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Book Buyer Beware? It's Christian Fiction.
Book Buyer Beware? It's Christian Fiction.

Atlanta novelist Creston Mapes is thrilled that a recent weekend of free Kindle downloads gained him legions of new followers. That despite some negative reviews of his book, Nobody.

"I've always wanted my books to be seen by thousands, and now they finally are," said Mapes, who gave away nearly 60,000 eBooks after his 2007 paperback generated only modest sales.

And those negative reviewsMany had to do with readers' failure to click on links that revealed the Christian identity of Mapes's protagonist. Wrote one: "I have nothing against religion, but there is a place for it, which is not in a good fiction novel."

Before the giveaway, Colorado literary agent Rachelle Gardner warned in a blog that if Christian authors fail to mention their books' faith-based content, they are in danger of receiving nasty reviews. "The star ratings on [sites such as] Amazon and Goodreads do influence how people look at the book," she said.

An underground controversy over the practice has raged the past two years, since Christian publishers discovered free eBooks could increase author awareness, said Gardner.

Mark Kuyper, president of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, says it's hypocritical to complain that a book has a Christian worldview. After all, he says, Christians who pick up a general market novel don't receive any warnings of potentially objectionable worldviews.

"In the marketplace, the reader is not always going to be aware of or happy with your content," he said.

Many critics of James Rubart's 2010 Rooms—given away on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com—failed to notice clear references to its faith elements. "It surprised me how many people must have downloaded the book without bothering to read the description," ...

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Book Buyer Beware? It's Christian Fiction.
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June 2012

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