Christian Retailing

Fiction nearly rivals Bible purchases Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Thursday, 09 September 2010 03:50 PM America/New_York
Christians bought nearly as many fiction titles as Bibles last year, according to a new report from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) that takes an in-depth look at the Christian book consumer in the U.S.

Released for the second year, the 2009 ECPA Consumer Demographics & Buying Behaviors Report offers the purchasing patterns and behavior of Christian book shoppers as well as the book-buying habits of consumers grouped into one of five Christian segments--Active, Professing, Liturgical Christians, Private and Cultural Christians--based on spiritual interests and behaviors.

Drawing from data provided by publishing information specialist R.R. Bowker's Pubtrack Consumer service, the ECPA report includes information on consumer Bible purchases for the first time. Christian fiction (19%) nearly rivaling Bible purchases (23%) among Christians was among the key findings from the report, which surveyed 44,000 consumers.

"I think this speaks to the growing Christian fiction genre, and the overall market's receptivity to the category," Michael Covington, ECPA's information and education director, told Christian Retailing. "Outside of the Christian retail sector, Christian fiction makes up a larger, proportionate share of titles, meaning greater visibility.

"The Shack may also have had a positive impact on the category as a whole, opening up doors for broader distribution," he said. "The data reveals that Christian stores are primarily shopped by Active Christians-meaning that those Christians in the other segments buy most of their books in other places, making fiction a more visible category for them."

Other key findings from the report:
*Active Christians--described as evangelicals having high belief and high church involvement--in the 18- to 29-year-old demographic purchased a smaller share of books compared with all book buyers in that age range.
*Households making less than $25,000 per year purchased the largest number of Bibles when compared with all other income brackets.
*Households with combined incomes between $50,000 and $74,999 purchased the most Christian nonfiction and fiction books.

"The findings about Bible buyers were insightful," Covington said. "The fact that the household income for the largest segment of Bible buyers was less than $25,000 and more Bibles are purchased in stores than online-by a large margin-are revealing statistics.

"The most popular selling Bibles are under $10 per unit, but when you look at the average retail price of a Bible sold through Christian retail in 2009, it was in the neighborhood of $40," he added. "I think there are great opportunities related to channel-specific marketing of Bibles in the future.

The ECPA report is an abstract of the larger industry-wide 2009 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors Annual Report, also published by Bowker.

Click here for more information on the 24-page report, which can be purchased for $399 ($599 for ECPA non-members).