Christians tend to read more non-fiction faith-based books than Christian fiction

Christians are likely to go for non-fiction Christian books than for fiction Christian titles.

A woman stands among the bookshelves in the main reading room of The New York Public Library, December 14, 2004. | (Photo: Reuters/Mike Segar)

The New York Times April top sellers in the Religion, Spirituality and Faith category, based on March sales, includes Christian non-fiction such as: "Miracles from Heaven," a memoir by Christy Wilson Beam that was recently made into a film starring Jennifer Garner; "The Name of God is Mercy" by Pope Francis with Andrea Tornielli, which discusses the cornerstone of the pontiff's faith; and "Fervent" by Priscilla Shirer, which provides a woman's guide to purposeful praying.

According to a Barna Group article posted in October last year, 35 percent of practicing Christians would rather read Christian non-fiction, almost double than the 18 percent who like Christian fiction. This, the report said, is consistent with the desire of Christians to grow spiritually. They also tend to read more than other adults in the general population -- 34 percent say they read to be able develop in their spiritual lives, while only 21 percent of other grown-ups have the same goal for perusing books.

But while 17 percent of women say they like Christian non-fiction and 11 percent like Christian fiction, only 9 percent of men prefer the former genre and 5 percent prefer the latter.

Nielsen's BookScan results, as reported by Publishers Weekly, showed that sales of religious fiction plunged in 2014 by 15 percent while religious non-fiction rose by 12 percent. But it seems the former genre is picking up once again, up by 6 percent in 2015.

Abingdon Press had "paused" its acquisition of Christian fiction in August 2014 but started publishing 12 to 16 books after, although it's still lower than their original 25 to 36 novels per year.

"We've seen nice growth on the print side of the business," Daisy Hutton, HarperCollins Christian Publishing VP of fiction, told Publishers Weekly. "This is really encouraging based on the reality we live in."

She was referring to the change in in the publishing industry, wherein ebooks -- with so many titles to choose from -- are readily available online, usually at low prices.