Throughout history, Christians have been among the first to adopt new technology for mission: the Roman road networks were used to spread the Gospel; first Century believers switched from scrolls to the newly-invented codex (similar to a book) because it was easier to transport; and the Bible was the first book to be printed with movable type.
But in each era it took a while for emerging technologies to be fully embraced. Today is no different, and the huge changes taking place in digital communication are viewed with skepticism by many, including some Christians.
E-books may be growing in popularity, but they have met with a certain amount of resistance. Some feel they are almost an affront to ‘real’ books – that the special smell of a printed book and the feel of its pages are part of the magic of reading. I agree that there is something special about a printed book. I also realise that many people cannot afford electronic readers. And I am convinced that printed books will not disappear but that they will continue to coexist, alongside e-books.
As the Director of Global Bible Publishing at United Bible Societies, I am committed to continuing to produce printed Bibles – we distribute around 32 million a year globally – and to continuing to make our Bible texts digitally available, too, through our Digital Bible Library ™.
Recently the Spanish language blog, Qué leer, (What to read) published a post about why ‘real’ books are better than e-books. I’d like to share just six reasons why I think that e-books, including the Bible in digital format, have more to offer than printed ones:
1. Search & share
E-books make it easy to search for specific words or references – a great asset when you’re writing an essay or article or preparing a sermon! You can copy and paste text, which is a great time-saver, and you can share it on social media.
2. Space-saving and mobility
My library, which once lined the walls of my house, can now fit into one small device and accompany me wherever I go – down to my local coffee shop or on my trips all over the world.
E-readers let you adjust the font to the size you need for comfortable reading. And if you’re like me, and hate certain font types, you can choose the one you like!
4. Decide before you buy
Before I decide to buy an e-book, I use the highlight feature to read the things other readers have highlighted as the most important parts of the book. This helps me to decide whether it’s worth purchasing.
5. Highlight and make notes
With the highlight function I can mark up the parts I think are important, making it easy to find again later. I can also type in my own notes, which are far more legible than my tiny scribbled notes in the margins of my printed books!
6. Learn new words as you read
I have several English and Spanish dictionaries in my e-reader, which means that I can look up a word I don’t fully understand without having to leave my book.
Add to these the fact that e-books are cheaper (and e-readers are getting cheaper, too), more eco-friendly, and more instantly accessible than printed books, and it’s easy to understand why millions around the world are choosing e-books over printed books.