Biblical Archaeology Review 33:2, March/April 2007

Strata: The Bible in the News

By Leonard J. Greenspoon

Bibles are big business. Although their sales receipts are not tabulated for best-seller lists, Bible publishers bring in at least half a billion dollars each year. As one industry observer noted, with imagery not typically associated with the Good Book: “Wrapping your arms around this market is like hugging an 800-pound gorilla—it’s huge, it’s intimidating, and it can turn on you” (Publishers Weekly, October 30, 2006).

One way to obtain results is advertising to reach precisely pinpointed potential purchasers. It made good sense, therefore, for Zondervan, “the Christian publishing behemoth in Grand Rapids, Mich.” (as described in the Chicago Sun-Times), to place an advertisement for its Today’s New International Version Bible (TNIV) in publications that attract readers in the desirable 18–34-year-old demographic: “53 percent of this age group read the Bible less than once a year ... although they are huge buyers of books on spiritual and religious themes” (USA Today).

Rolling Stone clearly appeals to this age group, and the TNIV ad (like those prepared for other diverse, but clearly mainstream, publications such as The Onion and Modern Bride) did not mention the words “God” or “Christ” (Advertising Age).

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