Books of the Future: Let’s Make Predictions

Whenever a magazine writes an article on Christian fiction, they always ask someone at Bethany House to give an answer to this question: what is the future of the genre?

Of course, they’re looking for sensible things like which categories are seeing growth, what trends might be next, and if we’ll expand, shrink, or keep our number of titles the same in upcoming years.

But every time, I’m tempted to give them a more unexpected answer: daydreams and imaginings of what the near-distant future of book publishing might look like. Here are some of my ideas…be thinking of yours to put in the comments!

bookfuture

This post was inspired by this comic. (He’s got lots of other great bookish comics here.)

Video Features: Imagine reading along…and seeing a short video clip pop up, narrated by the main character. I can see this working really well for parts of Conspiracy of Silence (maybe a mission log from Tox or other members of his team), but it would be neat to give us a picture the settings of some historical novels as well. And every Author’s Note at the back could be the author personally giving a thank-you to people involved with the book.

Hologram Pop-up Books: I have a weakness for really beautiful pop-up books, but they haven’t really crossed over into the adult Christian fiction market (for obvious reasons). But holograms would make it easy to create a cost-effective pop-up book that could still contain a lot of text—certain scenes would just unfold before you in charming, vintage cut-paper style. Top of my list for this one would be Roseanna White’s Ladies of the Manor series. The estates and intrigue would make for some lovely, dramatic scenes, not to mention…those dresses!

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Scratch-and-Sniff Books: Like those stickers you got in elementary school that smelled like bubblegum, these pages would bring a previously unexperienced dimension of the novels to life with a puff of fragrance appropriate to the scene. A soon-to-be-released book I just read that did a great job describing smells was Jocelyn Green’s The Mark of the King: “The smoky scent of cheese braided itself with the spicy steam lifting from the teacup on the desk and cinched a noose around Julianne’s empty stomach.” “A breeze whistled through the shade, stirring the smell of decomposing leaves and warm, fallen cypress needles.” “While Paris on the Seine was fragrant with café au lait, fresh bread, leather, straw, and wine, New Orleans here by the Mississippi smelled of fish, coffee, corn, bear grease, and eau-de-vie, a cheap variety of brandy.” Hmm. Maybe that’s why a scratch-and-sniff book hasn’t already been invented yet…not all smells are pleasant ones.

Treasure Hunt Books: Okay, this is an unrealistic amount of work, but I’ve always dreamed about a book with codes/puzzles embedded in it where the reader could solve a mystery in real time. Think something like geocatching, but probably through the Internet so it would be accessible to readers everywhere. Something like: the first word of every chapter leads you to a website, where you have to type in a code from a themed crossword puzzle, then call a phone number where the answering machine gives you the ISBN of an Agatha Christie novel…and so on until you reach the resolution. Although Drew and Madeline, of Julianna Deering’s mystery series, wouldn’t know what a website was, I could see the two of them headlining an interactive hunt like this, since they’re already experienced sleuths.

Even though technology and methods of reading might change, one thing will remain the same: readers will always need a good story.

What do you think the books of the future might look like? Any currently published books you’d love to see as a pop-up book or one of the other future options mentioned?

Ask BHP: What’s Your Favorite Thing About Christian Fiction?

I’m excited about today’s Ask BHP. I was secretly hoping someone would ask this question at some point: “What is your favorite thing about Christian fiction? And what do you dislike?”

For time’s sake, to get a list of my pet peeves in Christian fiction (or, in some cases, any fiction), just take the following points and reverse them. That way I can spend the whole blog addressing the first question with examples from some of the books I’ve recently read and enjoyed. (And yes, I picked four things I like about Christian fiction, but hey, I’m writing this blog so I get to make the rules.)

Me with fall colors, because nothing says seasonal office decorations like piles of books.

Me with fall colors, because nothing says seasonal office decorations like piles of books.

Christian fiction doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Are there novels on heavier topics where humor would be totally out-of-place? Of course! But I love that Christian fiction isn’t somber or dull, and that some writers dedicate books or entire writing careers to making people laugh.

For me, Melissa Tagg’s delightful rom-coms hit right on my sense of humor, for others, Mary Connealy’s comedy and cowboys or Jen Turano’s zany turn-of-the-century romps are just their style.

It’s a good feeling to laugh out loud, especially when the fun is clean and hope-filled. We all need it, and I’m glad that Christian fiction provides it.

Christian fiction challenges me to think and change.

Maybe not everyone reads fiction for this reason, but I appreciate a book that takes a little thought. For example, I loved Jill Williamson’s King’s Folly because it helped me think biblically about subjects like idolatry, justice, and systemic evil (big-picture evils like racism, sex trafficking, poverty). Obviously, the book was a fantasy novel with engaging characters and a page-turning plot, but it also made me think, and I appreciated that.

Another one coming up in January that I just finished is Jocelyn Green’s The Mark of the King. Not only did I learn about an entirely new historical setting—French colonial Louisiana—but several scenarios had me wondering, “What would I do if I were in this character’s place?” Any book that makes me think that—I’m in. Continue reading

Fictional Postcards: October Bethany House Books

Sometimes setting can be a great reason to pick up a book—we all love the escape of relaxing in a famous travel destination or the adventure of exploring a region or country where we’ve never been in person. This month, we had such a great variety of real-life locations that I decided to show you postcard-worthy pictures of each. (You can click on the cover to read an excerpt.) Enjoy!

shadow-of-the-storm

This story takes place after the Exodus, when the Israelites journeyed into the wilderness and met God at Mount Sinai. There’s debate by scholars on the location of Mt. Sinai itself, but here are a few shots of what the mountains and wilderness of the area looks like.

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For more pictures, check out Connilyn’s Pinterest board.

from-this-day-forward Continue reading

Prayer for Authors: October 2016

Since it’s the first Sunday of the month, we’ll be continuing the Bethany House Fiction tradition of taking time to pray for authors who have new releases coming out this month. I’m Amy Green, the fiction publicist here, and I’m thankful for all of the readers who show their support for our authors in the way that matters most: by praying for them. To read more about the reasons behind this time of prayer, go to this post.

Prayer

Authors with Books Releasing in October:

Lynn Austin
Connilyn Cossette
Michael Phillips
Lauraine Snelling

Verse of the Month: Feel free to use the text of this verse to guide your prayers for these authors, as well as other people in your life who you want to remember in prayer today.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.–Philippians: 6-7, NLT

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For time to pause and reflect on God’s blessings instead of focusing on stresses or fears.
  • For those who get books to readers, including librarians and book store owners.
  • For God to use these novels in a powerful way to change hearts.

Again, we appreciate all of you who join us on the blog to pray for our authors. It’s an honor to have such a supportive group of readers.