Focusing on Faith
At Bethany House, Public Relations Director Brett Benson cites online reviews, excerpts and author blog tours, as well as e-newsletter subscriptions as important, new marketing tools.
Kneedler says Waterbrook sends new books to influential bloggers and gets material on YouTube.com in order to reach younger readers and other niche audiences.
For evangelical publishers especially, none of this has yet replaced such proven strategies as direct marketing to churches and maintaining a strong presence at trade shows and conventions. At Baker Publishing Group, “one of the biggest initiatives we’re undertaking currently is building our new direct-to-church initiative, Deeper Faith Resources,” says Stephenson.
Llewellyn has found success in reaching out to the U.S. Spanish-speaking demographic whose appetite for books will increase as education and income levels in the Hispanic population continue to rise, says Rogers.
“We’re trying more direct mail,” he reports. “We’ll also be starting up a Spanish e-newsletter this year to help drive more interest to our Spanish Web site.”
A dedicated market
Ultimately, the strength of the religious book market—and the aspect that some smaller publishers suggest the large, new players may be most likely to miss—is the companies’ commitment to the culture they seek to promulgate through the written word, be it evangelical Christian, Jewish, Islamic or New Age.
“Our strategy for building customer relations is based heavily on respect for the reader’s individual interests and showing our authentic dedication and support for the genre,” notes Rogers.
“We tend to be on the vanguard because our publishing reflects the life we’re trying to lead,” Matlins says. “It isn’t just about manufacturing books.” BB
James Sturdivant is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer based in Philadelphia.
- 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