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The Boxing Day sales have begun, and this morning I headed down to my local Word Christian bookstore. They’re offering 15% off everything in stock (20% if you spend more than $150). Their prices are already low. I don’t know how they – and their rival Koorong, which has similar prices – do it.
Are American book buyers aware that many US Christian books (those from the leading evangelical publishers) are often cheaper here in Australia?
Maybe I don’t know where to look, but, in America, a best-seller like “Rumours of Another World” by Philip Yancey doesn’t seem to be available for less than around US$13.79 (Amazon). At Word it’s A$16.95, which is equivalent to US$12.54 (A$1 = US$0.74), and if you buy before January 3rd you get a further 15% off. There are numerous other examples.
This is good news for a book addict like myself. It’s less good news for local book writers, of which I am also one.
A couple of years ago I completed writing a novel with a Christian theme, and began the tortuous task of trying to find a publisher (I’m still trying). I phoned a senior editor at one of Australia’s largest publishing houses.
“Australian publishers aren’t so interested in Christian fiction,” she told me. “Word and Koorong import mass quantities of American titles and sell them so cheaply that local publishing houses can’t really compete.”
Word and Koorong are massively patronized by local evangelical Christians. And because they sell so cheaply, it means that general bookstores don’t normally stock many of the popular evangelical titles.
Evangelicals are supposed to be big on – er – evangelism. But we have created our own book ghettoes, where, I suspect, few non-Christians venture. In Australia today, the spiritual seeker who heads to the religion section of his or her local bookstore will be confronted with heaps of copies of the latest works of John Shelby Spong and the Dalai Lama, but is unlikely to find much Philip Yancey.
And speaking of holiday reading, don’t miss Andrew Careaga’s excellent article on punk rock.
Read, too, the just-published “Analysis of Religious Liberty and Persecution Trends, 2003” from the World Evangelical Alliance. Here are the main trends:
- Trend One – Escalating occult violence;
- Trend Two – Escalating authoritarianism
- Trend Three – Increasing fragmentation;
- Trend Four – Rising Islamic fundamentalism.
Compelling and chilling reading.
December 26th, 2003