Saturday, December 29, 2007

The B- I - B - L -E! That's the Book for ... Greater Profits?

The original scribes of the Bible may have been inspired by God. Their modern-day successors? They find inspiration in vacuum cleaners, polka-dot bedspreads and a slick, hot-pink Juicy Couture purse.

This all may sound a bit irreverent. But consider it from the Bible publisher's point of view: How do you sell a really old book that 91% of households already have?
-- LA Times


This may sound a bit irreverent, but are these guys nuts?

Apparently, the Bible marketers from Zondervan, have been sitting in what they call their "Bible Bunker" figuring out how to make God's word more marketable. They look at the latest trends in appliances, accessories and such and then transfer those styles into faux leather, and, voila, a new marketable Bible.

It certainly is thrilling to be a Christian in this country.

According to the L.A. Times, it is still possible to buy a standard, plain black Bible for a mere $7, but, then if that's all that people did, where would the Christian publishing industry be? Certainly not at the $770million dollar sales that Zondervan took in last year.

Of course, I'm willing to bet that the same number of people would have Bibles, the profit just wouldn't be so great. However, if your purpose is just to sell as many Bibles as possible, then its not the number of people who own (and read) Bibles that matter, it's the number of Bibles sold. Obviously, we, or perhaps they, are much better off when we buy the $35 stylized Bibles they sell.

The really funny thing is that there are people comparing these guys to Martin Luther and William Tyndale. They are making the Bible more accessible.

WOW! And, I thought that Tyndale and Luther made the Bible more accessible through translation, language and doctrine rather than by adding a snazzy cover or marketing to a niche crowd (like surfers...).

But, these bastions of inclusion, in an effort to make God's word "more accessible" have come up with many new Bibles including, (and no, I'm not kidding about this) a Bible for Sorority Rush. So, as you send your young daughter off to the life of drinking, sex and who-knows-what-else, they can carry a copy of the Bible in their sorority's colors -- but, apparently only if you're a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha.

"There is a line, because it's God's word," VP Scharp (Vice President of Bible Sales for Zondervan) told the LA Times. But then later he confessed, "It's hard to draw the line in any one place and say, 'We're never going to cross that." Apparently so.

The really crazy, or maybe possibly sad/funny or befuddling, thing is that these guys think that it's their marketing that's selling the Bible. It almost appears that they think God's Word would die out if they didn't market it in colors that co-ordinated with Jenni's new outfit or cool enough to be in the arms of a cool band member.

How much would you be willing to bet that the vast majority of Zondervan's sales are to people who already own a Bible? Why would you have to up the ante with some new marketing scheme unless you are selling Bibles to people who don't need another?

Are we really trusting these people with the precious Word of God?

But, in the words of Zondervan's own, I'll close my epistle of foolishness:

"If you put chocolate coating on an Oreo, it's a different cookie, and you ought to be able to charge more," Caminiti argues. "The packaging has to scream that this is something really new: First time! Fudge-dipped! Chocolate-coated!"

Todd Niemeyer, vice president of sales, chuckles and murmurs, "Smoke and mirrors."

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