Opinion

Christian Publishing Companies are a Bigger Problem than Amazon

Tim Challies has written, “The Power Over Christian Publishing We’ve Given To Amazon.” He’s describing the free-market censoring of books that Amazon deems irredeemable in terms of its Leftist publishing standards. Here’s some of what he wrote:

The great problem here is that we Christians have given Amazon immense power over us. As Amazon has grown in its retail domination, first across America and then across the rest of the world, it has become the go-to bookstore—and, really, the go-to everything store—for Christians and non-Christians alike. If we look back just 10 or 15 years, we can see there was a much more diverse Christian marketplace for books. There were far more brick and mortar retailers and there were also more online retailers. Sadly, very few have been able to keep up with the juggernaut that is Amazon. Amazon won this battle because they wooed us with vast selection and free shipping and Prime Video and all sorts of great perks the other retailers simply could not match.

I’ve been writing and publishing books for nearly 40 years. I’ve only had one book published by a major Christian publishing company. Thomas Nelson published my critique of the Left Behind series: End Times Fiction. The only reason it was published is because I was friends with one of Thomas Nelson’s vice presidents at the time. In fact, he asked me to write it. It sold around 15,000 copies. Not bad for a book that was competing against the mega-selling Left Behind series.

Why would a bookstore sell a book critiquing the Left Behind series that was making these brick and mortar bookstores a boatload of money? Even so, I wrote it. The Foreword was written by R.C. Sproul. Eventually, I got the rights back when it went out of print and American Vision published it as Left Behind: Separating Fact From Fiction.

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The thing of it is, it’s not only Amazon that’s the problem. Christian publishing is a bigger problem. It’s almost impossible to get a controversial book published by one of the mainline Christian publishers unless the author is well known and has a ready-made audience and he and his book are not too controversial.

Ever try to get a book on prophecy published that is postmillennial and preterist? Good luck with that. How about a book on limited government? Herbert Schlossberg went to 100 publishers before Thomas Nelson finally published his book Idols for Destruction in 1983.

I went through an agent to see if he could get my book The Case for America’s Christian Heritage published. It’s heavily researched, footnoted, and illustrated. It’s even been typeset. The topic is relevant and needs to be told given the fact that most Christian parents send their children to government schools where America’s Christian heritage is heavily censored.

In addition, I have 35 books under my belt that have sold well without the promotional expertise of a big-name Christian publisher. My book Last Days Madness has sold around 40,000 copies. It’s about to be reprinted.

Amazon is not perfect, but they are a sight more accommodating than most Christian publishers. They’re running Season 1 of ‘Gary and the End of the World.’ They carry all my books. Yes, there are some books being banned, but most are not.

Authors who would not have a chance to get a book published by a mainline Christian publisher can sell his or her book on Amazon in digital or print format or both. My friend Brian Godawa is doing well with his book series.

Try getting my book God and Government published, even though it has sold around 100,000 copies. Or my book America’s Christian Heritage: The Untold Story.

These topics are much too controversial for the typical Christian marketplace. Charles Colson published his book God and Government, an updated edition of his book Kingdoms in Conflict, but it was not a detailed biblical analysis of biblical government in the particulars — self-, family, church, and civil, education, economics, and so much more. The principles in Colson’s book were broad and mostly mainstream.

Most Christian books dealing with government are written by well-known authors. You see, modern-day publishers want to know how you the author can help them sell your book.

This is not to say that Christian publishing is censoring viewpoints. Well, they are in the same way Amazon does. It’s the nature of the free market. No one should be forced to publish or sell someone else’s product.

American Vision learned this a long time again. We produce and publish our own products. Go and do likewise. You will get better attention at Amazon then you will at InterVarsity, Crossway, Baker Book House, Harvest House, Moody, Tyndale, and any number of mainline Christian publishers.

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