“While some general-interest publishers are trying to promote attack-related titles carefully to avoid appearing to be baldly mercenary or opportunistic, religion publishers, while also concerned with taste and sensitivity, are less shy,” reports Publisher Weekly’s Religion Bookline (Oct. 9), a newsletter on religion and publishing.
Since concern with spiritual and emotional needs is at the center of their work and religion is at the center of the Sept. 11 tragedy, religious publishers are “not ashamed of their efforts to get books that can help into the hands of those who need them.” Sales of Bibles and Korans spiked sharply in the weeks following the attack, with one of the largest Bible publishers (Zondervan) doubling its normal shipping volume Every store in the Family Christian Stores, the largest Christian book chain, sold out its books on Islam, and on Sept. 17 alone, sales of prophecy titles increased 80 percent in a category that had been down 28 percent
Chicago-based Kazi Publications, an Islamic publisher and distributor, usually sells about 5,000 copies annually of Suzanne Haneef’s “What Everyone Should Know About Islam and Muslims”; it received that many orders in the two-week period after Sept. 11. Its sales of the Koran also strongly increased. Islamic bookseller and wholesaler Halalco reported a “marked increase” in its sales of the Koran and general books on Islam.
The newsletter adds that it “remains to be seen how long-lasting the effects of September 11 will be on consumer tastes But some investors are placing their bets that consumer interest in religion books will continue to be even stronger than it has been in recent years (a period that saw religion become one of publishing’s healthiest categories):” Thomas Nelson Publishers has seen its stock price gain 17.4 percent in the past few weeks, in the midst of a composite decline of 5.3 percent for the 20 companies listed on the Publishers Weekly Stock Index.
Mike Hyatt of Thomas Nelson, told the newsletter that “Historically, religion publishers have done well in troubled times. People are looking for comfort, consolation and answers.”