The New Living Translation
Can vs. Should (Part 2)

So I have taken more than a few days to respond to all of the comments. My apologies. I have been thinking a lot about the responses to part 1 and have re-worked my approach a couple of times. There is so much going on here that it will certainly take more than one post to chase all of the threads. Here are some of the posts that I am considering:

· Of price points and print runs
· What makes a large print Bible a large print Bible?
· Red letter?! We don’t need no stinking red letter!
· To sew or not to sew, that is the question
· I can’t think of a clever title for a post on paper right now, it’s Friday and frankly, I’m distracted by the fact that Dr. Who is a re-run tonight and that Blackhawks tickets go on sale this coming Monday – opening night here I come.

While the above are important, it would seem that the biggest issue for many of you is the issue of an edition for the “gatekeepers” – most notably for pastors and for teachers who will influence the use (and purchase) of the NLT by others. For the record, I completely agree with you and we want to create Bibles that work for you. We are also very aware of the influence of pastors and teachers as a company. Large portions of our marketing are targeted at gatekeepers. We have not always been where in the product development arena, but we are working on it. Further, it doesn’t make sense for us to create Bibles that don’t actually get used or aren’t useful. We can sell them for while, but sooner or later the newness or the coolness wears thin. If the NLT hasn’t been read then did it really do any good?

Part of my difficulty in writing this post is that on the one hand I don’t want to just say “I can’t really tell you anything specific, but trust me there’s a lot more to it” and at the same time there are a whole lot of numbers that could show the realities and difficulties in producing some of the Bibles that we would like to produce, but simply posting those numbers could also get me in a lot of trouble internally (and one my fellow bloggers in three levels up the company ladder from my boss . . .).

So at the risk of being too mysterious, there are certain hard costs involved in the production of any new Bible which quickly run into multiple tens of thousands of dollars (and that’s for the simple ones, a study Bible like the NLT Study Bible for instance goes a lot further north in a hurry) before you even print anything.

So for every Bible we create we have to reach certain realistic sales thresholds in order to simply break even on the development, let alone the costs of the inventory. Obviously we have more than a few that not only reach breakeven but which are also profitable. The reality is, however, there are more that don’t. And this holds true for publishing in general as well. More books fail than ever make a profit.

I am sure that all of this sounds like a cop out and you can feel a very big “but” coming. Not so. I asked the question of what you want because we need to know and it’s my job to figure out how to make the most useful Bibles possible. We won’t always be able to accommodate your desires, but if we can find a way to do so and make it a viable venture then I am all for it.

We are actively working on several products which may well be solutions to many (though maybe not all) of your desires. I can’t go into specifics on these right now, but I can say that several of the issues that have been brought up in the comments relating to this and other posts on the NLTBlog are part of the discussions. As these products get nearer to release, you will hear more about them.

I did, however, want to give a couple of specific replies to your comments:

Shorter print runs and higher prices for editions like Select. It is true that we can do shorter print runs of individual products and charge higher prices for them. The equation is a bit more complex, however. In the case of the Select Bible, we took an existing product and modified it. We literally took unbound bibles (called “sigs” – short for signatures, which actually refers to the way that sections of a book come off the printing press, but I digress), had covers hand-made in Mexico, sent to the printer in the US and attached, imported deluxe boxes from Hong Kong . . . you get the idea. This was the only way to be cost effective in the production of this Bible. And Iyov, you’re right it’s not even close to a best seller. We still have some left from that original printing. More on this issue in a future post. (And by the way license deals are most certainly a part of what we do).

Cd-Host: the idea of bundling software for distribution on a computer is something that I hadn’t thought about and which I find intriguing. Rest-assured, software is high on our list of things to do, so you will be seeing more from us in the future.

Thomas, the “build a Bible” concept has actually been tried. I don’t think it worked out so well for the publisher. That being said, at some point, it will probably become a viable option.
Rick, you are right, we need to figure out a way to get page samples on the website. I have passed on that request and the issue of linking together various bindings of a given product. In the meantime, here is a list of the bindings available in the large print personal size. I will have a text sample as a part of my post on large print Bibles.

Hardcover: 978-1-4143-1405-1 retail: $24.99
Black Imitation leather (heavy paper, not the synthetic leather made from polyurethane): 978-1-4143-1403-7 retail: $29.99
Burgundy Imitation leather: 978-1-4143-1404-4 retail: $29.99
Black bonded leather: 978-1-4143-1401-3 retail: $39.99
Burgundy bonded leather: 978-1-4143-1402-0 retail: $39.99
Brown and Tan TuTone leatherlike: 978-1-4143-1871-4 retail: $39.99

More to come, and keep the comments and suggestions coming!

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