Epistles of Thomas

January 21, 2008

The trouble with new editions and electronic books

Filed under: Commentaries,Review,Translation — Thomas @ 23:27

I’m a big fan of electronic books and use the Logos software program on a regular basis. I appreciate the ease of use and am glad I chose to concentrate of Logos because no one beats them for shear quantity of volumes printed. One of the downsides to e-books that I have noticed is that they are slow to update books with new editions and when they do update to new editions often the old ones are no longer available. For example Logos sells NASB95 but not NASB (1977). They sell the latest, third edition of Bauer’s lexicon (BDAG) but you can longer buy the second edition because Chicago University Press decided that having them both for sale would confuse the marketplace. In both cases they are entitled to do whatever they want but in the world of physical books I can always order a used copy online from countless places, not so in the world of e-books.

Another problem stems from economic reality and licensing concerns. If I want to buy John Bright’s classic, A History of Israel, Logos offers the third edition (1981). However, in 2000 a fourth edition was released, something which may never be seen for Logos. Another example is D. A. Carson’s New Testament Commentary Survey for which Logos offers the fifth edition as part of a collection. Less than a year later, in 2007, a sixth edition was published but there is no indication that Logos will be offering that.

A third problem relates to translations of classic works. For example, Logos offers John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. The Logos edition is the translation done by Henry Beveridge which is fine for casual reading but scholars need the edition translated by Ford Lewis Battles and edited by John T. McNeill. Unfortunately, this is published by Westminster John Knox Press which has decided to play in its own sandbox. I’m glad to see that Logos is producing the new translations of Josephus even if they are expensive beyond belief. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that one of my professors of long ago, Paul Spilsbury, is a translator for Judean Antiquities Books 8-10. Sorry Dr. Spilsbury, I still couldn’t convince myself to spend $380 on five volumes.



  1. “The Logos edition is the translation done by Henry Beveridge which is fine for casual reading but scholars need the edition translated by Ford Lewis Battles and edited by John T. McNeill.”

    More accurately, the scholar should be working with the original language.

    Other than that, I’m in complete agreement with what you’re saying. I wish the Josephus translation was cheaper, though it will be nice to have the Greek – even if its in conjunction with the old Whiston translation.

    Comment by Mike — February 21, 2008 @ 13:06 | Reply

  2. Mike, We can always wish things were cheaper 🙂 $380 is out of my consideration though. $100 for Josephus in Greek is steep but it’s a lot of material and compared to the five English volumes (which aren’t even the complete works) it’s a much better deal. I just hope this means they will put more resources into producing it and have it finished soon.

    Comment by true54blue — February 22, 2008 @ 22:04 | Reply

  3. I hear you on this one. These are problems that I have run into as well when I think about whether I want to invest in a print or digital library.

    I had the Beveridge translation of the Institutes in Logos too, though I’ve decided to purchase the Battles edition when I take up reading it soon due to it’s superior translation and presentation.

    I think issues like this will remain a problem as long as digital editions are relegated to second-class status within the publishing world. That, and the small amount of collaboration within the industry contributes to the delay too. It would be nice to see Logos and the other digital book companies get together and agree on a standardized format. If that were to catch on, than maybe publishing companies would be more likely to release digital editions alongside print copies, much like Thomas Nelson does with their Logos editions.

    Comment by Greg Masone — February 26, 2008 @ 22:48 | Reply

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