Why You Should Stop Reading Christian Books in Print

Scripture references

If you want to get the most out of your books and your time, there is no substitute for reading books in Logos or Vyrso.

Radical examines the global mission of the church and how it plays out in America.

Recently, I read Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt in print. It’s a quick read, but in 231 pages, Platt makes 177 references to Scripture and 15 references to other works—in the endnotes. In popular Christian works, it’s common practice to reference Scripture this way—the extra information is available to the reader, but it doesn’t interrupt the train of thought like an inline quote. However, this means that even if I’m reading with Bible in hand, I have to flip to the end of the book and look up the endnote before I flip through my Bible.

As a reader, this leaves me with a choice: abandon the extra information and supporting Scripture, or potentially take twice as long to read the book. If you’re like me and you have a backlog of books or a busy schedule, you choose to miss out on deeper study.

While you might be saving time by skipping the nearly 200 references to additional materials, you’re missing out on a wealth of information. If you’re reading for spiritual formation, you don’t want to miss out on the potential insights in your endnotes.

Radically Normal points to the greater significance of your normal, everyday life.

I followed up reading David Platt with Radically Normal: You Don’t Have to Live Crazy to Follow Jesus by Josh Kelley. While Kelley’s endnotes weren’t populated with Scripture references, he frequently plants a Bible reference in the middle or end of a sentence, without providing the text. This method is perhaps even more popular in Christian books than endnotes, but it can be equally frustrating as a reader. If I don’t have a Bible on hand, I’m left wondering what that passage just said, while the author is asking me to continue reading.

Christian authors point to Scripture constantly, and in print, you often wind up with either a book full of entire Bible verses, or a Scripture scavenger hunt. That’s where technology comes in.

Here’s what changes when you read popular Christian books in Logos or Vyrso:

Inline Scripture references bring the verses to you (instead of asking you to hunt them down), and footnotes and endnotes connect across the pages, so you can tap into that wealth of information with a move of your mouse—without leaving the page.

You can also read these texts alongside your preferred Bible, Bible dictionary, or thousands of other books that help you dig into Scripture and continue the conversation.

Start building your digital library today.

Get Logos 6 or browse thousands of popular Christian titles on Vyrso.

Comments

  1. says

    Great point. However, I read most of my books on an iPad. The chuggy-ness and slower response time of the Logos & Vyrso apps make reading on the Kindle app a much better experience. Also highlighting is much easier on Kindle. Improve your apps' response time and make it easier to highlight and I would read many more books on your platforms.

  2. says

    Thanks for sharing, Ryan! I really love how I can make notes and highlights in those books from my app, and then later access those notes from my notebook in the software.

  3. Gary Taylor says

    I’m sorry, but I disagree with the article. The title itself absolutely turns me off. Christian bookstores, and all bookstores for that matter, around the country are going out of business because of the electronic infusion. This is a sad state of affairs. While I would agree there might be advantages to the electronic print, I would much rather take the time to look up the references if I need to (many of which I don’t need to, having them memorized). For me, it does not replace having the feel of a book in my hands and reading it from the printed page. And also, I love going into a bookstore and browsing. There is nothing like it for me, and I’d hate to see that disappear.

  4. says

    I appreciate the constant updates that Faithlife puts out for their Logos program, but the app is nowhere near as great. I guess that makes sense if they were to choose between which to invest their time in: a program where one is invested in financially or a free app.

  5. says

    If I had unlimited resources, I'd have a copy both in digital as well as physical print form. There are times when reading a book in print is good for the mind and soul. Something to dog-ear. Something to weigh in thought and in hand. A physical evidence that can be shared with others. But, then, as this blog entry suggests, there is the power of the cross-reference features found in the Logos digital copy of a book. When in the midst of intense Bible study, this comes in handy. Much more efficient and accurate. Each form has benefits, so it would be great to have both at my reach.

  6. says

    If I had unlimited resources, I'd have a copy both in digital as well as physical print form. There are times when reading a book in print is good for the mind and soul. Something to dog-ear. Something to weigh in thought and in hand. A physical evidence that can be shared with others. But, then, as this blog entry suggests, there is the power of the cross-reference features found in the Logos digital copy of a book. When in the midst of intense Bible study, this comes in handy. Much more efficient and accurate. Each form has benefits, so it would be great to have both at my reach.

  7. Ray Timmermans says

    I am a great fan of footnotes and don’t think I can read a book without consulting them. That, I feel, is the drawback of Logos. It is a disincentive to reading them. Additionally, the format of some books (commentaries in particular) lends itself to not reading the full commentary and following the author’s argument.

  8. says

    The argument is compelling . . . and self serving. Retention is greater when the book is bound and not digital. I read both bound and digital but it is easier to skim the book and miss the points being made.

  9. says

    Again thanks Ryan, however you will for me never beable to replace the printed book. Plus Logos and Vyrso still has such a limited library and a lot of the scholars and authors I like are just not in the database. I do love the software but it is still a minor tool in my study and preparation and I believe I have a diamond or platinum platform. Im 41 and I love having my text laid across my desk and not hassling with the different tiny windows of the books popped up on the screen. In a pinch it works but as a geek many changes and additions would have to be made before I would try to use it as my main source.

  10. says

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Tim. I think part of the reason it may be easier to skim books in digital is eye strain. There are so many different devices that people read on, and only some of them have really "caught up" in terms of reducing eye strain. Are you saying retention is greater because you're more likely not to read as much in digital?

  11. says

    The app is, unfortunately, behind the desktop software, but we are working to improve both experiences. People are invested in the app—you still buy books, base packages, etc. and any books you buy carry over to the app. Downloading the app and nothing else is essentially like having the free engine of the software. But I know what you mean. We try to focus on the main ways people are using our tools.

  12. says

    Thanks for sharing, Josh. With how rarely the Israelites actually heard the Law, it makes you think about how important it was that God worked the Law into their daily lives. The seemingly endless rituals and regulations were constant reminders of the God who protected, loved, and provided for them—even when they couldn't read the Scriptures regularly like we can.

  13. says

    Thanks for sharing, Robert. Logos Bible Software is always taking suggestions for resources we should acquire (that's part of the reason we have almost 50,000 resources) and we are very open to feedback on the software experience itself as well. As an experienced user, we'd love to hear from you! Would you be willing to email suggest@logos.com?

  14. says

    I am a quadriplegic who, due to a neuromuscular disease, can no longer hold books made of ink and paper. I love digital books and I love LOGOS, but I also suspect that Nicholas Carr may be onto something when he wrote THE SHALLOWS: WHAT THE INTERNET IS DOING TO OUR BRAINS.

    If reading digitally has strengthened the human tendency to be as easily distracted as squirrels on crack cocaine, how can we focus on the incredible riches within God's Word? How can we meditate on God's love letter to us when we are distracted by rabbit trails every direction? It takes discipline and focus to simply LISTEN without going off on tangents.

    However, don't expect me to become a Luddite and throw away all my digital books! It's a gift to be able to read it again.

  15. says

    @Ryan Nelson As I said above: I am a quadriplegic who, due to a neuromuscular disease, can no longer hold books made of ink and paper. I love digital books and I love LOGOS, but I also suspect that Nicholas Carr may be onto something when he wrote THE SHALLOWS: WHAT THE INTERNET IS DOING TO OUR BRAINS.

    If reading digitally has strengthened the human tendency to be as easily distracted as squirrels on crack cocaine, how can we focus on the incredible riches within God's Word? How can we meditate on God's love letter to us when we are distracted by rabbit trails every direction? It takes discipline and focus to simply LISTEN without going off on tangents.

    The experience of reading is totally different with paper-and-ink books and digital books. I suppose that neither is inherently superior to the other, but… I find it much easier to completely lose myself in a paper book. I am completely transported to a different time and place, conversing with either the author or characters from the past. Digital books are still wonderful, providing data points that lead to other data points that lead to other data points that lead to other data points that lead to other data points that lead to other data points that lead to other data points that lead to other data points that lead to other data points that lead to other data points…

    Sometimes, a vast amount of information is useful. Usually, I prefer the kind of reading that Wallace Stevens spoke about in his poem, "The House Was Quiet and The World Was Calm."
    http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/249210

  16. says

    I love Logos. Those who know me best will attest that I mention Logos whenever a discussion turns to resources for Bible study or ministry, etc. With all that said, however, Logos will never replace all print Christian books. At least, I hope it never does. Not because I don’t love Logos, but because there is something about having a physical book in your hands that technology with all its advances will never be able to replicate. Plus, not all Christian books in print are even available in Logos. Then there’s all the locations on the earth with no access to advanced technology or even electricity where one can bring printed materials bearing the good news. There still is a need for the printed page!

  17. says

    Ryan, several studies (the most recent being a year old) reveal that the comprehension from digital is less than print. Even when I research in a digital format I often copy the text to read it "on paper." Neither format faces extinction and there will be a market for both.

  18. says

    I very much use my resources on my portable device. I love taking notes and highlighting. If there was anything that I would love to have on the portable device though it would have to be the option of practicing to read and write the Greek and Hebrew alphabets that were just added to the Logos 6 software. The touchscreens would be perfect for that.

  19. Bruce says

    I have long objected to the practice of putting notes at the back of a book or end of a chapter – it always seems like the author is trying to discourage the reader from checking the references. This seems to be worse in newer books than older.

    While it is nice to have Logos indexing, it is not necessary for all books. Having an extremely limited income, it is often difficult to justify the cost of books in Logos, when it is much less expensive for Kindle or epub formats.

  20. says

    With at one time having a library of over a 1000 bound books, truthfully I have to op for the digital. I left my books, all but one Bible in Ohio, when I left(on foot) on a trip to south Texas. Inside my pack, was also the secondary hard drive for the ministry's computer. One, on which at that time was only a L4 Pastor's Library. I could only imagine, trying to of carried either of those libraries that kind of distance. Today, I'm up to L6 and Portfolio, yet still retain my notes from earlier versions. Which in themselves, are a great resource in times of need.
    As for the 'discipline' needed to maintain a constant, progressive study(not being a squirrel on crack), it take a wholehearted reliance upon the LORD. Though not any different than reading a hard bound copy. satan, no matter what form you read, will seek to diminish your effectiveness. Thus the need to crank up your prayer level and faith in the LORD's guidance :{)))

  21. T_mothy says

    Thanks for sharing those thoughts. Reading both on many paperbooks and also on Kindle and new to Logos, i wonder: besides the arguments paper vs. digital reading and endless arguments about retaining more or less, why is that that nobody – at least, I can’t recall any noteworthy Christian post or other questionning the possible long-term effect of screen-reading on vision and our eyes. Do we have ANY idea about the possible detrimental effects of long-hours reading on a screen? I whish those aspects were explored, even if they should at the end conclude that we should read more paper… which i simply don’t know. It’s at the end a question of caring for our God-made and sustained bodies, isn’t it?

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