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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. You can check more commentaries in Logos than you will likely check on paper because of point 2.
  5. There’s really no better way than Logos to access theological journals, though they’re not exactly cheap.
  6. Searching your Logos library is generally faster than searching your print one.
  7. Highlighting is very handy; I use several styles that are easy to create and use.
  8. 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:

  1. Faster isn’t necessarily better in Bible study.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

6 thoughts on “Word on the Street: Logos Bible Software”

  1. Your reason # 5 was what got me into Logos to start with. I first had the Theological Journals when it was in some other format, one designed for legal briefs, I think. I forget what it was called. But having the Journals is invaluable.

    I do think the books are overpriced. I believe in paying a workman what he is due, but have to believe there is an incredible profit margin with these books. I think they would make as much or more money by selling more books at lower prices. But they know their business better than I do.

    On the con side, there are a couple of things… some sets don’t allow purchase of individual titles. I’d get Kidner for the Psalms, for example, but the publisher won’t sell it individually, only sells the whole set. That’s the publisher’s fault, not Logos’ fault.

    Also, there are some old gems that just aren’t going to make it into Logos due to low demand. It would be nice if there was an easier way to convert books to Logos format (and maybe make one’s own little profit center with it!)

    However, it is a great program and 4.0 is a huge improvement over 3.0.

    Maranatha!
    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  2. I probably should have put the Personal Book Builder on the list. But so far I personally have not found it to be very useful. I’m not complaining; I’m sure there are guys out there who will profit from it—and I think I will find a way to do so in the future (my dissertation is in there now, for example).

    There’s no reason I know of why I couldn’t sell e-books to others in the Logos format. There just isn’t any form of DRM that I know of except for the honor system.

  3. Is there anyway to convert Logos ebooks into other formats to read on other devices or print out? I’m really interested in the software, but I need that question answered. Thanks.

  4. You can definitely convert Logos books into other formats, and you can print them off. The print dialogue, actually, allows you to output the text in several different formats, including the clipboard, rich text, Word doc, web page (HTML), and PDF.

  5. That’s awesome, thank you. I actually downloaded the software and have downloaded most of the free items to start off with. Just to test it out so to speak, I just realized they have a rental system. That would suit my budget a lot more. I’m wondering if you know if I would have full access to rentals as I would to actual purchases, and in particular would I have the ability to convert/print the materials?

Leave a Reply