Bible Sales Up, Bible Reading Down in 2020 from Christian News Journal
Americans bought more Bibles in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic spread, industry leaders said, but a major study shows Bible engagement during the pandemic was no greater than the previous year.
Both Lifeway Christian Resources and Thomas Nelson Bibles saw increases in Bible sales, which a Thomas Nelson executive described as an increase seen industry wide.
But the American Bible Society (ABS), in conducting both its annual State of the Bible research in early 2020 followed by a special COVID-19 study months later, found that Bible engagement slacked after the pandemic began.
“While State of the Bible data show that Scripture engagement was up significantly in January, compared to the same time in 2019,” ABS said in its report, “by June Scripture engagement had fallen to below 2019 levels.”
SCRIPTURE ENGAGEMENT HIGH IN JANUARY
January’s Scripture engagement of 70.9 million adults, or 27.8%, marked the highest level since 2011, ABS said, but by the first week of June, engagement had fallen to 22.6. The decrease means 13.1 million Americans were no longer consistently interacting with Scripture, a change ABS contributed to the “significant pressure” of the COVID-19 crisis. While women were previously more scripturally engaged than men, engagement during the pandemic appeared equal between the two genders.
While industry leaders didn’t reveal the percentage increase in sales, they were up at both Lifeway, which sold 2.5 million Bibles in 2020, and at Thomas Nelson, which said it saw its best sales in eight to 10 years.
Lifeway’s Bible sales remained strong as the pandemic began, indicating a “significant increase” in online sales April through June.
“We believe the growth in Bible sales during those early months of the pandemic was no accident, as people often go to the Bible as a source of hope in times of crisis and uncertainty,” said Lifeway President and CEO Ben Mandrell. “People draw hope from Scripture because in it they see a God who is with us during our suffering. The Bible, as God’s words to us, is a reminder that He doesn’t leave us to walk through difficult times alone. Scripture has a way of bringing hope and healing in times of difficulties.”