The shifting—and some say diminishing—reading habits of Americans, coupled with new information technologies and the political challenges of the 21st century, have created both danger and opportunity for religion book publishers. Perhaps this is nowhere more true than in scholarly publishing. In recent years, the rise of the superstar scholar—an academic who writes fluently and authoritatively for general audiences, and achieves bestselling status—has been one of outstanding features of religion publishing. At the same time, presses that specialize in scholarly religion books are under increasing financial pressure, and must think as never before about reaching a broader readership.

In this issue of Religion Update, we ask the experts for their take on the tensions and problems they confront in bringing the work of religion scholars to the widest possible audience. Given the tenor of the times, and the key role played today by religion in politics and culture, there may be no more important work in publishing.