Book of Mormon (Doubleday)

July 19, 2004 | 13 comments
By

bm.jpgAbout two weeks ago, the Church announced that Doubleday would be publishing a new edition of the Book of Mormon for general readers. How does it differ from the one that you and I use?

“The new hardcover edition will reflect design changes introduced by Doubleday to make the volume more easily read and understood by a non-Mormon audience, but will remain faithful to the text itself. For example, the new edition will not include the exhaustive cross-references and index included in the volume used by Church members.”

The list price of this new book is $24.95 (though you can pre-order on Amazon for $16.97). Hmm … less for more. Not the usual marketing pitch, but Sheri Dew, who played a crucial role in getting the project off the ground, believes that the new book fills a niche:

The purpose of this project is to extend the reach of the Book of Mormon. I have wished a dozen times for a book to give away that is more substantial than the standard blue softback BOM, but less expensive and less intimidating than the leather-bound set. This edition fills that gap. Furthermore, if you’re not a Church member, aside from calling the missionaries where do you get a Book of Mormon? This commercial edition will be on shelves in Barnes & Noble, in airport shops-all over the country. It’s there with the Bible, the Koran, and the Talmud as real religious literature.

Elder Eyring shares this view: “The new edition uses the authorized text, so buying new scriptures is not necessary. However, many members may feel that this new edition would be an ideal gift for friends who are not members of the Church.”

When I first heard about this project, I was a real skeptic, but the idea is growing on me. I agree with the implicit assumption underlying Sheri Dew’s and Elder Eyring’s statements: the current editions of the Book of Mormon are offputting for many people who are new to the Church. I can think of a half dozen people who may get one of these from me.

Tags: ,

13 Responses to Book of Mormon (Doubleday)

  1. Bob Caswell on July 20, 2004 at 1:36 am

    Does anyone else find it interesting that Amazon lists the book by “Joseph Jr Smith”? Is that a new fad or something, putting Jr in the middle of your name? Just curious.

  2. john fowles on July 20, 2004 at 2:07 am

    When I was in high school I gave a friend a leather bound triple combination for the exact reason Sheri Dew mentioned–that there was nothing in between that and the missionary blue cover with the Arnold Freiberg pictures (which were embarassing to me). But I think it overwhelmed him to have the triple comb with the footnotes and the facsimiles, etc. Of course, I have heard anecdotes of people who converted after reading just the D&C, but I think that is the exception to the rule. . . .

  3. Arwyn on July 20, 2004 at 2:16 am

    I can think of how this new edition would be useful in the academic environment, too. Take for example the non-BYU comparative religion class: at my school, they teach the Talmud, the Koran, Buddhist texts, the Old Testament, and the New Testament. The only representation of Mormon religious text I’ve seen in the class at my school is excerpts from Joseph Smith History and the Pearl of Great Price, of all things. Having the BoM so accessable in ‘normal book’ style will make it a lot easier to study in that sort of environment, and allow people to get a better picture of what it’s about without prejudging it as fundamentalist religious literature.

  4. Aaron Brown on July 20, 2004 at 3:00 am

    Gordon, why were you initially a “real skeptic”?

    Aaron B

  5. Gordon Smith on July 20, 2004 at 4:10 am

    Aaron, I just wondered why people would pay so much for a book that we have been pushing for free for years. Actually, it was seeing the cover that started me thinking about how the new book would look and feel.

  6. dp on July 20, 2004 at 6:08 am

    I’m just glad that I never had to try and give away one of those older Book of Mormons with the ‘reformed Egyptian’ and shiny faux gold covers.

  7. dp on July 20, 2004 at 6:10 am

    I’m just glad that I never had to try and give away one of those older Book of Mormons with the ‘reformed Egyptian’ and shiny faux gold covers.

  8. Grey Ghost on July 20, 2004 at 11:12 am

    When I was investigating I got one of the bright blue covered ones with the clouds and the big gold Moroni, the ones that screamed “Investigator!”. I covered it with something more subdued at first opportunity. :)

    I still have it, and when I read it, I highlighted every verse that brought tears to my eyes. I am stunned to note now, 18+ years later, how many verses affected me that do not anymore. I’m not sure if that’s a sign of my progress or not.

    It would be nice to see a statement inside the Doubleday edition that says something like, “You can get a copy for free by calling 1-800-[whatever].”

  9. john fowles on July 20, 2004 at 12:22 pm

    Grey Ghost: actually, I hope that Doubleday makes a killer profit off of this, so hopefully they won’t be giving them out for free.

  10. Matt Evans on July 20, 2004 at 1:56 pm

    I have a lot to say about this topic, but not much now. All the church has to do to get the Book of Mormon in Barnes & Noble is to assign an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) to it.

    Around 1999 I signed up as a distributor of the Book of Mormon on a special program Amazon has for small publishers (I had signed up to get my ScriptuReference cards on Amazon). Because Amazon will only sell books with an ISBN, I assigned ISBNs from ScriptuReference to the hardcover and softcover missionary editions, slapped bar coded stickers on the back of them per Amazon’s instructions, and started selling the Book of Mormon to Amazon’s customers. The listings I created are here and here.

    It was a fun project. I got to write the biography of Joseph Smith (there are some typos, but they’ve since made the word limit much lower, so if I edit the bio I’ll have to omit about half of it) and add the contents for Front and Back Flaps (I chose the Testimonies of the Three and Eight Witnesses). I also got to upload a chapter for visitors to read, and chose 3 Nephi 11.

    Through 2003, when I stopped participating in Amazon’s program because of time constraints and their implementation of a $50.00 yearly fee, I had placed about 480 Books of Mormon. And even though customers aren’t able to buy new books from Amazon now that I’m not supplying them, lots of used booksellers still list the book at the page. I have no idea how many used books have been sold.

    (Amazon pays distributors 45% of the list price, and distributors must pay for shipping to Amazon’s warehouse. I set the prices at $5.99 for hardcover, $4.99 for paperback.)

    If anyone is interested in taking over this project, I can outfit them with everything they need. Maybe it could be a service project on behalf of Times & Seasons — someone could pay the $50.00 and someone else could ship the books.

    I no longer have enough time to do it, but I know there are people who are looking for the Book of Mormon and would like to order a cheap one from Amazon.

  11. Frank McIntyre on July 20, 2004 at 3:45 pm

    Matt,

    You are an entrepreneurial fellow.

  12. NJWindow on March 26, 2005 at 11:34 am

    I understand from the above descriptions that the Doubleday edition is faithful to the text of BofM. I would like to know if the edition is similar to Grant Hardy’s one which divide a chapter by paragraphs with a heading to each. I have a copy of the latter published by the University of Illinois Press and enjoy reading it.

  13. Kevin Barney on March 26, 2005 at 11:42 am

    No, the Doubleday edition does not have in-text captioning like the Hardy edition does. The only advantage of the Doubleday edition is that it uses the 1981 text (Hardy uses the public domain 1920 text), but that’s not much of an advantage. The advantages of Hardy’s text over Doubleday are extensive. So I would stick with the Hardy edition.