I don’t think that even one of us has not been affected by the pandemic this year. This includes MinisterioBiblico Verbo Divino (MBVD). At MBVD we sell bibles and other books related to the bible. Our biggest day of the year is when we open our booth at the LA Religious Congress. But it didn’t happen this year. This has been a very great disappointment for us. Here we meet the people face to face from all over the United States. This is where we make most of our sales and promote our activities. It is the time when we can answer their questions, offer suggestions and help them to organize their religious activities back home.
Virtual online activity is good and there has been great progress in the ways we use it this past year. We joined the Congress virtually and presented our books in the virtual booth/platform provided by the Congress Team. It was way different from past years when we participated in it personally and had the chance to speak with people and get to know them as we tell them about our products, our books, and ministry in the SVD. We did not get phone calls or orders after the conference like we did in the past. This was because our clients like to see and touch the books before buying them. But we are still surviving—and that is very important.
Our two employees at MBVD headquarters, Ezekiel and Jose, are a great help whether here in the office or at the Congress. In some ways they preferred this year’s online meeting to the real in-person one. Ezekiel was glad that he did not have to pack so many books this year. There is a lot of packing and unpacking to do for the Congress. Trying to get peoples’ attention on the net is a lot different from trying to do it in person. It will take some time to adjust to the new ways of doing things but we are trying. A lot of it is experimental. We learned a lot this year but we still have much to learn.
In the future, even after Covid is gone, we hope to create different online programs using Facebook or Instagram. This will help us reach a much wider audience. In this virtual age, the impact of media like Facebook is massive and we need to start using it effectively.
Our Website, https://verbodivino.org/, is there 24/7 and can be visited by 5-10 clients at a time. There are two special windows in the year when people become more interested in catechisms and bibles. These are when catechism classes for Holy Communion and Confirmation begin in the parishes. We sell more bibles at this time than any of our other products.
We believe in service with a smile and sell our books at rock-bottom prices. We have a long list of regular customers. They know that our prices are the best so they come to us and bring their friends. This is how we get exposure. But we would like to expand our services and we encourage our confreres here in USW as well as those in USS and USC to visit our website. We offer very good catechisms both in English and Spanish. We also offer other catechetical help for students.
Our main supplier is Editorial Verbo Divino (EVD), the SVD publisher in Spain. Of all their distribution outlets we are the largest. They mainly deal in bibles but they also distribute other books which we include in our inventory. These include books that touch the topics of Catholic spirituality, philosophy and theology. There are bible commentaries, dictionaries and books for biblical interpretation. We also refer clients to other Spanish and American publishers such as Editorial Bibliotecas de AutoresCristianos, Editorial Sal Terrae, Editorial Sigueme, Editorial LibrosLigouri, and Editorial Rialp.
Although we are making ends meet, this next year we hope things will change. When the pandemic ends we will once again welcome customers into our bookstore.In the meantime, we are finding new ways to get the job done. We have just prepared a set of books that were ordered from our website and another that was ordered by phone. It’s moving along alright, but I miss peoples’ faces.
– Fr. Yori Soda Nango SVD