The Barna Group has published some fascinating research into the book buying habits of pastors. Highlights include:

  • There are about 300,000 Protestant pastors in the USA.
  • These pastors buy an average of 3.8 books per month per person.
  • 92% of them buy at least one book per month (compared with 29% of general population).
  • They buy between 8-13 million books a year.
  • Younger pastors buy more books than older pastors.
  • Most books are bought with a particular ministry topic in mind.
  • The other main factors in a purchase decision are author or recommendation.
  • Spirituality, theology, and leadership are the most popular topics.
  • 50% of pastors are reading biographies and 33% are consuming business books.
  • Christian retail stores and online are the two primary channels of purchase.
  • Although 50% of pastors use an e-reader, most pastors still prefer a hard copy.
  • More than 90% of pastors make book recommendations to their congregations.

You can read the whole report here.

HT: Joel Miller

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  • Dave

    Do you have access to the whole report? Way too expensive for the average pastor to purchase.

    I am curious how much of what they/we are buying is “mainstream”, “pop theology” and how much is credible, orthodox, quality material? I am often curious how much my [one pastor] buying books, even if I don’t really NEED them at the moment, supports the publishers. I’ve taken that approach before, buying stuff from Banner of Truth, Reformation Heritage, etc. as much to support them as to obtain the books. Maybe a donation to them would do more for the cause?

    And this cuts both ways: maybe I should avoid buying books from publishers I don’t agree with generally speaking and just read those books via the library.

    • David Murray

      Good ideas on the book-buying front. No I wouldn’t pay that for a report either.

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