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When Books Defy Categorization

Sometimes the best books get lost in the shuffle, even in Christian bookstores. I mean, where do you put Operation World? Is it a missions title? Prayer title? World issues title? Apparently Andy Andrews knows what it’s like to have your book mis-filed. In the opening to his new book, The Noticer Returns, he writes:

Travelers GiftThe first book I wrote that was read by anyone other than my family and friends was called The Traveler’s Gift. It was easy to read and interesting – at least that’s what folks said. I thought of it as a story that includes some of life’s principles. It eventually made the New York Times Best Sellers List in the Fiction category, but that same week the book made the Wall Street Journal Best-Selling Books list in Nonfiction. Barnes and Noble placed it in their Self-improvement section. Amazon.com determined it to be Literature, and there it stayed until they finally settled on the two different categories it still occupies today: Inspiration and Spirituality.

Even the stalwart publication Publisher’s Weekly struggled to define it. Widely read and greatly respected, Publisher’s Weekly is an international magazine that has been produced four times a month since 1872, and for the first time in a history of more than one hundred years, Publisher’s Weekly listed and reviewed a single book – The Traveler’s Gift – in different sections within a week of each other, in October 2002. Religion loved The Traveler’s Gift and gushed, “Andrews is an author to watch.” The review even compared the book favorably to the Christmas classic It’s A Wonderful Life. On the other hand, the Fiction section greatly disliked the book and gave it a negative review.

Meanwhile, the New York Times kept The Traveler’s Gift on its best seller list but decided the book was not fiction after all. They placed it in the Business category. To this day, I walk into most bookstores and still need to ask for help finding the Andy Andrews titles. Believe it or not, I was once escorted to my own books . . . in the Travel section.

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