An experiment dissected

Five days ago I decided to try a small experiment here. After seeing f the price of the last ever News Of the World rocket to 30x its normal price, I wondered about selling the Bible as a book with the real ‘news of the world’ in it. Could it compete on Ebay (where News of the World was selling) on its own merits, free of any overtly religious description or trappings?

In the past five days the Ebay page for the #BOOK has received 442 visits, and the 11 bids took it to a price of £5.50. The experiment is too short and the sample too small to draw any serious conclusions. However, here are some observations:

  • As a commercial venture, this was not a success – raising only 51p more than the price for which it was bought (although all of it goes to charity).
  • Numerous people tweeted it to their friends, some of whom would not have done so with a link to a standard page for selling a Bible.
  • So far as I can tell, the people bidding were mostly aware of the #BOOK’s identity.
Some years ago, the Pocket Canon Bible books were published. Each Bible book was published separately, with a gritty, understated non-religious cover:

Image: farm3.static.flickr.com

Sadly,you have to hunt around for them now.  The publishers were not trying to make the Bible ‘trendy’ – in fact the text was from the King James Version. Rather, by packaging it differently they were easing its way off the pews and onto the commercial bookshelves. This was a brave and commendable design decision – presumably not met with universal approval by more conservative Christians (note the cover for The Wisdom of Solomon above).
I am still in the process of writing a book on Jonah for publication next year. There can be few Bible stories more widely available outside the church than this one. My aim, though, is to retell it as the disturbing and adult story that it is. Running away from your destiny and finding that your heart is smaller than God’s is an experience more familiar to adults than children, I suspect.
In the end the Bible’s journey from pew to bookshelf to heart will be made not by cover design nor novel packaging, but by rewording in the speech and lives of those who read it.
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