Benedict XVI is one of the most widely read theologians on the planet. His books have been translated into dozens of languages and many have become bestsellers.
Now, the Pope is to overcome the final technological hurdle, providing access to his teachings via tablet and smart phone, thanks to an editorial alliance with the Vatican Publishing House (LEV) and informatics giant Apple.
“This was a deliberate and strategic choice as sooner or later the electronic format would have become necessary; we made it happen by joining forces with Apple, which helped us produce the Holy Father’s illustrated catechesis,” LEV director Fr. Giuseppe Costa told Vatican Insider.
A series of the Pope’s catechetical talks along with illustrations of various art masterpieces have been available for purchase via the i-Tunes store for two months now. The volume “Man in prayer” is already available and there will soon be a series entitled “Prayer in the New Testament” which is already out in print.
LEV has exclusive ownership of the rights to Popes’ books. The current pope, Joseph Ratzinger, is particularly prolific. The catalogue of his works contains over 100 titles and that is excluding the anthologies of his public speeches and messages.
LEV will therefore be able to test the new ground of e-books with the Pope’s literary works. Costa claims it is too early still to give an outline of the results of this first initiative. But the publishing house will continue to develop other projects for the virtual world.
The catechetical talks which have already been prepared drew attention to the sector because they are not just electronic books but high-tech multimedia products. “The iconographical and graphic effect of this initiative is very strong and highly esteemed because these catecheses are beautiful books which span the entire history of art,” the priest explained.
But not all of LEV’s e-books will be of the same quality, for cost and profit reasons. For now there are 20 electronic publications which have been made available within the circuit of a Catholic consortium, awaiting results.
“The are also entrepreneurial problems in terms of the design and we need to evaluate the difference between cost and profit: we are not a foundation so we have to survive editorially and commercially. Still, we are moving along nicely,” Costa said.
On seeing the LEV’s alliance with Apple, the giant online book seller, Amazon, also expressed an interest in the papal texts. The LEV has now entered the e-book world and there is no turning back.