IVP, which recently rebranded itself from InterVarsity Press, reported a 16.4% sales increase in the fiscal 2019 year ended June 30 over fiscal 2018. The gain in fiscal 2019 followed a 8.9% increase in fiscal 2018 over the prior year, giving IVP a 27% jump over the past two fiscal years.
“It has not been a single book nor a single customer; not a single segment or single new strategy; not the addition of one or two new team members or author acquisitions,” says IVP’s publisher, Jeff Crosby. “Instead, it has been the accumulation of many years of relentlessly pushing the flywheel of mission-driven publishing that has led to the results we are seeing.”
Among IVP's top sellers was The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, which was released in 2016 and has increased sales over the last few years. In addition, Stabile’s follow-up, The Path Between Us (2018), had solid sales last year, IVP reported. Also included in the top 10 bestselling titles of fiscal 2019 is Sharon Garlough Brown's novel Sensible Shoes (2013), Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren (2016), and The Last Call for Liberty by Os Guinness (2018).
According to IVP, sales increased at both chain and indie bookstores, as well as at online sellers, for both for print books and e-books. The biggest sales increase for the press was with Amazon, where sales were up 25%in the 2018-2019 fiscal year. This is largely because of IVP's bestsellers, which have consistently been in the top 1,000 books on Amazon, IVP says. (However, according to a recent report on Christianity Today, Amazon sold $240K worth of counterfeit versions of Warren's Liturgy of the Ordinary. The author has shared guidelines for spotting fakes here, and in response to the counterfeiting, IVP released a statement saying it is now monitoring third-party sellers on Amazon.)
Also, in 2017, IVP signed a distribution agreement with the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), which distributes to the U.S. and Canada, and sales through this channel jumped 85% in fiscal 2019. Lastly, IVP book sales were up at B&N as well as at the Apple Books store.
While Crosby was pleased with the gains of the last couple of years, he isn't taking anything for granted. The publisher will make “measured and strategic investments” in both new strategies and people, he says. IVP published 120 books in the 2018-2019 fiscal year and forecasts over 160 for 2019-2020. Additionally, amid continued growth in the audio category, the press is testing out production of its own audiobooks with two frontlist titles, Shades of Light by Sharon Garlough Brown and Fearfully and Wonderfully by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey.
“As I look to the future, I have a great deal of hope that we can continue to be a part of re-framing the narrative about the decline of reading and the challenge of publishing in the 21st Century," says Crosby.
This story has been updated with information about sales on Amazon of counterfeit versions of Liturgy of the Ordinary.