24 August, 2010

The Presbyterian Thoughts Book Tour: Grand Rapids, MI

In a couple of weeks, the VanTimmeren Farm in Belding, Michigan, will be flooded with Reformed Presbyterians. Alex Tabaka (RPCNA Student of Theology) and Melissa VanTimmeran (Carnegie Melon trained French Horn major) are getting married. Those in attendance will not be just any RPs; but many theological students and a number of pastors will be attending the wedding. I told my friend, Pastor Shane Sapp, of Westminster, Colorado, that I would recommend some book stores.

Now, of course, spend a lot of money on their gifts (toasters, blenders, anything marked "As Seen on TV", and the whole nine yards), but save some money for book shopping in Grand Rapids. You will not be disappointed.

Grand Rapids, MI has been a Dutch Reformed Mecca for generations. It is the home to a number of the top Christian publishing companies in the world: Kregel, Baker, Zondervan, Eerdmans, and Reformation Heritage Books. (Baker is the nephew of Kregel, by the way.)

Here are the stores that I recommend visiting:

1. Reformation Heritage Books
2965 Leonard Ave. NE,
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
616. 977.0889

This is where you will want to spend most of your money. This bookstore is non-profit and has many deep discounts. Even when I was working at Baker Book House in college, I sent people to RHB who were looking for Reformed and Puritan publications. The Soli Deo Gloria collection is also housed here because SDG has been bought out (they wouldn't use that term) by RHB. Go here first and ask for Steve. Tell him you are a friend of mine. You may also ask to have a tour of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary while you are there. You must see the Puritan Resource Center on the second floor. There is a copy of the works of William Perkins that was owned by both Charles Spurgeon and AW Pink. There are notes taken from these men in the margins.

2. The Bookstore
2140 Oak Industrial Drive NE
Grand Rapids MI, 49505

The Bookstore is a great place to find "seconds" of Eerdmans titles. Think NICNT and NICOT at 60-80% off retail? The Church Fathers for dollars per volume? Sounds good, eh? Also when you are there, ask if Jason is working. Tell him that I sent you. He will take care of you.

3. Baker Book House
2768 East Beltline SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Now Baker has the market on used books. The reason why is that Kregal went out of buisness a number of years ago and their inventory was divided between Baker Book House and Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary Library. Baker has around 100,000 titles in their used book department. You will have to cover your eyes as you pass the front of the store which is filled with Jesus junk and Christian chachkies. Once you pass all of that stuff you will have a wonderful collection of new and discounted theological works on the left. That would make the trip worth it- but the holy of holies lies behind the double doors.

The used book department is manned by Greg, Jim, and a number of seminary students from around Grand Rapids (there are about 5 seminaries in West Michigan). Make sure that you tell them if you are a pastor or a seminary student. There is a 20% discount on many items if you are "vocational clergy." Be warned though, Baker prices on used books is not cheap. They compete with the Amazon, Ebay, Bookfinder, Albris, Abebooks crowd. That means that if something is worth $10... it's marked at $10 or $11. But you will find many, many things that are worth taking home with you.

Baker is also the North American distributor of Cambridge Bibles. They have a nice collection of Cambridge Bibles in ESV, KJV, NASB, etc. You will want to own a Cambridge if you don't already have one. The smell of the leather alone will make you want one. So save about $75-100 for your Cambridge.

4. Credo Books
Victoria Antiques
449 Century Avenue SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Credo is a rather new bookseller on the Grand Rapids scene. I know the owner. He used to come into Baker and buy TONS of used books. He would read a bunch, come back to Baker and talk about what he read and buy some more. He gave me a copy of Hendriksen's lectures on "The Bible and the Life Hereafter" once. (Guess he was trying to convert me to a-mil!) As with many independent small bookstores- the love of books eventually leads to selling them. Credo's collection will be a nice variety of Reformed, Presbyterian, and Puritan works. Tell him that you saw a coupon for 20% off online (there is such an animal, and you have to mention it).

That's what I got! You will be able to spend your whole month's check at these four locations. You may even burn through your entire book allowance there for the year. Enjoy! And tell them that Nathan says, "Hello!"


Committed Christian said...

Thanks for the good recommendations! I need to check those out...there are only two Christian bookstores near me and one of them is lean on reformed books and the other has some (Michael Horton, R.C. Sproul, etc) but I would like to find more.

Jeff Peterson said...

Jason at the Eeerdmans store is the man - he gave me the card for Credo Books and asked if we'd been to Ref. Her. (late Sat. afternoon - no good) as well.

I could redistribute much wealth at Credo and Baker, to be sure. If only there were such to do so....

Considering up here, you can't even buy NEW books, much less used ones, the 3 1/2 hours to Grand Rapids is much more pleasurable knowing what awaits at the end of the rainbow.