I’m sure my figures are low, but according certain online sources, Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life has sold about 30 million copies. Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkin’s Left Behind series of 16 books cashed in on more than 65 million volumes. And Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential, as of March 2006, had scored more than 3 million copies. Other associated works, such as journals, daily devotionals and study guides, made their profits soar even higher.
My point is this: writing books can be a very prosperous profession.
An indication of how popular Christian books and authors have become can be seen in the fact that many of the biggest sellers are published by subsidiaries of major secular companies. Osteen’s book was published by Warner Faith, a division of the Time Warner Book Group. His second book went to Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster.
Although Warren’s book was published by Zondervan, a Christian publisher, the company was bought in 1978 by HarperCollins, a large secular publisher. The LaHaye and Jenkins’ books were published by Tyndale House, a Christian publisher.
The Free Press reportedly paid Osteen several millions – some indicate more than $10 million – to woo him away from Warner Faith. Osteen’s profits on Your Best Life Now are believed to have exceeded $10 million on just the $20 hardcover version, which doesn’t include his likely income from other related books and journals.
Most of these authors have given away large portions of their fortunes. Warren reportedly donates 90% of his income. Osteen reportedly gave up his 2006 annual church salary of $200,000. And LaHaye has given millions to Christian and conservative causes he believes in.
Of course, there are many other best-selling Christian books and authors. We'll discuss many of them in the future.
While the three best-selling authors we've mentioned have racked up mind-blowing numbers in sales, all of them together do not begin to touch the estimated 5 to 6 billions books sold by perhaps the best-selling author of all time – the Father God. That’s billion with a “B.”
If you haven’t guessed by now, this blog is about books – Christian books. We’ll deal with classics as well as contemporary books; books that teach and preach as well as books that entertain. And we’ll occasionally throw in some other information that we feel you should know.
Check us out often.
Stanley O. Williford
Next: Review of Charles & Frances Hunter's To Heal the Sick.