Running Heads

From the editors of Cascade Books and Pickwick Publications at Wipf and Stock Publishers

E-Reading Tracey Rowland’s “Ratzinger’s Faith: The Theology of Benedict XVI”

I have not been an early adopter of e-books or e-book readers. Wipf and Stock has now published hundreds of books that also have e-book editions, but until recently—my wife and I just bought a pair of Kindle Fires as “family gifts” for Christmas—I have only been able to read Kindle books on my cell phone app (a lame experience) or laptop (a decent reading experience, but not something I enjoy doing outside of the office).Yet not having a Kindle device hasn’t stopped me from collecting free or inexpensive e-books whenever opportunities have presented themselves. I have 23 theology titles in my Kindle library, most of them unread, and I think I’ve spent less than five bucks on all of them combined. Almost all of them were free on a particular day, though a couple of them were a buck or two for a short period of time.

I purchased the Kindle edition of Tracey Rowland’s little book on the theology of Benedict the XVI for $1.99 back in May of 2013, but I only recently started reading it on the Kindle Fire. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how easy it is to read a book this way. The reading itself is easy on the eyes, you don’t need a light to read in the dark, and you never need a bookmark. It’s easy to highlight passages, look up words in a dictionary or Wikipedia, you can see passages that have been frequently highlighted by others, add notes, rapidly search the contents of the book, review all of your notes and highlights, etc.

One of my favorite features is the ability to open the book to the “furthest read place” on another device. So, for example, I’ve just opened Rowland’s book in my Kindle App on my laptop to the same place I left off reading at home. By clicking on the Notes & Marks tab, I see all the passages I found interesting the first read through. Among my favorites, here’s Rowland glossing Ratzinger’s christology:

If Christ himself is the measure of what it means to be human, then humanity only finds itself and is truly at its best, when it freely enters into a dialogue of love with its Creator. (Rowland, Tracey [2008-03-06]. Ratzinger’s Faith:The Theology of Pope Benedict XVI [p. 38]. Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.)

(Note that the reference was created automatically when I copied the passage from within the Kindle App.)

Rowland’s book has been a joy to read, and that mainly because of the substance of the book and not the technology used to display it. I’m not Catholic, and though I know more than the average Protestant lay reader about developments in twentieth-century Roman Catholic theology, I’m really not in a position to appreciate the distinctive contribution of Ratzinger/Benedict in light of these broader developments. The first chapter—”Ratzinger and Contemporary Theological Circles”—was extraordinarily helpful in this regard, as Rowland offers a lucid introduction to the rival interpretations of Vatican II that have dominated so much of contemporary Catholic theology. I’m curious what some of my Catholic colleagues think about Rowland’s book.

I do have some concerns about e-books, concerns similar to the ones I have about digital music. For example, how do we sell our content when we no longer need or want it? There’s been reporting that suggests that, according to Amazon, nobody actually owns the Kindle books they’re purchasing from Amazon. There are similar issues with music.

Rights questions aside, there’s little doubt that digital books are becoming more and more popular. Whether or not they will replace paper books, I’m convinced e-books are here to stay and will only continue to grow in popularity. How steep the growth curve will be is anybody’s guess, and I’m particularly curious about the market for academic e-books. But the ability to pack features and content into digital files that call all be carried on a single device that doesn’t get heavier or bulkier when content is added strikes me as as big a deal as many people have been loudly proclaiming.


  1. I haven’t had a Kindle Fire. I only had the original Kindle Reader. I found the Kindle app on iPhone, iPad, and MacBook to be preferable to the Reader. I think Kindle Fire has a touch screen, so it’s probably much improved, but the Reader had tiny, very difficult to use buttons. The app is well thought out and useful on all my devices. It makes me not even consider buying a Kindle device, but it also makes me an avid reader of books on Kindle.

  2. でも、たとえオンラインショッピング比較流行の欧米諸国は、「ネットオークション時計」の態度も少なくない。カルティエ コピーイギリス1家のジュエリーチェーン店金史密斯、自身のウェブサイトで販売正宗トップ腕時計、この挙動を獲得した当時、オメガ豪雅は、ティソやロンジンなど数十社の時計会社の公式応援を含む、しかしロレックス、ブライトリングを含むいくつかの腕時計大グループ当時はネット販売態度は慎重に、理由はこの類技術の制品を販売していない場合スタッフの専門知識を紹介し、不適合なネット販売。

  3. Speake-Marinの作品は全て可視作りに向けて、伝統工芸を集める経典表、伝統工芸の代表作で、その出現より今日の腕時計市場いくつか提供する別のスタイルの選択。ロレックス-スーパーコピーまさにブランドの創始者ピーターSpearke-Marinさんが「タブ目的は今日の市場を達成し、腕時計の真価は時間の変遷が历久弥坚経歴。」

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