Or perish

Book publishing is a tough market because not many people read.

This is true of Christians like it is of the general populace.

So, for decades now, publishers have relied on people with TV and radio outlets to “author” books.

Well, even this doesn’t always work.

Note the blogged confession:

I think book publishers have a difficult task, and so do Christian book publishers.  But I think they need to face up to the fact that they are salesmen, whether they want to be or not.

I just talked to a guy who got his start selling paint.  There are no secret formulas in paint.  Everyone who makes paint knows how to make paint the same way.  It was a frustrating job trying to get anyone to buy.  Until someone told him that he had to go find new customers in the neighborhood for the stores.  He would find a school or some other company that needed to think about repainting, and he would work to get them together with the store.  Generating new business for the store gave him a chance to get the store to stock new paint.

My point here is that book publishers are supposed to try to find ways to get people to read.  The “celebrity” circuit is just about tapped out for many (not all) and it is causing stress.  Well, maybe it is time to reconsider whether that hasn’t always been an easy fix for a more fundamental problem.  While there is nothing wrong with generating readers (or at least book buyers) in that way, the primary calling of Christian booksellers lies in a different direction: to create passionate readers.

And if anyone dares to think this is not possible, let me remind you of “the wealthiest women in show business,” who never had a radio show or a television ministry or any other platform or following–just the ability to write really good books.

So, my back seat driver suggestion, lets focus on finding really good writers who make people want to read.  And lets try every other way we can.  I think the internet opens up all sorts of possibilities.  We shouldn’t be surprised that the celebrity giganto-advance system isn’t working well as a primary support system for publishing.

5 thoughts on “Or perish

  1. Jim

    If nobody reads why are there so many cruddy books being published?

    I have this Flannery O’Connor quotation on my office wall: “Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think that universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them.”

  2. Jennifer

    I wondered who “the wealthiest woman in showbusiness” was. Then I clicked your link and saw that the article called Rowling this. I guess I just don’t think of author/writers as being a part of showbusiness.

    After my short stint as a managing editor at TNP, I must agree with the message of the O’Connor quotation. Insightful.


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