Is it About the Kindle, or About the Book?

Posted at May 20, 2011

Amazon announced this week that they are now selling more Kindle books than printed books. This is astonishing, on a couple of levels.

First, if you don’t have a Kindle yourself, I guarantee that you know someone who does. But would you say that a majority of your friends read their books on the Kindle? Probably not. So how is it possible that eBooks are now outselling printed ones? Because interestingly, owners of Kindle books buy, on average, 3.3 times as many books as other non-eBook customers.

Second, the business model for Kindle, until recently, didn’t allow the loaning of books. Lending books has always been a major tenet of reading culture. To say that a new technology could come along, and force you to actually buy your own copy of a book, and become the dominant bookselling platform, would have seemed preposterous only 4 years ago.

Finally, Amazon did not invent the eBook.  There were others who were first with roughly similar technology. What was the difference that made Kindle successful? They have the best reach, smooth integration into the Amazon ecosystem (often called the Wal-Mart of the Web), a great low price strategy, and most important, the best content.

What This Means for The Church

I see two applications of the Kindle news for the church communications professional. One obvious, the other less so.


Many will make the case that the Kindle sales news only proves that people are changing the way they get and consume content. After all, books haven’t really changed, right? Just the way they’re packaged.

In the church, we’re all working from the same book. Literally. However, we have very different ways of packaging and delivering that same book. Some are traditional and analogous to printed books; others more culturally relevant, innovative and more similar to the Kindle. Which one better describes your church?


Here’s the less obvious, but more convicting, corollary. Are some of us so hyper-focused on the delivery mechanism (Kindle) that we have lost sight of the Book? Maybe having the latest bleeding-edge communication technology isn’t as crucial, if it takes our eyes off the message.

We have the most compelling content ever known to man. It’s called the Gospel. It has been delivered via speech, manual writing, printing press, radio, TV, magazine, Internet and film. Some churches have found catchy and unexpected ways to get the Gospel message across. Other churches may have tilted to scales a bit too far in the direction of the packaging (the “Kindle”, if you will) and forgot to keep everything centered on the message itself. 

It matters that we are doing everything possible to present it in a way that resonates with our fellow man, but we also must rely to God’s amazing power to illuminate the Word. Not on our own ingenuity.

blog comments powered by Disqus
©2014 SiteOrganic LLC

Switch to our mobile site