Christian Book-Buying Behavior

Each year, the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) puts out a Consumer Demographics & Buying Behaviors Report on Christian book shoppers. The report costs $599 for non-ECPA members, pricing it out of the majority of small publishers’ budgets.

Being a small publisher, in addition to the Director of Christian Small Publishers Association, I find the price too steep. So, I make sure that I read the press release that ECPA sends out about their report each year. This release usually contains a few interesting and important statistics about Christian book-buying.

Here are a few of the nuggets from this year’s press release for the 2009 report:

Christian fiction (19%) nearly rivaling Bible purchases (23%) among Christians was among the key findings from the report.

Christian fiction continues to grow. This finding indicates that Christians are looking for clean wholesome books for pleasure reading. Historically, small and self-publishers have been told that fiction is the hardest sell. I think this data indicates that is changing.

Households with combined incomes between $50,000 and $74,999 purchased the most Christian nonfiction and fiction books.

Solid middle-class families purchase the most books. This data is not new, but shows that Christians mirror the general population when it comes to income and book-buying behavior. Targeting middle-class Christians is a good strategy when selling books.

Active Christians, described as evangelicals having high belief and high church involvement, in the 18- to 29-year-old demographic purchased a smaller share of books compared with all book buyers in that age range.

This finding, although it did not surprise me, depressed me. While I have talked before about the decline of book reading in the younger generations, this finding indicates that Christian young adults are reading even less than the general young adult population when they should be reading more.

A year ago, I posted the following quote on this blog:

Reading Christians are growing Christians. When Christians cease to read, they cease to grow. ~John Wesley

I fear that our Christian witness in the United States is being weakened by our lack of spiritual contemplation and knowledge. I pray that younger Christians will begin to read and grow so that the message of Christ may go forth in power and change lives.

It may be that we just need some creative marketing methods that speak to this age-group to reach these younger Christians. Do you have any good ideas for marketing to this generation?


4 thoughts on “Christian Book-Buying Behavior

  1. What we need to do now as Christians is tell the gospel story. It’s news to most people in the USA and most are willing to listen. We have to know the story to tell it, though.

    As for marketing to the younger Christians I would say (1) have first-class fiction to offer (not unreally squeaky-clean, not edgy either and not preachy) which in some way shows healthy characters, (2) create a buzz on the blogs and on Facebook, and (3) give yourself time, that is, be patient.

    Please visit my blog and leave a comment. Thanks!


  2. Thanks for the great suggestions. I agree having patience is important. Selling books is not a sprint, but a marathon.


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