Bible readership is up, according to the latest “State of the Bible” report, which is based on research by the American Bible Society in collaboration with Barna. It shows that more than 181 million Americans opened a Bible in the past year. This number has risen over 7% from 2020, and religion publishers are taking notice. Several houses in the category are working quickly to offer new translations and fresh perspectives of the ancient texts.
Amy Simpson, associate Bible publisher at Tyndale, cites Covid-19 for shifts in Bible sales. “Although ministry Bible purchases dropped dramatically, people around the country have responded to the challenges and uncertainties by turning to the Bible,” Simpson says, adding that Bible sales have increased markedly at Tyndale over the past 18 months. As a result, the publisher is expanding its line of New Living Translation Bibles, including its Filament-enabled Bibles. These come in a variety of trim sizes, covers, and styles that work with the complimentary Filament app. The digitally enhanced print Bibles have seen strong sales since they were released in August 2020, the publisher says.
“In response to the outstanding reception to our Filament-enabled text Bibles, we are expanding our lineup as quickly as we can,” says Blaine Smith, Bibles publisher for Tyndale. “Filament editions simply redefined the text Bible category, offering users of all ages Bibles that provide an elegant print reading experience with the depth of a whole library of extra-biblical content, including videos, study/commentary content, reading plans, and a wide range of devotionals.”
Among the forthcoming Filament Enabled Editions from Tyndale are the NLT Compact Bible (Sept.), NLT Large Print Premium Value Thinline Bible (Nov.), NLT Wide Margin Bible (Mar. 2022), NLT Compact Giant Print Bible (Apr. 2022), NLT Compact Super Giant Print Bible (Apr. 2022), and the KJV Large Print Premium Value Thinline Bible (May 2022).
Crossway also had its best sales year for Bibles in the fiscal year ended May 2021, according to Daniel Bush, executive v-p of sales.
Don Jones, Crossway chief publishing officer and Bible publisher, says that Bible publishing has taken on “a deepened sense of urgency.” He adds, “The difficulty of this past year has awakened us all to the instability of life in a broken world. This has led many to turn to the Scriptures to find comfort and hope.”
Zondervan, which has published the full New International Version (NIV) Bible since 1978, is also growing its popular line, offering three new editions: NIV Radiant Virtues Bible: A Beautiful Word Collection (Sept.) focuses on the three virtues in 1 Corinthians 13—faith, hope, and love; NIV Heritage Bible, Passaggio Setting (Oct.) features single-column text for prose and double-column text for poetry; and NIV, Thompson Chain-Reference Bible (May 2022) provides thousands of references in the margins, covering over 8,000 topics within the Bible.
Additional forthcoming Bibles of note include the following:
● ESV Psalms, Photography Edition (Crossway, Mar. 2022), which pairs the English standard version of the Psalms with original photography of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
● First Nations Version: An Indigenous Translation of the New Testament by Terry M. Wildman (IVP, out now), which features the Bible written in the tradition of Native storytellers’ oral cultures.
● NET (New English Translation) Young Women Love God Greatly: Holy Bible (Thomas Nelson, Mar. 2022), which includes profiles of biblical and historical women, testimonies from women around the world, and letters from “seasoned women of faith” intended to help readers engage with Scripture, according to the publisher.
● The One Year Pray for the Persecuted Bible NLT (Tyndale, Nov.), which lays out a reading structure of 15 minutes per day for reading Scripture, alongside daily prayers for, and information about, Christians around the world who are suffering because of their beliefs.–Emma Wenner