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Monday, June 26, 2006

Book Sales

Here is a fascinating tidbit.

The New York Times, THE list to make for book sales, THE authoritative tracking method of how well a book does as compared to other books does not track sales of books through Christian stores.

Sounds a lot like anti-Christian bias to me.

Christian book stores sell a huge volume of books, movies, and CD's. Almost every one of them is like a mini Banes and Noble or Borders book store, and there are thousands of them spread across the US. Many books that get no coverage i the mainstream press get HUGE exposure to the cgristian community, and these books wind up having a majority of thier sales through Christian book stores.

Take Frank Peretti for example. He sells as many books as Dean Koontz, but he has never been on the New York Times bestseller list because almost all of his sales are through Christian outlets. The Left Behind series has sold enough books on a steady basis to dominate the New york Times bestseller list with every release, but by being gypped of at least 20% of it's sales the remarkable success of this series is able to be reduced in the view of the public.

Just some food for thought.

3 Comments:

  • Daniel: The New York Times, THE list to make for book sales, THE authoritative tracking method of how well a book does as compared to other books does not track sales of books through Christian stores.

    Who told you this? I can understand why it would be true, but the New York Times doesn’t mention it in its FAQ:

    NYT: Rankings reflect sales at almost 4,000 bookstores plus wholesalers serving 50,000 other retailers (gift shops, department stores, newsstands, supermarkets), statistically weighted to represent all such outlets nationwide.

    This seems like a fair method for compiling the best-seller list.

    Daniel: Sounds a lot like anti-Christian bias to me.

    Typical. You can see anti-Christian bias wherever you wish to see it, even when the opposite is likely true. Don’t you think it is more likely that the results would be biased if the New York Times did poll specialty bookstores such as technical, university or religious bookstores? Do they include bookstores devoted to Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, astrology, magic, hobbies or any other specialty? Is that anti-Islamic bias or anti-magic bias? You even answer this question yourself.

    Daniel: Many books that get no coverage i the mainstream press get HUGE exposure to the cgristian community, and these books wind up having a majority of thier sales through Christian book stores.

    Exactly. Who else would be interested in these apologetic pieces? The New York Times best-seller list is composed of books that appeal to a general audience, not those that are written for a closed group.

    By Anonymous cjb, at 4:18 PM  

  • CJB,

    "NYT: Rankings reflect sales at almost 4,000 bookstores plus wholesalers serving 50,000 other retailers (gift shops, department stores, newsstands, supermarkets), statistically weighted to represent all such outlets nationwide."

    It would be, but they exclude all Christian outlets.

    "Don’t you think it is more likely that the results would be biased if the New York Times did poll specialty bookstores such as technical, university or religious bookstores?"

    Actually, I think it would make a true representative sample if they did that. Are you seriously suggesting that by excluding certain outlets the NYT is getting a better sample than 100% would give?

    "Who else would be interested in these apologetic pieces?"

    2 things:
    First, do try to remember that about half the country labels themselves as Evangelical Christians while 80-90% label themselves as Christian period. Therefore, no les than half of America would be interested in the apologetic peices.
    Second, I mentioned Frank Peretti specifically for a reason. He writes horror novels, not apologetics. His sybolism is frequently as hidden as the symbolism in many C.S. Lewis works such as the Chronicles of Narnia, which is mainstream. You might also consider the mainstream success of the Left Behind series, yes it does have mainstream appeal, many readers of the series are not Christians, as proof that any good book wil have appeal. Even the astounding success of the heretical Davinci Code is proof of peoples overarching in religion, and of Christianity in particualr.

    "Who would be interested?" Hah! Such a question!

    By Blogger Daniel Levesque, at 4:55 PM  

  • All right, so, I Googled this and found this article, which includes this line:

    "Why is it so hard to come up with a way to count all book sales? Typical answers range from 'sales must be from sources that sell all books' to 'if we counted Christian bookstore sales, we'd have to count book sales in gift stores and other nonbookstore outlets.'"

    That can't be a very wide "range" of answers . . . since both examples are variations on the same statement, which is "we don't count specialty bookstores." That's not anti-Christian bias, it's just a bias toward the homogenous "cultural mainstream" that we all love to hate so much.

    The author of that piece makes the same point as you, which is basically that the lists ought to be more inclusive, because if they were, Christian books would do better. And . . . then . . . Christians would be happier.

    Except that the purpose of the list isn't to make Christians happier. It's to let people know what's new and exciting in the world of mushy pop-literary crap. (That's why the Left Behind books made the list.)

    By Blogger catastrophile, at 5:52 PM  

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