01. The Future Of “Discerning Reader”


Tim Challies – 01/19/12

In early 2006 I became the owner of Discerning Reader. Some may remember that before I owned the domain name, it was a bookstore and one that shut down and disappeared under strange and sudden circumstances. A few months after the store closed, the domain went up for auction and I purchased it. In April of 2006 I relaunched it as a book review site dedicated to discerning reviews of books that are of interest to Christians. (The real old-timers around here may remember that I had an existing book review site that I folded into Discerning Reader.)

My hope was that the site would fulfill several functions:

  • It would become a place where a great group of reviewers would review books that Christians were reading or considering reading.
  • It would become a place where we would be able to link to other discerning reviews from across the Net, building a “meta” site for reviews.
  • It would become a valued part of the blogosphere, sharing information about new books, upcoming books, and so on, thus making it a hub for Christian readers.
  • It would become a place that would resource churches and ministries, helping them to spread the news about worthwhile books.

Sadly, Discerning Reader has never been able to become all that I had envisioned. With all of my responsibilities in life, it was never able to get the first or best attention; with all of my financial responsibilities in life, it was never able to get the infrastructure and staffing that it required. What saddens me is that I know there is still a place for Discerning Reader and that each of these four functions, if done with excellence, would make it a valuable resource for Christian readers.

I still believe in the vision I had for Discerning Reader, but I am increasingly convinced that I will not be able to get it there. Thus it saddens me to say that I am planning on shutting down the site. There are several options I am considering:

  • Dormancy. Holding on to the site but allowing it to go dormant. This means that all the existing content will remain, at least for a while, but there will be no new updates.
  • Selling. I may sell the site and the domain to someone who has a similar vision but who has the time, resources and energy to make it more than it is today. Alternatively, I may sell the domain to someone who wants to use it for a very different purpose (though I would do all I can to ensure it didn’t go to someone who was going to turn it into a spam site or something else inappropriate).
  • Overseeing. I may hold on to the site and find someone who can manage it. In this model I would need to work out a way to pay someone for his work, potentially by re-launching after a Kickstarter campaign or something similar.

Either way, the site cannot and will not continue in its current format. Since I cannot do it with excellence, I would rather find a way that something excellent can be done there.

If you are interested in purchasing the domain or if you have any other thoughts about its future, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me (If you to know about buying it, please contact me instead of leaving a comment).

I would like to express my gratitude to all the people who visited the site over the years and to the many people who prepared reviews for it. I’d especially like to thank Mark Tubbs whose assistance and management of Discerning Reader has been invaluable.

  1. Ann Sturdy says:

    I would support such a site and feel that it would be of huge benefit to some of the book store owners, who are frankly bombarded with new books coming on the market, and have a problem trying to please the general “christian” public with totally unscriptural material, and being able to review such books, and make a decision NOT to keep certain material.

    Let is have another point to the survey – Will you be prepared to pray this site into existance?

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