September 11, 2001, will be remembered by most Americans as The Day Everything Changed. Tastes in reading--and thus, publishers' plans--are no exception. For the past six months, we've been tracking the movement of books on topics that connect, directly and indirectly, with the events of that clear Tuesday morning. In this issue of Religion Update, we examine more deeply the ways in which publishers and booksellers have responded to the new needs of American readers.
Sales of the Bible and the Koran both rose steeply right after September 11. Although Bible purchases have since returned to more normal levels, anecdotal evidence suggests the Koran is still on the wish lists of many. And publishers are churning out books on Islam as never before, though booksellers tell us the initial buying frenzy may already be subsiding. Interest in books on comparative religion and religious plurality may show more endurance in the marketplace. And a topic that usually sees greater publishing activity once every four years--religion and politics--became a hefty subcategory this season, heavily sprinkled with titles on the religious roots of terrorism.
Though consumer tastes and needs can be expected to shift again in the coming months, the effects of the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. will be long-lasting. It remains to be seen which of the many books published in the aftermath will stay in readers' minds and on their bookshelves.
Bridging Faith Divides
In a changed world, books help neighbors understand each other
New books on the world's second largest religion may be challenged by a softer market
A Match Made in History
The race is on for books pairing faith and politics
Books in Brief
World Religions and Interfaith Books
Scholars Suzanne Haneef, Tamin Ansary, and Rowan Williams
tackle a broad range of topics
All Faiths Calendar
Selected observances for Late March, April and May