In the words of Bob Dylan, "the times, they are a'changin'"—not just for Exodus Books, but for book sellers in general. With the rise of the internet and companies like Amazon, the market has become more and more of a free-for-all with publishers and retailers all vying for the same customers. At the same time, e-books are becoming a normal way of life, both cheaper and easier to procure. A lot of our local competitors have gone out of business as a result of these shifts, and while on one hand that's good news for us, on the other it creates new pressures.
One of these pressures is the need to carry more Christian books to fill holes left by the wholesale closure of so many Christian bookstores. (We count at least nine closures in the Portland area since 2008.) Another is the ever-expanding educational needs of parents and schools, including everything from the need for better curricula to helping those with special needs students. Perhaps the most relevant for you is our need to cut prices in order to stay competitive and affordable.
All this has led us to ask, "What should we focus on?" A lot of possible answers came to mind, so in order to narrow them to a workable number we called a First Annual Exodus Books Focus Meeting, and repaired to the Sylvia Beach hotel at the Newport coast to discuss the future trajectory of the store. You will be glad to know it was very helpful. In between the beach walks, a game of darts at an Irish Pub and being soundly beaten by the Flying Dutchman(!) during a game of Pirate's Cove, we actually got a lot accomplished. We made it through our entire 62-point agenda and were able to clarify our goals for the next couple of years.
We had two big questions to answer. First, should we focus our time and effort primarily on the actual store or the website? In other words, do we intend to keep a retail store open long term, or do we want to move towards an exclusive internet/ warehouse model? Many of you will be happy to hear that for the foreseeable future, we believe our primary ministry is to the local folks, and we intend to keep the store open.
The second question is, of course, what should we focus on: the homeschool curriculum or the Christian books? This was harder, but after much deliberation the employees and owners of Exodus came to the conclusion that we "exist to promote joyful Christian maturity." So our threefold tagline of "books for education, edification, and enjoyment" is exactly correct. This means we'll be renewing our focus on the educational aspects of our inventory, developing the Christian section in an imminently practical way, and scaling back some our recent emphases on literature. We'll be edging out products of a less-than-edifying nature to make room for those more supportive of our main goal.
We also want to be seen as more of a resource than is currently the case, more inspirational, and a better source of information not just on education itself but also its subjects. In order to accomplish all this we greatly desire and anticipate feedback from you, The Customer and Object of Our Toils. We've solicited it before, and we ask again—any thoughts you have on how we can improve our inventory, our services, our faces, please let us know. As awesome as we are, we can't foresee every need our customers may have so we're always in need of help. Plus we just like hearing from y'all and knowing you're with us as we try to keep up with all the change around us.
We got 44 reviews from our request last month, and while we are happy with that for a start, we want more! But 44 says something, right? You have a real chance to win, both from the monthly drawings and the grand prize! Keep writing!
Drawing #1 (Random) - $15 prize:
ReNae of ND: First Language Lessons Level 1
Drawing #2 (Most reviews) - $25 prize:
Emily G. of the USA (12 reviews)
Drawing #3 (Best review) - $25 prize:
Melissa of Kentucky for Weaving Through Time
A review of Weaver Curriculum Volume 1 posted 1/8/2011
"I used the Weaver curriculum with my 3rd and 1st grade girls and continued into their 4th and 2nd grade years. Here are the things I really like about this material: First, I really like the approach of starting with the Bible and using that text as a jumping off place for other subjects. I prefer unit study approach for learning, and this is the best one I have seen. The material is very well organized and includes a broad scope of topics studied, from communication and language to studying plants, animals, families, Ancient cultures, and much more. Another thing I like about the Weaver Material is the flexibility it affords. The teacher and students can dive as deep as desired on a particular subject or just visit it briefly. My girls and I enjoyed learning together from various sources and participating in the hands-on projects suggested by the author. Some negative aspects of this curriculum include the teacher planning time necessary and the lack of explanation of the different topics. Each lesson is well-organized, but it is up to the teacher to find the information needed to learn about that subject. I used our local library or the internet for this. Also, I found that some basic information about topics less likely to be fully understood by the teacher would have been helpful. A few times I had to find and learn about the topic of study first before being able teach it to the kids. I recommend the "Day by Day" planning guide as it was a wonderful resource for organization.
In summary, if you enjoy unit studies, have a love for God's Word, and are willing to put in some time to gather resources for each lesson's study, I highly recommend this curriculum."