[sword-devel] Cool idea: Commercial Linux /Windows Bible prog ram based on Sword

Bob Pritchett sword-devel@crosswire.org
Thu, 1 Feb 2001 11:53:30 -0800

> It seems to me that Bible software is relatively expensive compared to
> "similar" software used for secular programs.  I may be simplifying too
> much, but do you think that this is more a factor of licensing / copyright
> issues, or is it just a factor of a more limited market and the fixed
> of running a company are paid by fewer customers?

We develop a very powerful product that has a limited market, and we have to
include in the box lots of texts which we have to A) pay to process (which
we do at a high-level of detail) and B) pay royalties on. Overall I think
most Bible software, including ours, is an excellent deal.

I just looked up the list price for Microsoft Office. It's $499 (US) for
Office Standard, $799 for Premium; it's $339 for Microsoft Word 2000 alone.
And this is just for the tool -- they aren't paying royalties on content. (I
know Office is bundled with lots of machines, and if you can get Gateway or
Dell to bundle Logos will every machine we'll make them a great deal, too.
:-) )

Our packages start at $39.95; our high-end package is only $429.97. (And
this is list -- there are discounters on the web.) In the high-end package
we include the full-text of 51 different books whose combined retail value
is over $1,200. And we sell individuals electronic texts at below print cost
(although we pay to convert them, process them, etc.) and frequently offer
discounts on these unlocks of around 40%.

Because there's licensed content in almost all of our products we end up
paying a significant portion of all our revenue back to copyright holders as
royalties. (We have a text with a fixed $20 royalty and another with a fixed
$10 royalty, for example.)

Plus, unlike Microsoft (or almost anyone else), we offer free upgrades to
the software over the Internet. Since 1995 every new release of the code has
been available at no cost, and when we ship our new "Titus Project" this
year, which we've been working on for 3+ years, it'll be available as a free
download, too.

> hypothetically, so you don't have to release sensitive information.  Other
> than the licensing fees, which I assume are relatively small per copy, are
> there other requirements typically imposed to license Bible texts for
> distribution?  If so, what types of requirements are there?

The royalties aren't always as small as you'd think, as mentioned above.
Some publishers want restrictions on the amount of text that can be
copied/exported at one time from the product. Others want a minimum
commitment in terms of number of copies sold in a year. Some want a large
advance. We went "commercial" because a text we very much wanted had the
following requirements: $10/copy, $10,000 up front advance payment,
guaranteed 1,000 units a year.

-- Bob