Outselling Voddie Baucham Books

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I went to the national ACCS conference, Repairing the Ruins, on June 22-25, 2022. I was unsure what to make of this conference on classical education because Reformed Theology is outside my experience of associations. Of course, I know who they are. However, I’ve not attended their meetings. I’ve never been bashful to enter any situation unfamiliar to me. I figure “they” put their pants on one leg at a time, the same as I do, so what is there to sweat?

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The experience was great. I met many people, sold a lot of books, and signed a gob of people up for newsletters. The book was also well received. To get into this conference, I had to attach myself to an established entity: Eighth Day Book from Wichita, KS. They are a book dealer concentrating on more profound written works than one is likely to find at the local Christian bookstores. If one peruses their tables, it’s like going to an archive or an academic library.

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Enter Voddie Baucham

The slate of speakers was reasonably steep, professors, doctors, headmasters of classical academies, well-known authors, and other movers and shakers in the classical education realm. One of the keynote speakers was Dr. Voddie Baucham Jr., a pastor, father of nine children, and recent author of Fault Lines. This book eviscerates the idea of CRT, and the author is a black man no less.

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I liked this classical education conference because sessions were not packed against one another so tight that attendees could not wander vendor booths to browse or visit. The tempo was leisurely, a welcome change from some of the harried homeschool conventions I had attended earlier in the year. I did not participate in any sessions as I was planted at the book table, and a few customers were lingering through the books.

My pop-up signage was a great fishing tool. The audience at this classical education conference was intimately familiar with Pilgrim’s Progress. The suggestion that something other than God had “inspired” Pilgrim’s Progress proved too much of a temptation to resist. People were hooked and reeled in by this signage. And, being the preeminent marketer, I had my catcher’s mitt on and was readied with a folksy demeanor to finish them off. It was like shooting fish in a bathtub. One could not miss!

I would ask, “do I have you hooked”? Invariably people would admit it. I could make a brief explanation, and people hung on every word. Only one person seemed uninterested, and I suspected so before he even walked within earshot. I also did my bit of hooking the unaware as they cruised from one event to another. One such person was Doug Wilson of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho. He listened to me for 30 seconds and said, “I’m buying it!” Then, he disappeared into the hallways as fast as he whizzed by me at first.

Attention Noted

Later, a fellow with another publishing company came up and made the introduction. He told me that Labyrinth of the World was causing quite a stir at the conference in a complementing way. He inquired about the book Comenius and why I would adapt the book. At least a dozen others came up and said, “people are talking about this book here,” which confirmed the first fellow’s comments.

Then, Voddie Baucham arrived with fanfare. He was the keynote speaker for the convention. Then, he went to work speaking to the convention in a combined. Next, people filed out of the sessions to browse vendors and booths. In variable, some passed me at the corner of my bookstore table. Labyrinth of the World sold like hotcakes because whether sessions were running or not, I was selling to all who would listen. Unfortunately, I had to leave the conference early to attend another convention over in South Carolina. Dr. George Grant of The Comenius School gave the last presentation. He was said to pitch Labyrinth of the World, which I was told sold handsomely after I left. A couple weeks after the Dallas convention, I received word on final sales. Between audiobook and hardbound editions, we outsold Voddie Baucham and his Fault Lines book by nearly 2 to 1. This accomplishment is huge, and I am humbled.

Ekklesia Press has no advertising, social media scheme, or anything that would drive sales other than direct appearances. Labyrinth of the World speaks for itself. People see it—they pick it up. People hear that Labyrinth inspired Pilgrim’s Progress—they are hooked. A few, who know of this book by Comenius. When they find out he wrote it and that it inspired the second best-selling book in history—we’re talking instant sale.

On a report of this conference and sales against a national bestseller, many are surprised, as am I. It speaks to this book’s appeal, perhaps people’s receptiveness, and quite possibly that something genuinely new and different ignites excitement.

In Conclusion

While this David and Goliath-like story is attractive, the effort to make Labyrinth of the World more commonplace continues. Whether in homeschool, classical education, Reformed Theology, Anabaptist, or Charismatic circles, we find that this book also sells equally. This is strange because religious groups do not often find common ground. Nevertheless, Comenius and his book offer an attraction that seems to enchant all who hear about it.

Critical in the conferences I attended in June was sharing a powerful overview of this story. Many there were confident in their prior knowledge of Pilgrim’s Progress. Yet, they were arrested by the allure of a story that could be said to be a “better book” than Pilgrim’s Progress. Some, to be sure, were a bit put off by such a suggestion. However, after sharing the storyline overview with them, they were invariably convinced that my claim was valid.

I am excited to be a part of bringing a treasure I found to a world waiting for something astounding. It’s a great feeling to be part of the process of enthralling people in a world where not much excites folks anymore.

Are you surprised that an unknown could outsell a national bestseller and keynote speaker? Well, join the club!