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Reaching a Critical Mass

Today’s guest blogger is Dale Pritchett, vice president of sales and marketing for Logos Bible Software.
User Mark Alison wrote in the Logos Newsgroup, “I don’t think Logos or anyone else will ever have rights to every publisher’s works.”

While this is certainly a true statement, at Logos we continue to pursue rights to as many books as we can in the field of biblical studies. It is our fond hope that one day we might include works from Zondervan, and the denominational publishers now unavailable to us.

We are running as fast as we can. We have two full-time publisher Reps, plus support staff, licensing new books every day. We have thousands of contracts to be maintained and reviewed, royalties to calculate, technology licenses to execute and data processing projects to specify, key, tag and proof.

We process millions of pages of data annually and yet feel the pain when a simple typo is reported. We work in both modern and ancient languages. We employ approximately forty people in-house who are on digital book design and production. All of these efforts are directed toward the single goal of creating digital books to reach a “critical mass” for biblical studies.

It is not about building a monopoly. It is not about favoring a particular theological school or doctrinal position. It is not about favoring one publisher over another or refusing to work with other publishers. It is not about greed or competition or pride of accomplishment. It is about “critical mass.”

There is no such thing as a digital library alternative for biblical education until and unless there is a digital library for biblical studies sufficiently extensive to enable meaningful work in the field. This is the key. It is like saying there can be no alternative to the railroad until there are sufficient airline seats to carry the passengers. It is like saying television will never be as popular as radio until everybody who owns a radio can afford a television.

Logos is about realizing the dream of a portable digital library that makes biblical publications accessible and practical at any point on the planet. This is our passion, our dream and our daily work.

It will not be accomplished until there is a “critical mass” of books in the digital library. Look at
how many digital library initiatives have failed because they had wide breadth but insufficient depth to do real work.

We publish more digital books than all the others in our field combined. This is a simple statement of fact. Among the reasons we have been able to accomplish this are a clear focus on the task and a clear understanding of the special technical challenges involved in dealing with biblical reference works.

The task required us to define a new digital publishing standard in which we could display, search and link all kinds of books, with all styles of organization in all languages from all publishers. To accomplish this, we set a hard course for ourselves that involved doing things the “hard way” demanding attention to detail that could only pay off in the long run with a very large, cross-linked library — critical mass. It has taken a long time to reach the point where the critical mass shows off the benefits of those years of detailed effort. This whole end result usually translates into a simple user comment like, “I would really prefer to own the book in Libronix format.” Thank you. We share your thoughts.

If we are ever to have additional titles from Zondervan, Eerdmans and others it will be because of simple statements like this, “I would really prefer to own the book in Libronix format.” Believe it or not, publishers hear you. They really do care.

Postscript: What is Critical Mass?

While there may be many answers to this question, we basically think in terms of book replacement. Critical mass is a sufficient volume of titles to represent the equivalent number of volumes in a corresponding paper-based library. On this basis, critical mass may be different for a pastor’s library and a Bible college or seminary library. In time we hope to have sufficient digital resources to equal a large seminary library. When that time comes we will be able to think in terms of “brick and mortar” replacement or real estate savings.

What Happens When You Steal a Bible

There are some business advantages to serving pastors and Bible students. In conversation with other business people I have observed that we have less theft, piracy, fraud, and credit-card charge-backs than most businesses. Our customers pay their bills. Our product isn’t the theft target that music and sneakers are. Unfortunately, there are still people who, for reasons both selfish and self-righteous, don’t seem to mind stealing Bible software.

The anti-piracy features in Logos Bible Software aren’t super-secure. Serial numbers, registration, etc. are more for letting us restore lost licenses than for locking down users. We want enough security that stealing the software requires conscious, deliberate (and usually pretty technical) effort, while creating the minimal inconvenience for honest users. But for the determined thief, there’s no lock that can’t be picked and no software that can’t be copied.

In this week’s mail I received an envelope from a professor, obtained from one of his students. It contained a home-made DVD-ROM and instructions on installing a pirated version of our software. Step 2 in the detailed instructions installs the stolen licenses. Step 5 encourages the thief to “Study to shew thyself approved ;-) (2tim 3:15)”.

It is always disappointing to see such deliberate piracy. But years ago we decided that we weren’t going to get too upset about it.

Because if you want to steal the Bible, we want you to have it.

Because if you read it, and apply it, and let it change your life, you might write a letter like the one I found in the same stack of mail:

The writer confessed to having purchased and returned a copy of Logos Bible Software v1.6 in order to use the sales receipt for a discount on upgrading to Logos Bible Software v2.0. Back in 1995.

And now, 11 years later, he feels convicted about his dishonesty, confessing it as part of an old life style of stealing, shop-lifting, etc. He enclosed a check for the value of the returned software, plus interest, and asked for our forgiveness and blessing.

What a blessing it is to be building tools to help people study God’s Word. And to be in a position to see, side-by-side and on the same day, such evidences of our sinful tendencies and of the power of the Word to convict us of them.

National Bible Week Essay Contest (cont’d)

This year’s National Bible Week Essay contest has been a resounding success!

Nearly 200 essays have been submitted and dozens of Logos users have opened their email inboxes to find they have won. Take a look at some of the winning essays to get some fresh inspiration for your own Bible study.

Although all of the essays are centered around the general theme of “Bible study” the diversity of content has been remarkable. Who knows? Maybe there will be an essay that jump starts your own Bible study or reveals an approach to Bible study that has never occurred to you:

Do you often feel you need to make more time for Bible study? Here is an excellent solution!

Do you want to take your Bible study to the next level, but don’t know any Original Languages? Find some encouragement here!

Are you looking for an interesting book of the Bible on which to focus your Bible study? Try Deuteronomy!

Or read an honest (and inspirational) reflection on how Bible study has helped this reverend mature in his faith.

Each selected essay has earned its author $30 of unlock credit to be used towards purchases from Logos.

In total, we have doled out almost $1,000 in unlock credits and more essays are being selected every day.

If you have not submitted one yet, your window of opportunity is shrinking as essays will only be accepted through Friday, December 1. To submit an essay go to www.logos.com/nationalbibleweek (and don’t forget to read the official rules before you send your entry).

Giving Thanks for Another Great Year

It’s been a great year for Logos in so many ways. We’re thankful for the enthusiastic response to the Logos 3 release, safety on the Bible Road Trip and a warm reception wherever we travelled, strong sales growth,deepening relationships with key constituencies, and a great team of people to work with here in Bellingham and around the world.

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3

If you’re a regular reader of the Logos Blog, you know that we love to eat. So it’s no surprise that Logos does Thanksgiving in style. Bob hasturkey, stuffing and gravy catered in, and we all bring sides and drinks—good old church potluck style.

Here’s a little video I put together of the Thanksgiving feast we had last Wednesday: Thanksgiving2006.wmv (Windows Media Video, 1:37, 6MB).

I also snapped a few photos, trying not to get anyone with their mouth full. Though after yesterday’s photo of the SBL team asleep in the van, maybe I shouldn’t have worried about it.

Continue Reading…

Quick Impressions of ETS and AAR/SBL 2006

The ETS and AAR/SBL conferences were awesome. We were able to meet all sorts of folks at both conferences and talk with them about Bible study software and especially about syntax.

But it was a long week. Time in the booth, catching sessions, giving papers, catching up with old friends and making new friends have a way of wearing a guy out. As a matter of fact, on the way to the airport for the flight home, Eli (in the back), Mike (on the right) and Rick (on the left) crashed in the minivan while John was playing the role of chauffeur. Vincent apparently obliged in snapping the picture.

We may have other pictures later, and I hope to post the papers I presented later as well.

National Bible Week Essay Contest

In honor of National Bible Week, which is this week, we’re sponsoring an essay contest on Logos.com. You are invited to write and submit a brief essay on Bible study. If we display the essay on the site, you’ll receive a $30 book unlock credit. The sign-up form is here.

During last year’s contest, more than 70 essays were submitted, approved, and posted, with a nice variety of themes and perspectives represented. You can read last year’s essays on the Selected Essays page.

As you reflect on how the Bible has shaped your life and give thanks for the privilege and ready accessibility of Bible study materials,I encourage you to put your thoughts into writing and share them with us!

Logos on the TV

Late last week, the Logos offices were invaded by acamera crew shooting footage for the Bellingham/Whatcom 2006Large Business of the Year awards ceremony.

Logos Bible Softwarehas been selected asa finalist for the award, which is sponsored every year by the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

It may be some indicator of Bellingham’ssmall-town sizethat we made the Large Business category with a little over 100 employees. And it may be an indicator of how boring our work appears on camera that the crew asked us to set up staged shots instead of filming the normal yawn-fest that is abuilding fullof people sitting at computers.

Here we see a staged interaction between a “walk-in customer” (Naomi, a member of the text development department) and receptionist Andrea. We do get a few walk-in customers every year…so I guess it’s not completely unrealistic.

Bob, hard at work in his office. The camera guy says, “Just keep opening and closing stuff on the screen to make it look like there’s constant activity.” For the record, it’s rare to see Bob in a state other than constant activity.

The producer wanted something that would give the “contemplative,” “studious” look he associates with Bible study…so we recruited another text developer to play the part. Here’s Kirk doing something studious that involves a bunch of old books and a laptop.

Will viewers be left with the impression that we sit at mahogany bookcases and type in the books one by one? It’s hard to say…

This experiencecertainly does little to dispel the notion that television values style over substance. Granted, the final product of this footage is intended to be a one-minute profile of the company, not a documentaryof the book-developing process. But I’m afraid that what most visitors would see on a normal day at Logos is, at least on the surface,less interesting than the TV portrayal.

Of course Logos has a veryinteresting story to tell, and we enjoy relating highlights here on the blog. But telling the real storyrequires an investment of time, a desire to grasp the details, andmore than a minute!

Syntax Searching and Epistolary Form Criticism: Introduction

During the SBL national meeting in Washington DC, we’ll be doing a session on Syntactically Annotated editions of the Greek New Testament. Here’s the info:

Session: 20-101 — Syntactically-Tagged Databases of the Greek NT: Overview & Training Seminar Date: Monday — November 20 Time: 4:00 – 6:30 PM Room: Bulfinch – GH Description: Exegesis in the Greek New Testament concerns far more than semantics and parsing. Take the quantum leap with software that allows you to search for grammatical/syntactical structures and usage in the Greek New Testament.

During that session, I hope to run through a few examples of things I’ve been working on with syntax searching in the area of epistolary form criticism. That sounds a bit high-falutin’, I know, but it has direct import on exegesis of New Testament epistles.

Think about it. Even today, we have certain “forms” that we use in particular types of communication. When we write a letter, we have a “Dear ______” salutation, we have a signature (e.g., “Sincerely, Rick” or something like that). Those are what could be called “forms”. If you write a memo in your office, chances are you do it a particular way.

The same thing happens with ancient letters. There are particular “forms” for opening a letter. There are also forms closing a letter. And there are, some think, forms for other things in between.
If you’re working through an epistle, wouldn’t it be important to know if there are potential examples of these “forms”, and to also be able to find where other instances of them are in the epistles? Might that not have an effect on exegesis?

This post introduces the idea in a little more detail. Subsequent posts in the series (I believe there will be five, though some may be broken up depending on size of post) will work through the structure of some proposed forms (see bibliography below) and examples of syntax searches designed to locate those forms. I hope to post once a week, but I may get off that schedule since we’ll be in the holidays.

Continue Reading…

Logos-Related Presentations at ETS & SBL

Some of the most exciting events we attend each year are the national meetings of Evangelical Theological Society and Society of Biblical Literature held in mid-November, this year in Washington, DC.

We’ll have a booth at each meeting where you can meet a number of Logos staff. It’s an exciting time for us to meet and hear from the academic crowd and show off new products and features that are in the works or recently shipped.

Beyond just stopping by the booth, you can also attendmore than a half-dozensessions that relate to Logos Bible Software! Some of the sessions are presented by Logos staff, and someare presented by scholars who are using our software or developing new databases for Logos.

ETS events are listed first, then SBL…

ETS Papers by Logos Staff

Thursday – November 16

10:10-10:50 am

  • Michael S. Heiser (Logos Bible Software), You’ve Seen One elohim, You’ve Seen Them All? A Critique of Mormonism’s Apologetic Use of Psalm 82

11:00-11:40 am

  • Rick Brannan (Logos Bible Software), Subjects and Predicates and Complements, Oh My! Searching the New Testament with Sensitivity to SyntaxThis paper examines different sorts of syntactic searches that can be pursued from the starting point of a word. Questions like “When is [word] used as a subject?” or “What verbs are used when [word] is a subject?” will be examined and discussed.

SBL Papers & Presentations by Logos Staff, Users, and Project Contributors


Saturday – November 18

18-107 : Syntactically-Tagged Databases of the Hebrew Bible: Overview & Training Seminar 4:00 – 6:30 PM|Room: Bulfinch – GH

  • This seminar will overview the latest quantum leap for computerized research and teaching in the Hebrew Bible: textual data bases tagged for syntactical force and structures.

Sunday – November 19

S19-60 : Computer Assisted Research1:00- 3:00 PM | Room: 103A – CC

  • Theme: The Bible and MediaMark Dubis, Union University, PresidingJens Bruun Kofoed, Copenhagen Lutheran School of Theology; Learning, Liberty, and Libronix: How Multimedia Changes the Study of Ancient Israel’s History (30 min)The paper will present an outline of the theoretical arguments for using multimedia to enhance the learning process with a number of examples from the Danish Ancient Israel’s History Multimedia Project…The project takes advantage of the Libronix Personal Book Builder which allows users to create Libronix compatible books that integrate seamlessly with the Libronix Digital Library System.

S19-105 : Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics 4:00 – 6:30 PM|Room: 204C – CC

  • Matthew Brook O’Donnell, OpenText.org, Presiding Rick Brannan, Logos Bible Software. Modifiers in the Pastoral Epistles: Insight for Questions of Style? (10 min)This paper examines modifier usage inside of epistolary prescripts in epistles traditionally attributed to Paul. The goal is to show that components of epistolary prescripts use modification for different purposes. This conclusion is well known, but by reaching the conclusion using only the OpenText.org Word Group Analysis, the subsequent value of the OpenText.org annotation for the analysis of style becomes evident.

Monday – November 20

S20-86 : Ugaritic Studies and Northwest Semitic Epigraphy1:00- 3:30 PM | Room: 142 – CC

  • Michael S. Heiser, Logos Research Systems, New Implementations of Digital Resources for the Study of the Language and Literature of Ugarit (30 min)Scholars who work primarily in the Hebrew Bible, the Greek New Testament, and other classical material have long had the capability of studying the grammar, morphology, and literature of their text corpus via commercial software programs. Efforts to move the study of Ugaritic into the electronic world to date have focused on digital reproduction of tablets and information storage and retrieval. The prodigious achievement of Laboratorio de Hermeneumatica (Instituto de Filologia) of Madrid, accomplished under the leadership of J. L. Cunchillos, J. A. Zamora and J. P. Vita, paved the way for new implementations of their data in a sophisticated, user-friendly software package. This presentation offers attendees the first look at the result of a recent licensing agreement between the Laboratorio and Logos Bible Software. The new software package not only allows searching of the Ugaritic corpus, but the results of those searches are fully integrated with digitized print works relevant to the study of Ugaritic.

20-101 : Syntactically-Tagged Databases of the Greek NT: Overview & Training Seminar 4:00 – 6:30 PM|Room: Bulfinch – GH

  • This seminar will overview the latest quantum leap for computerized research and teaching in the Greek New Testament: textual data bases tagged for syntactical force and structures.

Tuesday – November 21

S21-6 : Computer Assisted Research9:00-11:30 AM | Room: 103A – CC

  • Sheila McGinn, John Carroll University, PresidingAlbert L. Lukaszewski, St. Andrews, Scotland, Finding Discreet Sentential Structures in the New Testament (30 min)Considers how to use the Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament “to find discreet structures in the syntax of New Testament Greek. The sentential structures highlighted will include the internal syntax of subordinate clauses, frames of dialogue, the use of quotations, and the intertwining of relative and participial clauses as manifest in the Catholic Epistles.”

Logos in the News

If you live in the St. Petersburg, Florida, area you might have opened up the paper last Saturday to see Logos’ own Scott Lindsey looking back at you. The paper’s religion section carried a very nice feature article on Scott’s presentation at a Worldview Weekend event in the Tampa Bay area.

One of my favorite quotes from the article illustrates a cool phenomenon—teens getting excited about using technology to study the Bible:

Lindsey said parents have been buying the software for their teenagers, who request it after they see the demos.”I stumbled upon a statistic that shocked me as a parent,” he said. “The article stated that by the time the age group that is right now between 14 and 18 graduates, more than 70 percent of what they will learn, they will learn electronically.”Today’s young people don’t view study as paper. They view study as electronic.”

Check out the story to learn a few things about Logos you might not have known.

Other Recent Press

Über-blogger and tireless reviewer Tim Challies posted a highly complimentary review of Logos Bible Software 3 on his website a couple of weeks ago. Tim’s review will also be printed in an upcoming issue of Journal of Modern Ministry, edited by Dr. Jay Adams.

The latest crop of reviews from Review of Biblical Literature included an informative look at our Works of Philo product.

The Fall 2006 issue of Kindred Spirit—a print magazine published by Dallas Theological Seminary that goes to approximately 30,000 alumni and “friends of the school”—included an excerpt from a review of Logos 3 authored by DTS prof Dr. Hall Harris and alumnus Matt Blackmon.

And, finally for now, the September-October issue of Preaching magazine featured their annual “Survey of the Year’s Best Software for Preachers.” My favorite bit from that review, authored by former Preaching managing editor and current seminary student Jon Kever:

I get asked regularly by users if it’s worth upgrading to version 3. My answer is always an emphatic “YES!” [Logos 3] does more, faster and better, and looks good doing it. It’s obvious that the developers listened to users and put the time and effort into creating a superior Bible study software library. [Logos 3] works the way you study. There’s no way I can include all that’s new and improved.

All the News That’s Fit to Print

As always, you can visit www.logos.com to read the latest reviews, news clippings, and press releases from Logos. They’re excerpted right on the homepage.

If you have a My Yahoo homepage, personalized Google homepage, or use an RSS aggregator you can receive alerts with the latest items from Logos—including these blog posts!—by subscribing to our RSS feeds. Here’s a friendly article that explains how.