According to global information firm Nielsen, religious book sales amounted to 52.4 million units in 2014, representing a 10.5% increase over the previous year’s figures. Conversely, books in the overall book market only grew by 2.4% meaning that the Christian book sales outperformed the rest of the market by a ratio of 4:1. Christian nonfiction sales have been increasing exponentially since 2009, recording a growth of 11.9% as at 2014 while young adult fiction continues to rise in popularity. This portends good news for authors, publishers and retailers of Christian books. In spite of challenges being experienced by the market segment in 2015, including increased Christian family bankruptcies and changing purchasing habits, Christian books continue to sell and the first half of the year showed a growth of 6.4% in adult fiction.
A Brief History of Christian Publishing
Dwight L. Moody was amongst the earliest contributors to Christian publishing. With the help of his brother in law, Fleming Revell, he helped to provide the prototype behind which many Christian publishing houses today are modeled. He also came up with the affordable, paperback books sold presently after noticing that most Christian bookshops at the time stocked and sold texts that were prohibitively expensive. The formation of Moody publishers soon after paved way for many other Christian publishers such as Tyndale, Zondervan, Thomas Nelson and others committed to providing books in Christian living, personal development, marriage and family as well as fiction to a growing number of readers. They have also provided platforms for such authors as CS Lewis, Oswald Chambers, Francine Rivers, Jan Karon and many others to share their writing with the world.
Who Buys Christian Books?
Christian publishing today features a wide range of genres that run the gamut from Amish romances to time traveling adventures. Publishers increasingly have to find titles that appeal to a more sophisticated audience as well as compete with other forms of sedentary leisure activities such as the internet and television. Further, the advent of online stores has meant that more and more people are purchasing eBooks. This has led to the closure of physical bookstores and the opening up of online ones. While 69% of people still preferred to buy print books, an increasing number is choosing to read them on Kindle, Tablets, laptops and other media. At 72%, women make up the largest percentage of Christian fiction book buyers, while 56% of buyers live in households with an annual income of $50,000 and below. More than 51% of fiction buyers are aged 45 years or older. More women than men also purchase nonfiction titles. 59% of nonfiction book buyers are women, 51% live in households with an annual income of less than $50,000 while 51% are aged below 45 years. Bibles still make up a large part of book purchases, along with books on Christian living, devotionals, self development texts, Christian historical romance and books for young adults.
Christian books will continue to grow in popularity as more and more people seek to buy content that is entertaining, spiritually uplifting and provides daily wisdom for living. As publishing companies face off in competition to provide readers with relevant content, readers are likely to gain access to even better and more exciting material.