‘Belieber!’: Religious Publishers Raking in Rewards With Justin Bieber and the Bible

Bieber-compressed(Reuters) Religious publishers in the United States are busy these days, releasing such new books as a biography of pop music phenom Justin Bieber — entitled “Belieber!: Fame, Faith and The Heart of Justin Bieber.” Other tomes mix spirituality with memoir and self-help topics. New editions of the Bible have also been released recently,  as well as e-books and audio book downloads by popular religious authors.

“Both in dollars and units sold, the industry is back in line with its historical growth of the last decade,” since the recession, said Byron Williamson, head of Worthy Publishing in Nashville, a center  for religious publishing in the United States that some say is second only to New York City for book publishing.

Worthy Publishing ships “Belieber!” to stores on Sept. 27. The book describes Bieber’s incredible popularity and Williamson said it is suited for teenage fans and for mystified parents of children who idolize the star, many of whom memorize his song lyrics.

The religion book niche appears to be doing a little better than the rest of the industry so far this year, publishing sources say, though specific data is not available. From 2008 to 2010, books in the religion category — bibles, spiritual titles, hymnals, prayer books, religious fiction and nonfiction — performed in step with the overall recovery in the book business.

In 2010, U.S. publishers sold $1.35 billion worth of religion-themed books, up half a percent since 2008, the Association of American Publishers said in a report last month. Overall, U.S. book publishers generated $28 billion in net revenues in 2010, up 5.6 percent in the past three years.

There’s been an explosion of e-books this year and the industry has also experienced strong growth in downloaded audio books. Publishers say that is because more people have smart phones and some of them want their books read aloud.

Williamson would not project sales of “Belieber!” but said there is a lot of buzz surrounding the book — the public relations campaign will include a promotion on the Times Square electronic Jumbotron and banner ads on popular online religious blogs.

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Also garnering a lot of notice is Worthy’s forthcoming book about Christina Taylor Green, the 9-year-old girl born on 9/11 who was killed in the Tucson, Arizona, shooting that wounded U.S. congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Green’s mother wrote “As Good As She Imagined,” which Williamson described as a book with a spiritual core that focuses on perseverance. Television networks have vied for interviews to prepare for the Jan. 8 year anniversary of the shooting.

The explosion of e-readers have also helped lift sales.

“The book industry is trying to work it through so that the author and the publisher don’t care how you buy the book, as long as you buy and read,” Williamson said.

The impact of digital downloads of books has not harmed the book industry as it did the music industry, where consumers might download a 99-cent song instead of a $10 to $15 album. Piracy has also been less of an issue for the book industry, Williamson said.

“Fiction is big. Biography is big. One of the big books out right now is by German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which has been a bestseller. You’ve got humor, devotional titles, self-help titles, marriage relationship books. The religion category spans every conceivable category,” he said.

“Belieber!” is already available from Amazon.com, Williamson said. Bieber helped the book’s prospects by talking up his strong faith at a recent awards ceremony.

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  • Coach

    Is this a joke, who wrote this trash of an article. What are we being careful not to judge Bieber’s immoral life by speaking against the fact that he’s writing a book to further destroy the minds of our teenagers, who have no knowledge of the Bible, but they repeated that rich fauxvangelist’s prayer, so they must be saved.

    Bieber’s a false convert at best and an all out wolf most likely. Call this book what it is, satanic trash

    • CarlG

      And the wheels on the bus go round and round. Round and round. And the big baby Coach on the bus goes waa waa waa. Waa waa waa.

      • Coach

        CarlG, you win the name calling match by default. Calling out sin, crying out sin, call it what you want.

        • CarlG

          Coach is really hurting. We can help someone who hurts by hugging a neighbor in need.

  • Ronald Carter

    People shouldn’t judge him on his faith. They should judge him on his terrible, terrible music.

    • TheBottomline4This

      I judge him on his actions. He’s stinks. Grow up Biebs.

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    Religious publishers should publish on the Christian missionaries and the victims of ISIS. Celebs like Justin Bieber only helped corrupt the Christian youth. What’s the use of Religious publishing if it helps corrupt the Christian youth?

  • ComeOnPeople!

    Had no problem with our children worshipping idols because we never allowed unholy-wood in our home or so called christian rock/ rap/ pop music in our home. We brought them up to always ask … is what I am setting before my eyes or listening to pleasing to GOD? Parents need to set an example and tune off what is displeasing to GOD and harmful to the next generation.