New styles push up Bible sales
New translations and styles of Bibles are helping to push up sales of Bibles at Australia’s premier Christian bookshop chain, Koorong.
The increased popularity of the Bible is demonstrated in a 4 per cent increase in Bible sales since July 1, according to Bronwyn Billington, head of buying for Koorong.
While Koorong’s online sales have seen growth, according to assistant marketing manager Joshua van Tongeren, this is mostly a reflection of the general retail landscape. “The sheer volume of our sales is still in store. Most people want to come in store to pick up a Bible, feel it and experience it before choosing what to buy.”
Billington believes strongly in the importance of having a physical store. She tells the story of an Indigenous couple she met this week: “They were waiting outside the store at 7:50am. They had only one backpack with them”. The couple, who were in the older age bracket, told her how seven years ago they had heard the call of the Lord to sell everything and walk everywhere, telling people about Jesus. “I realised the one bag they had was all they had.” The couple had come from Darwin to the Koorong store in NSW to buy Bible resources to give away. “We don’t have Christian bookshops like this in Darwin.”
“It’s actually been the proliferation of new Bible translations in recent years which has increased the market.” – Joshua van Tongeren
The Bibles that have increased in popularity are the Christian Standard Bible (previously the HCSB) translation, along with the English Standard Version, the King James Version, The Message, the NIV and the Passion Translation Bible.
Van Tongeren believes the increase in Bible sales indicates people’s desire to connect with the Bible in new ways. “People are looking for another way to connect with the word of God. It’s actually been the proliferation of new Bible translations in recent years which has increased the market, as people try to connect with the word of God. There has been more of a need for different translations as people wish to engage with the Scriptures in different contexts.”
As well as the rise in sales of particular translations, certain bindings and styles of Bibles have been in more demand too. “In terms of the kind of Bible, growth is seen in the sales of value Bibles, Study Bibles and journaling and colouring Bibles,” says Billington.
“We are always looking to increase our range of Bibles. We especially focus on the value Bibles for bulk purchases by churches. This is a strong part of our market, and we have made more value editions available, as well as making a concerted effort to categorise our Bibles well in store.”
“Growth is seen in the sales of value Bibles, Study Bibles and journaling and colouring Bibles.” – Bronwyn Billington
Billington also reports that the ongoing interest in journaling and adult colouring books have had a positive impact on Bible sales. “These Bibles are nicely packaged and very appealing. The New Living Translation has done really well with journaling Bible editions.”
Van Tongeren adds that Koorong’s goal of providing the right Bible for each person also requires the provision of a high-end Bible offering. These “luxury” Bibles ensure that all customers are provided for in the range. “Often people are looking for a generational gift, and we want to ensure we meet the entire market.”