Preaching with a Tablet

Part 4: Best e-book Apps for Preaching

‘Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh’, Eccles. 12. 12b ESV.

Preaching requires a significant amount of time dedicated to preparation, and much of that time is spent reading. This is yet another area where a tablet computer can play a significant role as an aid to preaching.

There are numerous apps available for this purpose – even better, most of the apps are free! Therefore, you can experiment with different ones to find the one (or more) that you like best.

However, there is something else to consider that is arguably more important than the app itself. And that is the ‘e-book ecosystem’ in which the app operates.

If, for example, you commit to using the Kindle app as your primary app, you will find yourself operating in the Kindle ecosystem. Therefore, you will be primarily purchasing e-books from Amazon.

Will Amazon still be around in 5 to 10 years? Does Amazon offer the authors and publishers that you are most interested in? Can you access your Kindle e-books on a range of devices? (The answer to this last question is Yes.) These are some of the questions that you should keep in mind when considering various app(s).

Here are some of the best tablet e-reader apps to consider:

  • iBooks – This is Apple’s own e-reader that comes preinstalled with an iPad. This is an excellent app to start with, if you have an iPad. It is easy to use, looks beautiful, and has a large selection of titles available.
  • Kindle – Amazon is perhaps the best-known company in the world of e-books. It is also a large, successful company likely to be around for a long time to come. Their app does not disappoint; it is worth downloading, and experimenting with. Also, most public library systems loan Kindle supported e-books for free! Why buy that brand new book you want to read when you can borrow it free without leaving your home? The Kindle ecosystem is also accessible from numerous devices including Amazon’s popular line of dedicated e-readers.
  • GoodReader – Of the six apps reviewed this is the only one that is not free. However, do not let the price tag deter you from considering it. GoodReader is my favorite for reading popular file types, including pdf, MS Office files, iWork, HTML, and many more. GoodReader also allows you to annotate your documents. You can highlight text, and draw, or handwrite in multiple colours, add sticky notes, etc. GoodReader also handles very large files with ease.
  • Google Play Books – Google’s e-reading app offers all of the basic features you would expect, however what really makes this app stand out is the large number of books that are available for free. Google has built an extensive library of free e-books from works that are freely available in the public domain. Many excellent Christian books are available for free, including The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah by Alfred Edersheim, and The Book of Leviticus by Samuel Henry Kellogg.
  • Vyrso by Logos Bible Software – Logos is perhaps the best-known name in computer-aided Bible study. Logos also offer the most extensive collection of Christian titles in electronic format. If you use Logos as your primary tool to study the scriptures, then the Vyrso app is a natural choice for your tablet. One word of caution: Logos tends to be expensive. Many of the older titles that are sold by Logos can be found for free (legally) elsewhere, with a little bit of searching.
  • Bible+ by Olive Tree – Although Olive Tree does not offer as extensive a library of books as Logos does, Olive Tree still deserves to be mentioned in this listing. The best aspect of their app is how it seamlessly integrates e-books with the scriptures. You can quickly navigate from a Bible reference, and then back again to the e-book.

So, there you are! Six excellent apps to consider for all of your electronic literary endeavours! Enjoy!

PS. Although beyond the scope of this article, if you spend a significant amount of time reading electronic books (an hour or more a day), I would suggest that you seriously consider purchasing a dedicated e-reader that uses electronic paper technology. Such devices feature screens that are not backlit, and therefore result in significantly less strain on one’s eyes. Amazon’s Kindle is one example of such a device; however, the Kindle Fire is not!