Literary season: religious publishing in search of new authors

Leaving the front of the stage to the novels, the religious edition does not really experience any runaway on the occasion of the literary season. But it has been marked by several changes in recent weeks.

“While we have held up well enough during the Covid period, the religious book market continues to crumble, acknowledges Stanislas Jozan, director of Éditions de l’Emmanuel. By publishing a lot, some houses have weakened and are looking for lasting solutions”explains the one who has chaired the “religions group” of the National Publishing Union (SNE) since January.


In July, Éditions Nouvelle Cité – which notably publishes the collection “Pray 15 days with…” – joined the Elidia group. While keeping their editorial line, they thus join Éditions Artège, Desclée de Brouwer and Le Rocher. It is also time for the transfer window for publishers: Marion Muller-Colard, author at Labor et Fides, takes over the management of the Swiss house, succeeding publisher Matthieu Mégevand, who joins the Bayard group (publisher of The cross) to develop religious books for the general public. “We want to keep the religious anchoring and open the lines towards spirituality”confirms Florence Lotthé, director of Bayard Editions.

Editor at Salvator for just two years, Antoine Bellier takes up the difficulties of a “niche sector”competed by esotericism and personal development. “The religious book does not offer immediate solutions but requires reflection, investment”, he points out. Stanislas Jozan confirms a trend towards the apologetic quest – the search for “evidence” of the existence of God – as shown by the success last year of God, science, evidence by Michel-Yves Bolloré and Olivier Bonnassies, published by Trédaniel, and the recent release of Shroud of Turin by Jean-Christian Petitfils (Tallandier).

Train intellectuals

Another difficulty is that religious publishing is not equipped, like the big general publishing houses, to publish best-sellers like The path of summer pastures by Charles Wright, at Flammarion, or three days and three nightsorchestrated by Nicolas Diat, at Fayard. “Sometimes a stepping stone is offered to beginning authors whom secular houses then attractcompletes Antoine Bellier, underlining a lack of authors. There are probably fewer Catholic intellectuals ready to write, it is urgent to promote theological and spiritual formation to see authors emerge in fifteen years”. Who will take over from Maurice Bellet, Bernard Sesbouë, Joseph Moingt?

Same expectation of new authors on the side of booksellers: “There are a lot of titles but a lack of creativity. Authors are missingconfirms Mathilde Mahieux, head of the religious sector at La Procure, rue de Mézières in Paris, who is however less worried than the publishers and underlines the vitality of the sector: “There is a desire to read, a desire for real reflections. » Especially among young people: 20-35 year olds would have found their way back to bookstores to explore issues such as ecology, personal balance, inner life, the future of our societies.

Back-to-school success

This is perhaps the strength of religious publishing: the books in the sector are more resistant to the fashion effect and the ephemeral nature of the literary season. While La Procure has achieved good figures in recent months, largely due to the sale of the new roman missal (for… €169), it is also frequenting the bookstore in the 6th arrondissement which is a sign of good health.

Living with our dead by Delphine Horvilleur (Grasset) and The Lion of Alexandria by Jean-Philippe Fabre (Cerf) worked well. And several back-to-school titles are already emerging: This beyond that beckons to us by Lytta Basset (Albin Michel), or the last by Anne Lécu, So that you bear fruit (Stag). The return to bookstores can only make the reconstruction of the landscape more urgent: the religious edition is a precision clock that must adapt to today’s times.


Patrick C. Goujon award-winning

The Literary Prize for Inner Freedom 2022 was given to Patrick C. Goujon, Wednesday, September 7, for his book Please do not abuse (Threshold). This is the fifth edition of this prize created by the program “Le jour du Seigneur”, in partnership with La Procure, RCF, France 2 and West France.

The jury was chaired by Charles Wright2021 winner with The path of summer pastures (Flammarion).

Seven books were part of the selection : besides the winner, To be in her place by Claire Marin (The Observatory); If you want life by David-Marc d’Hamonville (Albin Michel); Live as a mortal by Christian de Cacqueray (Salvator); Adapt by Clara Dupont-Monod (Stock); Shepherd my lambs by Alexandre Siniakov (Desclée De Brouwer); There’s no horse in the waydamask by Florence Delay (Threshold).

Literary season: religious publishing in search of new authors