Word on the Street: Logos Bible Software
I just received the following:
Mark, Word on the street is that you’re the local expert on Logos [at Bob Jones]. So I thought I’d get your input, when you have time, on the pros and cons of Logos. I have Bibleworks and have not seen the need for Logos until recently when I quickly started running out of bookshelf space. Any information that you could give about the pros and cons of Logos would be appreciated. I am working on a Doctor of Ministry and I do sermon and Sunday school prep on a continual basis. Thanks for any help you can give.
Here’s my answer:
You hit one of the major pros: bookshelf space. A few others:
- Portability, especially now that they have a nice iPad app (and iPhone and Android) and even, for use in a pinch (because it lacks some key features), a web client.
- Cost can be an advantage, but not usually because digital books are cheaper than print ones. Most people think Logos books should be cheaper because there are no printing and shipping costs. But I prefer to think that Logos adds value because of the other pros.
- The passage guide automatically looks up any passage I’m studying in all my best commentaries. You have to set it up to do this, but once you set it up it’s fantastic.
- You can check more commentaries in Logos than you will likely check on paper because of point 2.
- There’s really no better way than Logos to access theological journals, though they’re not exactly cheap.
- Searching your Logos library is generally faster than searching your print one.
- Highlighting is very handy; I use several styles that are easy to create and use.
- You can collect basically all of your digital biblical library in one “app” (except for BibleWorks, which isn’t really a library anyway).
But there are cons that should not be taken lightly:
- Faster isn’t necessarily better in Bible study.
- Logos is not a good information filter. The more books you have the more search results you’ll have to wade through. This is not their fault, really. You just need to learn how to refine your search results in advance using tags and collections (I have a whole video on this that I’ll be putting up on my website as soon as I can upload it).
- Buying books gets complicated when you introduce the idea of packages. It’s tempting to buy packages and sets that you can’t really justify financially. You need to do your homework, asking which resources you will actually use and how much they would cost you on Amazon. Logos’ marketing copy tends to promote the idea that your library is a baseball card collection: the more the better! I disagree, and I’ve “hidden” a lot of the fluff that comes with Logos packages. But I did conclude that several packages and sets were worth my while: the Platinum package along with several commentary sets (mainly the NICOT/NICNT, WBC, BECNT, IVP Essential Reference Collection, Theological Journal Library). I’ve also purchased a number of individual volumes.
- That raises the next con: in my experience most people (not all) will not read certain kinds of books on a computer screen. It’s tiresome to read Pilgrim’s Progress like that, I’d say. But I will read shorter things: articles, sections of commentaries, entries in Bible dictionaries and lexicons. I hope to get a tablet fairly soon, and perhaps this problem will go away. But up till now it has meant that there are numerous books I have but really can’t read.
- There is no guarantee that your Logos library will last as long as you do. For me, portability and convenience outweigh this one, but it’s not insignificant. I also think that if Logos fails, the user community will find a way to keep up with freeware or shareware to handle our libraries.
- If you already have a lot of paper commentaries, it can be a hassle selling them to pay for digital copies. And you may find that the ease Logos provides keeps you from even touching your paper commentaries. For that reason I tend to think people should go in whole-hog with Logos commentaries if they’re going to do it at all. I have tried to have as many of my commentaries as possible in Logos.
A side note: BibleWorks and Logos are mostly apples to oranges. I keep both and intend to continue using both. Here’s a post I wrote about that.