Is this project authorized by the church?Officially, no: the only authorized publishers of Ellen G. White’s books are the church’s publishing houses. However, the text of these books is in the public domain, and many other independent publishers have produced their own editions of various Ellen G. White books in the past. We did take the initiative to meet with the White Estate when we were first developing this project, and have maintained communication with them at different points of the project, but officially speaking there is no approval or oversight from the White Estate.
Why physical books?
There are quite a few reasons for this (which we’ll get into below) but the major one is the experiential quality. What we mean is that the experience of reading a beautiful physical book for focused, long-form reading is different, and we think preferable, than the experience of reading from screens.
Digital tools can be helpful, and maybe preferable, if you’re trying to gather specific quotes, support an argument, or quickly look up a quote someone else shared. But for the process of actually reading, we believe (and research supports) that the experience is significantly better with physical books.
And frankly we think more people should read Ellen White, in context, uninterrupted, for themselves.
But here are some other reasons for physical books that we find compelling:
1) ANALOG IS THE NEW DIGITAL
There's a growing conversation in culture about the concept of digital fatigue, and a desire to seek out analog experiences. Listening to records, playing board games, using film cameras, reading physical books, etc., have found a renewed popularity, especially among people under the age of 35. If you’re interested in learning more, we highly recommend reading The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why they Matter by David Sax.
2) PHYSICAL BOOKS PROMOTE UNITASKING
If someone wants to really go deep and have a focused study time, a physical book is a great way to do it. Having a dedicated object for a specific task is really helpful for focusing. When reading on most devices, you’re subject to notifications, which can lead you to check the weather, and then check your calendar, and then open up your email just super quickly to see if something has come up, which can lead to clicking a link, and then watching many excellent cat videos, which then leads to wondering, three hours later, how you got to where you are.
3) PHYSICAL BOOKS ARE CONVERSATION STARTERS
Have you ever sat on a plane and had someone ask you what you were scrolling through on your phone? Or had someone pick up your Kindle from a shelf and start trying to look through all your downloaded books? Probably not. But books, proudly displayed, invite discussion, and can turn into great conversations about what you’re reading. Even more so when they’re beautifully designed.
4) PHYSICAL BOOKS MAKE GREAT GIFTS
Books are physical artifacts that you can hold, keep, and reference, and, if you really love them, pass them along to others. While all of Ellen G. White’s books are available to read online for free, gifting someone a beautiful physical book communicates something very different than texting them a link to the EGW writings “BETA” site.
But why such high quality physical books?We think the quality of the books matters greatly because the quality of a book speaks volumes about its contents. While we certainly agree that people shouldn’t judge books by their covers, a lot of people do. And we want people to know that these books contain invaluable content. Disposable mass-mailed books might have their place, but we think people should have something they want to hold on to. And if people hold on to them, we want them to stand up to heavy use without pages tearing or falling out.
Are there going to be any changes to the text?We deeply appreciate the original 19th century language, but one of the goals we have for this project is create the best reading experience possible. Because of that, we will be making a few changes throughout the books. One minor change is replacing a few specific words whose meaning hasn’t aged very well (“intercourse” will be replaced with “interaction”, for instance). We’ve also made the decision that all Bible passages cited in this edition of the Conflict of the Ages will use the New King James Version in place of the King James Version.
While we understand that to some this may seem like a significant shift, we are working with two seasoned editors to ensure the minor but abundant changes to content and style are handled accurately. Each verse needs to be considered within the context of the writing around it. Often, Ellen G. White will directly reference a specific word from the text after it’s been cited, and if that word has been changed from the KJV to the NKJV there’s no longer a direct connection. In these instances, we have made the decision to also update the reference word to reflect the NKJV.
We are currently working through flowing the text in, and will provide a full report on changes once we are through.
Is it okay to update the KJV to NJKV?As we mentioned, the text of these books is in the public domain, and we are working on licensing the NKJV for use in these books, so from a legal perspective, it’s okay! Whether it is morally or theologically right is a different, more complicated question, that we’re aware demands some serious and prayerful thought. We’ll be working on providing more information around how we’ve worked through this as the campaign continues, but we’re working with Tim Lale (a very experienced editor who has worked for many of the official church’s publishing houses in the past) to ensure that we’re doing this in the best way possible.
Was this inspired by Bibliotheca?
We had been looking for something like this for a while, but when we saw the Kickstarter campaign for Bibliotheca we were incredibly excited and it certainly inspired this approach. In fact, we reached out to Adam Green (the creator of Bibliotheca) early in the project and he’s been incredibly generous in sharing information and advice.