renewing the church united methodist church

Amazon Kindle and the UM Publishing House

I think that it is a no brainer for the denomination to offer resources on the Amazon Kindle. Imagine these available electronically and portably:

  • The Book of Discipline
  • The Book of Resolutions
  • The Book of Worship
  • The Pocket Book of Worship

I found myself wishing for this last weekend when I was at the bedside of a dying congregant. I did not have my pocket book of worship, but did have my iPhone via the Kindle App. I wished that I could have had those resources at my finger tips.

In addition, Kindle‘s could be given to General Conference participants and updates could be received electronically and in a way that is searchable – no need to print volumes of paper.

What might be preventing the United Methodist Publishing House from moving in this direction? How might I (or you) be helpful in making this possibility a reality?

19 replies on “Amazon Kindle and the UM Publishing House”

I don’t think it’s a bad idea; however, the major problem is going to be the use of technology by those who are not technologically savvy (thinking of the General Conference part of your post). Perhaps I’m making assumptions myself here, but I think that there are a lot of people that won’t understand how to use it and it would be more frustrating than anything else.

However, I think it would be a great idea for the UMPH to put some of the information out there in a technologically accessible way. It’s a way to recognize the movement into the 21st century and the importance of technology in today’s society.

LOL! UMPH going digital…oh, that’s a good one!

The agencies of our church are so resitant to change it’s not even funny.

I’ve been trying for 2-3 years to suggest ideas and offer some “younger” perspectives. The response is always the same. “We’re not doing anything like that now, and we’re busy with what we’re doing.”…or in common speech: “We don’t care what you think.”

It’s sort of like the UM Hymnal on CD-Rom…a farcical attempt at being relevant. The formatting on that thing is ridiculous and more time consuming to use than just typing stuff into a slide!

I was at a gbhem training/conferencing event and saw a video that they had produced (this was in Nov) to help recruit young clergy. It had all the pizazz of a middle school film strip. I was shocked at the tone-deafness it revealed to generational communication. I have to agree with Mark…the agencies are stuck.

The simple reality is Amazon and other digital delivery systems have essentially made the publishing house a dinosaur. UMPH has been bleeding millions for years. (3.2 Million Loss 1Q of 09 for example). I think this is directly related to a lack of attention to emerging trends and an attempt to double down on old ways of thinking. (I.E. producing a new Hymnal instead of investing in digital delivery technology) Unfortunately I don’t know if there are that many folks left at UMPH who are the kind of innovators you would need to accomplish such a task. Don’t get me wrong there are many good people who are extreemly hard workers who love the denomination and the ministry of the church. But Innovation is not encouraged so innovative thinkers just dont last long there. (There was a mini war over updating the disciple videos for example).

Also there have been numerous attempts by other agencies to publish the BOD and other resources digitally which have been strongly resisted. It is my contention that all of these things should be under creative commons, but the problem is that would create another revenue hole.

To answer your question, however, Andrew here is what I think it would take. A Book of Discipline change at General Conference spearheaded by the youth delegates that would place the following at least into the public domain or at least creative commons licensing.

1. The Book Of Discipline
2. The Book of Worship
3. The Hymnal
4. General Church Data (Table 1, Table 2, Pastoral appointments, etc)

I think doing this would be the only way its going to happen. It would be resisted fiercely by the publishing house and others with interest in the publishing house revenues staying high (Read Clergy pensions), but I think if it were something pushed hard by the youth delegates it could have a chance at succeeding.

Chuck – Fascinating. Perhaps it could start at the level of the annual conference. The conference journal electronically would not be all bad either…

+1 to Chuck’s response. Getting stuff into the public domain first is the goal. But until then, UMPH would make some moola if they released Kindle editions.

Andrew – Very interesting post. There is definitely a lot of room for thinking (and hopefully moving) along these lines. I can say that if Kindle’s were being given to General Conference delegates… I would have to do everything I could to get elected as a delegate… but at $359 a pop… I would find it hard to believe that this would save money… maybe someone knows how much money is spent distributing info to GC delegates… but I doubt it is that much.

I am actually not sure if there is a connection between Discipleship Resources and UMPH (I know DR is an imprint of Upper Room)… but I can say that when I asked about making my book available for Kindle, I was told that because I asked she was authorizing reformatting it so that it could run on Kindle. DR has also already make Disciplines 2009 and Novena in Time of War available for Kindle. see the right sidebar at

Kevin – Neat. Thanks for the update on Discipleship Resources. Maybe it is just an author’s request that is needed… I don’t know either how much the cost would be. Making it searchable, I imagine would be a benefit…

For what it’s worth: A quick search on Amazon’s Kindle store revealed nearly 100 books with UMPH imprints (Abingdon and Dimensions for Living) available for the Kindle.

Great conversation here, and I’d like to add one small piece of info. I work for The Upper Room, where we are valiantly trying to get more of our resources added to the Kindle store (that includes both Upper Room books and Discipleship Resources books). Right now it’s a cumbersome process because of some technical requirements, but our plan is to put all new books on the Kindle store starting later this year. The possibilities for reaching more people are amazing, and we’re just running to catch up with the technology.

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