USA Today has reported that quarterback Tim Tebow is the top selling religion author of 2011. From the article:
Tebow’s Christian life story, Through My Eyes, has become the top-selling new release of 2011 from HarperOne, a leading religion book publisher. With 220,000 copies sold since its June launch, Through My Eyes has even outsold Rob Bell’s best-seller Love Wins, which sparked intense debate with its unorthodox views about hell.
To Rob Bell’s disappointment, Tebow wins.
According to Harper/Collins there are now 475,000 copies of Through My Eyes in print and more are expected after the current run is over. As was famously stated on Twitter last week, “A white Bronco hasn’t gotten this much attention since O.J.”
What does it mean that a quarterback who did not even start the season starting for his team has sold more books than the most controversial theology book of the year? Here are a few of my own thoughts.
First, stories still matter. This book was released before the season started. If Tebow were still riding the bench his book would be heading for the discount table faster than the Broncos came back in the Chicago Bears game. But, as Tebow’s mythical story unfolded before our eyes sales increased and increased and increased. The drama and majesty of the story sold the book.
Second, books still matter. The argument over print vs digital is not worth having if books do not matter. If no one buys the format is trivial to the point of absurdity. As Tebow’s book demonstrates (as well as The Hunger Games and Larssen’s Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy) people will read if the book is appealing enough.
Third, strategy can be highly rewarding. Harper took this book to press while Tebow was still be widely derided as a colossal failure, before he was named the starter, before the streak. Without that unknown turn of events I cannot imagine that there would be enough Florida fans willing to buy the book to have made it a worthwhile venture if only the southeast and Denver were the primary buying markets. Someone took a very high risk that is paying off with high rewards.
Fourth, the Christian narrative can still have impact. Because of Tebow’s unabashed sharing of the credit during the streak (a biblical virtue), patience in his circumstances (a biblical virtue), giving glory to God (a biblical directive) and “leaving-it-all-on-the-field” passion (another biblical virtue), his story has been told, his faith celebrated (and derided) while non-believers have been exposed to various depths of Christianity while watching ESPN.
Some of the books mentioned in this article are available below.