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Bible vs. the Ikea Catalog – This Website’s Most Popular Commentary Revisited
Three years ago I wrote an article for this website titled “The Bible vs. the Ikea Catalog – Which is Winning Hearts?” It looked at how the annual Ikea catalog was overtaking the Bible as the world’s most distributed publication.
I actually did a bit of research to gather material for the article, including making contact with the Ikea head office and seeking out statistics from various Bible societies.
Though estimates differed, it seemed possible that more than 100 million Bibles were being distributed worldwide each year. Concerning distribution of the Ikea catalog, I wrote that “it topped 100 million for the first time in 2001, with the 2003 version – that’s the one shortly to arrive in your mailbox - requiring a printing of 115 million.”
I actually thought my finished article had something pertinent to say, and after posting it on my site I sent out emails to various other bloggers alerting them to it.
However, hardly anyone seemed to pay much attention, and the article quickly went into my archives, relatively unnoticed.
But then something happened – very gradually it got linked to by lots of other sites, and traffic to the article started to build. Within a couple of years it was by far the most popular commentary on my site, attracting hundreds of visitors each week.
It took me a while to work out where all this traffic was coming from. To my amazement, it eventually turned out that one of the main sources was this Wikipedia entry, “Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-Tung,” which links to my article and says about Mao’s Little Red Book that,
the estimated number of copies in print well exceeds one billion, certainly a record in mainland China (although, worldwide, its publication is a distant second to the Bible, or third if all publications and printings of the annual Ikea catalog are counted as a book).
Other sources were various websites devoted to Ikea products, and it seems there are plenty of these. The result now is that if you enter “bible + ikea catalog” into Google, my article comes up near the top.
So is the article still relevant?
Well, I noted that, back in 2001, distribution of the Ikea catalog topped 100 million for the first time.
This year’s edition reached 160 million.
Three years ago I wrote about Ikea, that,
It already has around 150 stores in 22 countries. In 1997 it opened in Shanghai, two years later in Beijing and a year after that in Moscow. It sees these stores as stepping stones for further penetration of those countries. It is gearing up to enter Japan. The catalogue printing run is set to soar.
Now the company operates 225 stores in 33 countries.
I think the conclusion I wrote then is as relevant as before:
China. Russia. Japan. Western Christians are spending heavily to reach people in such countries with the Gospel. Will we win hearts as readily as Ikea?
November 1st, 2005