THE final chapter has been written and the ending isn't a happy one for a religious book store.

Chelmsford’s Christian Bookshop is set to close its doors after 30 years in business next month following a rise in online book sales.

John Dawson has managed the shop for more than 20 years and said trade has gradually been going down over the last five to six years.

“It’s got to the stage where the shop’s not really viable,” he said.

“People are being more careful with their money but the internet does play a big part in our closure.

“People prefer to go online, press a few buttons and it’s there but we offer far more than just selling things. We give a lot of advice and people meet up here, there’s been lots of reunions and one couple even got married - it’s more than a shop.”

As well as books, the shop sells cards, CDs, DVDs and a wide range of gifts.

John will transfer to the Brentwood store in January but two other staff members will be leaving, one through redundancy and the other through retirement.

He added: “It’s very very sad and very difficult to tell someone we’re not going to be here.

“I will miss speaking to the regular customers and they say they’re going to miss us very much.

“All sorts of people have said they can’t believe it’s closing.”

John is hopeful a smaller scale store could eventually run out of a church in the area as there is nothing else “quite the same” in Mid Essex.

But in the meantime Southend Christian Bookshop Ltd, who own the Parkway branch, will continue to trade from its branches in Southend and Brentwood.