Bible Reading on the Kindle Revisited
One of our most popular posts here at KindleChat is an old one we did over two years ago on the state of the Bible on Amazon’s e-Reader. As it turns out, there are loads of people out there who see their Kindle as a way to keep in close contact with scripture on top of their favorite classics and best-sellers. Things have changed for the better since then, so we thought we’d give you a long-overdue update!
What has always made Bible-reading on the Kindle particularly prickly is that most people don’t approach it like a Dan Patterson best-seller. One doesn’t read it straight through – you need to jump quickly to a particular verse when it comes up in a sermon or in a reading, and most people seem to find the table of contents method most versions employ to be overly cumbersome for that task. So how have things changed? Let’s look at some of the most popular versions available and see.
The top version of the Bible on Amazon, at least as it concerns sales, is the New International Version. I won’t get into the specifics of the translation, because that’s a whole different argument, but it handles navigation with a linked Table of Contents system. You select the book of your choice from the table of contents, then the chapter, then the verse. You can then go back to the table of contents either by clicking one of the linked chapter or verse numbers, or just hitting back button. This is still a good deal too slow for my taste, and the inability to search for a specific chapter or verse from any page slows things down. Very little thought seems to have been put into this one, and it’s a bit of a joke that it actually costs more than other superior versions. Is there any surprise that it’s only got 3.5/5 stars? I’d skip it.
This is the nerd’s version of the Bible, and I mean that in the most positive way possible. The ESV Study Bible goes beyond the text to give you all the history and context for fully understanding those same old passages. It’s got 20,000 notes sprinkled within the text itself, easily accessible by links. It’s also got scores of articles, charts, maps, and specially-formatted illustrations to really stimulate your imagination. Unfortunately, like the NIV, it uses the Table of Contents as its principal form of navigation. I still think it’s the most useful version, all told, but it could make better use of the Kindle itself.
A labor of love, this version of the King James Bible makes use of what its authors call Direct Verse Jump navigation. By utilizing their easy shorthand, you can jump straight to a verse by typing it into the search field. Looking up the ubiquitous John 3:16? Type in jn.3.16, hit enter, and boom, you’re there in just one click! They’ve even gone so far as to include a version that’s text-to-speech friendly. By removing the verse numbers, it sidesteps the problem where the text-to-speech would break up the text by throwing in numbers as well. I’ve always thought the KJV was a little vanilla for my taste, but you can’t beat the job they’ve done making this Kindle-friendly.
Done by the same guy that did the aforementioned King James Bible, this version takes the NET version of the good book, which features more than 60,000 footnotes straight from the translators themselves, and utilizes the Direct Verse Jump feature for navigation. For those who are interested in getting as close as possible to the original translation, this is the definitive version. Every version should have Direct Verse Jump!
King James Bible – FREE
Just because there are versions of the Bible you can buy doesn’t mean you HAVE to. Project Gutenberg, for instance, provides a perfectly passable version of the King James Bible. Unfortunately, the price you pay for going with their version is an almost total lack of formatting or indexing. A KindleChat commenter by the name of Thomas posted a link to a free version of the KJV that does actually feature indexing, so perhaps that will serve as a helpful halfway point for the budget-conscious.
Got a version you love that we don’t mention here? Found an especially easy way to read the scripture on your Kindle? Let us know in the comments!