Last week, at the International Christian Retailers Show (ICRS), a fiction product trends workshop was held for Christian retailers around the globe. During the presentation, it was unveiled that Christian fiction readers buy more and read more books than others. In fact, more than 50 percent of Christian fiction readers read more than 10 books per calendar year, compared to the 36 percent national average.
This is good news not just for Christian authors, but for Christian retailers as well—many of whom are struggling to stay afloat (the ICRS saw a 25 percent decrease in attendance this year compared to last year).
While the Amish romance novels are often thought to be the most popular form of Christian fiction, historical fiction actually took the gold for top Christian fiction genre (66 percent). This was followed by romance (52 percent), contemporary (51 percent), romantic suspense (50 percent), suspense/thriller/legal thriller (47 percent) and mystery/espionage (45 percent).
I was fortunate to attend this workshop and the panel of six authors seemed both surprised and delighted by the survey results. They then elaborated on the passion behind their work, how they feel retailers can best sell their titles, and more.
As reported by Christian Retailing, “CBA President Curtis Riskey 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,” Riskey said.
One of the authors present on the panel reminded the retailers that Jesus used stories to explain complex topics. He spoke in parables.
Luke 11:5 (NLT) says, “Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: ‘Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him … ’ ”.
For Christian fiction writers, they too, often try to portray intricate faith obstacles through storytelling. While not always overtly Christian, the goal is to infuse life-changing truths into their writing.
Several authors could recount a time or two when a reader wrote to them about how they found Jesus through their fiction. As one can imagine, these were just examples of many emails these best-selling authors have received over the years.
What is your favorite genre of Christian fiction and how has it made a difference in your life?
 According to the Christian Fiction Readers: Worthy Pursuing, Worth Keeping reader survey conducted by CBA, The Parable Group, Baker Publishing Group and American Christian Fiction Writers. For more information: http://www.christianretailing.com/index.php/newsletter/latest/28122-study-christian-fiction-readers-buy-read-more-booksand http://cbaonline.org/FictionTrends/.