Moving to a Digital Bible – Part 1 – The Requirements

I’m getting old, but this series of posts is not really about that, except to say, my eyesight has gotten so bad that I can no longer easily read a standard print Bible and have considered moving to a Digital Bible. While I was thinking this migration through, I purchased Zondervan’s excellent NIV Comfort Print Bible. It has served me well. It also kicked off a little bit of a Bible buying spree, but that is also NOT what this post is about. If I may cut to the chase, now, the comfort print type size is no longer clear enough for me to read either thus I am forced to either buy a super large print Bible or go Digital. #sadface #oldman #comequicklyJesus

This catastrophe has moved me to… buy readers…  Well, no, that might have solved the problem in about 30 minutes and for a grand total of about $5. 

In actuality, my failing eyesight has pushed me to figure out how I would love completely to a Digital Bible. I will roll this journey out for you in 4 parts:

  • Part 1 – The Requirements
  • Part 2 – The Hardware
  • Part 3 – The Software
  • Part 4 – The Results

I am hoping that these posts will provide you some new resources, even if you aren’t interested in following me down the same path.

eBooks

For over 20 years, almost every book I have read is a digital one. I started out with A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens on my Palm V sometime in December of 2000 and have never looked back. I have probably read over 400 electronic books since then. 

I know, I know, you love the way books feel in your hands, blah blah blah – I get it, I do as well.  The simple fact is that, with eBooks, can have ALL of the books that I am currently reading (usually about 3) with me at all times. This allows me to read while waiting in line, sitting at a coffee shop or flying on a plane and has overcome the very real “I can’t turn the physical page” objection. Also, if I am on a long car trip, I can buy the audiobook version of the book and listen while I drive.

This love of eBooks has not extended to my Bible, however. My trusty NIV is well used – I love underlining, bracketing and highlighting passages that strike me when I am reading. If there is space on the page, I might even take a quick note or two. I had tabs in it at one time for quick access to books, but they started to rip the thin pages so I cut them off and highlighted each book on the spine. I use the two ribbon marks to keep track of where I am in my reading – one for the Old Testament and one for the New. Because of these things, this is a very personal and personalized Bible.

Wants and Needs

With this information as context, the following lists outlines my want and needs for a Digital Bible.

  • Readability – I would obviously like to be solve my main problem and be able to read my Bible no matter the light – without having to buy readers!
  • Size – My NIV Bible is 6.5” x 9.5” and about 1” thick. I would love for my Digital Bible to be about that size.
  • Notes – With minimal margins in my current Bible, I can’t really take many notes. Right now, I take notes in Apple Notes. The problem with this scenario is that there is a loss of connection between the notes and the parts I am reading. One option is a Bible with more notes space, but I would love to be able to take as many notes as I can without drastically increasing the Bible size.
  • Convergence – I would like to be able to, at least, read my Digital Bible on whatever device I have with me at that time. Currently my everyday carry for a meeting or for working at a coffee shop is a phone, watch, keys, wallet, Bible and iPad with attached keyboard (or MacBook). Collapsing my Bible into my phone or iPad would be great from a convergence standpoint.
  • Digital Bookshelf – I have an awesome Bible, the Tyndale NLT Illustrated Study Bible, in my little desk library. It is full of so many amazing pictures, graphics and information published in line with the easy to read NLT translation. It is awesome, but it is also 2.5” thick! Besides this, I have two other translations, a few commentaries, two concordances and 4 other important non-fiction books like Bonhoffer’s The Cost of Discipleship, Phil Robertson’s Jesus Politics, Thoreau’s Walden and Chris Palmer’s Greek Word Study devotional. I can’t carry all of these books (and more) with me when I leave my office unless they are digital.
  • Usability – I use my Bible in a few key ways:
    • Personal Bible Study – This currently involves me reading my physical Bible with my iPad (with stylus or attached keyboard) open to Moody’s or John MacArthur’s Bible Commentary eBook on Apple Books and my notes open in Apple Notes. I might also be watching a guided study on the RightNow Media App.
    • Life group Study – I take my Bible to Life group and sometimes use it to follow along with that week’s passages.
    • Writing – I use the Bible when I am writing blog posts or other things on a tablet or MacBook. 
    • Church Meetings – I would like to use the my Bible and take Meeting Notes on my device with a stylus or attached keyboard.
    • Sunday Service Note-taking – During Church, It would be nice to use a Bible App and my Church’s Sermon Notes App on my device in split screen. I would love to write notes with a stylus as I follow along with the sermon.
  • Visibility – This seems a little silly and it might be something that I can’t replicate with a digital solution, but I believe it is a good thing to be seen reading and studying a Bible. It spurs conversation and helps normalize the practice in a world that glorifies so much evil. I know that my pre-COVID practice of daily Bible reading at my local coffee shop was something that was used by the Holy Spirit, either through me, or others.

I think this adequately covers my current requirements for a Digital Bible. 

Continue on to Part 2 – The Hardware to see what I have tried so far and how each has or has not met my requirements to replace my current physical Bible.

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