Did you ever wonder why your kids aren’t finding much in the way of Christian fantasy books in the library or the bookstore? There’s plenty of fantasy reading to be found, but the worldview requires lots of discussion, shall we say. There are plenty of Christians who are fantasy fans. There’s a wonderful legacy left by J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. So why is there so little Christian fantasy easily available?
Snooping around the Internet, I found Marcher Lord Press, which specializes in publishing Christian fantasy books. The founder, Jeff Gerke, tells his story: he was editing fiction at traditional Christian publishing companies, and was unable to satisfy his yen for the weird. The companies, he said, target consumers who love chick lit. That’s who buys books at Wal-Mart and Christian bookstores, apparently.
It’s true. My sons who are Christian and who are fantasy fans do not look for books at Christian bookstores or at Wal-Mart. They look in the library and in the big chain bookstores. So any books the traditional publishers might publish will not reach my sons.
So it remains to ask these questions: why aren’t libraries buying recent Christian fantasy books? And why aren’t Borders and Barnes and Noble local stores stocking them?
Marcher Lord Press and other similar outfits have decided to go directly to the consumer using the Internet. They sell through Amazon and other online bookstores, and through their own Web sites.
It remains to be seen whether this is a way to reach kids like my 16-year-old sons. So far, I’d say they aren’t Internet consumers. None of them has a credit card. They know how to check prices on e-Bay. That’s about it.
I looked on Amazon for the top-selling Christian fantasy books. The top one, featuring a soccer mom as main character, falls more or less in the chick lit category and is in fact published by a mainstream Christian publishing house, Navpress.
The second one in line is self-published and sold over the Internet only (like many similar books). It would likely appeal to my teenage sons: Heroes of Old, first in the Heroes series by Jay L. Young, which apparently has quite a following. This book is described as a cross between the Bible and the X-Men. This author is definitely not available in our library, nor in the local Barnes and Noble.
There is a disconnect here. The marketplace isn’t providing for the teen Christian fantasy market.
For one thing, i think we need to lobby our libraries to buy the best Christian fantasy books. They’re certainly buying the non-Christian ones. We need to demand our share of those library dollars!–Phyllis Wheeler