By a number of measures, sales of religion books are booming. The Association of American Publishers reports that religious publishing grew by 37 percent in 2003. The Book Industry Study Group predicts that religious book publishing will expand by 6 percent this year; it calls this sector of publishing “a growth business.” The trade magazine Publishers Weekly reports that 18 percent of book buyers said in a survey that they had purchased a religious or spiritual book within the past 12 months.
These industry sources aren’t working off the same data, the definitions of what makes a book a “religion” title aren’t uniform, and religion publishing still makes up only 5 percent of the general market. Still, something’s happening in this corner of the book world—something that reflects religion’s prominence in public life.