Prognostication Station

Let’s take a quick peek into the future today. Specifically, I’m talking about the future of books. And while I definitely don’t have the gift of prophecy, I can definitely see which way the wind is shining when it comes to the future of books. We are on the verge of the closest thing our generation (or even the previous couple of generations) will see to the invention of the printing press: digital publishing. 

I believe that this will be a big deal for several reasons which I will address in a moment. But first I want to say that I don’t think that regular books are going away. I know that a lot of people prefer actual books for a variety of reasons, many of which are good reasons, but none of which are going to stop the ebook revolution or even slow it. I prefer getting a handwritten letter from friends and family but I am much more likely to get a text message or email. It is just the way that it is.

This past year my wife bought me an Amazon Kindle for our anniversary. She bought it for me for several reasons, including the fact that many of my textbooks for seminary were cheaper on it, eventually paying for itself in only two semesters. Additionally I am a big reader and it is much easier to just load it full of books for long trips (or in between classes). 

After having it for about 6 months now, I believe that ereaders have a LOT of potential for missions. So much potential that I am forced to use bullet points to even post them…

  • They are cheap and getting cheaper. My wife bought our Kindle last July for about $120. Not that expensive but still very cost prohibitive in a developing country. However, in November, the newer Kindles cost $79. They dropped $40 in only a few months. I am afraid to look at this post a year from now because they will be giving them away in cereal boxes by then and I’ll be ashamed at the money we spent (although in my defense I predict cereal will cost $150 a box in 2013). Even if they remain a little too expensive for the developing world, they are cheap enough to be worth it to upgrade regularly for wealthier nations. This means that there will be a lot of “hand me downs” that are perfectly functional trickling down.
  • The battery life is GREAT. My kindle lasts a month. You can already buy solar powered covers, and there are more of those innovations on the way. Power isn’t a problem.
  • Distribution possibilities are nearly endless. Imagine that you have just spent ten years translating a Bible into a language that didn’t previously have the Bible. Now the question is, how do you distribute it? I had some friends who once went on a short term trip hiking through the Andes distributing Bibles by donkey. Now we can do via email or even Facebook. Soon people the world over, will be able to download it to their cellphones.
  • Language/literacy is less of a problem. Did you know that most of the kindles (and other ereaders) can play audio books? It’s true. Not only that but combining audio with text they can actually teach people to read. That is world changing, literally. 

So the question is; where are the churches stepping up to spearhead an ereader campaign? Where are the used/discarded ereader collection boxes? It’s going to be a great future full of great potential. Let’s get on it!

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