Jump to content

Criteria for what makes a good resource to have in Accordance

Joe Weaks

Recommended Posts

For many years, I've looked at some module requests and have consistently wonder about the efficacy of having that particular book or monograph in Accordance. Many requests read to me like: "I like this book. Can we get it in Accordance?". Often, it raises the question for me what is the benefit of having that book in Accordance, vs simply buying the hard copy or having the ebook?


It's an important question for me because I selfishly want the Accordance team to focus, and not try and do everything, so that they can do well what they do.


Some requests that trigger this second-guessing can even be books about religious studies, say, something from CS Lewis, etc. In my simplistic mind, I'm really only interested in primary texts, and then secondary texts tied to those primary texts, as well as resources tied to the language of those primary texts. That includes, in my little mind, images and maps and preaching resources, commentaries and dictionaries, language learning, etc. Frankly, I'd welcome any text written in Ancient Hebrew or Greek as important to religious background studies. I really have no interest though in reading books in Accordance that are just books, unless there's significant interaction (scripture references) with a Biblical text such that the linking of the two is helpful. But, that's just my simplistic view.


So, what is the criteria of what makes a resource helpful to have in your Bible study app?


I can think of some categories that some of these requests come from: 

1. It's a text they want to be able to search. When I'm doing bible study, I want to be able to search for stuff, in Accordance. There may be a resource that I make such use of, that I want to be able to search it seamlessly as I search my texts and commentaries and dictionaries. This often may be because I want the ease of copying and pasting the text into my own document. The increasing capability of ebook programs makes this category problematic.



2. The author they're requesting has risen from their perspective to the level of 'primary resource'.

Origin? Luther? CSLewis? Karl Barth? This is perfectly legit, even though so completely subjective. Contrast Lewis with, for example, Martin Luther. Some Luther works are available because many would clearly view him as a primary resource for religious studies. Many use Lewis the same way, but that would a smaller group. Point is how subjective that is... Karl Barth or Elizabeth Stuart... One person's major influence is another person's "Er, who the heck is that?"


3. Some other category that I can't think of, because it just sounds to me like a book that "I just really like" or "has been significant in my religious studies" or "looks interesting", despite the fact that I don't see any advantage to having it as an Accordance module over against reading it in an ebook reader (or God forbid, analog form).


So, what is the criteria of what makes a resource helpful to have in our beloved Bible study program?








  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Joe, I think you ask some very good questions. For many being able to run a search on a book (not a text or primary source) when studying a certain topic or passage is very helpful. Those that counsel may want to be able to find articles within books on depression, anxiety, addiction etc. Often times a scripture search in books by christian authors can provide fruitful material.


Application and illustrations for preaching or teaching... some of the best material comes from monographs by Christian authors such as Lucado, MacArthur or Packer.


Bible background and culture (you currently have with your great graphics) however, there are some great books on those subjects as well.


Theological writings are important for bible study. Exegetical and hermeneutical material that provides material on specific biblical authors, books of the Bible, genres etc.  Being able to amplify or run a research search on a bible pericope or word can be much more helpful than trying to find the same material in paper.


The iOS app makes reading monographs easy and convenient. If the book has a verse reference a hover brings up the reference.


Accordance already offers tools in all these categories, but customers may want more.


All of this probably goes back to focus and market. If your focus are users like yourself, then your conclusion is correct. If the market is broader, then some of the books I mentioned would be useful to your customers. In terms of going from Text centric only to complete theological library of the top 3 bible software companies it goes from BW to ACC to Logos. Different focus, markets and philosophies. There is room for all as long as the focus and market match. Customers generally go to the product that provides what they want. If they want this book in their bible software, then they may go to a product that makes it available.


As you know there are also costs or compromises that go with each philosophy. BW's focus is about as specific as any product I know. Their market is limited, but their customers are loyal because they do what they do well. Accordance is the same, but I sense you want to expand your base beyond those only interested in texts and secondary resources. If so, where do you draw the line? What is your market? What do they want? What is the cost to provide vs. the revenue generated? Can you define your product within the broader Bible Software category? What does the company need to do to remain competitive once the target market is defined?


Pricing has now become competitive in your market. However, the same book is not the same book in all software. Can your marketing effectively differentiate your product so it does not become a commodity? Olive Tree's pricing is lower in most cases. BW is still one price gets all... not to mention Kindle and Google.. you get my point.


I apologize if I went off on a tangent, but hopefully the questions I am asking you are helpful in some way. I am interested in what your customers have to say.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

...what is the benefit of having that book in Accordance, vs simply buying the hard copy or having the ebook?

Let me take off my employee hat and just wear my user hat to offer my thoughts on this.


Regarding the idea of just getting the hard copy: Some of my earliest childhood pictures show books behind me. I have always loved and valued books, and spent roughly the first four decades of my life building up a physical library. I valued Accordance for primary texts and lexicons, but not much more than that. In fact, I used Accordance for almost a decade before I bought my first commentary for the software.


Then something made me change my mind about that: Hurricane Katrina. Although I grew up in Louisiana, I've lived the second half of my life in Kentucky, so Katrina didn't directly affect me. However, I personally knew professors at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary who lost entire personal libraries built up over an entire lifetime because all of their offices were on the ground floor and flooded. Katrina was really a turning point for me in regard to my feelings of accumulating all these physical books that could so quickly be lost by fire or flood.


Somewhat related to that is where I am at this point in my life: I'm just tired of having so much physical stuff. One's physical possessions can become a burden. In regard to all my physical books, I've downsized probably close to a thousand books in the last five or so years, but I still have an entire bedroom crammed full of bookcases and books. I'm guessing I have somewhere around 3,000 physical books left. If I didn't have all those books, my family members could stay in a nice guest room when they visited instead of a nearby hotel. These books were in Dewey Decimal order at one time, but like all things of order, they gradually fall into chaos if not constantly maintained. My wife and I are looking at the real possibility of moving in the next year, and I groan to think of having to box up and move all those books again.


I simply don't want anymore physical books.


It takes time to go through them, determine what to keep, what to scan, what to sell. I'd like to downsize to a couple of book cases (right now, we have about a dozen) keeping only the volumes that are "classics" and those that have sentimental value. But I won't be able to do that before we have to move.


And back to Accordance, why not just have primary texts and lexicons in Accordance and get everything else for the Kindle? For me, Kindle books are a last resort. As you know, titles in the Accordance Library are not mere eBooks--they are carefully tagged digital copies that integrate with the rest of my Accordance titles in ways that regular eBooks never can. Accordance is my platform of choice. If possible, I'd like to have every book available in Accordance.


Do I have books in other Bible software? Yes, but only because I can't get them in Accordance. Even other Bible software gives me options not available in a Kindle app. Again, pure eBooks are a last resort.


More importantly, I'm not the only one who feels this way. Bible software started out only with translations and primary texts. Then lexicons and similar reference works were added. Then commentaries. Last of all, monographs when others started to recognize the value of having these books in specialized software as opposed to plain eBooks for a Kindle or Nook.


I don't want to read Bonhoeffer on the physical page or on the Kindle--I want to read it in Accordance, preferably on a tablet like my iPad, and hopefully very soon with the ability to add my own notes to Bonhoeffer's words (which I can't yet do in the iOS version).


If Accordance scaled back to only producing primary texts and reference works, I believe a lot of users would jump ship to other platforms because many others feel like I do. I'm not under any illusion that Accordance can produce everything that's out there that I'm interested in. However, I still value it as the best software engine to build a digital library. As I and others support it, the company can grow and offer more titles.


And one day, I can have a guest room.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi, Joe. Criteria for choosing new Accordance modules is a very important question. There are many users and many sets of needs. My criteria start with two facts:


1. "Bible" is Accordance's middle name - it is Bible software, and 

2. The world needs the Bible in all its languages.


Therefore, I feel strongly that those whose calling and occupation are to present the Bible to their compatriots ought to have it available in a great study tool such as Accordance in their own language. This is why I studied the total native speaker population of each major language in the world. I found that among the twelve most-used languages, one-third of them (four) have no Accordance (or Logos or BibleWorks) Bible text module. These needs affect almost 1 Billion people!


Another language (Arabic) deserves to have one or two of the high-quality late-20th century translations in Accordance, not just one 150 years old. With the high level of conflict in the word that involves Arabic speakers and their hostility to both Judaism and Christianity, it is no time to limit access to God's reconciling word.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

William, good word about Bible translations. I would think they certainly prioritize getting modern translations available.


Rick's story about downsizing etc is much the same. When I moved last year, we unloaded nearly half our physical library. But your answer, Rick, to the question of what books you want in Accordance was "all of them". Truth is, you don't mean every book. your spy novel, your cookbook, etc.

I intentionally used the word 'criteria'. What are the 'criteria' that make a book helpful to have in Accordance.


The iBook app or Kindle app or GoodReader or other dedicated reader is a better reading experience than reading a text in Accordance. It just is. You can disagree. People are free to be wrong. :)  A dedicated app will be better at the one thing it does.


It's great Rick pointed out that "titles in the Accordance Library are not mere eBooks--they are carefully tagged digital copies that integrate with the rest of my Accordance titles in ways that regular eBooks never can." I would add, they tag different fields (author, english, greek, bibliography, etc.). This is something some people don't realize how much more beneficial it can be to have a book in Accordance versus an ebook reader or even another bible software app.


So, in my mind, the criteria for books that are best to consider for Accordance are books that:

1. Benefit from the "integration" with other Accordance resources. (scripture linking, for instance)

2. Benefit from being able to search in different fields, or other sophisticated searches.


If a monograph doesn't benefit from either, I'd rather have it in an ePub.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think perhaps a small boiling of the ocean is in order.


People are build home libraries of material. Some just for reading, Other material for study. Others no doubt for other uses, like recipe books for cooking, woodworking books for furniture building, and so on. These books will be looked at from different standpoints depending upon the user. Sure pulp fiction will just be read MOSTLY. But then say I do a noir fiction course at night school and want to apply intertextual analytics to the noir fiction I have. Accordance has some tooling that might be useful here. More could be built. If I just want to read is the problem the file format or the reader hardware ? If the reader hardware then it's perhaps time to consider the Home Library PC which not unlike the Home Theatre PC serves up content to various devices. You pick the device that suits your current use and off you go.


Now imagine instead I am reading the OT somewhere and I strike a phrase that I think has become popular in common use and I'd like to see how it's used in fiction in the 19th and 20th centuries. It would be cool to amplify from Acc to my entire fiction library and see what that reveals.


Do I want everything in Accordance ? No. Do I want everything electronic ? No. I actually like books but boxes are a hassle and bookshelves are time-consuming to build. And I like being able to walk up to a bookshelf and find the book because I know where it is. But it's not massively helpful to others and it's doesn't scale after a while, and it's hard to share research. But for people who do like things on electronic format I think we need to separate content from use and vector content to devices in a form suited to the task at hand, rather than necessarily store them perpetually in that form.


Ok, that's my contribution to ocean warming for the morning.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

As certain criteria for promoting Accordance module requests come to the fore in the minds of the users, it is plain that Roy and Helen Brown and all the other good folks at Oaktree Software need confirmation of sufficient buyer interest to justify investing company resources in them. People who will actually BUY the module should come forward and say so. We all want Accordance to be profitable and grow in relevant ways far into the next generation.


That is why I urged potential users of Bible texts in major but underserved languages to come forward and reply to my topic; I think such modules are important, but I, myself, am not a potential customer for many of them - rather, I saw the likely need and pointed it out to the community. Today, on another thread, which I had the gall to start, I will commit to buy a module, if Oaktree publishes it.


I wonder if some kind of crowd-sourcing mechanism with a founder's discount on the finished module would be viable to help start developments.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

I rely on what the biblical authors were and the basis they had, and Elephantine papyrus marriage congract corpus + "gnosticism" Christian sources, when I put efforts into research. So what I wants to see on the storefront is authors that I can trust today and the next couple of delades.

Som the most interesting additions are the ones that were or are ahead of their time. I want to explore research fields where it is important to sustain progress, that are not going to fade in centralness to what is important in authoring biblical or similar commentaries. To include some commentary but not more than one (maybe two at best) sequential chapters in what I author, at the point when I'm up to it. Monographs I want to see produced on here should follow the same principle/standard.

If I don't see a book under Accordance I either wait or perhaps request or put my efforts into utilize what I ALREADY have, perhaps digressing a little from what I want, or both. In either case I don't want to spend further money under directly competing plattformen whether on books or offline funktionalitet, nor to have a library of numerous or expensive Kindle Paperwhite resources as it's not good in long term in ANY way to collection and thereby support Kindle production.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Books typically used in Bible study with lots of Scripture references are best in Accordance.  I don't mind reading a biography in a Kindle Book.  However, a systematic theology in an eBook is a pain – better in Accordance.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with what Joe has said above. I do not need or even want every book in Accordance. To me Accordance is one tool among many that I use to do my work. I feel like some people have sworn allegiance to Accordance and want everything in Accordance so that what they have is a complete, self-contained ecosystem. I do not think of software that way at all. I use whatever tool is best for the job I want to accomplish. If there is a book I want to read, to search, and/or to annotate, then a pdf works perfectly fine. If there is a book that requires complex analyses and/or quick access to supporting reference materials, then Accordance is perfect.


I think if we ask Accordance to put every book in their product—if we ask them to take on the task of a library—then they might get more sales, but I am concerned that less selectivity translates into less excellence. Accordance has filled a fairly unique niche in Bible software because of their focus on original language sources and the ease with which you can perform complex searches and analyses of those sources. I hope they do not lose that emphasis.


The best way I can think to say it is this: The starting point for some companies is to make as many sales as possible. The result of the first group is they are often larger, but occasionally their product is not the best it could be. The starting point for other companies, however, is to create a superior product—they are not necessarily trying to get their product into the hands of everyone, but into the hands of those who will most benefit from what they have to offer. Their product is almost always excellent at what it is designed to do.



  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Just read Abram's review of Logos 7, and one paragraph gets at the point that I was trying to make, especially the line about "Stick to the Core—or Go for More?"



This has been my (and others’) enduring criticism of Logos since at least Logos 4, and I continue to fail to understand why program sluggishness is not Code Red at Faithlife HQ. My slightly educated opinion is that Faithlife (makers of Logos) is “going for more” instead of “sticking to the core” (to quote a Harvard Business Review article). Lots of spin-off apps and ideas and focus on marketing and shipping frequent feature updates have hindered development of the core product—at least where speed is concerned. Wanting to get at the info in the Passage Guide, for instance, can be an exercise in patience (and frustration)


A little later on Abram writes:

Speed and massive CPU usage and battery drainage are the Achilles’ Heel of Logos Bible software. I hope—for their sake and for the sake of their user base—that they shift their development focus back to whatever they need to do with the code to ensure a speedier user experience. The developers I’ve interacted with on the forums seem great—it appears to be an issue of larger company focus and resources. [emphasis added]




Edited by A.D. Riddle
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now
  • Create New...