Catholic publishers see boost from interest in Pope Francis

Libreria Editrice Vaticana's booth at the Turin International Book Fair, May 8-12, 2014. Credit: Luca Carusa/Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

The “Francis effect” has invigorated Catholic publishing houses, and religious books are becoming less of a niche market, publishers at a recent international book fair in Italy have explained.

This year’s Turin International Book Fair, held May 8-12, was the first instance in which the Holy See had been invited as a special guest to the event; its publisher set up a booth featuring a large St. Peter’s dome made of books.

“The invitation of the Holy See as special guest at the Turin book fair should mark the beginning of a new approach to religious publishing in the world,” Fr. Giuseppe Costa, director of Libreria Editrice Vaticana, the Holy See’s publisher, told CNA May 9.

Widespread interest in Pope Francis can help relaunch Catholic publishing; the boost from Pope Francis has built upon the success of the works of Benedict XVI, which began to spread in secular environments.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, said May 10 at the book fair that Pope Francis’ “communicative strength is not the result of a ‘communications strategy.’ The source of his communication’s effectiveness lies in his evangelical authority.”

Greg Erlandson, president of Our Sunday Visitor, explained that “the Catholic market in the United States is difficult” since “it is fragmented by demographics, politics, and cultures, and many of these divisions impact how broadly a Catholic best-seller is likely to reach.”

At the same time, Erlandson said “all is not lost,” praising the “undeniable ‘Francis bounce’ that has invigorated Catholic publishing.”

“Books about Pope Francis, and collections of his homilies both before and after he was made Pope, continue to sell strongly,” he emphasized.

According to Albrecht Weiland, president of Verlag Schnell und Steiner GmbH, the situation is similar for publishers in Germany.

He said that “5.9 percent of the global production of books deals with religion,” since “readers, both believers and non-believers, show a great interest toward religion.”

Henrique Mota, president of the Portuguese Principia Publishing House, underscored that a Catholic publisher “must face two challenges: the first is the cooperation between Catholic publishers and booksellers, and the second is the acknowledgement of the importance of Catholic publishing houses, which are not second class.”
“Catholic publishing houses can play a relevant role in fostering an alternative mainstream in contemporary society, where the voice of Catholics is increasingly becoming a minority,” Mota said.

And in Italy, in the first year of Francis’ pontificate, there were published 111 books of his writings, and 139 about him.

Giovanni Cappelletto, president of the Catholic bookseller’s union in Italy, commented that religious books have “gained an important space thanks to the developing interest in religion,” while adding that they have yet to “rid themselves of the label of a ‘niche sector’ of the market.”

Cappelletto also said that Catholic publishers should foster the publication of books which will maintain readers’ interest over time, rather than “instant books,” which he said will make a difference with secular publishers “who tend to look for religious best-sellers only with a view to enlarging their market, rather than delivering a message.”


Voices

Seeking the face of God in the Scriptures

Archbishop José H. Gomez

Prayer is seeking the face of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls the story of how St. John Vianney once found a peasant praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The saint asked him what he was doing, and the man replied: “I look at him and he looks at me.”

Events

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February 13, 2016

  • Saturday, February 13

    World Day of the Sick Mass, Mass and Anointing of the Sick, 12:30 p.m., Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels,  555 W Temple St, Los Angeles. Archbishop Gomez presiding with other bishops and priests. Special section designated for those in wheelchairs with volunteers available to help. Limited parking available for $8. Carpooling is encouraged. For more info: Chuck Huebner at cjhuebner @gmail.com or Jim LoCoco at flavialococ0@msn.com.

     

     

    Bosco Tech’s Yurak Memorial Run & Kids’ Fun Run, Check in begins at 8 a.m., Memorial Run at 9 a.m., Fun Run at 10 a.m., Bosco Tech, 1151 San Gabriel Blvd., Rosemead. Race registration is $35 per person. For school groups of 10 or more, the cost is $30. To register online, go to www.boscotech.edu/events or www.yurak.eventbrite.com; same-day registration available at check-in table. Included: racing fees, finisher medal, goodie bag and BBQ lunch. Plaques will be awarded to the top five male and female runners and to the fastest runner under 18.All proceeds to benefit Bosco Tech’s Yurak Athletic Center (YAC). 

     

    Cabrini Literary Guild “Sweetheart Bingo” Meeting, Sat., Feb.13 at Oakmont Country Club, 3100 Country Club Drive, Glendale. Meeting starts at 11 a.m., lunch at 12 p.m. ($30/person), and bingo social at 1 p.m. Bingo cards are $5 each, or $20 for five cards. For reservations, call (818) 790-3485.

     

    Footprints: Making Tracks for Neighbors in Need, 8:30 - 11:30 a.m., Bishop Amat High School track, 14301 Fairgrove Ave., La Puente. Catholic Charities San Gabriel Region will present this annual walk/run fundraiser to increase awareness about poverty, hunger and homelessness in the San Gabriel Region. Proceeds benefit those lacking basic needs, such as food, clothing, transportation and shelter. This is a come anytime, leave anytime event, with the first lap around the track to be led by Bishop David O'Connell. For more information, visit lentenfootprints.yolasite.com or contact Mary Romero at (213) 251-3582 or mromero@ccharities.org.

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