For anyone who has grown up in a culturally-Christian country, it can be a bizarre experience to be in a majority non-Christian country on December 25th. It is Christmas, but it isn’t. During one of my first years in Thailand, a Buddhist majority nation, I remember sitting through a school pep rally on Christmas Day at the government college where I was teaching English. It wasn’t about Christmas. It was just rah-rah-go-team-our-school-is-great. It was just a normal day for everyone. Students went to classes. Teachers taught. Everybody went to work. No mention of Christ, or even Santa Claus, although at the end of the pep rally parade there was an odd non-sequitur effigy of Uncle Sam hanging from gallows with IMF written on his chest. I didn’t quite understand what that had to do with the rest of the parade.
Meanwhile, in the United States, it would have been looking a lot like Christmas, or least the Western celebration of it. Carols. Tinsel. Presents. Big sales in the stores. Everyone asking what everyone else was doing for the holiday. Schools and businesses closed, and people traveling to see family. Snow, or at least images of snow. Regardless of whether people are committed Christians or just enjoying a secular holiday of family, food, and gifts, those are the kinds of things that many Westerners think of when they are getting in the “Christmas spirit” or say that it is beginning to look like Christmas.
People often ask me how to get a Christian book translated into Thai and published in Thailand. Most of those people are missionaries, but occasionally a Thai Christian wants to know how to get an English-language book or a Thai-language book that they wrote into print. I don’t claim to know everything about publishing in Thailand but I have worked part-time as an editorial and theological advisor at a Thai Christian publisher for a number of years, which is probably sufficient for providing some advice for getting starting in publishing a Christian book in Thailand. With that in mind, what follows is some general guidelines for publication but I make no claims of being comprehensive and the policies/procedures of various publishers and printers may change without notice.
Thailand needs lots of good, biblical literature to support the work of evangelism, discipleship, church planting, and leadership development and I am glad whenever I hear of someone’s desire to publish a good Christian book of that variety. I assume that anyone who wants to publish a Christian book wants it to make as big an impact as possible, so there are two major issues to consider here:
1) the actual translation and publishing of the book
2) distribution of the book AFTER it is published
I’ll get to distribution later in the post (as well as some FAQs), but please don’t skip that part because distribution is just as important as publication. In terms of publication, there are 2 primary routes for publishing a Christian book in Thailand:
At the end of October 2017, I had the pleasure of visiting Wittenberg, Germany to attend a Reformation 500 conference put on by the World Reformed Fellowship, and to visit some of the famous places associated with Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation in Wittenberg. In many ways, it was a surreal experience to be in Wittenberg and to walk where Luther walked, to see his house, his table, the Castle church, and to imagine what the village of Wittenberg would have been like 500 years ago. In this post, I want to share a few of my personal reflections on visiting Wittenberg in order to help all of us to gain some insight into the past and its relevance (or lack thereof) for the present.
1) The Commercialization of Luther
One of the remarkable things about the unremarkable little town of Wittenberg is the marketing of Luther and His image. This town has one claim to fame, and that’s Luther. So they are trying to milk Luther for all he is worth. You can buy anything imaginable with Luther’s image on it. Luther coffee mugs. Luther plates. Luther socks. Luther pasta. Luther cookie cutters. Luther t-shirts. Luther posters. Luther books. Luther mini-statues. Luther beer. Luther wine. Luther re-imagined as Che Guevara “Viva La Reformation!” It just seems like too much. Admittedly, I did buy a couple Luther posters, a mug, and postcards. And the Luther socks. They were hilarious. The calf is emblazoned with “Here I Stand. I Can Do No Other” and it struck my funny bone. That said, I came away wondering if Luther is more than a marketing opportunity for the residents of Wittenberg. Do the people selling Luther memorabilia embrace what the Reformer stood for, or is this just a way to make money?