In an attempt to “simplify” the process of printing scriptures, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced a reduction in the available styles or varieties of the sacred works.
An article by THE Church News explains that starting in December, the presses will cool off, and fourteen styles will be discontinued in English, which will result in the reduction of six of those styles in Spanish and one in Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean.
Changing “styles” means removing colors from the lineup, reducing the number of available sizes, and removing some features. For example, compact-sized scriptures are going by the wayside, except for military pocket-sized scriptures, snap closure covers will also be a thing of the past, and brown and burgundy colors shall fall by the wayside. The former isn’t much of a loss, but the latter kinda stinks.
So why restrict what’s available? You can thank smartphones. As the world goes digital, the Gospel Library and ChurchofJesusChrist.org synchronization have become the focal point for scripture development. It is significantly easier to update a digital property and maintain good ol’ correlation than it is to update printed materials, both in terms of messaging and in terms of capital investment. For example, last year the Church announced it would no longer print Handbooks 1 and 2, which are used by Church leaders to govern how they operate within their callings. The Church went as far as to dissuade members from looking to the printed versions of the Handbooks, as they will be rendered obsolete by ongoing digital updates.
Resources are finite, and it takes plenty of work to translate scriptures, let alone print and ship them. “Where can we improve, and what would save either time or resources?” said Brent Meisinger, a product manager in the Church’s scripture division, furthering the narrative that “simplification” means being smart with resources. “Many people, from managers and linguists, to skilled producers, designers, typesetters, and press professionals help to inform all the improvements that are being made.”
Kelly Gibson, a scripture product manager for the Church, explains that the moves are also in an effort to boost “equity across languages,” elaborating that most languages only have three or four options available for printed scriptures, and this will sort of remove English primacy when it comes to printed scripture development.
Something fascinating from the article was the reveal that the process to put thumb tabs in scriptures was only recently semi-automated; it’s been done manually for all these years. And here you thought the robots had taken all our jobs.
Remember before the smartphone when one could saunter over to Deseret Book and buy the digital scriptures for use on a Palm Pilot? Remember how insanely cool that was and how jealous you were of your technologically advanced friends? You don’t? Then you are clearly too young and probably only look at Instagram. But for the rest of us, it’s pretty amazing how much the information age has brought parity to the world of holy writ.
Get your tiny or snapped or burgundy scriptures while you can. They’re going to be hot items this holiday season!