Controversy pushes blog readership up, I’m told.
But I like blogs that tout the helpful books, articles, and MP3s someone is reading or listening to (like Andy Naselli). I also like blogs that give me exegetical or grammatical or ministerial tidbits to chew on (like Phil Gons and Rod Decker). I’ve tried to make my little blog accentuate the positive like these blogs instead of majoring on controversy.
But now’s my chance! Someone has criticized me on another blog! If I can stoke this controversy, I could gain feed subscriptions… I could possibly make a cent off this blog for the first time ever!
But I’ve got a problem. I agree with the criticism, a gentle critique of my latest Logos post.
Man! No controversy. No money.
I encourage others to read Phil Gons’s post. He’s saying that when you tally up the value of the books in a Logos package, you should consider the additional value of having a well-indexed book collected with others in a central location. I’ve said this same thing before (ask another blogger), but I didn’t say it in my Logos post and I should have.
(But, Phil, couldn’t you have at least called me a mean name? Maybe we could both benefit from this!)
Since Mark wants controversy, and since he cited my blog in the above post, I’ll do my best to oblige :o)
I’ve not yet been convinced that Logos is the way to go in terms of building a library.
(1) Using Mark’s original formula (the one Phil critiqued), I typically find that I can find the print books I want for less money than the electronic volumes.
(2) I can often piece series purchases together over a course of years. This I find easier on my budget than buying packages.
(3) Though Logos has clearly established itself as the leading electronic publisher of biblical studies/theological books, I suspect that one day there will be an established e-book format (probably settled on by larger secular book publishers), and I’m not sure I want to buy an electronic library until the format is settled.
(4) I, at this point, still find printed books more convenient than electronic books. I often carry books places where it is inconvenient to carry a laptop, and I’ll read snatches that I wouldn’t read if I had to take boot-time into account [I understand that various readers will make this point obsolete, but I’m not yet willing to buy a Kindle or iPod touch] [I also concede that when the topic shifts from carrying a book to carrying a library, the electronic books win in terms of convenience]
(5) I do, of course, make use of electronic books. I often use Google Books and Internet Archive to download out-of-print works that I would like to own but which I don’t yet wish to buy in hardcopy. At this point the price [free] wins out over convenience. For instance, every time Logos offers a pre-pub on an out of print item, I search for it on Google Books and Internet Archive. Often I find those books available for free, and since I wouldn’t have the money at the time to buy those works either from Logos or in paper form, I’m grateful to have them for free on my hard-drive (I have system of folders and subfolders organized by the Dewey Decimal System). Also, if the work is available on Internet Archive and Google Books, I typically download from IA, since their PDF’s are searchable.
(6) I must admit, however, that I typically don’t find search books very helpful. I do own some of the theological journals offered by Logos, and I use search to mine those resources. But typically I find it more efficient to just sit down and read the resources I have. Typically, I’ll remember what I’ve read and where I’ve read it, and that is often, I find, far more efficient that searching.
I understand that there are certainly counter-arguments to each of these points, and that a good deal of this is simply personal preference. Nonetheless, I hope Mark gets some more feed subscriptions and that Phil doesn’t start calling me mean names.
Here’s my substance: I’ll add only that there are a few sets (like the ICC) which with my current budget I simply couldn’t justify purchasing because I wouldn’t really use all the volumes, and several of the ones I would use were free online.
Maybe I’m showing my low level on the scholarly totem pole, but I barely have time to check the commentaries I do own. I have to prioritize. And old, mostly liberal sets are low on my priority list! I got the WBC because there were enough conservative volumes to justify my purchasing it (in addition to a few like Dunn which I could conceivably use despite their not being super conservative), and I got a phenomenal price from an Australian bookstore through a friend you all probably know!
I stand ready for cross-examination, truly.
So what about points 3-6 🙂
Brian’s third point is pretty important. I’m not convinced that Libronix will become the standard.
To me, their proprietary approach to the Libronix format suggests that rather they will not become the standard. The fact is, there are smart people in the world who are interested in developing formats for handling books, and they don’t all work for Logos. (I didn’t say the Logos guys aren’t smart too, I’ve read their blog.)
If Libronix is to be the standard format, it needs to be opened up so the other smart people can improve it… and so competition can force Libronix to build a better engine. As long as the format is shackled to a proprietary business model, free software people (that’s “free as in speech”) will be peeved. Then they’ll go build their own book format & library engine, and it might be better.
But the amount of work Logos has done to tag and cross-reference their texts is unlikely to be duplicated even by the free-software fanatics! And Logos cuts deals with publishers to sell in-print books, something the free-software people won’t be able to do.
3. I need the books now, and it’s helpful to me that they are Scripture indexed, something the big secular publishers won’t think of.
4. Nothing to say! You argued my point nicely!
5. Good point.
6. I, too, think it’s important that readers not abuse the search feature by cherry-picking references to their topic of interest. But it sure is tempting! And then part of me says there are undergrads (and grad students!) who will find good material using the cherry-picking Web that they wouldn’t find had they been required to browse the library. Yes, they find worthless stuff, too. But we can teach them a few principles to help avoid that stuff.