Vol. 2, No. 1, Winter 1994, Covering the Former Soviet Union and East Central Europe
Recent Trends in Polish Christian Publishing
Twelve observations about Christian publishing in Poland
Piotr Zadlo with Bill Sturdivant
Piotr Zadlo is the director of Christian Literature Mission, Bielsko-Biala, Poland. Bill Sturdivant served with International Teams in Poland from 1991 to 1993. Edited abridgement reprinted with permission from LiS Newsletter (Winter 1993)
Christian publishing has made remarkable progress in the last year. The
publication of 50 new titles in the past 12 months marks a remarkable
increase over previous years.
Three large Christian publishing houses in Poland now produce about one
new book per month, while a few smaller publishers produce an average
of six books per year.
Some of the books being translated and published in Poland are too
Western and do not relate well to Polish culture. Christian publishers
need to identify and train promising Polish prospects to write
Christian material for Poland.
Publishing houses have a variety of specialized emphases, such as
devotional literature and spiritual biographies, books on marriage and
family issues, or books addressing particular audiences: pastors,
teachers, scholars, or children and youth.
- I would estimate that about 70 percent of Christian books published
last year focused on issues of marriage and family. These books, which
sold rapidly and produced quick profits for reinvestment, now are in
less demand in Christian circles, but are in increasing demand in the
In recent years publishers have been producing books of improved
physical quality and attractiveness. Colorfully designed jacket covers
now arouse curiosity, in contrast to the gray and drab covers of the
In recent times books subsidized from the West have been affordable to
the average Pole, but also have kept prices unrealistically low. Such
subsidies now are rare, causing no little fuss from the general public.
Now, disgruntled consumers ask, "Why are your prices so high? Are you
trying to make a huge profit?" In fact, in order to stay in business
and to expand distribution, publishers must make a small profit.
It costs the average Pole one percent of monthly income to purchase one average-priced Christian book.
Due to a lack of investment capital, most publishing houses plan to
sell their entire print run within six months. Therefore, they print a
small quantity in order to gain a faster turnover with the money they
Poland's expanding distribution system for Christian literature
currently consists of 10 distributors, 40 bookstores, and a few church
In most cases Christian bookstores are struggling financially. Some
have had to close while others are staying open only with foreign
subsidies. The majority of Poles are Catholic and are not interested in
purchasing "evangelical books," though, interestingly enough, they have
shown a keen appetite for titles addressing sex in marriage and family
A few years ago books seemed to sell themselves because affordable,
quality publications were a novelty. Now, promotion and marketing
require increasing attention. Christian publishers today must
constantly search for new methods and strategies to keep their
Piotr Zadlo with Bill Sturdivant, "Recent Trends in Polish Christian Publishing," East-West Church & Ministry Report, 2 (Winter 1994), 9.
Roman Catholic resurgence and church-state relations in Poland
receive insightful analysis in two recent articles by Anna
Sabbat-Swidlicka: "Church and State in Poland," and "Church Synod Seeks
to Renew Polish Catholicism," Radio Free Euope/Radio Liberty Research Report
2 (2 April 1993): 45-53; and 54-57. While Poland's population is
overwhelmingly Catholic, significant divisions exist over the
advisability of the current level of church involvement in politics and
social issues (such as abortion, birth control, and religious
instruction in schools) and over the possibility of Catholicism
regaining its pre-World War II established church status.
Evangelical and Orthodox Christians in Poland naturally follow this
East-West Church & Ministry Report, 2 (Winter 1994), 9.
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© 1994 Institute for East-West Christian Studies
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