Another Apologetics book? Yet one more Systematic Theology book? Do we need another Christian book on marriage? The answer is yes. The answer will always be yes. We will always need more books on every subject.
If you read a lot of books, you may become bored or fatigued to discover yet another book on a particular subject. I get it. But the average person doesn’t read as much as you do, nor do they have much knowledge of publishing trends. “Because we already have several good books on subject X, we do not need more books on subject X,” the logic goes. I will push back on this logic for the following reasons below. You may not agree with all my reasons, but hopefully, they will deeper your appreciation for books:
1. Most Christian books that are published today aren’t read 10 years from now. Or even five years from now, which is a sad thought for authors and potential authors. When I signed my book contract, the publisher told me they had great success with a book on a similar subject around 10 years ago. That book is still selling well. But they wanted an additional book for a new audience. That stood out to me. Every decade or so (or even sooner) we need a new batch of books on every subject to reach a new generation because every generation is culturally trained with different ways of thinking. Millennials and younger generations, for example, easily attribute credibility to younger people, which makes room for newer books by younger influencers.
2. People love new. Yes, I know the Bible is old and is the best-selling book of all time. But people love new: new books, new iPhones, new everything. A prospective reader may (wrongly) not be interested in a book published in 2006, but they will likely consider a book published last week. New assumes better. Not always true. But something is exciting about something new. Not everyone is a sophisticated or thoughtful shopper.
Further, a new book assumes that it is better than the previous ones because the author has read the previous books on the subject and he is pushing the argument further, and adding more value than previous volumes. Again, not always the case. But sometimes this is true.
3. Most Christians don’t know much about Christian authors and publishers. When people say we don’t need more books on a particular subject, they wrongly assume that most Christians have heard about the authors or books they think readers should already get on the subject. But in many cases, they have not.
4. People like to read multiple books on the same subject. If you’re like me, then when you want to do a deep dive on a particular subject, you like reading multiple books. Saying we don’t need more books on a certain subject because there are already a lot of books on that subject assumes comprehensiveness. Not every book on a subject says everything there is to be said on the subject. A different author may have a different personal experience or angle on the material that will add additional value and thus further the conversation. Also, learning from authors with varying writing styles aids learning.
5. Someone can write a better, more valuable, book. When someone says, “Do we really need another book on subject X?” without even reading the newest book on the subject, it assumes that a new author cannot possibly write a better, more valuable book. We get emotionally attached to our favorite books and put them into our self-made hall of fame category, and even get defensive when someone dares think he or she can top the book. I’m glad J.C. Ryle’s Holiness did not stop R.C. Sproul from writing The Holiness of God, and I’m glad those two volumes didn’t stop Jerry Bridges or Kevin DeYoung from writing books on the same topic, many years later.
6. It assumes knowledge of what God may want to do. Ultimately, Christian books are a ministry, so to assume we don’t need more books on a subject, assumes you know what God has in mind for a particular book, author, or subject. Who knows what God may want to do with another biblically edifying book on a subject even if a previous book on the subject is widely recognized.
Saying we don’t need more books on a subject because there are a couple of really good books on them already is like saying we don’t need new church plants because there are already a couple of really good churches there. Church planters should be strategic, and so too should authors, but that does not negate another book or another plant. Let us remember the wise man’s words: “Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” (Ecclesiastes. 12:12)