Monthly Archives: October 2014

New Release: “The Vitality of Mormonism” by James E. Talmage

Turns out Talmage wrote two works with this title: the pamphlet subtitled “An Address”, which we’ve previously released and discussed, and the book subtitled “Brief Essays on Distinctive Doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints”, which we’ve just released on Project Gutenberg. They don’t seem to be related by much other than Talmage’s enthusiasm for the title.

Talmage states in his preface: “The short essays following have been published at weekly intervals through two years; they number therefore one hundred and four. Concise rather than exhaustive treatment has been attempted.” They treat a variety of gospel topics. Frankly, this is another one where other people did all the proofreading and I haven’t been able to read it yet, but it’s Talmage and that alone is a pretty good recommendation.

With this, Project Gutenberg has a pretty complete collection of Talmage’s out-of-copyright original religious books. (His scientific works are a bit outside our typical scope, so don’t hold your breath on that front.) Pat on the back to all the volunteers involved, both ours and those from Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreaders (responsible for Jesus the Christ and Articles of Faith).

New Release: “Gospel Doctrine” by Joseph F. Smith, ed. Widtsoe

Elder John A. Widtsoe’s 1919 compilation of Pres. Joseph F. Smith’s sermons and writings is now available as a free e-book on Project Gutenberg. (Still also available on the internet as a $30 paperback, but really…)

At 685 pages, it’s a pretty meaty doctrinal work. Widtsoe is fantastic, and as the preface states, this is his “Joseph F. Smith—Greatest Hits” compilation:

President Joseph F. Smith was so long in the public service of the Church that his published sermons and writings would fill many volumes. The difficult problem of the compilers of this volume has been to make a collection of extracts that would do full justice to the man and that, at the same time, could be contained in a volume of moderate size. Every reader who knows Church literature will note the shortcomings of the work; and none more than the compilers. However, incomplete as it may be, this collection is well worth while, for it contains a wealth of gospel wisdom, to instruct, comfort, and inspire the Saints.

The literature of the Church has been carefully and systematically searched to discover all of President Smith’s public writings and sermons. Those of a historical nature have not been used in this collection, as they may well be made into another volume.

The compilers give their thanks to the many who, with hearts full of love for President Smith, have helped in the work.

The work has reaffirmed to us that prophets, speaking for God, are with us.

The Compilers.

Thanks to Noah Read for proofreading the whole text. Enjoy.

New Release: History of the Church, vol. 1

Our multi-format free e-book of History of the Church, vol. 1 by Joseph Smith (ed. B. H. Roberts) is now available on Project Gutenberg thanks to the work of intern Jared Ure and research assistant Mariah Averett. It takes the history of the Church up to 1834 and includes the original 1902 edition page numbers, footnotes, and index.

A discussion of why we’re producing the History of the Church may be in order. The entire History of the Church is available as a paid Kindle e-book or for free as a webpage or .pdf, and the Joseph Smith Papers are reproducing much of the same material. The Joseph Smith Papers are available for free online (in a format that I find isn’t friendly to through-reading, but is fine for looking up one-off documents) and are superior as a scholarly source, but for whatever reason their e-books are absurdly expensive on Kindle (up to $40/volume, last I checked) and many volumes don’t appear to be available in e-book formats.

So why invest a substantial amount of time in producing our own version? Because best I can tell, this is the first time this material has ever been released for free in Kindle and epub formats. I think there are plenty of readers in the Church who would like to give the History of the Church a try, but don’t want to have to sit at a computer or pay to do so. Now they can.

This fits with our broader philosophy: we want to make it as easy as possible to read Church literature and thus increase the total amount of Church lit that actually gets read. Taking obscure works from unavailable (e.g. hard copies exist in one archive) to free improves availability. Taking well-known books from free+inconvenient (e.g. pdf scans) and/or cheap+convenient (e.g. dubious-quality $0.99 Amazon editions) to free+convenient also improves availability. The obscure work wins “most improved” and goes from having one reader/year to five readers/year. The well-known book goes from having 100 readers/year who are willing to deal with the .pdf or risk their dollar on an e-book to 500 readers/year who are willing to download our free e-book. Both projects are good, and we do work on some more obscure books. However, given our goal to increase the total amount of Church lit reading that goes on in the world, we’ll typically work on better-known books, hence the History of the Church. Anyways, look out for volume 2 in the next month or so.