Focusing on Faith
According to Book Industry Study Group numbers provided by Kuyper, religious-book publishing began its sales surge in 2003, with an 8-percent increase. In 2004, the increase jumped to 11.4 percent, and then slowed a bit in 2005, but still posted an 8.5-percent gain.
“These numbers are pretty significant when you consider that most of publishing is relatively flat or even down,” Kuyper notes.
He says the 2006 numbers, which have not yet been released, could show further slowing. Still, anecdotal evidence he’s picked up from retailers suggests that religious publishing continues to be the book industry’s bright star.
“The overall market is still robust,” agrees Don Stephenson, director of
publications for Baker Publishing
Group. “There aren’t quite as many blockbuster religious or inspirational titles out there in the general market
compared to a couple of years ago, yet certain titles, like Revell’s [an imprint of Baker] ‘90 Minutes in Heaven,’ are still selling very strongly, and in that book’s case, still continuing to post more than 20 weeks on The New York Times nonfiction paperback list more than two years after it was first published.”
Stephenson says Baker is publishing “about the same number of titles” as last year.
“The larger bookstores have really woken up to the power of evangelical publishing,” says Kneedler, “which is good for publishers, but not for the independents. I’d say a common theme in the past few years has been the sales going the way of larger stores and the Internet, and taking sales away from brick-and-mortar Christian bookstores.”
The increasing amount of space given to religious titles by Borders and Barnes & Noble has been “a blessing and a curse,” according to Stuart Matlins, publisher at the Brattleboro, Vt.-based Jewish Lights and Skylight Paths Publishing, which specializes in trade books based in the Jewish-wisdom tradition marketed to readers of all faiths and backgrounds.
- Amg Publishers
- Baker Publishing
- Bethany House Publishers
- Bowker Books
- Deeper Faith Resources
- Evangelical Christian Publishers Association
- Hachette Book Group
- Islamic Society of America
- Jewish Lights and Skylight Paths Publishing
- Multnomah Publishers
- Oxford University Press
- Random House Inc.
- Simba Information
- The Book Industry Study Group
- The New York Times
- Time Inc.
- USA Today
- Warner Faith
- Waterbrook Press