I’d been waiting for Publisher’s Weekly to file a report on the Christian Book Expo of last weekend, and now they have. Marcia Nelson begins with this ominous lede,
Stacks of unsold books and glum publishers stood for three days inside
the cavernous Dallas Convention Center this past weekend at the
Christian Book Expo, a first-of-its-kind event designed to connect
publishers and authors directly with readers in the evangelical
Christian market. Only problem was there were few readers to connect
with, despite the show’s location in Dallas, the buckle of the Bible
Belt and a top market for Christian publishers. The show, sponsored by
the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, attracted 1,500
consumer attendees; it had hoped for 15,000-20,000.
My experience there is reflective of Nelson’s report. I was on a panel about the “emerging church” sponsored by Christianity Today and moderated by Mark Galli. My fellow panelists were Scot McKnight, Kevin DeYoung, and Alex & Brett Harris.
We were in a room with probably 700 chairs, and there might have been 100 people in attendance. The discussion on our panel wasn’t all that energetic, with the only real juju coming when Scot accused Kevin and his co-author, Ted Kluck, of being “uncharitable” in their book on why they’re not emergent. Galli interjected that McKnight was crossing a line in calling DeYoung uncharitable, but McKnight persisted, arguing that by knowingly misrepresenting their opponents, DeYoung and Kluck are, by definition, uncharitable.