Many people think the publishing world is in trouble. One of the main reasons it may be in trouble is that the number of people reading books is declining.
I recently read some interesting statistics:
- Estimates from surveys found that around 25 percent of American adults read zero books a year (that means none).
- Over one-third of foreign-born adults in the United States do not have high school diplomas.
- One out of every three young adults drops out of high school every year.
- The world literacy ranking of the United States is dropping every year.
The horizon for Christian book publishers looks bleak. Take the statistics above and the trend toward people reading less, add to this the shrinking Christian population in our country and Christian publishers may face a tough future.
In a single generation, the number of people who label themselves – even loosely – as Christians has dropped 11 percent. According to the latest American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), Americans who claim no religion at all now outrank every major religious group except Catholics and Baptists. People with no religious affiliation currently represent 15 percent of the United States population, which is almost twice as many as in 1990.
For Christian publishers, these numbers represent a shrinking consumer pool.
What can authors and publishers do about this trend?
I believe that we (Christians) need to become better evangelists. We need to do a better job of passing on our faith to our children as well as to the people in our circle of influence. How this is done will look different for each person. However, as authors and publishers, one way we can do this is by writing and publishing quality, cutting-edge books that help people find God. Then we can be generous with these books. Boldly give them (for free) to non-Christians and seekers who you meet. Pray for God’s blessing on each book that you give away that the message would touch that person’s heart.
I also believe that unless we (American adults) read and pass on the love of reading to the next generation, the world of book publishing will shrink in size and scope. Consider how you might pass on the love of reading in your circle of influence. Is there a way you can encourage children at your church to read? Is there a children’s author you could have come visit the Children’s ministry at your church? What about volunteering your time to read to children at your church and partnering with your church bookstore or library to come up with a program to encourage children to read Christian books?
More ideas and suggestions are welcome.