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Post-Gutenberg Bible Salesmen. Controversy Alert!

Post-Gutenberg Bible Salesmen

Post-Gutenberg Bible Salesmen. What do you think about repackaging the Bible into cute little portions, visually as tasty as candy?

Post-Gutenberg Bible Salesmen. Learn about two successful young entrepreneurs who strive to make the Bible… good-looking.

You read that right, good looking. As in attractive. With lots of pretty pictures!

Incidentally, did I mention? Short & cute excerpts of the Bible that these two guys are selling… are for adults?

Meet Millennial Bible Simplifiers Bryan Ye-Chung and Brian Chung. Heroes, perhaps, of our new post-Gutenberg era. Making good money through their so-pure versions of scripture, tasty as candy, sold through their Alabaster imprint.

And who’s most likely to be living post-Gutenberg? Millennials, or those even younger.

You know, the target market for books by Bryan and Brian.

Sure, it seems paradoxical. Since millennials are the best-educated generation in America. Many still read books. But maybe, a couple years out of school, they lose the reading habit. While others in their cohort never get that habit at all.

But before we go any further…

Gutenberg? What’s That?

Gutenberg editions of the Christian Bible were the first printed books ever made. Sales of the Gutenberg edition of the Bible ushered in a new era of universal literacy.

Accordingly, what about word literacy, like yours and mine? It could also be called Gutenberg literacy.

If you still have it, enjoy it while it lasts. Because all signs point towards people shifting into a post-Gutenberg era.

Which would mean what?

Folks Live POST-Gutenberg…

  • When they seldom read books any more.
  • If they think paying money to buy books is a ridiculous waste of cash.
  • When they really believe that a picture is worth 1,000 words! So why bother reading anything without an accompanying illustration?
  • When the “beauty” of Facebook isn’t the rare bit of personal writing. Instead, it’s all about the pretty pictures. And the recycled sayings.
  • Even you, the smart-and-curious readers of an uncommonly sophisticated blog… When was the last time you read a book? (Whether a print book or an audiobook.)

Overall, the decline in literacy is well documented by now. Many people have squandered their reading time on tweets and social media communications. Unintended consequence? They’ve lost the ability to read in depth. To read detailed blog posts, like those we have here. Daring to buy actual books. To seek knowledge that requires book-length format to do it justice.

Personal growth and spiritual awakening? Why would the old-fashioned technology of “books” be relevant anymore?

A Post-Gutenberg Era Might Be Starting

What’s your opinion about that? Do you care, either way?’

Personally, when I read that Post article yesterday, I felt somebody slapped me right in the face. Let me quote from  this article in The Washington Post” — Profiling two recent converts to Christianity who proudly publish, “An Instagram-worthy Bible aimed at millennials.”

I’m curious, for instance, about your reaction to this backstory:

A 20-year-old college student at the University of Southern California at the time, he’d recently converted to Christianity and was eager to plunge into the scripture that he’d heard so much about.

There was just one problem, Chung recalls: “I didn’t want to read it.”

The text was small and serious-looking…. Outside, the cover was solid black and intimidating…. the “good book” looked surprisingly bad.

You can see samples of Bryan and Brian’s merchandise here. Noteworthy: The Chungs are selling individually packaged biblical texts. Prices start at $30 for single books. But cost as much as $155 for packages of six books.

Hey, I’ll throw in one more quote from the Post article. This quote gives you, in a nutshell, a viewpoint tied to today’s decline in literacy:

“It’s all about the experience,” said Doug Lockhart, senior vice president of Bible marketing and outreach at HarperCollins Christian Publishing.

“Even the packaging of the premier collection Bibles, the unboxing experience is similar to an iPhone experience.”

Many of you Blog-Buddies are avid readers. Some of you are also writers. Others are librarians.

Please comment below if, for you, the most exciting aspect of reading a book is NOT the “unboxing experience”?

In this context, I think of my friend Karen Kline. Once I asked her if she had seen a popular movie, based on a book. She told me, “No. You see, for me the experience of reading a good book is far more vivid than any movie could be.”

Back to you, what do you think? Are full-length books relevant any more? Or are they just too haaaaaaard to reeehd?

Tomorrow I’ll give you some aura reading of Bible salesmen Bryan Ye-Chung and Brian Chung.

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  1. 1
    Kylie says:

    As a librarian, I’m pretty keen on reading books, no matter what the packaging.

    I do notice how many children now are not able to read a full length book, if it doesn’t have very large print and lots of pictures.

  2. 2

    Thanks to you, KYLIE, we’re off to a fascinating start!

    May I ask, children of what age, approximately?

  3. 3
    Kylie says:

    Recently I read my first book in Spanish, a book for middle school students. I looked up over 200 words while reading the book, so it took me a pretty long time and it wasn’t really the best story.

    I understood for the first time how reading could be tedious for someone, how words can really swim on a page if too many of the words are unfamiliar.

  4. 4
    Kylie says:

    Reading full length books in English is easy for me, even 800 page biographies, because I have read so many books.

    Reading is like breathing for me. But for someone who has not read very much, reading is a very different experience.

  5. 5
    Kylie says:

    It is a shame that many kids do seem to be losing the ability to read in depth.

  6. 6
    Brittany says:

    I’m not an avid reader, yet this is so disheartening.

    When I’m truly interested in something, I buy a PRINTED book. I can’t listen to audio books or even read on an electronic device and absorb the information the way I can a printed book. Looks like I might have to work on that.

  7. 7
    Brittany says:

    And I certainly couldn’t care less about the “unboxing experience” of a book or even my iPhone for that matter! Give me the CONTENT, not the pretty exterior.

    Can’t wait for the aura reading tomorrow!

  8. 8
    Liane says:

    Love to read, real books or ebooks. One of life’s simple pleasures is getting a new book in hard copy, feeling the paper… and, oh, the smell!

    It’s pleasure for all my senses. Call me old fashioned : )

  9. 9
    Mel says:

    I am college aged and I read books all the time. Primarily nonfiction because I love fresh ideas and relating them to what I am learning about life.

    That’s one of the things I love about this blog: the food for thought, the insights. I don’t read fiction because I don’t get as excited about it unless I find an angle to learn from.

  10. 10
    Mel says:

    I admit that I find television more stimulating, its themes being more immediately apparent. I don’t purchase fiction often because I can’t really justify spending $10 on a short term pleasure when I could be spending the money that has practical value.

    Whereas video streaming services cost around $10 a month. And the library near me charges money.

  11. 11
    Mel says:

    I have noticed that people my age (and older) consume videos or podcasts or audiobooks instead of written formats. That’s such a shame because reading is necessary for writing and writing is necessary in most career fields in some form.

    Heck, writing is the FOUNDATION of all of this visual media people are consuming anyway. Those people who create the content have grasped this, otherwise they wouldn’t have a job. How many successful people refuse to read?

  12. 12

    I’m guessing the “unboxing experience” is when all of the volumes are stripped of their packaging?

    Not sure that qualifies as an experience.

    Reading a great book: now THAT’S an experience.

  13. 13
    Bob says:

    I’m a very visual person, so I have to see the words to remember and learn. I also need a paper copy of books or articles because I need to be able to write notes and underline significant information to compliment my learning style.

    I have to interact with the information to absorb it.

  14. 14
    Emily Turner says:

    Full-length books are so relevant and still necessary.

    I read a lot of non-fiction books, particularly books that help me learn specific skills that I can apply in my career or my personal life. For example, currently reading books on nutrition!

  15. 15
    Emily Turner says:

    I have noticed that at work I’ve ordered books for my team’s reference and they are not keen on reading them so I have adapted my training style to do more interactive sessions rather than expecting them to seek out information from a full length book.

    If they were it would be easier on me and I think they would progress more quickly.

  16. 16
    Emily Turner says:

    I don’t tend to read fiction nowadays, having almost ran out of books to read in the school library as a teenager.

    I can still relate to experiencing what I have read in books as more impactful and meaningful than watching the same story told on screen. I also hate it when the actors don’t match up with how I imagined the characters to be!

  17. 17

    Thanks so much for the latest comments here. So fine!

    Here I’d like to flag part of a comment that strikes me as immensely important. In Comment #15, EMILY writes about managing her team, citing their reluctance to learn by reading. Seems to her, if only her employees would read, she’d find it easier to manage them. And also… for their own sakes… “they would progress more quickly.”

  18. 18

    Clearly, whether we wish to read or not– that’s a very personal decision. And the trend is toward forgetting what we learned to do while in school. But we have already paid the price for developing word literacy. Why not use it?

    As for those who find Instagram or other pursuits more important, choices like that are what free will’s all about. However, I wonder if folks who let reading fall by the wayside realize… there’s a price to be paid for that choice, as well.

  19. 19
    Kylie says:

    To answer your question, Rose, children anywhere from first grade through 8th grade.

    Of course there are still precocious readers, who read voraciously, but they are the minority.

  20. 20
    Kylie says:

    Most kids I meet prefer just a few favored authors these days–Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) James Patterson or Rick Riordan.

    Or they prefer graphic novels.

  21. 21
    Kylie says:

    The first two authors write books with lots of pictures and large print–I’m not knocking them. They are funny and clever, and great for ESL learners–and I happen to think graphic novels are really clever and cool also.

    And Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series has fired up a whole generation’s interest in mythology.

  22. 22
    Kylie says:

    But still, I find that kids read much less broadly than when I was a kid. They won’t usually take a chance on an author/book that is less well known.

  23. 23

    Fascinating, KYLIE! Thank you.

    Extrapolating a bit, what you’ve written helps me to understand better one of the reasons why millions of Americans prefer their familiar procurers of fake news.

  24. 24
    Christine P. says:

    I am in my 20’s and I love reading print books.

    Whenever I go to the library I borrow at least 10 fiction and/or non fiction books. It is nice to unplug with a book and tea.

  25. 25
    Christine P. says:

    I currently am taking a full course load at college so I’m reading mostly textbooks and scholarly papers.

    One of my courses has assigned us two non fiction historical type of books which turned out to be interesting.

  26. 26
    Becky says:

    I also think that it’s a nature or nurture type trait, although influenced by modern society. Both I and my husband read regularly, and only one of our three children is a reader (born over a 12-year span).

    We made it a point to introduce and teach them to use the local library and would purchase books for them anytime they’d ask.

  27. 27
    Becky says:

    My oldest son (born in 1990) is ADHD and could hardly force himself to sit still long enough to read a book (or watch a full-length movie, for that matter).

  28. 28
    Becky says:

    My youngest COULD read, but preferred the graphic novels (funny that you would mention the WIMPY KID series, one of his favorites). I am convinced that he was a natural speed reader for the novels that he’d be assigned in school!

    Subject matter was key here, the only books he would willingly read were on war history and the like.

  29. 29
    Becky says:

    My middle child (a daughter) reads voraciously and prefers real books – she probably could count the number of e-books she’s read on one hand.

  30. 30

    Interesting additions to our conversation here, BECKY. And you and your husband sound like great parents!

    You make me realize that I omitted something in the post, something that was so obvious to me that I didn’t state it in words. Which is that the people most likely to live Post-Gutenberg are folks who are millennials or younger. You know… like your children. (I’ll go back and find a place in the main post to state what was so obvious to me. 😉 )

  31. 31
    Rebecca says:

    Thanks for the compliment, Rose, we try! While it’s a gray area, the youngest of my brood are from the Gen Z generation (post-millennial). https://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-beall/8-key-differences-between_b_12814200.html
    Interesting reading.

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