Thursday, October 19, 2006
Changes Coming in Fiction?
[Sorry for the late post. Blogger's been gummed up.]
The October 16 issue of Christian Retailing ran an article titled “Emergent Church Growth Prompts Industry Debate.” The article gave examples of how many booksellers are broadening their inventories of nonfiction books geared to “emergent church” folks, who are “predominantly younger” while other booksellers are refusing to carry such titles altogether. Even amid the controversy, such titles as Blue Like Jazz (Nelson), The Irresistible Revolution (Zondervan), and Velvet Elvis (Zondervan) are selling well and becoming something akin to modern classics.
Zondervan senior executive Lynn Cryderman told Christian Retailing that every Zondervan Emergent title has outperformed sales projections. Zondervan’s sales in this genre increased about 20 percent in the first half of 2006, while STATS figures show overall emergent book sales doubling during that time period from the same time period last year.
Meanwhile the November issue of CBA’s Aspiring Retail is running an article about attracting twenty-somethings to Christian bookstores. The article shows how most people in this age group aren’t attracted to the typical Christian bookstore. They want a place to hang out, to drink coffee with friends and bring their wireless computers for online cruising. They are about community.
So what might all this mean for fiction?
If the industry is paying attention to these issues, seems to me the results will seep over into fiction. Those same twenty-somethings might pick up certain kinds of novels if they’re wooed to a Christian bookstore. Those emergent church folks who are seeking nonfiction titles may appreciate fiction that speaks to them as well.
I know that Zondervan has hired a new editor (Andy—some of you met him at ACFW) who is particularly looking for the kinds of novels that will appeal to the twenty to thirty-five age range. Perhaps other publishers are also doing this.
Change is on the move within the industry—as apparent from these two articles in different publications. Doesn’t mean the old is being thrown out for the new, nor should it be. What’s gone before—whether fiction or nonfiction—is what’s made the Christian bookselling industry what it is today. We should celebrate that. But in a changing world there’s room for expansion. It’s exciting to think how the current concerns covered in these articles might eventually make room for new voices and genres within fiction.