Thursday, September 10, 2009

Building Trust, and the People You'll Meet at LittWorld

By John Maust

“I don’t believe a word you’re saying.” Ever heard someone say that? Maybe an angry father to his child, a teacher to a misbehaving student, or sweethearts in a quarrel.

But what if you’re an author or publisher, and one of your readers says it? Nothing undermines publishing impact like a lack of credibility.

I’ve been thinking about this since a recent visit to Cambodia and Fount of Wisdom Publishing House. During a lunch meeting, director Steve Westergren asked his staff, “What is your dream for the publishing house? “

Three of the six said simply, “We want to gain people’s trust.” It was a praiseworthy goal, but a little surprising—given they could have said something like, “Sell a million books,” or “Win hundreds of converts to Christ.”

Afterward, I asked Steve about this. Raised in Cambodia to missionary parents who had to leave during the years of war, Steve said political lies and brutality dating to the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime created a popular attitude of distrust.

So, it’s no surprise Cambodian readers may not necessarily believe everything in print, Steve said. Fount of Wisdom is working to overcome this mentality by publishing quality Christian books that build trust with readers through a message of Truth and hope.

Steve hopes to take a couple of his staff to Nairobi. What’s so fascinating about LittWorld is the opportunity to visit with people like Steve and his team, Christian publishing pioneers who face more difficult challenges than many of us know.

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