French Catholic publishing houses restructuring

While the pope’s encyclicals or books inspired by him are selling well—already more than 50,000 copies of the French translation of The Name of God Is Mercy have been sold—Catholic French-speaking publishing houses are facing serious economic hurdles, writes religion journalist Claire Lesegretain in the French daily La Croix (May 3). Some challenges are shared with secular publishing houses—the average age of people reading books is getting older. But other challenges are specific to religious publishers, including lower levels of religious practice and interest in transmitting the faith and more interest in books by non-Catholic authors, thus decreasing Catholic publishers’ market shares. Finally, Catholic publishing houses have long relied on networks of religious bookstores due to difficulties in positioning their publications well in secular bookstores, but more religious bookstores are closing each year, making it harder for Catholic publishers to reach their niche audience. Among the Catholic publishers’ responses is a trend toward concentration, with smaller but viable publishing houses being acquired by larger ones while keeping their label. At the Paris Book Fair in March, twenty publishing houses gathered at a single, large booth in order to increase visibility. Editors are also actively looking for Catholic authors able to attract readers belonging to the younger generations, and the French bishops have started a committee to promote religious publishing.

(La Croix –