Wednesday, April 30, 2008

de-versify chat

We have blogged in the past about The Books of the Bible (TBOTB), an edition of the TNIV which formats the text without verse numbers and arranges the text more in chronological order as well as closer to the order in the Hebrew Bible.

May 9 there will be on online chat by the Bible Design Group that has been designing TBOTB and promoting de-versifying. The chat will be on Facebook at this Internet address:

The chat will take place between 4-5 pm Mountain Time (6-7 Eastern).

If you are not a member of Facebook, it takes only two or three minutes to become one. You are invited to join the chat and ask questions of the Bible Design team, or give them other comments and ideas which can help promote de-versified Bibles for better Bible study.


Iyov said...

I am afraid I won't be able to chat because I have other obligations at that time. However, I would be grateful if you could pass on the following points:

(1) While the formatting of the TBOB was useful, the attempt was sabotaged by lousy paper (too much bleed through) and terrible, terrible binding.

(2) The unavailability of the volumes on Amazon is a real drawback.

I think the project would attract much more attention if it were published in a more user-friendly (in terms of paper, binding, and easy Internet availability) format.

Wayne Leman said...

I'll be glad to pass these comments along, Iyov. Actually, there is a good chance that some from the design team have already read what you have written here.

James said...

Excellent - I hope to be there for the chat! I would absolutely love to see other translations in the verse-less formatting. Are there plans for NASB or ESV to end up formatted for normal reading?

Jerry said...

Would anyone be aware if Zondervan will be picking up TBOTB for publication anytime soon? Also, since I and perhaps others will not be available to participate in the May 9th chat, will a transcript of the chat be available for viewing later on?

Paul said...

Wayne, you are quite right! I've been watching the blog and trying to squeeze in time for a brief response. My prayer of TBoTB being popular enough to warrant my full time attention has not quite been answered yet. Unfortunately, other duties have called.

I suppose I should introduce myself as one of the members of the Bible Design Group. I am also an employee of International Bible Society in the Scripture Resource Development Group. I'd like to thank Wayne for promoting the experiment in chat at the de-versify group. I hope you all can join us!

But enough of all that. The questions here are all ones I'm sure we'll address during the chat. They are actually some of the most popular and probably should be added to our TBoTB FAQ. I'll answer the questions from the above questions in order of popularity on the website.

Firstly, translation. Since we hold the copyright on the TNIV, NIV, NIrV and NVI, we primarily use these translations. We do carry inexpensive outreach editions of some other translations, but pick up the typesetting from the publisher of that particular translation. All that to say, it's probably not going to happen unless a publisher of a particular translation decides to do it themselves. We are very much in favor of this.

Secondly, binding and paper. The paper issue is a tricky one. If we had gone with a thicker paper, an already inch and a half book would have been at least two inches thick. As is, it's roughly the same size as Wright's Jesus and the Victory of God with more than three times as many pages. Much larger and we'd have had one of the old Family Bibles on our hands. Nice decoration piece, but hardly a book that begs to be read. We could have gone with a slightly better opacity, but it certainly wouldn’t have turned out any better than the TNIV Study Bible, which still has significant bleed through. Additionally, doing so would have raised the cost of the book significantly. The same can be said for a better binding in hardcover or even leather. As an organization, our primary publishing mission is to create low-cost Scripture evangelism pieces. The three editions we published are not intended to be high-end pieces. They are however, intended to be read. While the opacity isn’t the best I’ve ever seen, there are much worse papers out there, which we could have used. All this said, we may yet produce a better binding if TBoTB becomes popular enough that people want to use it as a Pew Bible. More on this topic during the chat (of which we will make a transcript available).

Third, availability. I’m mostly with you on this one. One of the first pieces we did without chapters and verses, the Encountering Jesus New Testament, was one of the best pieces we’ve ever done. It is now on its way out of our catalog because it never found its audience (and subsequently, is selling for $2, well below what it cost to print). I would love to have our stuff more widely available, but there are a number of factors as to why we do not. One answer is that we’ve contracted with Zondervan to publish our translations commercially. The arrangement has worked out well for both of us and we are thrilled with what they’ve done with the NIV family. The other answer is that the price would go up fairly significantly, which defeats the purpose. But if you want to pay for resold IBS Bibles, be my guest.

Finally, as far as Zondervan’s plans, I can’t say for certain. We’ve heard from a number of publishers that they are thinking about doing their own versions, but I don’t have firm knowledge about this. There may however be some new information to be had at the chat. We’ll see.

One last word about binding. I have a very nice binding of TBoTB. It was bound from a standard edition at a local bindery. It wasn’t cheap, but I can tell you, I sure enjoy it.

Best to all. Hope to see you Friday!

Nathan Stitt said...

I've posted some excerpts on my blog if anyone is interested.