The New Gospel Writer

I like books. Real books. The ones with pages and bindings and ink. Aren't they great? They come in all kinds of different colors and sizes. Oh, and the fonts. Aren't they cool? I can't tell you the number of times I threw a book down to search my computer's font file to find something--anything--like the font in that book. And I can't tell you the number of times I came away from that blasted screen with a new-found hate for all things digital. Books, ink, typography have been around forever, but they aren't the future. Heck, they aren't even the present.

Right now, as I speak, I'm not writing this piece on a legal pad or a Moleskine, or with a pen, or even a pencil. I'm writing it on my phone. And that's after having finished a chapter of Robert Greene's book Mastery on, you guessed it, my phone.

A couple of years ago, I emailed a ministry about its books. I had had all its books stacked on my shelves for years. I think it was when the iPhone 4 came out that the idea of the Kindle really hit me. I asked the ministry in my email when it was planning to digitize those books. Guess what that ministry said? Never. Sitting here at Starbucks scouring Amazon, I see it kept that promise.

But that raises a question, doesn't it? How in the world does this ministry think it's going to fulfill its part of the Great Commission sticking with paper books? Who besides those getting AARP flyers in the mail are looking to buy them? And where are they supposed to find them anyway? I can't even think of a bookstore within 20 miles of where I'm sitting besides a couple of grungy Barnes & Nobles .

This past week I did a little experiment. I put together a short, short Bible study, only about 12 pages or so, and published it on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iTunes. You know what? It's available today in 50 countries.

What if I had gone paper with it? Glad you asked. First, I wouldn't have been able to keep it to 12 pages. Oh, no. I would have had to turn it into a theological treatise of a hundred pages or more to justify the printing costs. And then there'd be the shipping. I'd have had to hire someone to haul the books to whatever Christian bookstore he could find. Good luck with that. Other countries? Pfft.

And then there'd be the price point. Let's see, the materials, paper, ink, and covers, would have set me back quite a bit. And then you have the printer, oh yeah the hauler, the retail store, yada, yada, yada. I would have had to price it somewhere over $10 just to break even. You know how much my little booklet is selling for on Kindle? 99 cents. Yeah, can you believe it? and it's available to virtually everybody that has a phone. Instant gospel for 99 cents. How cool is that?

The church isn't going to fulfill the Great Commission by living large in an analogue world. The new gospel writer has got, has got, has got to be a man about town. He doesn't have a choice in this.

PS NewsPeter Smythe