As I explained in our previous issue, Christian Odyssey is going online. This is the transitional issue—it is also being published electronically. After this, there will be no more printed issues. I realize some readers may not be happy about that. They are probably people who do not feel at home in cyberspace, and they wish we could just leave things the way they are.
There are several reasons why we need to make this move, not the least of which is financial. In these tough economic times, nonprofit and charitable organizations have to use their resources carefully. It is becoming more and more expensive to publish, print and mail a traditional magazine. But even if finances were not an issue, there are other reasons to make this change. Electronic publishing is coming, whether we are ready or not. Amazon and Barnes and Noble already sell more electronic books than they do “hard copies,” and many people choose to subscribe to electronic newspapers.
Nevertheless, it is quite understandable for you to find yourself resisting, and even resenting, this change. Jesus himself reminds us, “No one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say,‘The old is better’” (Luke 5:39). I realize he wasn’t talking about electronic publishing, but the principle still holds. We are reluctant to abandon the familiar. The first automobiles were called—and looked like—horseless carriages. The first generations of cell phones and digital cameras still looked like traditional telephones and cameras. Now they have both “morphed” into pocket-sized tablets that do the work of both telephones and cameras, plus a whole lot more.
When Johannes Gutenberg set up his printing press in Germany in the 1440s, he revolutionized publishing. Before then, if you wanted a Bible, it had to be copied out by hand, and that meant a three-year wait. Gutenberg’s presses were able to turn out hundreds every year. But those first books still looked as if they had been written by hand. Readers were slow to accept the new-fangled printed books at first, so printers deliberately designed the typeface to mimic the scribes’ style. It actually took about 50 years before books began to look like they had been printed.
When you go on line (www.christianodyssey.org), you will find much that is familiar. The electronic version looks similar to this print edition. But Odyssey online is the pioneer edition of what is becoming a totally new kind of communication—as different as books are from scrolls and printed documents are from manuscripts. Electronic publishing offers many opportunities that have never before been possible. It is the first ripple of the wave of the future.
So let’s catch that wave together. There is no need to go away. Come our way. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.