Keeping the Faith
BREATHING NEW LIFE
While business and editorial challenges present issues for religious publishers to contemplate, some trends bring new hope. For instance, Matlins believes one of the more significant changes occurring in religious publishing today is an increased interest in the subject matter.
“I think this is due in part to the maturing of the baby boomer generation. People are looking for books that relate the teachings of different religious traditions directly to their lives,” he says. “There is a practical aspect to their interest, not just a theological one.”
Matlins says people are interested in using the practices of religion and are not just looking for an intellectual exercise. “Baby boomers are coming to a point in their lives when they reflect on such things, and have the time and resources to do so,” he says.
Whereas the baby boomer generation has time to seek deeper spirituality, a different trend is occurring with the younger generation. According to Behrman, children’s time is at a premium.
“There is greater pressure on schools to do more with fewer class hours,” he says. “In terms of pedagogy, we also see an increasing reliance on electronic tools, such as Web sites, interactive CDs and electronic games for drill and review in language acquisition. This is something education publishers must catch up to.”
Save for a few exceptions, those in religious book publishing face the same ups and downs as all publishers. All publishers want better pricing, better shelf space, more readers and high-quality content. Religious publishing is a business, after all.
But Behrman reminds us that at least in the educational market there is one final challenge that religious publishers always work to uphold, and that is an adherence to higher standards. “The most important difference between religious educational publishing and secular educational publishing is that religious schools, and therefore religious educational publishers, are in the business of teaching ethics, values and morals in a way that secular schools are not.”