2010 Mormon Literature Year in Review
By Andrew Hall
Part 2: The Mormon Market
Link to Part 1: The National Market
Wm notes: portions of this bibliographic review rely on comments from sources who have chosen to remain anonymous. As I said with his report on independent Mormon publishers posted here at AMV last July: I’m personally confident that Andrew has used his anonymous sources judiciously and within standard journalistic practices. But also keep in mind that the comments here represent particular points of view.
(Note: I am now posting at Dawning of a Brighter Day, the blog of the Association for Mormon Letters, a weekly column covering the world of Mormon literature. The focus is on published fiction, but I also cover theater and film. I also link to recently published literary works, news, and reviews. I hope to make the brief column a convenient gathering place for authors and readers to announce and follow news about the field each week.)
In this section, I will look at the Mormon fiction market by analysing recent trends, introducing each publisher, noting books that have received especially strong reviews, and noting the passing of a beloved author.
Despite the troubled economy, the number of literary works published by Mormon market publishers rose considerably in 2010. This was despite the fact that the publishers owned by the Church’s Deseret Media Companies, Deseret Book Publishing and Covenant Communications, stood pat on their annual output. The rise was due largely to an increase in the number of fiction works published by independent publishers Cedar Fort, Leatherwood, and Valor. Publishers report, however, that the book-selling economy remained stagnant in 2010, which means that more authors and more books crowded into the market, increasing the competition for market share. Continue reading “Andrew Hall’s 2010 Mormon Literature Year in Review: Mormon Market”
In Part I of my interview with Moriah Jovan, she provided overview of the electronic publishing market as it currently stands as well as some of the overall issues the e-books market is facing. Here in Part II, we get in to e-books in the Mormon market as well as a some advice for authors and publishers and some prognostication.
Every Sunday, I see both men and women using smartphones or PDAs to read scriptures and lesson manuals. The Church actually does a decent job of providing electronic versions of some of its materials. Do you think e-books could sell in the Mormon market? Why or why not? What types do you think would do best?
I think e-books can sell in the Mormon market as long as people are conditioned to expect products in E. Thing is, storefronts for LDS materials are so few and far between (especially east of the Rockies) that it’s not even a thought in most people’s heads. If your temple happens to have a bookstore nearby, yay, but the pickings might be slim. I live 4.5 hours away from the Nauvoo temple, and invariably get most of my materials there. (I must admit that we have a new bookstore here in KC [not very far from where I live], but I haven’t been there yet. I’m annoyed that they spam email me and there’s only ONE way they could’ve gotten my email address. It’s been a deliberate choice not to go there for that reason.) Continue reading “Electronic Publishing: an interview with Moriah Jovan, part II”
The online magazine Slate recently posted Hanna Rosin’s review of Daniel Radosh’s new book Rapture Ready! Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture. Her (and Radosh’s) descriptions of Christian attempts to create safe knock-offs of popular forms of culture and entertainment will sound strikingly familiar to anyone with the slightest bit of knowledge of the Mormon market.
For example, Rosin writes:
A Christian can now buy books, movies, music–and anything else lowbrow to middlebrow–tailor-made for his or her sensibilities. Worried that American popular culture leads people–and especially teenagers–astray, the Christian version is designed to satisfy all the same needs in a cleaner form.
The review is a must-read for Mormons. And it sounds like the book is too. I have already ordered it from my local library (I’m not alone in my interest in it though — I probably won’t get my hands on a copy until June). I’m going to get to some of the more choice bits of the review in a moment, but first a reminder: Although it’s tempting to write off the Mormon cultural project as a weak imitation of the Christian one (and in some areas it is just that), there are important differences. I’m not going to go into a lengthy treatment of them — but AMV has been exploring them throughout its’ whole history. Not so much in contrast to the Christian market (although we have done that from time-to-time), but more in the more positive vein of pointing out examples and exploring possibilities of a unique, yet not disconnected form of Mormon culture that both celebrates and critiques our own history and practice and beliefs as well as those of the broader American (and other) culture(s). Continue reading “The illusory allure of clean culture”