Happy post-fourth. Hope yours was happy. As usual, we had a houseful and then some at our Coeur d'Alene home. Seemed every time I turned around I heard more people were coming for dinner and to view the town's megal-cool fireworks. Our son kept inviting people. I think he put up signs all over town. It's always a lot of fun--as long as we have enough to feed everyone. Our house is made for those types of summer parties.
Today I am flying to Atlanta for the Chi Libris retreat (organization of Christian novelists), followed by ICRS--International Christian Retail Show. I will try to post info the convention as I can.
For today--The recent issue of Christian Retailing contains an article on Christian fiction with some statistics that I didn't know. Here are some highlights:
According to ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association), in 2006 Christian publishers put out 528 novels. That number was up from 471 in 2005--an 11% increase. In that same time frame, however, sales rose 38%.
I like those numbers.
Mark Kuyper, president of ECPA, sees continued growth for fiction. He noted that one analyst believes sales of Christian fiction can easily double and "still be nowhere near the category's potential."
Numbers of published novels are up this year at both Zondervan and Thomas Nelson. Zondervan published 19 novels in 2006 and plans for 25 this year.
There is also continued growth in the book-to-movie category. A few new ones include Karen Kingsbury's novella Gideon's Gift, which is being made into a movie by Paramount Pictures for this Christian season. Zondervan is exploring TV tie-ins, such as The Wager, a TV movie starring Randy Travis based on Bill Myers' novel of the same name.
The growth of Christian fiction continues to attract secular publishers. Among the new lines--Avon Inspire, part of HarperOne; and Berkley Praise, part of Penguin.
The article also deals with the term "Christian fiction"--and just what is it? This is a subject that's been around awhile, and the debate goes on. Some think that the term may need to be replaced. Sue Brower, senior acquisitions editor for inspiration and fiction at Zondervan, prefers "fiction written from a Christian worldview." Allen Arnold, senior vice president and publisher at Thomas Nelson agrees. Arnold's point is that most readers don't define themselves as "Christian fiction readers." Most just want to read well-written stories that honor their Christian worldview.
Pop culture and crime writer Chris Well (published by Harvest House) notes, "Look at the success of authors like Ted Dekker and Brandilyn Collins and Colleen Coble," and adds that there are "great choices for readers of suspense, thrillers, mysteries, even crime fiction." He adds, "...these authors are exploring dark territory and themes that are ucomfortable. Christian novelists are working to create a more realistic world in their books. They have come to the conclusion that if Jesus is Lord--and He is--that means we really need to demonstrate that He is Lord of all, not just the comfortable stuff, not just the safe stuff, not just the sanitized stuff."
Ted Dekker talks about the difficulties publishers face in drawing in the "emerging generation while serving the older one." He opines that "young adults tend to avoid Christian stores like the plague--and no wonder." The reason, he says, is that "there is little inside [the stores] that speaks their language." Ted concludes, "I want to give CBA stores novels ... that younger readers will line up at the door for even if the owners of those stores don't totally identify [with the stories] themselves."
Criag Stoll, merchandise manager for the Mardel chain, responds that Christian retailers are rallying around emerging genres. As for the mystery and suspense genre in particular, he believes it will "continue to grow because both the readers and the authors are becoming more sophisticated." He cites historical fiction as still being very strong, but believes it may have reached its plateau.
Agent Steve Laube notes he receives 1500 proposals a year, 85% of which are fiction.
All in all, the Christian Retailing article is an indication of the continued growth of Christian fiction (or whatever you want to call it) in sales, number of titles and readership.