On Selling Atheist Books To Children

Yesterday I reviewed Richard Dawkins’ “Outgrowing God” however there was a major discussion topic that I missed out that I would like to talk about here. That is the issue itself of selling a book like this to children.

I don’t think it should be done. But obviously that applies to religious books as well. I feel it’s wrong to teach a belief system to a child as if it’s fact. I don’t think any child should be subjected to any religion or non-religion as if it’s the truth as it’s indoctrination, and a low level form of child abuse, essentially thought control.

I don’t want to even want to go so far as labelling all babies as atheists. Yes it’s true that no baby is born believing in God, however it seems wrong to label a baby with any belief system, to the extent that if they grow up with that label they’re more likely to accept it. It seems fair to me to teach a child about all religions and belief systems and let them create their own label, until they do it should be “I don’t know”

That brings me to the place in the market for “Outgrowing God” – how do you get it to people?

Could you imagine the horror parent’s would have if you bought their Christian kid a book titled “Outgrowing God” – That level of interference goes extremely far!

To that extent, it also doesn’t seem right to buy anyone a book arguing against their views. It’s not exactly a sincere present. Unlike say chocolate, or perfume, or a lightsaber, the gift of a book like this says “I think your wrong, and I want you to change your mind, and I would just as rather you read this than have an actual conversation with you” unless of course you’re buying it for an atheist.

You must get it out in different ways. Like potentially in your conversations beforehand you could talk about it and then it would be ok. Also it’s undoubtedly better to buy this for someone at a time where it’s not special i.e Christmas or a Birthday – a passive random gift that you would never have expected to be getting anyway, and isn’t replacing anything has to be better.

This should all be obvious, however I would like to touch upon the main target audience of “Outgrowing God” – teenagers. How can a religious teenager possibly read this book? I, as a teenager myself can reinstate the stereotype of teenagers not reading to be true.  Even when looking at the bible, many don’t read that at all.

The obvious thing is to spread the word, keep on talking about it, and ultimately get people interested. Perhaps then people would be willing to try out a book. This is where the problem comes in.

How can you get someone to buy a book? Even someone with plenty of disposable income can be unwilling to part with it.

Of course there are legal means such as an audible free trial, which is quite nice. Then while it’s not exactly moral, there are also audio books on YouTube – here it’s kind of a grey area though, while it’s not illegal to watch the video it would be to upload it.

Then there is of course piracy, which is ever increasing in popularity. It’s not really a good thing to do, however it doesn’t stop many people from doing it constantly every day. The group in particular that have become more used to pirating, and are pirating more often than others are of course young people.

Of course piracy isn’t right, and it’s not good. But if “Outgrowing God” ever wants to reach it’s target audience on a large scale then I strongly believe that piracy is the only way to do it. I don’t believe it’s moral, however what I’m mainly talking about is the only real method that young people would realistically use en mass to read books.

Of course I don’t mean to be ageist, many young people do read or buy books. But as a young person and teenager myself, I wouldn’t expect many young people to disagree with the fact that they pirate more.

As a person who was a young Christian for most of my teenage years, the concept of buying a book that disagreed with my views would never have occurred to me. And though piracy would have been wrong to me, giving a person writing a popular book against God would have seemed even more wrong, so piracy would have been a more likely option. This is a way to get people to read it.

If your just having conversations with other people trying to argue about your views then it’s very unlikely that book recommendations are on the table. It’s more likely that you will only have a conversation, or just recommend articles or YouTube videos. Books are very long-form content, and thus don’t perform well when your trying to argue over the specifics of a particular idea.

That’s why I don’t think word of mouth and gift giving works particularly well. It’s far easier to recommend articles and YouTube videos over huge books. It also offers much better conversation points and much more precisely addresses the topic in question.

So the dilemma is what next? I cannot deny that a book like this would be really useful for a believer to read, however as your talking to people it’s not like you can just drop a book recommendation without a little bit of backlash.

So the marketing of books like this must be done through people who are curiously investigating finding it. Some people are really curious, prepared enough to buy a book, and I strongly appreciate and admire the mindset of someone like that. However some people are only partially curious, not curious enough to buy a book for example.

This isn’t necessarily a problem. There are many free YouTube videos online as well as blogs and websites like this one, as well as actual programs people are free to tune in to and watch. When your dealing with competition such as this, what chance does a book have to get into the minds of the people it’s trying to convince besides piracy?

I’m not so blindsided to think that “Outgrowing God” is not a successful business idea. There are many people simply interested in Dawkins, and many people who agree with him would enjoy the book looking into what he says, as well as that teenagers are far from the only potential audience. In fact the book seems for everyone.

So when you look at this, it’s quite easy to see why it’s taken so long for a book for this target audience has come out. I’m sure Dawkins is also aware of this, he’d be crazy not to be, and I’m very glad he released it anyway. Without a doubt many young teenagers will still read it.

Overall what I am trying to say is not at all in advocacy of piracy. If anything it is only praising it’s quality of conveying information to people who would otherwise never receive it. Of course it’s sad to me that piracy is the most effective method, but I feel like someone has to be the bad guy and say, it might not be a good thing, but in terms of spreading an idea, it works better.

If you want to pirate any book it’s now as simple as writing the name of the book + pdf into google and clicking the link that works. If you do this for “Outgrowing God” then the results aren’t too great. Most needs either sign in or just looks so dodgy that most people would probably buy the book rather than risk it.

I want Dawkins to be paid for his work and to get as much money for his books as possible because he deserves it. And though I wouldn’t hope for the piracy of his book to happen, if it did, then I think it wouldn’t be nearly as bad as other books, as getting the ideas out there are what counts, and especially in terms of the audience the book’s trying to reach, it seems like the only real way for it to reach the large intended audience is through piracy.

Ultimately I want this book to be a success and for many people to read it. This is just my best speculations about what would make that the most possible.

2 thoughts on “On Selling Atheist Books To Children

  1. In college, I always thought it was a sign of intellectual honesty that the Dominican Sisters who ran the college _always_ encouraged us to read everything. Didn’t matter what. No facts can ever be a problem, because they’re real!

    In fact, I was introduced to concepts like the Trilemma in college.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that’s a great thing. The biggest issue we ever talked about at my church was the concept of why there is evil in the world. For other things, I was only told the positive argument and nothing about the counter argument.

      The best example was fine tuning, which was told to me badly wrong, and I only found the good argument later.

      My mum talked about how if the Earth was ever so slightly different life would not have been possible, instead of saying this about the laws of physics and big bang. She tried to use science to prove her position yet It’s kind of ridiculous how easily she dismisses all the science against Adam and Eve and Noah’s Arc, actively encouraging me not to read certain books just because the science disagrees with her.

      I think exposing people to as many arguments as possible is the best thing. I probably would not have left the religion nearly as quickly if I already knew about all the arguments I was soon to come across. Like I didn’t hear about the Trilemma until like 3 months ago!

      In fact the main reason that I was able to leave my religion was something that a Youth Leader told me once, saying that doubt was ok, because when it’s resolved your faith is made stronger. My doubt led me to explore it further, and well, I left.

      So yeah, blatantly ignoring facts and arguments is not a good idea.

      Liked by 1 person

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