for example! - and I bought a book by John Bell and another on worship by Stuart Townend which I'd not noticed before but there didn't seem to be much in the way of youthwork books. I'm not sure if this is a policy thing or my inability to find them!
In cheeky mode I enquired if they had a Dave Walker Cartoon Church calendar and... they DID. However they only had one left and they weren't going to have them next year!! Mention of Dave (my friend, I said - check me knowing someone famous ;oP ) produced a smile from the sales assistant who said it was very pleasing that someone had given a voice to their concerns. Go Dave!