The State of Christian Fiction

If you write or publish Christian fiction books, then you should know about the recent survey of Christian fiction readers and the results. Christian Fiction Readers: Worth Pursuing, Worth Keeping, a reader survey conducted through a cooperative effort of CBA, The Parable Group, The Baker Publishing Group, and American Christian Fiction Writers, used an online survey to compile information from around 1,500 Christian fiction readers—largely female readers (over 90% of respondents).

Fiction Reading

The survey found that Christian fiction readers are purchasing more titles today than five years ago, but their buying and reading behaviors have changed. Here are some key findings from the survey:

  • Christian fiction readers read more than the national average and are more frequent book buyers. Nearly 50% of Christian-fiction readers read more than 10 books annually; by comparison, only 36% of American adults read more than 10 books per year, according to a 2014 Pew Research study.
  • The top Christian fiction genres reported by surveyed readers were historical fiction (66%), romance (52%), contemporary (51%), romantic suspense (50%), suspense/thriller/legal thriller (47%), and mystery/espionage (45%), which also reveals that many Christian fiction readers read more than one genre.
  • Trade paperbacks are still the most popular format for readers at 41% despite what some may presume is the age of digital dominance, with 28% of Christian fiction readers responding that they read on ebooks or digital formats.
  • Nearly 50% report purchasing more Christian fiction titles today than five years ago.
  • Almost 50% of Christian fiction ebooks are downloaded for free rather than purchased.
  • The top sales drivers for Christian fiction are the story itself (94%), the desire to keep reading a story in a series (69%), recommendations about a book (68%), and author familiarity (89%).
  • Most Christian fiction readers don’t want their stories to include sex, bad language, or violence.

While the number of respondents to this survey represents a fairly small subset of Christian fiction readers, the findings represent good news for Christian fiction books and those who produce them.

One finding I found interesting was that over two-thirds of respondents reported that one of the top reasons they buy a Christian fiction book is the desire to keep reading a story in a series. If you want to sell more books, take this to heart. To keep readers coming back for more, write and publish series of stories.

Which finding in this survey caught your attention?

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6 thoughts on “The State of Christian Fiction

  1. This article is all on Christian fiction. So, when it says that historical fiction is read by 66% of the respondents, it is referring to Christian historical including Biblical fiction.

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  2. As a bookstore owner, the person who downloads books for free is still my friend, because our data shows a passionate reader will tell five friends about a book they enjoyed; four of these will be print readers, only one of them will be another e-reader. Some of those four print-readers will become customers at my store.

    Here’s where it all breaks down: The person getting the book for free has (literally) no investment in the book. They can read the first two chapters and then get distracted by something else. Even if they paid 99-cents, they read 20-30 pages, they feel they got their money’s worth. They end up telling nobody about the book.

    I think the figures are distorted; I’d like to know how many of this survey’s 28% truly reached the last page of their digital format titles.

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  3. Thanks for sharing. I agree, I have read a statistic that reported that while many people download free ebooks, many of these ebooks don’t get read. In other words, people obtain them because they are free, not because they are dying to read them. I can’t remember the figures or where I saw them. I do know that for myself, I have read most of the ebooks I have downloaded for free, unless the book didn’t interest me.

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  4. The finding that caught my eye the most is that almost half of the Christian fiction ebooks are downloaded for free rather than purchased, I am a prospective contemporary Christian fiction author who would like to make some profit, but the invaluable returns of people being uplifted and inspired weigh more.

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