In 1987 Phyllis Tickle, then the religion editor at Publisher’s Weekly, foresaw a rising demand for religious books. Books, she wrote, were about to become “portable pastors.” Her prediction proved true. Beginning in the early 1990s, sales of religious books began a steady increase. In fiscal 1997, when Tyndale’s Left Behind series hit bookstores, growth in the market surged again (especially for Tyndale) and has remained robust.
The market for religious books continues to expand. Lynn Garrett, who took over Tickle’s post at PW when Tickle retired in 1996, said recently that despite predictions of a decline in religion sales in 2003, the Association of American Publishers was seeing an increase. “The latest figures we published (February 9) showed a 36.6 percent gain in December over the previous December.”