Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Bible sales & media messages

I've been reading the Chicago Tribune's report on bible sales in the USA (see previous post) in conjunction with the China Daily's report about the "Bible Ministry Exhibition of the Church in China," which publicizes Chinese bible sales and distributions. The latter report and exhibit overtly aims to demonstrate to Western audiences that religious freedom exists in the People's Republic (a highly contested idea, to put it mildly). The juxtaposition of the two articles makes me wonder what ideological messages are conveyed by news stories about American bible sales. One overt message is to show with marketing statistics that American Christianity remains robust--not too different from the China Daily's goals, even if aimed at a different set of controversies. Another implied point reinforces the iconicity of the Bible as the perennial "best seller." The restriction of the sales statistics to single national markets (though many of the American publishers have international distribution networks) suggests that the Tribune article, like China Daily's, has some nationalistic undertones.

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