Whenever I get a new syllabus, I need to acquire textbooks.
There’s always the debate of e-book vs. hard copy in my head. I like physical books. I like turning pages and using bookmarks and seeing the spines on my bookshelf. But e-books are usually cheaper, and storage is not an issue. Sometimes I don’t even know which format I’ll buy until I’ve compared all the options, and even then I might order a paper-book even if a cheaper e-book is available.
Speaking of options, I usually compare several different options before actually buying the books I need. Theoretically, my main goal is to save money, but that’s not the only factor. Here are my main sources:
Those who have gone before:
A few years ago, my dad studied in the same seminary. As his way of helping with my education, he’s offered to send any books I might need if he already has them. So my first step is to send a copy of the syllabus to him to see if he already has some of the books. I also browse my pastor’s library and the church library. These last two are less helpful for required texts, but are potential sources when it comes to research papers.
Briercrest’s textbook store (http://bookmanager.com/1186590/).
Pros: I’m supporting the school, so I feel loyal. The bookstore donates a portion of its profits back to the school. I can also charge books directly to my student account, which sometimes makes payment easier, as I can take care of tuition and books with one credit card transaction on the student account. Also, if I have questions, I can call them during business hours and get a real live person every time. They’ll also mail them right to me, so I don’t need to be on campus to pick them up
Cons: Sometimes the cost is higher than other sources, and I don’t think they offer e-books, and they only carry stock for current classes. If you’re taking an independent study, then you’ll have to wait for them to get it from their suppliers before they can send it on to you.
Christian Book Distributors (http://www.christianbook.com/)
Pros: They carry a very wide selection of books, I can usually find what I’m looking for here, including in e-book format. We also have missionary friends who are “CBD affiliates”. That means we can use a link on their missionary website to get to Christian Book Distributors, and then CBD makes a small donation to them from anything we order that session. (Unfortunately, I often forget to use the affiliate link and just order normally) Once in a while, they’ll even send a coupon by email with a temporary code that you can use to get a discount. E-book versions are readable either online in the website’s CBD reader (there’s also a CBD reader app for iphone), or you can download them to your computer, in which case you need a program like Adobe Digital Editions (http://www.adobe.com/ca/solutions/ebook/digital-editions.html)
Cons: I often forget it is an American company, which means the prices are in American dollars instead of Canadian. So when I’m doing cost comparisons, I may think I’m getting a better deal at CBD, when perhaps I’m not! Sometimes I don’t realize I’ve done it again until I’m comparing receipts to my credit card bill.
Pros: Pretty much anything is available, often in multiple formats (e-books will be in Kindle format, so you’ll need to download the free app [https://www.amazon.ca/gp/digital/fiona/kcp-landing-page?ie=UTF8&ref_=kcp_pc_mkt_lnd] if you don’t have a kindle reader). Sometimes used copies are available for even cheaper prices
Cons: Careful on the used copies: what you save on costs might be lost on shipping- especially if you’re ordering multiple books from multiple sources, or even from the same source! The shipping charges are applied consistently every time, which isn’t always to your advantage.
Pros: you don’t even need a base package to use the program. The core engine is available for free (which isn’t widely advertised, since they want you to buy a base package. Type in “core engine” in the search box. Here’s a link for the logos 6 engine when I wrote this post: https://www.logos.com/product/46767/logos-6-core-engine), they offer a free book every month, there’s 60 or 70 free resources in their store, plus other deals crop up all the time. Personally, it was in my budget to buy a base package when I first started Seminary, so I have over 2000 books on Logos right now. When I buy a book for a class, it is indexed and becomes searchable by the database. There’s an app for smart phones, and your library is linked to you ID, so you can access your entire library from any device. In fact, you can even upload your own sermons or academic papers into Logos so that the database can search your personal work! As my father-in-law says, Logos is the Cadillac of computer programs for Bible study.
Cons: Logos deals only in e-books, so no paperbacks available. This indexing and tagging of a manuscript by their staff represents a pile of work to get it ready, and I often find a logos e-book can be more expensive than a hard copy from amazon or CBD. But as your Logos library grows, the more powerful it becomes when it comes to research and cross referencing; kind of like compound interest. But as powerful as the searches are, buying 2000 books in a base package means I usually have no idea what books I have in my Logos library. It’s much easier to glance at my physical bookshelves as I walk into my study, so I’m much more familiar with them. (If I can’t see it, so I really have it?)
Pros: e-sword is a nifty little program, which is also free. I actually find it easier to do basic word studies in e-sword than in Logos. The website has multiple Bibles, commentaries, and other resources. The e-sword modules are books you can download that are either public domain, or the author has given permission for a free e-sword module to have been developed. There are add-ons that you can buy, however, like additional Bible versions.
Cons: Selection is limited, since most of the stuff available is public domain.
In the end…
Sometimes it’s cheaper on amazon. Sometimes it’s cheaper on CBD. Sometimes it’s cheaper on Logos. Sometimes it’s only available from one or two of the sources. Sometimes there’s a choice between paper or e-book. I have to check for every new class, since the options are always different.
And as I hinted at before, money is not the only factor. Price is important, but what about supporting my school? Supporting missionaries? Equipping my Logos library? Keeping books from the same class in the same digital library? Having the physical book available due to the nature of the book? Sometimes it just depends how I feel when it’s time to order the books.
Of course, using a variety of options based on a variety of factors now means I basically have five different libraries: my actual bookshelves, Logos, E-sword, Adobe Digital Editions and Kindle. I don’t even want to know about Nook or Kobo. My library is complicated enough!