Monday, December 01, 2008

a viral Bible campaign

A different topic today, though still with an open-source tie-in.

I've never seen anybody offering free audiobook CDs of the Bible. The only audiobook Bibles I've ever seen were actually kind of expensive.

How come? Unless you live on Mars, somebody has thrust a free paper Bible into your hands at least once in your life. Yet, if you drive a car, you have sometimes stooped to listening to painfully worthless crud on the radio just to alleviate the boredom of driving. If you'd had an audiobook Bible, you probably would have listened to it, if only for your cultural education.

Yet a bit of websearching suggests that, holy cow, this actually hasn't been done yet. Am I wrong?

Probably one reason is that the only well-known translation that isn't strictly copyrighted is the King James Version, which is perfect if you intend to do outreach to 17th-century England. No CD players there, though, so it's not so useful for this purpose.

Alas that all the well-known translation committees apparently preceded or were unaware of the open-source/creative-commons movement. Especially since, you know, Jesus did kind of INVENT the GPL for crying out loud. And explicitly applied it to his teaching. Hello. "Freely you have received; freely give".

Anyway, there is, fortunately, one English translation that is freely distributable, the World English Version, and one site that's done voice recordings of it, audiotreasure.

So here's a plan for a viral campaign.

1. Make up a master audio CD from audiotreasure's MP files. I'm really not ambitious enough to try for more than one CD's worth, so I hope at least the Gospel of Mark will fit. If not, make a new recording with someonewhotalksreallyfast. Or something.
2. Compose a nice CD label. Include the URL (#4)
3. Write a nice letter asking permission to distribute the CDs without charge from places where you find bored drivers: fast-food restaurants, truck stops, etc.
4. Set up a website with the files from #1-3, and instructions on how anybody else can do step #5, becoming another viral site of distribution. It looks like you can make a homemade, home-labelled CD for $0.25 or less, so anybody with a computer can make a hundred or two with a modest commitment.
5. Burn some CDs, label them, get permission and distribute them.
6. Hopefully, others join in and the campaign spreads...
7. Profit! Oh, wait, I guess not.

I'm excited. I plan to do this. I wonder if I can get CDs out there by Christmas? However, if you move faster than me and want to set up the seed site, go for it!

I'm sure the Gideons would have started this years ago, if only their grandkids had taught them how. (I'm teasing! Hey, if any Gideons or similar groups should read this, yes of COURSE you can use the idea.)


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if the ENTIRE Bible could fit on a single disc. Maybe as low-quality mp3s, but that would make it unplayable on most CD players.

Unknown said...


You are absolutely right! It looks like the Gospel of Mark, alone, is the only good fit for one CD - which might just be the best fit anyway.

Anonymous said...

Even if it fits on 2 CDs, I'd start with the Gospel of John. Not because Mark is bad or less but if you give someone a Bible and they ask where to start, more often then not, it is with John not Mark. But heck, why not do them all and even set up a web site where people can write in and get a free copy of any book on CDs/DVDs. You can note that there is no such thing as a free lunch and donations are gladly accepted but with or without they get what they ask for. God will provide.

Anonymous said...


Great idea! By the way, I'm a Gideon and have my entire collection of 5,000 songs on a 60GB mp3 player I use in my car! And I did it without any help from my grandchildren! :-) Have a Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Don't you think other versions seem watered down when compared to the King James version? I've got mp3's on a cd for my car.

Audio Bible said...

You and your readers can find free audio Bibles for download at This ministry has Audio Scriptures in 336 languages with 10 popular English versions.

Warren said...

That's an awesome idea - I wish I'd thought of it :)