At the opening General Session of the 2012 International Christian Retail Show on Sunday, David Kinnaman, president of research company the Barna Group, made a video presentation about burgeoning tablet and e-reader use by Christians; Family Christian stores also announced at ICRS the launch of its new e-reader, edifi.

A FaithWords author event on Tuesday evening featured Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel) and her husband, reality show producer Mark Burnett (Survivor; The Apprentice) showing sneak previews from their 10-hour television miniseries The Bible, set to air on the History Channel next Easter. A book based on the series, The Story of God and All of Us (FaithWords, Jan.), precedes the television showing in the spring. “This is not donkeys and sandals,” said Downey.The miniseries, produced in Morocco, features a score by Hans Zimmer. Downey noted that an advisory board of pastors included Rick Warren, T.D. Jakes, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Samuel Rodriguez, and Joel Osteen. “We see an opportunity to unify ourselves as Christians, to focus on the things we share,” she said. FaithWords also plans a youth edition and a devotional.

Kingstone Comics hosted a panel on using comics and graphic novels to combat biblical illiteracy. In conversation with consultant, author, and child development expert Mary Manz Simon, Kingstone founder and CEO Art Ayris, who also pastors a Baptist church near Orlando, Fla., said that libraries were becoming significant buyers of graphic novels. Simon said that the visuals found in comics and graphic novels make them ideal “high-low” resources for struggling young readers: they contain high interest stories but need lower reading competence. Kingstone is continuing its 12-volume Bible series and has begun another series, 101 Questions about the Bible and Christianity. Popular Christian author Randy Alcorn will be publishing Eternity (Nov.), his first graphic novel, to be illustrated by Javier Saltares, who has drawn for Marvel and Dark Horse Comics.

At a presentation for CBA retailers, Simon also rolled out fresh statistics about and trends within the children’s market. Calling a cell phone “a mom’s third arm,” she told retailers to think in terms of a referral economy, in which two-thirds of purchasing decisions are influenced by word of mouth, with consumers doing “preshopping” before they enter stores by consulting peers either personally or through “mommy blogs” and other online sources of information. Simon also described the “grandma demographic,” those consumers looking for books and products such as recordable storybooks they can purchase and use to enrich family relationships at a distance. She also described another publishing trend: spiritual nurture by fathers who are more involved in the nitty-gritty of childrearing. “Dads are more involved in the purchasing process,” Simon said. In other news in the children’s category, just before ICRS, B&H Publishing announced a new children’s imprint, B&H Kids, and publisher Dan Lynch was at the show.