Does the Bible need a modern-day makeover?
Adam Lewis Greene, a 29-year-old Bay Area book designer, believes it does -- and has raised more than $1.4 million from nearly 15,000 backers via his Kickstarter project, called Bibliotheca.
Greene talked to Behance's 99u.com, which showcases creative work, about how his Bible will be different. For one thing, he's splitting the tome into four volumes. There will be no annotations. There will be no chapter numbers, verse numbers, or section headers.
That's not all. Greene and his team are translating the text so its language is more aligned with contemporary usage. The book's paper--instead of the thin stuff you find in most editions--will be thick paper from a 437-year-old Austrian mill. On top of all this, Greene is creating an original typeface to use as a font.
What can you learn from his ambitious project? Here are a few takeaways:
1. Give yourself more time than you think you need. Greene says the books will be ready by spring of 2016. But he launched the project in 2014--and many of his backers are upset because he has had their money for two years, with no product (yet) to show for it.
"I am definitely responsible for the delays because I've added this more robust editorial approach with the updated translation," Greene told 99u. "I didn't have a great idea about how long it would take, and I've been wrong about how long it will take."
Part of the problem is that Greene never realized his project would be so popular. He set out to raise $37,500 to produce 500 books. Demand exploded, indicating he'd hit on a superb idea. But now, like a lot of Kickstarter campaigns that exceed expectations, he is behind schedule for delivery.
2. Innovate around something doesn't change. In this case, it's the Bible's popularity. The strength of Greene's idea is in his repackaging of book that is perpetually in demand.
That's how star companies like Amazon, Apple, and Lego consistently leap ahead of competitors, say strategy experts Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi in their new book, Strategy That Works.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, for instance, builds his business strategy around things that stay stable, even 10 years down the road. In Amazon's case, that's customers desiring low prices, fast delivery, and a fast selection. The company leaves that alone--and instead puts its energy into creating some innovative stuff (think Kindle e-books, online media distribution, or automated logistics). Watch Bezos's November 2012 fireside chat for more.
3. Design based on user experience, even if doing so runs counter to tradition. Greene tells 99u that the Bible's long-standing design traditions--the two-column page layouts, the chapter and verse numbers, the cross references--can make the Bible read like "an easily-navigated theological encyclopedia."
It's not that Greene believes the Bible's traditional design is without utility. It's just that he thinks "it shouldn't be the only way arguably the greatest book of literature in the western world is presented to its readers."
His aim is readability. "Ultimately, if you present something in a dense, encyclopedic way, you will begin to perceive it as something that is dense and encyclopedic," he tells 99u. "What I'm doing isn't original from a book design standpoint--it's just that the Bible has been relegated for so long to this form that is contrary to the tradition of beautiful books. I was going for the purest form I could achieve."