Christian Retailing

'The Shack' ancillary products coming soon Print Email
Written by Andy Butcher   
Monday, 08 December 2008 11:57 AM America/New_York

Publisher wants to be ‘careful about merchandising’ opportunities with runaway best-selling novel

Products licensed to the surprise publishing hit of the year are likely to be in Christian retail stores before too long. 

The team behind The Shack has been finalizing agreements on tie-ins—expected to include T-shirts and keepsakes—as the book’s remarkable success story continues.

“We are wanting to be careful about the whole area of merchandising,” said Brad Cummings, publisher of Windblown Media. “We have had a fair amount of inquiries, and we will be careful about what seems appropriate. There are some fun things that are some great conversation starters.”

Cummings and Wayne Jacobsen brought out William P. Young’s novel themselves last year after being unable to find a Christian publisher interested in the story about a grieving man’s encounter with God in an abandoned shack.

The initial print-run of 10,000 sold out quickly by word of mouth, and there are now 4.6 million copies of the book in print, with Windblown Media signing a partnership agreement with FaithWords in the summer. Many readers have bought multiple copies to pass on to friends, telling how the book has helped them understand more deeply God’s love for them. 


Despite being criticized by some for alleged heresy, The Shack topped Christian and general market best-seller lists for weeks. Young has become an in-demand speaker at churches and groups across the country and also appeared on national TV programs.

Cummings said that licensing would probably include T-shirts, with some of the revenues going to charity. Proposed designs included, “I’m especially fond of you,” a quote from the book, and “Where’s your Papa?,” a reference to the name given to God in the story.

La Cabana, the Spanish translation of the book is due to be released soon, by Windblown Media in the U.S. and from Hispanic publishing giant Grupo Planeta in other parts of the world. The initial print run for the U.S. Spanish-language release would be around 100,000, Cummings said.

The Spanish edition follows the book’s recent release in Brazil, where the first Portuguese print run of 30,000 sold out in a week. La Cabana was the third best-selling in general market stores in Brazil a month after publication. Next year there are due to be translations in around 30 languages.

Meanwhile Cummings and Jacobsen, who worked with Young on refining his original manuscript, have teamed up with the author again for a discussion guide for The Shack due out in the first quarter of 2009. The book will explore the novel’s themes without being too directional in tone, Cummings said.

“We probably get about half-a-dozen requests a day from leaders who are taking groups through a discussion of the book,” he said. “We resisted for a long time, but realized there is enough of an interest that we can probably do something in answer to that that is helpful.”

Meanwhile, the Windblown Media team is also working on a script for a movie version of The Shack due out in 2010. “We are in discussions with the various studios,” said Cummings, and trying to ensure that “the right movie gets made.” Windblown is also due to bring out six new titles next year.

Cummings said that as newcomers to publishing, he and the others remained surprised at the success of The Shack. “It doesn’t feel like we have had to do a lot of pushing. We are just responding to what is in front of us and trying to prioritize what it seems the Holy Spirit would have us focus on.”