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Why Publishing in Africa and China Matters to You

Post 1600If your store sells magazines, you might want to check out two adjacent articles in the October issue of Christianity Today.

On page 24, an article titled Why Your Bible Was Made in China deals with the curiosity that while three quarters of Bibles manufactured in the country are for export, the good book in Chinese is a restricted commodity. Chances are that many of the Bibles on the shelves in your store were made by Amity Printing Company:

Choosing a printer comes down to “quality and competitive price,” said Tim Bensen, a buyer at Tyndale House Publishers. “We print all over the world,” he said. “Amity does good work.”

Printing Bibles is more difficult than printing other types of books, and requires a certain amount of expertise, he said.

Randy Bishop, director of Bible production at HarperCollins Christian Publishing, agrees. “Bibles have more steps in the production process,” he said. “However, the main feature that makes a Bible unique is thin paper. It takes a special expertise to print, fold, gather, and bind Bible paper.”

Along with providing skilled employment at above-market salaries, Amity maintains government standards in work practices and uses environmentally friendly materials, said Thorne. And the UBS share of Amity profits is used to subsidize Bible distribution in rural China, where Scripture is harder to obtain.

continue reading the whole article here

On page 22, a study of reading habits in three African countries reveals Africans Don’t Read African Christians.

The lack of prominent indigenous authors was also evidenced by the library holdings of five major Christian higher education institutions in Kenya, where only one African Christian (John Mbiti) ranked among the top 15 authors with the largest presence on the shelves. Kenyan Christian bookstores had a significantly different top 15, but only one African author (Dag Heward-Mills) cracked their lists.

That article is not online, but cites examples from bestseller lists in Angola and Kenya (where John Maxwell, Rick Warren and Joyce Meyer are mentioned) and Central African Republic (where Billy Graham is #4).

Are things any different in Canada? American authors totally dominate our bestseller lists, and despite historical affinity to the UK, the only British authors who chart well here are ones which have achieved recognition or are marketed through American publishers. The article concludes with the following paragraph, and I wonder if what it says is true for Canada as well:

African Christians are still teaching and learning from other African Christians, says Francis Omondi, canon of All Saints Cathedral in Kampala, Uganda. “[But] most of the reflections, experiences and learning over the years are not captured or documented,” he said. “Therefore relevant and contextual knowledge is not being retained in the community.”

This is post # 1,600 at Christian Book Shop Talk. Thank you for your support.

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