ECPA's Rush To Press

Christian-Fiction Readers Buy, Read More Books,
Creating Bookstore Opportunities

Contact: Eric Grimm, CBA:
Phone: (719) 272-3503

Cynthia Ruchti, ACFW:
Phone (715) 207-9066

ORLANDO, FLA. – Christian fiction readers read more than the national average and are more frequent book buyers, which creates a core customer opportunity for Christian stores.

Nearly 50% of Christian-fiction readers read more than 10 books annually; by comparison, only 36% of American adults read more than 10 books per year, according to a 2014 Pew Research study.

Christian Fiction Readers: Worthy Pursuing, Worth Keeping, a reader survey conducted through a cooperative effort of CBA, The Parable Group, The Baker Publishing Group, and American Christian Fiction Writers, supports that finding and adds that half of responding Christian fiction readers are purchasing more titles today than five years ago, but buying and reading behaviors have changed.

Trade paperbacks are still the most popular format for readers at 41% despite what some may presume is the age of digital dominance, with 28% of Christian fiction readers responding that they read on e-books or digital formats. Readers also choose mass-market paperbacks (16%) and hardcover (12%). Audio book preference was noted by 2% of respondents.

The reader survey showed that top sales drivers for Christian fiction are the story itself (94%), the desire to keep reading a story in a series (69%), recommendations about a book (68%), and author familiarity (89%). Those findings can inform retailers, publishers, authors, marketers, and all levels of the industry.

The top Christian fiction genres reported by surveyed readers were historical fiction (66%), romance (52%), contemporary (51%), romantic suspense (50%), suspense/thriller/legal thriller (47%), and mystery/espionage (45%), which also reveals that many Christian fiction readers read more than one genre.

The majority of Christian fiction readers responding (69%) also read general-market fiction. Of Christian fiction readers who read both types, about half said annual general-market purchases haven’t changed over the past five years, but 36% said annual purchases have increased.

Nearly 80% of respondents shop at a local Christian store because they like the concept of a Christian store, appreciate its atmosphere, and like the selection. Respondents said they would purchase more books at a Christian store if prices were lower, book selection was better, or the store were more conveniently located.

David Lewis, Baker Publishing Group marketing and sales VP, said Christian-fiction readers are the most frequent book buyers and are heavily engaged in Christian stories. “Christian stores should not give these customers up. They are worth fighting for.”

Cynthia Ruchti, an award-winning fiction author and American Christian Fiction Writers professional liaison, said fiction readers are real fans, but their interests range beyond just the most popular genres. “What matters to readers is the story itself,” she said. “That suggests a broader selection of genres help create a destination in the store for fiction readers. It’s important to understand the opportunity to present a broader appeal to fiction readers who are often going elsewhere to purchase books.”

Randy Ross, The Parable Group marketing specialist involved in conducting the study said helping readers discover new authors and series is a key consideration in the age of e-books.  “Selection and knowledgeable staff are important issues to consider when building a fiction statement in the store.”

Curtis Riskey, CBA president, said the fact that Christian fiction is read for entertainment doesn’t lessen the value of Christian product. “Readers are looking for clean, faith-driven content that makes a difference in their lives. Christian retailers can help make that connection to great stories,” he said.

The online survey received nearly 1500 responses with a confidence level in the responses at +/- 2.6%. The complete survey with more points of interest to the retail and publishing industries may be downloaded at FictionTrends.

Jet Marketing of Grand Rapids, MI, produced the research, which was co-sponsored by the American Christian Fiction Writers, CBA, Baker Publishing Group, and The Parable Group.

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CBA, the Association for Christian Retail, is the global trade association for Christian-product providers and distributors. It supplies vital connections, information, education, encouragement , and advocacy to help Christian resource providers reach all people.