Have I Got a Bible for You!

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How do you convince people to purchase another copy of a book they most likely already have–particularly a tome that’s been topping best-seller lists for centuries and can be found in hotel nightstands the world over? Design and demographic analysis! In Daniel Radosh‘s new book, Rapture Ready: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture (Scribner), he discusses the trend of Bibles designed for niche markets, including new believers, couples, brides, cowboys, and surfers. Revolve (shown above, at left) makes over the New Testament like a glossy teen magazine, with cover lines such as “Do U Rush to Crush?” and pages that surround the Gospels with “quizzes, photos of beaming of teenagers, and sidebars offering Bible-themed beauty secrets,” according to Radosh. And there’s more where that came from.

A recent trade show of the Christian Booksellers’ Association featured such innovations as The Outdoor Bible, printed on indestructible plastic sheets, and The Story, which includes selections from the Bible arranged in chronological order, like a novel. There are now Bibles covered in duct tape, faux fur, and simulated diamond plate. The Battlezone Bible has a scarred metal cover. TruGlo glows in the dark. For kids, there’s The Super Heroes Bible: The Quest for Good Over Evil.

Way to prime the youngsters for nuanced, critical thinking! But would-be Bible buyers are increasingly paralyzed by the ever-expanding selection, which forces them to ponder their own identities and preferences in the bookstore’s Bible aisle (should I save the planet and get the Bible in the burlap sack or the one narrated on CD by James Earl Jones?). In his book, Radosh quotes a Bible marketing manager on the effects of the glut: “There’s been research that has shown that over half the people who come into a Christian bookstore intending to buy a Bible, with money in their pocket, leave without one, because they get overwhelmed.”