Logos Bible Software at ETS 2011

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I just returned from the Logos presentation. It was a pretty low-key session compared to a typical software company sales pitch. While I did learn a few things about the Logos software I did not know, I was a bit disappointed that there was less “how to” than pitching a few products. But that is to be expected. There were no hints a upgrades to either the desktop or iPad versions, although I thought I heard someone say “when version five comes out…”

Bob Pritchard presented for about a half hour on the future of publishing. This was a very enjoyable talk, and the highlight of the whole Logos meeting. Pritchard pointed out that digital publishing must be different than re-creatig the physical book on an electronic device. By this he means that companies like Logos can create resources which are not really publishable as traditional books because of size restraints. A very simple example is a book on “Bible People.” Logos can take a database of people, cross index those entries with several different types of data, and make connections which would be beyond the capability of a printed book. Logos has done an excellent job creating well designed databases which are dynamic and flexible. Most of all, these kind of databases are easy to update, while a print book (or a Kindle book) is not.

He also announced that soon Logos will soon have a website for self-published books in Logos format. These might be books for limited distribution (a class list) or free to anyone. Logos will allow books to be sold, although there were no details on how much Logos will charge for the service. He did not say if self-published books would be available through Vyrso, the recently launched Logos bookstore for consumer / mass market books.

Pritchard knows what he is talking about. He has experience from working at Microsoft and has guided Logos to be a leader in digital publishing. Evangelical exegetical commentary, Lexham Bible Dictionary, a wiki based, edited dictionary with links to to Logos books. He has been working in the ebook market for 20 years and seems to understand where publishers need to go in the future.

The real reason Logos hosted the evening was to promote their classroom Logos training, This is something like a packaged version of Camp Logos, with some additional material for use in the classroom. The package includes quizzes and exams. It really just hits the basics, nothing on the more complex syntactical searches. The package contains about eight hours of training and the plan is to charge per student. In addition to the training kit fee, each student needs to own at least the basic Bible Study library. This looks to me like a good component for a Bible Study methods course, I do not think there is enough here to make it a legitimate 1 credit course. The additional cost to the student is high, but the cost is for a really valuable tool which will serve them well in the future.

Steve Runge presented on the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament. This tool intends to aid the student to do syntactical analysis and help sort out the word order on a Greek sentence. This is not a full syntactical display, but rather a blocked-in outline with annotations. The Lexham Syntactical guide tags the Greek New Testament with grammatical data. About 80% of the data has been combined with the ESV text so the student without Greek has access to some of this material. A Hebrew Bible version is being developed.

Overall I thought the Logo presentation was informative and helpful, although I would have liked to hear more from Pritchard on digital publishing. Since I am running a blog, I already flirt with non-traditional publishing, but I am not totally convinced digital publishing is the right solution for every type of book. I am not yet happy reading a full monograph on an iPad or Kindle, although I find it helpful for shorter papers and journal articles.

I look forward to seeing what Logos develops in the future.