Many BibleWorks users got a shocking email on June 1 from the maker of one of the best original language Digital Bible Study tools on the market today. The email, which you can read on the BibleWorks website, included the following statement from owner Michael Bushell:
A special note to our friends
BibleWorks has been serving the church for 26 years by providing a suite of professional tools aimed at enabling students of the Word to “rightly divide the word of truth”. But it has become increasingly apparent over the last few years that the need for our services has diminished to the point where we believe the Lord would have us use our gifts in other ways. Accordingly as of June 15, 2018 BibleWorks will cease operation as a provider of Bible software tools. We make this announcement with sadness, but also with gratitude to God and thankfulness to a multitude of faithful users who have stayed with us for a large part of their adult lives. We know that you will have many questions going forward and we will do our best to answer some of them here.
We covered the release of Bibleworks 10 with a lot of excitement a few years ago. BibleWorks power user Dan Phillips joined us to demo the new features. He tweeted the morning of the announcement:
This is horrible news: https://t.co/2hWKy2Rw3C
Don’t ask me what to do. I have no idea. I’ve written them. This hits hard. I cannot exaggerate, and you can’t imagine, the investment of research and work I have in @BibleWorks.
— Dan Phillips (@BibChr) June 1, 2018
I’m sure other long time users of the software feel or will feel the same way when they learn the news. It’s a painful reminder that your Bible software may feel like yours, but it’s really not. You buy permission to use THEIR software, regardless of what they say. QuickVerse and Pradis and other Bible software owners probably felt as shocked when their chosen company’s operations ceased or sold out to another company which then shut down development.
So what now? Who knows?
BibleWorks said that you can continue to use the software. They hope to “continue to provide compatibility fixes for BibleWorks 10 well into the future.” Make sure you get a working copy installed now and download all of your content if you don’t already have it. After June 15 you can’t get any support for the program. Then plan to keep the forums and their Knowledge Base up after that date, but I wouldn’t count on this.
If you don’t own version 10 already, you will not even get compatibility updates. They say you can update to version 10 for $200, but don’t. That’s like buying the 2018 model of a car after the manufacturer says their closing down the company.
Alternatives to BibleWorks
So what should you do if you want a program that’s functional and comes from a company that should support the software for a long time into the future. Here’s my list of recommended alternatives to BibleWorks. The first list includes programs that will do most if not all of what you can do with BibleWorks 10.
- Accordance Bible Software – many used to call Accordance the Mac BibleWorks because of it’s power. The company makes a great Windows and iOS version and is working to improve their Android app as well. BibleWorks users who don’t want digital commentaries or other books can stick with the basics of language study like they had with BibleWorks. However, you’ll now have access to a nice library of other digital books. Get the free version to try it out.
- Logos Bible Software – going from BibleWorks to Logos will feel like an Italian learning to speak Spanish. It’s similar but also incredibly different. However, Logos has a huge library of content and BibleWorks users will suddenly have access to large collection of resources. They also will have to pay since Logos often costs more than the competition. Logos sells a subscription model called Faithlife Connect with a large library starting at $108/year. See my series on using Logos for Sermon Prep on YouTube or the Theotek Facebook Page.
Lower Price Means Fewer Features
The rest of these offer less expensive alternatives even if they don’t match BibleWorks in language study prowess.
- Olive Tree Bible – many BibleWorks users who wanted a good mobile Bible app probably already invested in Olive Tree one of the best mobile Bible apps available on all platforms. They have a nice library of books to buy. They also are better at language study than they used to, but BibleWorks users may feel constrained on the desktop with this option.
- Laridian PocketBible – like Olive Tree, PocketBible has a long history of supporting mobile platforms. It predates the iPhone and Android, but has great apps for both. It also runs on Windows and Mac. They have a smaller library, but the programmer is a pioneer in Bible software and does a great job of updating and making the app run smoothly on every platform. Plus it’s one of the cheapest options. However, like Olive Tree users might find the program limited in language study.
- e-Sword – if you don’t have any money and just want to start getting into an alternative slowly, then grab e-Sword as a good free interim option.
- WORDsearch – the company just updated to version 12 and I’ll have more to say about the program over at ChurchTechToday and on the Theotek Podcast. It’s a good simple library reader with a better tool for language study in version 12 than it used to have, but like Olive Tree BibleWorks may feel a little constrained in language study with WORDsearch.
Hold Off and Wait
Another option might be to patiently wait. You can still use BibleWorks 10 for the foreseeable future. Get the free versions of the above tools to try them out. Then wait for sales. I know that a few of the companies are thinking about special deals for BibleWorks users to take advantage of the news.
I don’t have any inside information, but I have some opinions.
- Mobile – they company didn’t embrace iPhone or Android and this failure to embrace mobile meant Bible software users with limited funds didn’t want to buy their books twice, once for BibleWorks and once for a mobile app, like OliveTree.
- Shrinking Bible Software Market – like the church in America, I think interest in Bible software is shrinking. Biblical literacy is at an all time low. Pastors who want Bible software is a niche market and fewer of those pastors will buy a program like BibleWorks due to their failure to offer a mobile app and because of the following reasons…
- No Native Mac App – the company’s Mac app is a WINE port. That’s not acceptable to a lot of Mac users. I see more and more of my colleagues in ministry using Macs instead of Windows.
- No Library to Speak Of – BibleWorks offers some of the best tools for original language study and searching. However, they offer relatively few resources like commentaries and Christian Living titles. So buyers don’t want to buy BibleWorks even if it is superior in original language study if they can get something nearly as good like Accordance or Logos that also offers a these other digital resources all in one package.
- Updates Drive Business – as a consumer I don’t really like the business model of putting out a big new update every year since it makes me change the way I work to learn new features, it makes me shell out anywhere from $20 to $200 for an update annually, and it turns the program into bloatware, something Logos and others seem to do. However, like it or not, that makes money for Bible programs. What would you rather get? Annual updates that you can buy or skip or an email about a shutdown from your software company after you invested hundreds or thousands of dollars in over the years?