July 14, 2005

Religious Inflation

Tyler Cowen notes this Denver Post article which states that:

In 2004, ... Translated into consumer spending, readers spent $3.7 billion on religious books, a category that includes Christian books. That is an increase of nearly 285 percent from 1983.
This is impressive but perhaps not quite as impressive as it looks.

There is no indication in the article that the author made any adjustment for inflation so let's do it for her. First, by her numbers sales of religious books in 1983 would be $1.29 billion ($3.7 B/2.85). The CPI inflation index for the period 1983 to 2004 is 1.897, i.e., 1 1983 dollar equals 1.897 2004 dollars. Therefore 1983 sales of religious books in terms of 2004 dollars would be $2.447 billion and the increase in sales from 1983 to 2004 is about 51% not the 285% stated in the article.

Impressive? Yes! But not near as impressive as the article would have us believe.

Posted by Steve on July 14, 2005

It might be an even better measure to go by titles published for each year and titles sold for each year--that would give a better idea of the growth of the market.

Posted by zombyboy at July 14, 2005 12:35 PM


As I was futzing around with the numbers I realized that dollars painted a rather incomplete picture.

I don't think the original author was trying to do more than hype the Christian Book Dealers convention that was referenced in the article.

Posted by Steve at July 14, 2005 11:45 PM

I've always wondered if Jesus, at a Christian book sellers convention, would run through the auditorium scattering the coins of the vendors and overturn their tables. I'd like that.

Posted by Donna at July 15, 2005 2:47 PM
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