What is an Adventist Book Center (ABC)?

When you walk into any one of the many Adventist Book Center (ABC) locations, chances are you’ll be greeted by pleasant gospel music in the background, friendly employees, and row after row of Christian books, movies, Bibles, study guides, kids’ games, and more.

This may sound similar to other Christian bookstores you’ve been to. So what makes Adventist Book Centers different? Here’s some background information about why we Adventists are so fond of our ABCs.

The story begins just over a decade after the Seventh-day Adventist Church was organized.

How did Adventist Book Centers start?

The Christian bookstores that became nicknamed “ABCs” had their humble beginnings in 1874. The still-young Seventh-day Adventist Church was active in sharing its newfound scriptural truths and formed several “tract and missionary societies” to hand out evangelistic literature.

As the literature collection grew, these tract societies established Adventist bookstores, since both material and demand were steadily increasing. Back then, they called them “Book and Bible Houses”. By 1972, they were referred to as Adventist Book Centers.

At first, the Southern Publishing Association was appointed to oversee the collective efforts of ABCs. Eventually, the larger Pacific Press Publishing Association took on the responsibility and still manages all ABC stores in the United States.

Their mission?

To spread the Advent message of Jesus’ second coming. And to make this message of hope accessible to as many people as possible, they produced Christian literature, music, church resources, videos…and the list continually grows.

What do they sell at the ABC?

The ABCs’ goal is to be a one-stop shop for Christian media, as well as gifts, games, toys, and other popular items, but with a Christian message and emphasis.

Picture of a vegetarian cookbook sold at an Adventist Book Center

Photo by Heather Ford on Unsplash

Some of the highest-selling items are:

  • Bibles (multiple translations available)
  • Devotionals
  • Christian testimonies and autobiographies
  • Bible study guides
  • Sabbath school lessons
  • Vegetarian cookbooks
  • Guidebooks to healthy living
  • Christian music, movies, and documentaries
  • Supplemental Bible study materials (journals, pens, highlighters, flashcards, bookmarks, etc.)
  • Biographies of Christian & historical figures
  • Christian fiction (based on historical or biblical events)
  • Books by Adventist Church co-founder, Ellen White
  • Christian decor and gifts (posters, mugs, pens, and notebooks)
  • And…food!

Yes, food! Adventists from many miles away have been known to make dedicated ABC trips to stock up on their favorite vegetarian food products. Most stores carry quite the variety of canned, frozen, refrigerated, or dehydrated vegetarian meat substitutes like sausages, deli meat, hot dogs, patties, and more.

As far as the book selection goes, most contemporary Christian authors are featured alongside numerous books from the two major Adventist publishing companies, Pacific Press and the Review & Herald. You can find books dedicated to each major age group, and different language translations are available for some of the more popular titles.

And if you can’t find what you’re looking for in the store, chances are you can find it on the ABC’s website. Often the store employees can order it for you upon request.

When there isn’t an ABC close by, there’s the Bookmobile

Every so often, the local ABC will arrange a Bookmobile event. An ABC van full of the most in-demand media and merchandise makes pre-arranged stops in various communities.

This is especially popular for people who live farther away from an ABC and aren’t always able to make a long drive to the store for their favorite things.

Most Bookmobile locations and schedules are posted on the websites and Facebook pages of each individual store. Area churches and Adventist schools may also share this information in their own announcements.

Many people preorder items through individual stores and pick them up from the Bookmobile. But plenty of others enjoy the chance to browse the featured sales and specials.

To see if there might be a Bookmobile stop near you, check the announcements of the nearest ABC store.

Favorite ABC reads

A little boy reading a children's Bible story book from an Adventist Book Center

hoto from Unsplash

Whether you’re interested in learning more about specific Bible subjects, finding things for your kids to enjoy, or if you want things to share with your friends or neighbors, the ABC has a generous assortment of options available.

Here are some favorites you can find on the ABC website:

  • The Great Controversy: This book goes into detail about the spiritual battle between good and evil and how it has affected history. 
  • The Desire of Ages: This book has touched the hearts of thousands. It describes the perspective of Jesus Christ during His short time on Earth, and His plan to save humanity from sin. It’s a great book to help us reconnect with our Savior.
  • Guide’s Greatest Stories set:  This series is great for kids and grown-ups alike! Its thrilling stories are based on real-life events of miracles, mysteries, and faith-building adventures.

You can also search by category to find books for kids, devotional books for women, teens, dads, etc., or study books that focus on a particular book of the Bible.

If you live close to an ABC, stop on in!

The Adventist Book Center is meant to be a resource for your Bible study and Christian media needs. Find things for yourself or your family, or if you’re interested in sharing with your friends and neighbors, there are items to help with that, too.

This isn’t just another Christian bookstore. The staff are eager to help and are well-versed in matching a resource with whatever you’ve come in looking for. They can also help you get connected with a local church and provide information about other ministries and services that might be helpful.

Find your local ABC at the Adventist Book Center Directory. From there you can call the phone number provided, or look up your local ABC website to discover any social media accounts that can provide regular weekly updates.

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