Why Do I Need So Many Books?

Logos Base PackagesWhen we talk about how big our libraries are, we sometimes get asked:

“Why would I need so many books? How could I possibly read them all?”

It’s a reasonable question.

There are 200 books in Starter, 2,500 in Portfolio, and more than 40,000 available altogether in Logos. We’re adding between 50 and 100 books each week. We’re regularly producing multivolume commentaries, big reference sets, and bundles with dozens or hundreds of books. It’s a lot of material.

The power of networks

When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, it was a technological marvel, but it was useless by itself.

So he added a second phone and connected the two. Now they worked—but only if they were connected. As more phones were added—three, four, five, ten, a hundred, a thousand—the phones stopped being as valuable as the network itself.

With a thousand phones, you can remove one without compromising the network: the network has become its own thing, which makes each individual phone more valuable.

The network adds more value than the phone has by itself.

Years ago, Bob Metcalfe quantified this. Metcalfe’s Law states that the value of a network is equal to the square of the size of the network:

“If there are n people in a network, and the value of the network to each of them is proportional to the number of other users, then the total value of the network (to all the users) is proportional to n * (n – 1) = n2 – n. If the value of a network to a single user is $1 for each other user on the network, then a network of size 10 has a total value of roughly $100. In contrast, a network of size 100 has a total value of roughly $10,000. A tenfold increase in the size of the network leads to a hundredfold increase in its value.”

As you add more nodes, the efficiency and value of the network increase exponentially.

So what does this have to do with Logos books?

LibraryConnectionsLogos books work the same way as Alexander Graham Bell’s connected telephones. The value of having a big library isn’t just in the books themselves. It’s in the network that connects them. And the more books you have, the bigger your network—and, by extension, the more valuable each piece of the network becomes.

Logos books are tightly linked to one another. Click a citation to access the source. Then click the Bible reference in the source to see the Greek text. Then click a Greek word to open your lexicon. Then click one of the examples of classic literature in the lexical entry to see the source. And repeat.

In the 59-volume Word Biblical Commentary, there are 1,279,318 links to thousands of books. When you consider Logos base packages that offer hundreds or thousands of books, we’re talking about a very, very large number of links. As the number of resources rises linearly, the number of links rises exponentially—along with the overall value of the library as a whole.

This is what makes Logos books different from print, not to mention from other ebook formats. Just like a disconnected phone isn’t as valuable as a connected one, a disconnected print edition or ebook isn’t as valuable as a connected one.

When you add a book to your library, you’re not just adding content to your library, like you would be if you placed a new print book on a shelf. Instead, you’re adding a new destination for thousands of links in your library that already exist right now.

Print books and other ebooks are the end product themselves. They have inherent value, but that’s it. Logos books, on the other hand, have not only the same inherent value as print, but also the networked value: they’re your entry into a massive, interconnected ecosystem of resources for Bible study, research, and more. This is what makes them so much more valuable than other editions.

So when you hear about a Logos user adding a 10-volume commentary set to their base package, it’s not because they want to read all 10 books. In fact, they might never read any of the books—not cover-to-cover, at least. Instead, they’re adding value to their whole library.

Build a bigger, smarter library

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Get the most out of your library—check out your discount, and upgrade today.

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One Response to “Why Do I Need So Many Books?”

  1. Andrew May 16, 2014 at 9:38 pm #

    In Graham Bell’s telephone network, every phone is connected to every other phone. In Metcalf’s network, every node is connected to every other node. In Logos, every book is NOT connected to every other book. For the exponential value to occur, the assumption is that every object in the network is connected to every other object. There have been many discussions on the Logos forum about books missing links to other books. I have read of several cases where links that used to work don’t anymore. I would like to hear what is being done to meet the goal of this article that every book is linked to every other book. Every book linked to the Bible is important, but is not the same thing as every book linked to every other book and won’t produce the claimed exponential value. Certainly, books are linked to other books than the Bible, but not to the extent that every book is linked to every other book.

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