Last year sales of religious books in America grew by 8% in a declining industry.
Three years ago Fehmida Shah set up Smart Ark, a London-based online firm that sells Islamic books, toys and gifts, mainly for children. “HSBC [a bank] was doing Islamic bonds and religious books were selling well, so I thought why not tap into the niche but growing market?” she says. Customers from Britain to Singapore have bought her products. They include a pricier Fairtrade range that includes stickers of mosques around the world and a book on why Muslims should recycle.It’s a big market for both faiths, with 2.2 billion Christians and 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. Unsurprisingly, Christians have a wider choice but most goods are aimed at evangelicals:
Specialist retailers in America sell “Smile, Jesus loves you!” blankets and nail files emblazoned with “Woman of God”. Swanson Christian Products of Tennessee sells golf balls alluding to scriptural texts and devotional sayings, such as: “I once was lost but now I’m found!”Don’t believe it? Have a look at the online store, where you can find Christian towels, Christian T-shirts, Christian whatever you want and yes, inspirational Christian golf balls.
They come boxed in sets of three: “Golf balls are great for sharing your faith on the golf course, and for Pastor Appreciation.”