The one thing that seems to hold most people up in purchasing software is determining what kind of software will be most useful. You certainly don’t want to just jump in and spend money, especially if free software is something that will fit your needs. I suggest that you look at a certain criteria before committing to one particular package. Here a couple of things I would look for:
First, determine what your need is. This is the most important step in the process of choosing Bible software. If you don’t know why or what you need it for then you’ll probably just end up wasting your money. It’s best to start with a few basic questions like,
- Will I use it on a daily basis?
- How much can I or am I willing to invest?
- If I purchase, what kind of package do I need versus what kind of package do I want?
- Will this software grow with my needs or can I use it for a long time to come.
As you can see, these are some pretty basic questions, but nonetheless necessary. For instance, numbers 2 & 4 are probably more significant, at least to me, than the other two. If the software package is out of my budget then it is certainly not worth considering. The great thing about a lot of packages nowadays is that they offer flexible payments. For example, when I purchased my Logos package I was able to spread it out over a 12 month period ,which made it much easier to pay for. On the downside, I had an extra monthly payment for an entire year! Accordance also offers a payment plan similar to Logos, only their minimum purchase is a bit higher.
Second, make a list. This will actually help with the first point, and asking yourself those basic questions should get your mind working on what’s important and what’s not. For example, Will you need something with basic original language tools for simple word studies or something that will allow you to do heavy lifting in that area like morphological and grammatically specific words and context? Knowing exactly what you need will make the process much easier.
Third, consider how you will use it. Some us just don’t need high-end software. But then again, some of us do. If you are a full-time minister or a seminary student you may want to seriously consider investing in good Bible software. And while your at it, you may want to consider how long the software will last. In other words, you want a software that will grow with your ministerial/seminary needs. If you’re mainly using it for personal Bible study consider a low-end package, but if you teach and/or preach on a regular basis you may want to consider a mid to high-end package. Either way, be mindful of the cost and payment options!!!
Fourth, make sure you can customize your software to your needs and likes. There’s nothing more frustrating than excitedly downloading and opening up your new software and finding it not quite what you expected. Before you commit to buying a package know what you’re getting. Go over the contents carefully and look for the specifics. Some packages offer a lot of bells and whistles for your buck but unfortunately most of us will use a small portion of what they offer.
Fifth, make sure your software will grow with your needs. This is important, but mostly based on the needs that you have for it and how you will primarily use it. Updating and increasing your library is important. For this reason you want to make sure your software will be useful even when it becomes “older.” Most companies give free upgrades to books, articles, etc, but charge a nominal fee for new and added features or from going from one version of the software to another, which usually includes new and improved features of the software. Try to get to know the software you’re interested in as much as possible: Are they a reputable company? Is the software relatively new with regular versions and upgrades to come or has it been around for awhile? These kinds of things may incline you towards a particular software package.
Lastly. spend A LOT OF TIME asking questions and looking around their websites. I would have to rank this the most important part of this entire post. The only way you’re going to know which program meets your specific needs is if you invest the time in getting to know what your preferred software can and can’t do. Accordance Bible is one of the only software I know of that offers a free demo trial for their software before you purchase it. That’s always a good thing. Then, you can actually try and get a feel for it before committing. Also, call the company and ask questions, watch their tutorial videos (this can also give you a good feel for the software), and get as much information as possible, including pricing, features you may not quite understand and the like.
Buying Bible software can be fun, and just like a road trip, getting there is half the fun. However, if you’ve planned poorly, by the time you arrive you’ll wish you would have taken more time during the planning process.
In our next post, we’ll explore a little bit of the advantages/disadvantages of having a paid versus a free Bible software. Hope this is useful for you, and thanks for dropping by.