Last week, our very own Bob Pritchett and Bill Nienhuis attended the O’Reilly Tools of Change Conference for Publishing.
Bob gave a presentation about ways Logos produces and sells books — specifically about the pre-pub program and the community pricing program. Bob blogged about it on his personal blog (along with providing a link to his conference handout).
One of the O’Reilly bloggers — Sarah Milstein — attended Bob’s talk and loved it. Read what she has to say about the ways Logos uses both the pre-pub and community pricing programs to get the books our users want at low prices that actually cover costs.
Once again, if you want books from Logos at low prices, check out the pre-pub and community pricing programs.
Tue, June 26, 2007 | Misc|
Last week, our very own Bob Pritchett and Bill Nienhuis attended the O’Reilly Tools of Change Conference for Publishing.
Tue, June 19, 2007 | Misc|
OpenBible.info just launched a new topical Bible service that is steeped in crowdsourcing-mashup-web-2.0 goodness. Since I just blogged about the “old school”What the Bible Says About… service from Logos I thought I’d give this upstart service a mini-review.
You can try it out:OpenBible.info Topical Bible
Here’s how it works: The developerscompiled a topic list using Yahoo! Related Suggestions, then searched Yahoo! for the most relevant web pages about each topic, then pulled any Bible references from those pages. So what you end up with is a list of Bible verses that are most closely associated with a particular topic across the web.
The label next to the “find” box says, “What does the Bible say about…” But I think it’s a stretchto say this service helps you find out what the Bible says about a topic. It would be more accurate to say you’re finding out what people say the Bible says about a topic. Or maybe what people say about the Bible when speaking about a topic. And by people I mean “the people.” The OpenBible.info project is truly trusting in the wisdom of crowds.
Admittedly, any topical indexto the Bible involves editorial decisions and inferences. Orville James Nave (1841-1917), who spent 14 yearsworking on his project to”…note and classify everything found in the Scriptures”, certainly did not work in a vacuum. (The New Nave’s Topical Bible used at What the Bible Says About and available inside Logos Bible Software is a revision of Orville Nave’s classic work.) But he was methodical, thoroughand consistent in his appproach to the task.
Don’t get me wrong, though, I do think there’s value to a service like the OpenBible Topical Bible.
What I like about it:
- It offers current topics. If you want to find out what people say the Bible says about Harry Potter…you can.
- It offers a constantly-growing list of topics. If you enter a topic that’s new to the database, the topic is added and you’ll get some initial results after a few moments of waiting for the server to do its work. I entered “Iraq War”, which was brand new to the database.
- It offers a constantly-improving data set. The Helpful/Not Helpful buttons by each Bible verse or passage allow me to help fine tune the results, while the Suggest a Verse box lets me associate a verse to my topic.
- Allow the user to associate a new topic with an existing topic. I found later that “War” (of course) and “The War in Iraq” are both existing topics. Before adding “Iraq War” as a new entity, the service could ask, “Did you really mean ‘The War in Iraq’?” and learn from my response. In this way, I would be training the database to understand that the two terms mean the same thing.
- I don’t know what method the Topical Bible service uses to identify Bible verses onweb pages, but it seems to me such an undertaking is fraught with perils. Sean Boisen has raised some good questions about this in the context of counting Scripture references in blog posts. Since the web is full of unruly data (unlike the carefully tagged bookswe work on here at Logos) the only solutions seem to be a) push people to adopt something like Bible reference microformat standards or b) develop ever-smarter verse extraction routines.
All in all this is a pretty cool service and I’m sure we’ll see more like it in the days to come.
Mon, June 18, 2007 | Misc|
Did you know about the free service offered by Logos that lets Internet users find out what the Bible says about a topic? And did you know you could host this free topical lookup on your own site?
The URL is http://wbsa.logos.comand here’s what it looks like:
Enter topic, click “Search!” When you click through on a result, you’ll see a list of Bible verses linked to Bible Gateway so you can read verses in the Bible version of your choice. I searched on riches, which alsowildcard-matches ostriches.
Who knew the Bible had so much to say about ostriches? Even a quick survey of these 12 verses shows some difference of opinion among translators as to whether the animal named is an owl or an ostrich. And there’s a strong association between jackals and ostriches/owls as inhabitants of desolate places.
I hinted at the beginning of the post that you could put this lookup on your own site, and you can! Just paste this code into your site:
<iframe frameborder=0 src=”http://wbsa.logos.com/module.htm” width=540 height=138></iframe>
The resultlooks something like this:
Wed, June 13, 2007 | Misc|
Just about a year ago, Scott Lindsey sat down with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine and recorded an interview that aired over two days on the FamilyLife Today national radio show. That week,a number of us got a call from mom who was excited to hear Logos on the radio!
We, too,were thrilled that they so clearly saw the value of Logos that they would devote two half-hour shows to Bible software! It’s fun to hearDennis and Bob’sexcitement as they run searches in Logos Bible Software and discuss whatthe softwarecan mean for family Bible study…and the part it’s alreadyplaying in their own families.
Midway through the first segment, Bob Lepinetells a story about his 14-year-old son asking about the word that gets translated as rubbish when Paul says he counts everything as rubbish compared to the glory of knowing Christ. His son’s teacher had hinted that the word might mean something more than rubbish, and Bob was able to answer his question thanks to Logos. As he tells it,
So we…popped up Logos, and we pulled up that verse, and we found it, and I right-clicked on my mouse, I pulled up the Strong’s Concordance – right there was a wealth of information about that word, its usage, and we were able to study the Bible together. It was wonderful, and it was something that I’m picturing, again, 15 years ago, a father and a son having that conversation, and the dad going, “I don’t have a clue, son.”
Scott Lindseyalso shares a story about ayoung man whoattended one of Scott’s presentations and asked his mom for Bible software instead of an Xbox for Christmas! It’s enough to make any parent get a lump in the throat.
Enjoy the radio shows…and if you have a friend or family member who should hear this, be sure to send them a link! (You can use this shortened URL which won’t break if you send it in an email: http://snipurl.com/Logos_FamilyLife)
FamilyLife Today radio shows
A Library at the Tip of Your Fingers(Day 1 | 25 minutes)
Now Bible College Comes to You (Day 2 | 25 minutes)
Wed, June 6, 2007 | Misc|
Logos doesn’t do a lot of radio advertising, but sometimes we have occasion to dabble in this area. Of course, it’s always a challenge to convey a very visual product via an aural-only medium. We’ve pretty well established the fact that when people see Logos Bible Software, they “get it” and are eager to own a copy…but when they hear about it (especially when limited to a 60-second spot) the response is not so automatic.
We don’t have a big budget to go out and hire a flashy advertising firm to create ads, sowhen we do a radio ad it’s usually written in-house. Since we’ve got a couple buildings full of smart, creative people, the Logos marketing department will solicit ideas from the whole office and run with the best idea that comes in.
The two radio spots linked below recently ran on our local Christian radio station, Praise 106.5. You can download and listen to them as MP3s. I edited out the special URL given for the radio campaign (can’t spoil our sales source tracking with a massive influx of orders from the blog!)so you may notice an abrupt ending or jump.
College Roommates – concept from Brenna Sebens, executive assistant
Leatherbound Bible – concept from Mark VanDyke, marketing assistant
Tue, June 5, 2007 | Misc|
Biblioblogs.com is a list ofblogs on biblical topics, maintained byJim West and Brandon Wason. Besides being a great resource to discover blogs on topics that may interest you,it alsofeatures a different biblioblogger every month and posts an interview with that person.
Check out Rick’s interview to learn the origins of the name Ricoblog, what Space Invaders and a TRS-80 have to do with Bible software, and how Say’s Law relates to the future of blogging. Oh, and while you’re reading about Rick, stop by Ricoblog and congratulate him on his brand new baby. She’s a cutie!
Tue, May 29, 2007 | Misc|
Thebiggest update is that thenew widget adds the ESV Bibleso you can instantly navigate to a verse in either the English Standard Version or King James Version Bible.
Logos Bible Widget version 2 is also much more streamlined, in response to requests from users who foundthe original widgetto be a desktop space hog. It’s alsovery good-looking, if I may say so (kudos to Sean Fields, Logos design director)…
Using the widget is simple: Type a Bible reference to jump to that verse. Click the forward or back arrow to jump to the next/previous verse; click the double arrows to jump to verse 1 of the next/previous chapter. You can copy/paste text from the verse window into another application.
To switch Bible versions, just flip the widget over.
Tue, May 22, 2007 | Misc|
Earlier this month, we blogged about the process used toquantify theThe Most Important Person in the Bible by computing factors such as frequency of mentions and the dispersion of those mentions across biblical books and chapters.
As you might suppose, Jesus Christ is the most important person in the Bible.
But what I findinteresting is how the Bible characters fall into rather distinct first, second and third rate clusters when we use Sean Boisen’salgorithm. These three clusters really jump out when the data is loaded into Many Eyes,IBM’sonline visualization engine.
Click the screenshot above to see a full-size static image that I enhanced with name labels…or click here to play with the live visualization at Many Eyes (Java required).
Moving from right to left (descending order of importance), the three clusters that emerge are:
- Jesus, David, Moses, Jacob
- Abraham, Aaron, Solomon, Judah, Isaac, Saul (Son of Kish), Joseph, Paul, Joshua, Peter
- The remaining 36 characters…starting with Levi, Benjamin, Hezekiah and ending with Jehoshaphat, Uzziah and Adam.
If you wanted to study the various people in the Bible using a top-down list, it wouldn’t hurt to begin with Jesus, David and Moses. Jacob might be a little higher up the list than I would think warranted. But the second clusterseems pretty solid, with Abraham, Joseph, Paul and Peter definitely looming large in the pages ofScripture.
A few biblical figures I didn’t expect would be buriedso far down in Cluster 3: Noah and Adam, those staples of bedtime Bible stories and flannelgraphs. Plus prophets with whole books named after them such as Jeremiah and Isaiah. Of course, these are the top 50 Bible peopleout of 2,987…so we’re not talking about obscurity for any of them.
“Where are all the ladies?” you may rightly ask. None of them made the Top 50 using this name weighting scheme…but Sean did generate a data set for the Top 50 Women of the Bible which I plan to blog about in a follow-up post…
Dot Size vs. Position
Many Eyes also helpsillustrate how Sean’s inclusion of factors such as dispersion overbooks and chaptersaffects the overall ranking. Here’s a close-up of Cluster 2:
The X-axis is the overall “importance ranking” and the dot size is the number of mentions. So Sean’s weighting is evident in those places where you see a smaller dot like Abraham promoted far above a larger dot like Saul. Ranking the Bible names strictly by number of mentions would put Saul above Abraham, so we’re clearly getting a more nuanced view here.
The upshot of all this? We’re not solving the Bible Code or anything…and not trying to. But Ifind it very cool that anaverage joe like me can play around with these data and visualizations without knowing a lick of programming. I made this visualization just by selecting a visualization style and choosing which data to put on which axes. Once the dataset iscomplete (thanks, Sean!) we’ll be able to do all kinds of additional cool things not possible today…and be able to do it using Logos Bible Software!
Related posts around the blogosphere:
- Blogos: Name Weights for Biblical Characters
- OpenBible.info – Name Weights for Biblical Characters
- ESV Bible Blog: Mapping New Testament Social Networks
Tue, May 15, 2007 | Misc|
Ever since my blog post about saving 10% on postage, I’ve been thinking more and more about the reality of all the postage out there that has never been used.
Then I realized that today is May 15th, the day (according to several mass-emails I received titled “Do not pump gas on May 15th”) that we as a nation are going to show our solidarity and stick it to the gas companies by boycotting the pump for one day. This email explains that if we all get together we can take the gas companies for billions of dollars, and they will choke on their stockpiles.
In a way, the post office has created their own form of stockpiling of postage. The stockpile of collectible stamps has definitely contributed to their bottom line, but will never be used. They know there are collectors out there that need to have a complete collection, so why not make more designs just to sell stamps that will never be used?
Big deal I say. The post office has a good idea. They won’t be more popular by raising rates every week, but they will be popular by releasing more collectibles, and keeping rate increases down by ensuring they sell more postage than is actually used.
Sure, I know I have better things to do than to dream about postage all day, you probably do too – but if you are curious about what is really out there, take a look at what I found out…
I called up my new buddy, Tim, at the local Stamp and Coin shop and asked if there were an industry association for Stamp & Coin stores – sure enough – the American Philatelic Society. After looking over their website I stumbled on the dealer member directory which boasts 1,800+ entries. Now Tim is not a member, and it looks like most of his peers at other local Stamp & Coin shops aren’t either. A quick yellow pages search for Stamp and Coin in Seattle shows eight stores, yet a search for member stores in the APS directory yields only two. If you apply that multiplier to the country you get 7,200 Stamp & Coin shops. Hardly scientific I know, but this is a blog post, not an investigative journalist’s life’s work.
Tim says if you are any kind of stamp store at all, you have to have at least the basic collection of plain old postage issues including five issues of each stamp, mini sheets (which can have 20 stamps), rolls, regular sheets, blocks of 4, and so on and so forth. That can easily run around $5,000 of face value postage for a small mom & pop store – not to mention the bigger stores.
Since Stamp & Coin shops are always buying and selling inventory of stamps, add to that another thousand or two just to make sure you have more of the popular stuff, and an estimated $15,000 to $20,000 face value of old postage that they picked up at estate auctions or bought from the heirs of collectors like I mentioned in my previous post.
Inventory adds up pretty quickly, and pretty soon we are looking at say – $25,000 of face value postage stamps at each little shop, not counting the face value of the collectible stamps that are actually worth far more than their face value and which no sane person would ever dream of using as postage. If we take our conservative estimate of $25,000 in face value and multiply that by 7,200 stores we are looking at $180,000,000.00 in unused postage just sitting around in store inventory. Not to mention millions of dollars in unused postage in private collector’s hands, old desk drawers, lost, you name it.
Let’s add in the private collections. Apparently more than 55,000 members receive The Journal of the American Philatelic Society. Don’t get me wrong. I like stamps. I use stamps. I think they’re great. I’ve always had a roll or book of stamps in my desk drawer, but I’ve never once thought about joining the special stamp club. I figure in order to want to join the APS desperately enough to pay a membership fee and get their journal, you probably have to be pretty serious about stamps.
Tim says if you are pretty serious about stamps you’ve got to have at least a couple thousand in face value postage. Take over 55,000 members and multiply that by a couple thousand bucks and you’re looking at well over $100 million dollars, and that’s just for the dedicated “card-carrying” members. Now you have to believe that if there are more than 55,000 people who want to pay to be members of the APS there have got to be tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands more, that think stamps are cool enough to collect, but don’t want to join the club. For every one person that is serious enough to join the membership club, there have got to be dozens who are interested enough to collect stamps, but not enough to pay to join. Add their collections into the mix.
Now some people may be thinking that this is too hard to believe. Seriously, “hundreds of millions” of dollars in stamps? Come on.
Well how about this for starters: since most “collectors” are by nature not “sellers” imagine how much postage they are holding onto compared to what they have for sale. A quick scan of the APS auditors’ report from three years ago shows that they had almost $14,000,000.00 of members’ stamp books sitting around on consignment waiting to be sold. Who knows what that number is today, and that just counts the stuff that they are trying to get rid of. Most collectors “collect” and don’t sell, so if there is $14 million sitting around on consignment waiting to be sold, imagine how much they have in their private collections.
Any way you slice it, it looks to me like there are hundreds of millions of dollars of unused postage out there just sitting around with no special collectible value. So forget the forever stamp, there are already “forever” stamps out there. Every stamp ever issued in the USA is still worth every penny that it says it is.
Don’t go nuts. Do not send an email to everyone you know that says something like this:
“Protest the postage rate increase! Don’t buy stamps from the post office for the entire month of May! Buy old postage from Stamp & Coin shops and don’t go to the Post Office for the entire month in protest of the postage rate increase! If we all get together we can take hundreds of millions of dollars out of the Post Office’s hands and put it back into the hands of the small business owners.
That will teach the Post Office that we don’t want a stamp hike!”
Oh rats, I forgot. I should have written that in ALL CAPS!
Obviously this won’t work for the same reason not buying gas on May 15th won’t work. As long as there are collectors, and as long as the Stamp & Coin shops keep inventory, they will just go out and buy more. If you don’t stop the consumption nothing changes when you put off purchasing for a brief time.
But what if people realized that the stamps that they were collecting were never going to make them rich? What if people who were sitting on stamp collections decided to take them out of their mint condition books and use them on a letter? Is the Post Office ready to operate on budget with an unforeseen $200 million dollar shortfall in postage sales?
It makes me wonder.
Now seriously, you need to get back to work because this post is way too long, and isn’t even remotely related to how to get the most out of the best Bible Study Software in the world like it should be.
If you are on your day off, and happen to be in the mood for some more crazy rambling, keep reading.
Is the USPS recognizing unused postage as a liability on their books, just like some gift card retailers do?
Does the postmaster general even discuss the fact that there are untold hundreds of millions of dollars in stamps out there that haven’t really been accounted for? They just assume that they will never be used, and they go about their business. Are they held to the same level of accountability that gift card or stored value card retailers are? Or does the government get different treatment?
Over a year ago it was reported that Home Depot Inc. saw $43 million in pretax profit from cards sold before 2002 that went unused. The same report revealed that Limited Brands Inc. had unspent gift cards worth $30.4 million on the books. It would be interesting to see if that same year the postmaster general’s report including a line item for unused postage… Big retailers are raking in tens of millions of dollars in profit on totally unused gift cards that people lose, throw away, collect, or just never spend – and those cards are way more versatile and useful than a sheet of stamps.
But once again we see that the Internet changes the way the world works. Now there are several websites that do nothing but facilitate trading or selling unused gift cards…not to mention eBay. People are already selling unused postage at a discount on eBay and other places.
Will we see new sites popping up selling “Unused postage” (hurry, that domain was still available when I wrote this post) or what about the new forever stamps? The USPS printed 4 billion “forever” stamps already and people are snapping them up like crazy. A quick search of the web shows a lively discussion on the merits of “forever stamp arbitrage” or forever stamps as investments. Since even the new forever stamp will always be worth the price of a first class mail piece, having, oh I don’t know…say 10,000 more stamps than you need when your kids inherit your shrewd investment may still flood the local Stamp & Coin shops with a ton of inventory that they will need to blow out. Of course it will be more convenient to use, so it may be easier to sell, but still – they will be sitting on lots of inventory, and that is a recipe for a discount.
Well, I have to get back to work now, then take some envelopes over to the Stamp & Coin place to get stamped, then run over to the gas station to fill up my car. Hey, I’m on empty, give me a break! :-)
Fri, May 11, 2007 | Misc|
We recently created a Libronix-based product for a third party company andone of their outside consultants did Quality Assurance testing on it. She had a number of questions about the way things work within Libronix DLS—but the oddest question she asked was, “What are these numbers and letters all over the Bible?”
It took me a couple of tries to figure out that she was talking about the footnote and cross-reference indicators within the text of a Bible such as the English Standard Version.
After further clarification, I realized that she was not confused by the electronic implementation…she would have been equally stymied by the appearance of these littleletters and numbers in a print Bible! I guess it’s one of those things I take for granted as someone who has been around the Bible all my life. And yet surely somebody must have explained it to me, too, somewhere along the way.
People expect a fair bit of documentation with their new Bible software, which is why we include a help manual within the program, ship a free video tutorial disc with every base product, offer training articles, 70+ video tutorials on the web, Morris Proctor’s Tips & Tricks blog, tutorial posts right here on the Logos blog, user newsgroups, the Logos Wiki, and Camp Logos.
But what kind of help do people get when they pick up a print Bible for the very first time? How do they find out what all the little letters and numbers mean?