Reaching the Market

In the wake of last week’s news about Deseret Book taking Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books, I started thinking again about what alternatives there might be to Deseret Book’s dominance of the LDS market. There seems to be little question that many more sophisticated books, although apparently some are books that make the most sensitive or religiously conservative uncomfortable, and as a result those books are mostly shut out of LDS bookstores.

That might be a simplistic explanation, and perhaps doesn’t cover all aspects of the problem. I’ve tried to discuss the problems with Deseret Book in the past (see The problem of Deseret Book Part 1: A Question of Size, The Problem of Deseret Book Part 2: A Question of Focus, The Problem of Deseret Book Part 3: Unresolvable? and Bad Move, Deseret Book). Let’s come up with some ideas for other ways to get LDS books to LDS consumers, especially those in areas not served by LDS stores.

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Andrew’s Mormon Literature Year in Review, Part II: Mormon Market Books 2008

Wm writes: Every year since 2000, Andrew Hall has put together a Year in Review for all of the major genres of Mormon letters.  AMV is pleased to bring you Andrew’s Year in Review for 2008. Today — a look at the Mormon market for books. Read the other entries in the series.

Andrew Hall’s Mormon Literature Year in Review — Part II: Mormon market books

Click here to view data on the number of books published per publisher from 2000-2008.

There was a slight drop in the number of fiction books published by Mormon publishing houses in 2008, from 94 in 2007 to 86 in 2008. The dip was due largely to a decrease in the number of books published by independent publishers, such as Cedar Fort, the third largest publisher. Covenant and Deseret Book, which are now both owned by the Church, published slightly more novels in 2008 than they did in 2007. As a result, the Covenant/Deseret Book combination published 65% of the novels in the Mormon market in 2008. That is up from 56% in 2007, and around 50% in the five years before that.  I have heard from some independent publishers that Deseret Book’s bookstore division makes it difficult for them to get even standard Mormon-themed novels onto their shelves. That is a very disconcerting trend.  In any case, it is a good bet that the total number of Mormon fiction titles will go down again in 2009, because of the dip in the economic outlook. Continue reading “Andrew’s Mormon Literature Year in Review, Part II: Mormon Market Books 2008”

What LDS Authors Need to Know

On one of the Mormon email lists I follow, a list member made a formal announcement recently that he had submitted his manuscript to Deseret Book for their consideration. The announcement included details like the title and subject of the work and its length. The announcement seemed kind of odd to me. Normally I only see such announcements, when I see them at all, after the book has been accepted for publication!

Even more unusual, the book seemed to me like something that should be aimed at a national audience, something that Deseret Book has no strength in whatsoever.

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If Not For Money, Then What?

I follow a number of self-publishing email lists, full of authors either trying to get their manuscript accepted by a publisher or trying to publish and sell the manuscript themselves. Despite the almost uniform lack of financial success among these authors, nearly every author is in the middle of writing a new manuscript.

Why?

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Separate but Equal?

When I discover a new book-related service or resource, I always explore them with a great deal of hope — hope that this discovery will provide an answer the difficult problems I see in both the LDS market and in the woldwide market for books. Along the way I’ve discovered everything from Print-on-Demand printers like Lightning Source and BookSurge, social networking sites like Shelfari, Library Thing and (I suppose) Book Crossing, and a host of different online book retailers in addition to the majors like Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

But despite the overall improvement that these resources have brought and are bringing to the market for books, these new services have all dashed my hopes for LDS books and Mormon literature. By and large they have done little to help me find Mormon books, and I sometimes wonder if they haven’t actually made it more difficult.

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