Book publisher: Amazing response to Bible magazine

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Don’t judge the Good Book by its cover. That’s what a Christian publishing house is preaching. Transit Books has taken a cue from the likes of “Vogue” and “Cosmo” and published the magazine “Revolve.” You wouldn’t know it by looking at it, but “Revolve” is actually a glossy version of the New Testament aimed at teenage girls.

WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR: I’m joined now from Nashville by Kate Etue. She’s the senior editor of Transit Books, publisher of “Revolve.”

Kate, thanks very much for joining us.

We have here, and I’ll show our viewers, of course, the traditional Hoe also have here the complete New Testament, your Holy Bible, called “Revolve.” It’s a pretty different look, although the words inside are the same. A lot of the sidebars, as you point out, are different.

Why did you do this?

KATE ETUE, SENIOR EDITOR, TRANSIT BOOKS: Well, we spend a lot of time with teenagers at Transit. We try to see them once a week, whether online or face to face. And although 82 percent of America’s teenagers say that they are Christians, only 32 percent say that they read the Bible. And we decided we needed to give it to them in a format they know how to use, which is magazines.

BLITZER: And if you look inside the magazine, it is amazing how you’ve done it, very cleverly. For example, there are some beauty tips that you put in, beauty secrets. Shopping tips, “Make sure that Jesus would be pleased with what you wear. You don’t have to look frumpy, just make sure you look like a child of God.”

You will put that on the side of the actual text from the New Testament.

Have you done any surveys to suggest that young girls, teenagers, are paying attention to this new version of the New Testament?

ETUE: They are. We have gotten an amazing response. It’s the one product we’ve done that’s gotten the most response of anything we have published in the last four years since the brand started. We’re getting e-mails every day from pastors, moms, and teens themselves.

BLITZER: If you, because even if you look through, you start flipping through the pages, as I have, you see all sorts of techniques, editorial production values taken from some of these magazines that we’re talking about.

Another one, a beauty secret involving sunscreen with a headline that says, “The Bible Is Like Our Spiritual Sunscreen, It Acts as a Filter, Letting in the Good and Keeping Out the Bad.”

Are you trivializing, though, some of your critics might suggest, the Holy Book?

ETUE: No, we wanted to give the teens a point of relevance, a way that they could get into the Scripture and make it apply to their lives. Many of the teens we talked to said they just didn’t know where to start. It was too much black and white, you know, 1,600 pages of Scripture. And so in this Bible, we tried to find a way to address topics that we knew were important to the teens, like guys and shopping and family relationships, but give them a way to relate that back to the Scripture.

So we sort of put a spiritual twist on what they would find in their normal “Seventeen” or “YOU MEAN” magazines.

BLITZER: Well, you see some pictures in “Revolve” that are similar to those magazines like “Seventeen,” with girls on the beach in bathing suits with boys. Is there any criticism you’re finding whatsoever from religious scholars, from religious leaders who say, You know what? There is a place and a time for this kind of stuff, but it is not necessarily connected to reading the New Testament?

ETUE: Yes. We do — we get criticism on almost everything we do, from the — it’s either too far right or too far left. But we — when we sat down to start on this project, we decided to enlist a team of people to read the manuscript and review the designed pages that included pastors from a variety of backgrounds, from, you know, far right to far left, as well as moms and teenage girls, to make sure that what actually finally got into the book was sort of pastor- and Mom-approved, and kids loved it.

BLITZER: Well, it is a pretty interesting concept. How many have you sold so far?

ETUE: We have sold about 30,000 in the last month, when the average Bible sells 40,000 a year. We were pretty happy with that, and we’re going back to press already for our second shipment.

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Sep. 2, 2003 Transcript

Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday September 2, 2003.
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