Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Promo Videos And Books

The promo video for Love Wins did its job, but it has left me wary of such tactics precisely for that reason. Scot McKnight's promo video for The King Jesus Gospel therefore leaves me uncomfortable. McKnight is a much more weighty author than Bell...in every sense of the word. Therefore the video (posted below) strikes me as an unnecessary imitation of Rob Bell's sales technique. Christians don't write books in order to sell them. A book that claims to bring us face to face with the original gospel cannot be commodified, yet that is exactly what is inferred by having a promo video attached to it. Especially a promo video that claims to disclose the true gospel to a church that is mired in counterfeits. I'll be damned if I don't wanna find out what that true gospel is...although chances are McKnight has proclaimed it already in the excellent A Community Called Atonement.

Anyway, I am wary of claims to uncover what the church has hidden for years. And I am doubly wary of such claims being made through a promo video designed to increase the sales of a book.


  1. Agreed on that

    Plus Scott just doesn't seem as photogenic as Mr Bell...

  2. I've sympathy with your scepticism over marketing of controversial ideas to stimulate sales. I'd want to defend Scot a bit here tho. Bell was elusvie and deliberately provocative. Scot's more transparently laying out what the book is about?

    "Christians don't write books in order to sell them". In an ideal world ....

  3. I certainly don't want to paint Bell and McKnight with the same brush. I guess seeing adverts for Christian books has left me feeling uneasy. Christian books seem to have become big business, and promo videos only serve to fatten the cash cow.

    I am not suggesting that Christians should not sell any books they write (although could you imagine the refreshing lack of drivel there would be in Christian book stores if the books on offer were only written by people who had nothing financial to gain from the endeavour?) What I am suggesting is that being an author who aims to serve the church is not a way to make money. In the same way that being a minister who serves the church is not a way to make money.

    Writing a book has become akin to designing a product or manufacturing a commodity. It may be idealism to think of a book as something other than a commodity to be sold en masse, but followers of the kind of person would could deliver the Sermon on the Mount should always be flirting with idealism.

  4. I wrote a book and have received the princely sum of €0.00 from vast royalty sales .... :)

    Book publishing is such a tough business for publishers or authors to make a living from these days. There are hard realities behind running a publishing business; meeting budgets, paying salaries of employees, marketing and distribution etc etc - as well as serving the church through getting the book out there.

    Absolutely I agree that the increasing commodification of Christian truth and rutlessly pragmatic approach to publishing (where the author has to have a high profile complete with his/her own pre-existing market before a proposal will be accepted) means that business and the bottom line starts to dictate WHAT gets published. And once the market begins to shape the content it's a downward spiral.

    One other thing, I think that really successful Christian authors should make public what they do with the money. As you say, the book is written 'for the church' so I think there is an accountability issue here. Marva Dawn gives all her book royalties away, as did John Stott. Wonderful.