357: More Bad Media News — But, Hey, We’ve Got Good News, Too!

ReadTheSpirit community of readers includes many media
professionals, so it’s no surprise that we’ve seen Emails whizzing
around the world in recent days over the latest grim news for book
grim was news that the Washington Post is closing down Book World as a
weekly stand-alone section in the newspaper, shrinking its content and
moving what’s left to a spot on its Web site. We know where this is
headed, right? That leaves the New York Times’ section on Sundays as
the last great temple of newspaper-based literary criticism.
    And, the
Times certainly wasn’t beaming any rays of sunshine this week. I lost
count of our readers who Emailed the ReadTheSpirit Home Office about
the Times story that included this chilling summary: “Booksellers,
hobbled by the economic crisis, are struggling to lure readers. Almost
all of the New York publishing houses are laying off editors and
pinching pennies. Small bookstores are closing. Big chains are laying
people off or exploring bankruptcy.”

    (And we’re not alone in this approach, by the way. If you can imagine this, Guideposts magazine is promising to increase it’s good-news value for readers. And Reader’s Digest? Its print and
online strategy is moving in the same up-beat direction that
ReadTheSpirit itself follows: In tough times, readers need a spiritual

    The Good
News is that readers still are drawn toward our core theme: spiritual
connection. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve spent many hours
talking with staffers inside various religious publishing houses and,
if it is possible to survive this tsunami in the basic infrastructure
of media — then, we should be focusing on all of the hopeful signs that
people still are searching out and buying our offerings.
    THAT’S WHY we’re working hard on a whole array of new-media strategies for connecting readers with important spiritual voices.

TODAY, WE INVITE YOU TO TAKE A LOOK at 2 different online “landing pages”
within our overall magazine — both recently updated — as creative
examples of these new strategies:

The www.BondBibleStudy.info page

    This landing page has
been expanding over the last couple of months, since the book’s
release, to offer a whole range of connections with potential groups of
    Take a look at how we’ve developed this sturdy, yet elegant,
landing page. Many publishers create elegant, but tough-to-modify pages
for their books that quickly become dead zones that no one has the time
or the ability to update. In the Bond landing page, our book-cover
graphics and Web-banner art are first-rate professional work (designed
by nationally known artist Rick Nease) — yet the Web site is designed
for easy updating of existing features and future additions as we
discover more about the book’s expanding market.
    In the
new world of media, any book’s landing page needs to be rugged and
easily adaptable — and emerging groups of readers need to find
themselves welcomed with open arms.

take a look at the connections we’re making with a whole range of
different groups in developing this book with Dr. Benjamin Pratt. This
book is welcomed by evangelicals — as well as secular fans of Ian
Fleming and James Bond. It’s welcomed by grassroots American-based
readers — and chaplains serving overseas. We’re even experimenting with
groups in unusual areas like the Republic of Panama to explore the
book’s cross-cultural potential.
course, traditional publishers always try to identify various groups
that might be interested in their new books. The problem is that
there’s relatively little they can do with this information, in most
cases. (One example of the problem: Themed departments in newspapers
and magazines, where some very important “connective” media often was
built for new books, now are vanishing coast to coast.)

    Time is
also a major problem. Traditional publishers focus on speed and volume
— so they tend to promote books for a short period of time. That means the
future growth of new groups of readers is a hit or miss affair.
    On the
Bond landing page, we’re transparently welcoming the various streams of
readers to share the experience with others. And, we’re in this for the
long haul, welcoming new readers to tell us how they’re using the book.
We love “reader evangelists” who want to road test the book in new
realms. We encourage them and thank them. We’re making it clear that
we’ll adapt and grow with them, season after season.

And, check out www.InterfaithHeroes.info page

landing page “goes live” with a major Rick Nease graphic redesign each
January for “Interfaith Heroes Month,” an annual news-worthy observance
that we’ve helped to establish. (Yes, believe it or not, we’ve had news
media cover the news of this annual “month.”)
    Then, over the 31 days of
each January, we publish a little more than half of the book online —
with a chapter on Dr. King appearing on his national holiday, adding to the news value and the timeliness of our “month.”
    Also an
important part of the design: The chapters in Interfaith Heroes are
concise, stand-alone biographies of great interest to students,
teachers, small-group leaders, community volunteers, clergy, political
leaders and managers of diversity programs — to name just a few of the
reasons that readers are drawn toward this site and this book.
    Check it
out carefully and you’ll discover that many of the figures featured on
this Interfaith Heroes site are difficult to research easily online.
We’re providing an important “independent authority” with our
top-flight author and his team of several interfaith experts who serve
in the background as researchers and early readers of the chapters.
    We are
selling the book-length version, which is where people must go to read
all of the heroic stories. But we also are permanently maintaining this
heroes landing page online as a useful site for people to visit for
inspiration, ideas, lesson plans, homework, newsletter articles,
sermons and other research.

developing many more new-media projects in coming months — aimed at
helping all of us collectively find and share “good news” about
spiritual media.

AND PLEASE, Tell Us What You Think.

    Not only do we welcome your notes, ideas, suggestions and personal
reflections—but our readers enjoy them as well. You can do this
anytime by clicking on the “Comment” links at the end of each story.
You also can Email ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm. We’re also reachable on Facebook, Digg, Amazon, GoodReads and some of
the other social-networking sites as well, if you’re part of those

    This also is a good time to sign up for our Monday-morning ReadTheSpirit Planner by Emailit’s
free and you can cancel it any time you’d like to do so. The Planner
goes out each week to readers who want more of an “inside track” on
what we’re seeing on the horizon, plus it’s got a popular “holidays”
    (Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)

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