The Popularity of Christian Books

Intro
I have been thinking a lot lately, as my last few posts may have indicated, about just what American Christians are reading. This has been fueled not only by my own reading of The Shack, but also by my discovery of two great websites. One is a blog by an author named Tim Challies, the other a companion site called Discerning Reader. Neither site is perfect, of course, but both are very interesting.

Anyway, this got the nerdy side – it’s a big side – of my personality fired up, and I started wondering what American Christians are reading, and what they think of it. So, I conducted a little study of Amazon reviews of popular Christian books to see how various books were rated. (Warning: extreme geekery follows…) Continue reading “The Popularity of Christian Books”

Marketing The Shack

I posted a short review of The Shack here, earlier. I would love to hear from my readers about another, related topic: the book’s marketing. In my opinion, the way in which The Shack has been marketed raises some disturbing questions, of a kind I don’t normally associate with “mainstream” “Christian” books.

First, there is the Missy Project, which is explained in a two-page blurb at the end of the physical copies of the book, as well as on the book’s official site. (Missy, for those who have not read the book, is the name of a little girl who is abducted and murdered in the book.) This blurb encourages people to blog about it, write reviews (especially positive ones, of course), display it, seek positive reviews from others, buy multiple copies to give away, and so on. My favorite:

Talk about the book on email lists you’re on, forums you frequent and other places you engage other people on the Internet. Don’t make it an advertisement, but share how this book impacted your life and offer people the link to The Shack website.

To me, this sounds like straight-up viral marketing. The proceeds of the book, so far as I can tell, are not being donated to any charitable cause, but are going to the publisher and the author. So, either the author and others are really very convinced that the book is life-changing and are committed to bringing their message to a wide audience (which, conveniently, sells more books), or this is a shameless plug.

Then, there is the author’s site, the home page of which opens with this:

If you are so inclined and would like to write a review for Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble, especially a 5 star review, we would greatly appreciate it.

If that’s not a shameless plug for a book, I don’t know what is. In fact, the entire site feels like one big marketing device. Look at it for yourself.

Loyal readers: what are your thoughts?

Public Service Announcement: Tested Advertising Methods

After watching a truly horrifying self-produced commercial, I felt compelled to recommend again a book which everyone in business should read. It’s a classic, called Tested Advertising Methods, and it basically tells you all you need to know about advertising (what works and what doesn’t, why, etc.). Do yourself or the business geek(s) in your life a favor, and pick up a copy. It’s actually very entertaining and informative reading, even if you never put together an ad in your life.

An example of what does not work, when advertising a local Internet access provider, is video of strangely dressed people in an echoing room looking at TVs showing your old ads (which, by the way, consisted almost entirely of your logo) and saying things like, “We’re looking at 10 years of [COMPANY] ads!” Seriously, that was the entire commercial. Geeks, in a room, with TVs, saying stupid things do not make me want broadband any more than I did before, much less provided by said geeks…

 

 

 

 

New Feature: Current Reading and Listening

I have added a fun new feature: on certain pages (the home page, Music page, EdBlog, and books section), my current and most recent reading and listening selections will appear on the left side. I have always thought this was a cool feature on other sites, because it’s (a) interesting to see what makes people tick and (b) a good way to learn about good books and music from people with similar interests.

Let me know what you think!

Harry Potter, Parents, the Media, and the Lunatic Fringe(s)

“Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.” (German: “Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen.”) — Heinrich Heine, from his play Almansor (1821)

I saw a report on CNN Headline News, earlier, about the (midnight, last night) release of the latest Harry Potter novel. Forget for a moment that 300,000 Britons felt the need to hang around British bookstores in the middle of the night to buy a supposed children’s book at the earliest possible instant; what bothers me is how the debate over the value of these books is carried on.

Continue reading “Harry Potter, Parents, the Media, and the Lunatic Fringe(s)”

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