Dear Book Lovers,

It has been said, “You are what you eat.” With the book industry it could be said, “The industry is what we, the consumer, buys.” OK. I know that is overstating things, but the publishing industry is, and I think we forget this, a business. (I think those of us who love good stories and great story-telling can’t imagine that a publisher wouldn’t have that as their only consideration for publication, but they don’t.)

Publishers, editors and agents at the conferences will often ask a writer proposing a book, “Who is your market?” (Hint for “newbie” writers: In answer to this question, do not say, “Everyone.” Not unless you want to watch an agent’s eyes glaze over.) Who is your market is not an idle question on their parts. The editors and agents are trying to assess–in a ballpark way–whether the book will garner a large enough share of the market to cover the costs of printing, promoting and distributing that book.

What does this mean for us as consumers? I think it means that we need to buy the kind of books that we believe in and stay away as much as possible from those we don’t. If we want the industry to produce books that give children hope and model God’s ways, we have to seek them out (read reviews, check author websites, etc.) and then we have to buy the books.