East-West Church & Ministry Report
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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 secular market.
  6. 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 past.
  7. 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.
  8. It costs the average Pole one percent of monthly income to purchase one average-priced Christian book.
  9. 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 do have.
  10. Poland's expanding distribution system for Christian literature currently consists of 10 distributors, 40 bookstores, and a few church book stalls.
  11. 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 issues.
  12. 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 businesses afloat.
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)

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 debate closely.

East-West Church & Ministry Report, 2 (Winter 1994), 9.

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1994 Institute for East-West Christian Studies
ISSN 1069-5664

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