Teachers and the Personal Book Builder

We have a really cool guest post for you below, but first a very exciting announcement regarding the Personal Book Builder.
We at Logos are passionate about God’s Word. One of our main objectives is to facilitate deeper Bible study. In an effort to better accomplish this, we are dropping the Personal Book Builder annual license renewal fee for all who use the PBB in conjunction with their teaching! This includes those who are teachers by vocation, as well as those who lead Bible studies or teach their children at home. We hope this enables you to be more effective teachers of God’s Word in whatever capacity He allows you to use your gifts.
Today’s guest blogger is Dr. Benjamin B. Phillips, Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology at the Houston campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
In the 2007 fall semester, I began using the Logos Personal Book Builder (PBB) software (Standard Edition) for my systematic theology classes at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Each of my students writes a “Practical Theology Paper” where they summarize a Christian doctrine and then reflect on the practical implications of that doctrine for living the Christian life and doing Christian ministry. Each student writes on a different doctrine and I give the final versions of the files to the whole class. The result has been that each member of the class gets the equivalent of a 150-page book that they and their classmates have written.
Prior to using the PBB software, I simply collected the Microsoft Word files on CD-ROM’s and gave copies of the disk to the class at the end of the semester. Unfortunately, this meant that students wishing to use them in future research or sermon preparation would have to open and search each document one at a time. It seems unlikely that many (if any!) would undertake such a laborious process, and as a result, much of the value of the assignment was lost.
The Logos PBB software has enabled me to realize my goal of students doing theological writing to serve each other in their future ministries. By combining all the papers into one Logos electronic book, students no longer have to search through multiple files. Even more significant, however, is the fact that the Logos Libronix software allows students to incorporate their book into the Libronix Digital Library System. By making their book one of the texts that Libronix automatically searches when one studies a Bible passage or a topic, students don’t even need to remember to go look at the papers. If there is something relevant to their study, Libronix automatically includes a link to the relevant part of the book in its search results! If a student prepares a sermon or study on Numbers 23:13-30, Libronix would inform them that a verse in this text is referenced at two different places in their book of practical theology papers. Clicking on a link (here the Doctrinal Summary link) would open a window showing the relevant portion of the book. Similarly, if a student were to search their Libronix library for information on “patience” the results would include 4 occurrences of the word in 3 articles within their book of papers.
Students don’t even need to chase down the scripture passages mentioned in the papers. The PBB software automatically converts scripture references from text to hyperlinks. The result is that within the Logos book, one simply needs to scroll the cursor over the link, and the appropriate passage pops up in the student’s preferred Bible translation. Professors and instructions should note that the PBB software can accommodate a wide range of ways to cite scripture (note in the screen shot that the student used a short citation form and a long form). The functionality of the Logos book will not be lost if a student deviates in some minor way from a specific citation format.
The Logos PBB software is not difficult to use. I use Microsoft Word to combine papers into four or five files by broad topic. From there it is a simple matter of standardizing the formatting of the documents and marking the headings for the table of contents. I then save each file in HTML version. The last step involves running the PBB creator and setting the order of the files for the table of contents. The only inconvenient part has been standardizing the formatting of the papers . . . but in the future, I will have the students do that part for their own papers! With that change, the bottom line will be that I can take 20 papers and create a Logos book in under one hour.
I am incredibly grateful to Logos for their PBB software, but more importantly, so are my students! I hear often from my students about how they really like having a Logos book version of their work and how that has enhanced their appreciation for the class. From my perspective, I am impressed with the improvement in student effort on these assignments that has resulted from creating Logos books. My students know their classmates will be reading and using their papers, and so they have become far more serious and energetic about their work. I strongly encourage professors and instructors to use the PBB software to provide added value to their students.
Dr. Phillips has graciously allowed us to make the two PBB books available to you:

Put the files in C:\Program Files\Libronix DLS\Resources. To use them you must have a Libronix PBB Reading Key, which is included in all of the base packages.
Enjoy! And be sure to let us know what creative ways you come up with to use the Personal Book Builder.

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17 Responses to “Teachers and the Personal Book Builder”

  1. Joan Korte January 29, 2008 at 10:21 am #

    Phil, I can’t believe there aren’t dozens of positive comments if this is the first mention of dropping the annual fee for the Personnel Book Builder! Thanks for providing so many great “reads” for us in the Blog; I learn so much.
    God Bless

  2. LaRosa Johnson January 29, 2008 at 10:42 am #

    I will definitely be purchasing this soon! This is a great resource and one that will be very beneficial to my teaching ministry!
    lj.

  3. Antoine of MMM January 29, 2008 at 10:43 am #

    While I understand the bulk of this tool’s functionality being pointed towards those who teach, it would seem that this tool (maybe a bit lighter in weight) would be very good note’s tool for many who are in Bible studies. Sure, it would require purchasing a few modules from Logos, but in the end, that would a really neat way to get people into looking into Bible study a bit more systematically.

  4. Reed January 29, 2008 at 10:54 am #

    This is indeed a great gift! Thanks.
    Although as yet it still has limited utility for pastors and their churches because of the fact that the free Libronix viewer can’t read the PBB books. Because of this, the resources we could create for our congregation wouldn’t be useful to the vast majority of our members (because they don’t own, nor are they ready to purchase Libronix).
    However, if the free viewer could read PBB books, it would be easy to encourage people download the viewer… which would place into their hands the resources we wanted to give them… and familiarize many more people with Libronix (which would probably encourage some to buy the product).
    Sounds like good Kingdom work and good business! Just a thought.

  5. Thomas Black January 29, 2008 at 11:41 am #

    This is really good news. I’m far more likely to purchase it now that the (albeit nominal) renewal fee is lifted. I could certainly use it in my own teaching ministry.
    I couldn’t help but notice the “fine print” that you are dropping the fee “for everyone who uses the PBB in conjunction with their teaching!” What does that mean regarding public distribution of texts?

  6. Phil Gons January 29, 2008 at 12:08 pm #

    Thomas, the qualifications concern only who qualifies for the exception, not what they may do with their PBB books. As always, books created with the PBB standard edition may be distributed freely.

  7. tlange January 29, 2008 at 7:01 pm #

    Two blessings in one post. I do not own Logos yet (I am in seminary and waiting to get the funds!) but as soon as I do, I want to purchase the PBB product.
    I also emailed Dr. Phillips and told him what a great idea. Being a seminary student, I wish that more seminaries did something like this!

  8. Nigel January 30, 2008 at 12:50 am #

    If someone is not sure whether to buy Logos or not I would have a look at http://www.stilltruth.com/allpbb they have hundreds of free PBB books to download. Add this to what you get in one of the base packages and you will have a massive library!

  9. Jon Haley January 30, 2008 at 1:19 am #

    Excellent news!

    As one who has used the PBB for years in an educational environment (interactive course syllabi), I’m thrilled to see Logos take a step toward encouraging wider adoption of this fine tool. I hope this also encourages further development of the PBB. In particular, I’d love to see development of the integration between a better Notes Tool and the PBB. One that in essence would make the Notes tool a "pre-processor" for the PBB.

  10. Brandon January 30, 2008 at 4:55 am #

    Phil, this is great news to me as I’ve always been confused on why Logos was charging extra fees for this product. But, as Reed mentioned above, are there any potential plans on making PBBs more accessible to the public? Say, I, as a teacher and author, wanted to write a book in Logos and give it away for FREE to bypass all the stranglehold with publishers and to allow anyone to read this. How could PBB help realize this dream?

  11. Benjamin Handelman January 30, 2008 at 11:56 am #

    The PBB already allows you to give away books you build for free, as long as you purchase the Standard version and not the Personal one.

  12. Reed January 30, 2008 at 1:59 pm #

    I may be misunderstanding this, Benjamin, but it seems that while a PBB-Standard user can can distribute PBB books for free, people are unable to read them without purchasing a Libronix product (the least expensive option is the Bible Study version at $259.99). There is no free viewer for PBB books…at least I’ve not been able to find one. If there is…please let me know as this would be a GREAT option.

  13. Brandon January 30, 2008 at 2:46 pm #

    Thanks Benjamin. What I was actually referring to was on the other end … the user, not the writer. For example, suppose you wrote a book that you would like to give to your whole church to read. Basically, everyone in the church would have to own a Logos product to read it, right?

  14. Benjamin Phillips January 31, 2008 at 9:42 am #

    Hey Folks! The “official” responses on the PBB license have come from Logos, not me. I am not an official Logos representative, so I can’t speak for what their policies and future plans are regarding the PBB software. I can say this… to distribute your PBB books to others, you need to create the book with the Standard Edition (not Personal). Also, the person who gets the book can only read it with an “out of the box” edition of the Libronix library. I think a previous post was correct that this means the minimum version is the Bible Study version ($259.99).
    My focus for the use of the PBB software is in an academic setting. Students expect to have to buy books, and they do tend to be looking for good deals on tools which will help them in future study and ministry. Logos’ academic discount (40%) for students is a great help here.
    I encourage pastors who want to get their electronic books into the hands of their people to show their congregations how they can benefit from buying a Logos Libronix package far beyond merely the ability to get their Pastor’s own electronic books. One way to do this would be to have the church subsidize (in whole or in part) the purchase of the Bible Study version for all adult Sunday School teachers. Then have a teacher training session (or sessions) where you show them how to use the software in lesson preparation. This would get you a base of people in the church using the software, and would develop some “word-of-mouth” advertising. It would at least allow your Sunday School teachers to refer back to previous sermons and thus extend the impact of your teaching ministry in the church. It might also lead to other church members purchasing the software on their own.

  15. James Garriss January 31, 2008 at 10:43 am #

    When you say “teachers,” who do you mean? Does that only apply to seminary professors, or does this mean teachers in the local church as well, such as an education pastor?
    BTW, I second the comments about allowing PBB books running on any copy of Libronix. That would certainly get the books in more people’s hands. And my experience is that when people start to see the power of Libronix, they become more and more willing to buy books and packages. Just my 2 cents.

  16. Phil Gons January 31, 2008 at 10:56 am #

    1. “Teachers” is very broadly defined to include anyone who does any teaching: from seminary professors to a Bible study leaders to homeschool moms.
    2. “In conjunction with” is equally broad. If you use the PBB in a way that helps you teach (whether in your preparation or presentation), you qualify.
    In short, if you use the PBB to help you in any way with teaching of any kind, the fee will be waved. Simply call or email customer support, and they will extend your license for you.
    Thanks for your comments about the ability to use PBB books. One correction: the Christian Home Library includes the reading key. The purchase price with 25% off is $112.

  17. Reed February 1, 2008 at 8:04 am #

    Thanks for the clarification Phil. I missed the Christian Home Library version when I priced out options. This is within reach for many people, thanks.