Monday, July 28, 2008

Shop Talk: Christian Books in Canada

Just a small, but I thought significant observation in this weekend's Globe & Mail Books section.

The number one book in the hardcover fiction list is The Shack by William Young...a Christian book that is selling by the boatload right now. And why, dear reader, is this one showing up when The Purpose Driven Life, Left Behind, and the Prayer of Jabez never did? Because a mainstream publisher just picked up the rights to the book.

That's right, when a Christian book is published by a Christian publisher, it will not appear on a bestseller list in Canada even though it would in the U.S. That's why the Purpose Driven Life, one of the bestselling non-fiction books of all time did not show up on any lists in Canada.

If any of you are feeling that the Christian community in Canada is insignificantly small, The Shack hitting the #1 position tells me that there's more of us than we are led to believe.


James said...

Or maybe the "Others" just like the book, too. Sheesh. :)

Brad in the 'Loo said...

Good point James. The Shack or any of the other books I mentioned would not have become such huge sellers if "Others" weren't reading them as well. Which begs the question that every marketing person asks...Why? What makes someone pick up a book like The Shack or the Purpose Driven Life and not the plethora of other Christian books that are published every year? If I knew the answer I'd be running the company by now.

James said...

I saw a little about the book in the Powells Books newsletter, and it described it like this: "Mackenzie Allen Philips's youngest daughter, Missy, is abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later, in the midst of his great sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to the shack for a weekend. What he finds there will change his life forever..."

That's just the sort of thing that many readers like (kids, crime, mystery, "change his life forever"), so I'd say that the main problem is that most people don't see or hear about books that are only on Christian publishers. Same with music, as we've discussed in the past. Ghettoizing is bad for business. If it's good, it's good for everyone, right? What do you think?

Tuneman said...

Not to mention that BookNet Canada has only been launched in 2006 and the Globe and Mail only recently is using some "formulation" of BNC and independents to come up with it's bestseller list which will be a better representation of what is selling in Canada since BNC includes Chapters/Indigo where the bulk is sold whereas Globe and Mail has not previously considered this -ie better chance to see all books ranked more fairly. However there is still the black box of what Globe and Mail does to mix BNC numbers with independent sales - is it 40%-50%-60% or who knows?

Joan Kosmachuk said...

Just finished reading "The Shack" and loved it. It might have made the list because it is a far superior book to the others you mentioned. Really, the problem with Christian fiction is that most of it is so poorly written that I'm relieved it lives on in obscurity. The Shack, by contrast, is pure literature at its best.