Christianity and Book Sales in America

The news keeps reporting that religion is on the decline in America. Surveys show that “nones”, those who hold no religious affiliation, are growing. In 2007, 16% of the population reported no religious affiliation. That number increased to 23% in 2014.

While “nones” may be on the rise in America, the news is not all bad for the religious landscape of our country. Pew Research recently completed a seven-year study of religion in America. The study was meant to provide a better method for measuring American faith over the self-reporting of denominations.

nonfiction-buyer-chart

The study, which interviewed 35,000 adults, found that among the three-quarters of US adults who do claim a religion, there is no discernable drop in measures of religious commitment. This is good news for authors and publishers providing books to people of faith.

In fact, the survey found that Evangelicals were slightly more likely to report the following activities over previous studies:

  • Weekly Scripture reading (63% in 2014 vs. 60% in 2007)
  • Participating in a weekly prayer or Bible study group (44% in 2014 vs. 41% in 2007)
  • Sharing their faith with others at least weekly (35% in 2014 vs. 34% in 2007)

Another interesting finding from this Pew survey was that more than half of Americans (55%) said they think about the meaning of life at least once a week. Evangelicals think about it even more (64%).

The news that those who hold to Christian beliefs take their faith seriously bodes well for Christian book publishing. Pew’s survey reveals that not only are Evangelicals still religiously committed, many others are thinking seriously about the meaning of life.

The purpose of publishing Christian books is to draw people closer to God, wherever they are on their spiritual journey. With Americans holding firmly to their Christian beliefs and seeking to know the purpose of life, Christian books continue to fill a need in people’s lives and sales figures show this to be true.

In fact, according to Nielsen, the sales growth of Christian books continues to outpace the sales growth of general market books. Sales of Religious books in the United States rose 10.5% in 2014. Over the past few years, sales of nonfiction Christian books have experienced the most growth at 11.3% between 2009 and 2014.

Interestingly, Nielsen also reported that almost half of Christian book-buying households earn less than $50,000, and about half of Christian book buyers are older than 45. So, if you are selling books to Christians, consider that half of all Christian book buyers are Generation X and Baby Boomers—which means they may not be as tied into social media as the younger generations.

The stability of religious commitment among Evangelicals and the resulting growth of the sales of Christian books in the United States is good news for all Christian authors and publishers. And, it is surely one more thing to be thankful for this week!

Related Posts:
Are eBook Sales Stagnating?
Decreasing Book Sales
Christian Belief in America

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Reaching the Average Christian Reader

I recently had lunch with a dear Christian friend. As we talked, she shared with me her desire that her just-turned teenage daughter grow in her relationship with God and read God’s word regularly. Knowing that my friend had done devotional studies with her children when they were young, I asked her if she had thought about doing a mother-daughter Bible study with her now teen daughter to encourage her continued involvement with God and His word.

My friend responded that she had been to her local Christian bookstores and searched and searched for mother-daughter Bible study material, but that she had found none geared to a teenage child. Knowing I am an author, she then suggested I write one.

I told my friend that there was no need for me to write one. I was certain that some small publisher or self-published author had already written an outstanding mother-daughter Bible study for teens. I explained to her how small publishers were starting to fill in the gaps in Christian material that the major Christian publishers were missing. Sadly, Christian bookstores have not yet recognized this and begun to offer more breadth and depth in the books they sell.

I was sad to hear yet another story about how a local Christian bookstore had failed to offer the right mix of books to imagewrap.imgadequately nurture their patron’s faith.  My friend really had no idea how to go about finding resources that were not in her local Christian bookstore.

How many Christians are like my friend? They have a need for a book or material that their local Christian bookstore does not stock, yet they don’t know how to find the quality Christian materials that they need any other way.

How do small publishers and self-published authors better reach this audience?

I wish I had the answer. I don’t. I did explain to my friend about small publishers and self-published authors and how they were creating materials to meet her needs. We did go online and search for mother-daughter Bible studies and found a small Christian publisher who had published a wonderful series for Christian mothers and their teen daughters that my friend could order online.

I don’t have the answer on how to better reach the average Christian. I do know that I am doing my small part to promote small publishers and self-published authors. How about you? Are you just promoting your own books, or are you also letting your friends and family know that small publishers and self-published authors have something great to offer Christians even though most of these materials won’t be found in their local Christian bookstores?


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