The Muslim Publishing Industry Overview

The majority of Muslims making decisions in the Muslim book industry ( publishers and retailers) do not recognize fiction (creative and imaginative stories) as legitimate literature. The word fiction is not used by most Muslim publishers and retailers.

The Muslim book industry categorizes books in two main categories with specific classifications in the main literature category:

  • Literature: Literature is categorized by topic, subject matter, scholarly works, and by the author if well-known. For a more thorough explanation of Muslim literature and how it is classified via Muslim library standards visit:

http://islamic-libraries.webs.com/

  • Children’s Books: Generally these books are color illustrated with limited text and are geared for early readers below the fourth grade reading level. Children’s books are not classified by genre and some, not all, have the age or reading level available at online and physical book stores. The focus of the content is generally on historical Islamic persons, Islamic events, Islamic practices, or nature.

Most Muslim publishers do not publish creative and imaginative fiction stories for older youth, teens, and adults, and most independent Muslim retailers do not buy, list, or sell the Islamic fiction and the fiction books that do manage to get published today.

Retail availability is also impacted by the fact that many Muslim publishers serve as their own distributor and retailer and thus control Muslim markets they distribute books to.

Why Does the Muslim Book Industry Reject Fiction and Islamic Fiction?

There are conflicting views amongst some Muslims and within the Muslim book industry as to whether reading and writing fiction stories is or isn’t permissible within Islam. Most of the Muslim publishing industry is predominately controlled by Muslims who grew up in countries with educational systems that did not include fiction reading or creative writing. The majority of Muslim publishers and book retailers have no frame of reference to draw upon for publishing any fiction or Islamic fiction. Many Muslims living in these countries are skeptical about reading any fiction book because of this and because a few scholars living in countries where reading fiction is not the norm have pronounced fiction reading as a waste of time or stated fiction stories were lies and therefore sinful.

Things are slowly changing. During the last decade many new Muslim writers have begun to write Islamic fiction for older youth, teens, and adults. The IF writers are often English language writers. Many of them sought publishing first with a Muslim traditional publisher. After many rejects they began to take advantage of the new software and hardware technologies a that have grown during this decade. Many are learning how to self-publish their manuscripts or find subsidy (fee basd0 publishing businesses to get their work published and released for sale. Often the only available distribution or retail purchase locations are with non-Muslim online book retailers. 

With the rapid growth and new technologies for ereading machines and ease of using distribution sources such as Omni Lit, Amazon’s Kindle, and Smashwords, Muslim fiction writers are choosing to self-publish ebooks using these sources.

Many of the issues with finding the finances to pay for large print orders, provide storage and then do the actual distribution and fulfillment of a print-paperback book are not issues for the IF Muslim author.  

Reading ebooks and buying them has not gained the huge momentum with Muslim readers/markets that ebooks have in the non-Muslim book markets in English language fiction ebooks, but the publishing and availability of IF ebooks is growing. More and more schools are using text books in ebook formats and many of the required (non-Muslim  “Classics” for language arts reading courses in middle and high school as well as at university level are being published as ebooks as well.  

During the past 5 years there has been a steady, if slow, rise in the use of the word ‘fiction’ on Muslim book retailer web sites and publisher web sites. Change is never easy. People seem to have a tendency to resist change…even when it is halal.

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