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Deseret Bookshelf: Learning the gospel like never before

Learning the gospel like never before

It was just more than a year ago that Amazon.com announced that electronic book (e-book) sales had surpassed paperback book sales on its website. It stated that for every 100 paperback books sold, 105 e-books were purchased. Joining the e-book revolution, Deseret Book launched Deseret Bookshelf in June 2011. It's a free e-reader app for Apple and Android mobile devices that not only allows you to read e-books, but also access Deseret Book's library of nearly 1,500 digital titles for purchase.

The success of the app is quite astonishing. With less than a year under its belt, Deseret Bookshelf has more than 120,000 installations and nearly a million e-book downloads. Deseret Book CEO Sheri L. Dew said, "First off, the phenomenal work of the Deseret Book authors cannot be overstated — simply put, their books change lives. It's our pleasure to shine a light on their work. Beyond the content itself, Bookshelf, and the devices it runs on, fit seamlessly within the busy schedules of our customers; it enables readers to read 'out of the best books' whenever and wherever they like. Because I can always have my full library with me, Bookshelf has changed the way I research and study the gospel."

Ryan Miller, vice president of digital at Desert Book, said, "There has been an explosion of portable, digital devices during the past few years. "In fact, between mid-December of 2011 and early January of 2012, ownership of e-readers and tablets doubled. Thirty percent of the U.S. adult population now owns either an e-reader or a tablet."

Deseret Bookshelf has received nearly 120,000 downloads in less than a year.
Deseret Bookshelf has received nearly 120,000 downloads in less than a year. Photo: Courtesy of Deseret Book

But why did Deseret Book expend the effort to create its own e-reader when people can find their e-books at Amazon.com? Brother Miller said, "Our reason is simple: we can tailor the Bookshelf experience to meet the unique needs of LDS readers." For example, the Deseret Bookshelf app allows users to search for key words, phrases or quotes across every e-book in their e-library at the same time.

Deseret Bookshelf is a free app from Desert Book that functions as both an e-reader and a library of LDS books.
Deseret Bookshelf is a free app from Desert Book that functions as both an e-reader and a library of LDS books. Photo: Courtesy of Deseret Book

Preparing lessons, talks or researching gospel topics is much easier. Imagine searching for the word "Gethsemane" in 40 print books. It could take an hour or more. With Deseret Bookshelf, the results of the search come back in seconds. Most e-readers can't do that. They search one e-book at a time. Additionally, with Deseret Bookshelf, online scripture references are immediately viewable within the context of the current page, text can be highlighted and pages bookmarked.

Another unique aspect to the Deseret Bookshelf app is the ability to use multimedia. Dallas Petersen, digital product director for the app, said, "The release of Elder David A. Bednar's book, Increase in Learning, was a watershed moment for Deseret Bookshelf. With that e-book, we introduced embedded video into the reading experience. The e-book comes alive as people watch video segments in which Elder Bednar leads discussions and asks questions that relate to the reading material. People are having a deeper, more reflective learning experience than is possible with a book alone."

Deseret Bookshelf is a free app from Desert Book that functions as both an e-reader and a library of LDS books.
Deseret Bookshelf is a free app from Desert Book that functions as both an e-reader and a library of LDS books. Photo: Courtesy of Deseret Book

There will be more titles that take advantage of these capabilities as well as a web-based version of the app that works on any device or computer that has a standard web browser installed.

You can get the app by downloading it at deseretbook.com/bookshelf. Currently, Android and Apple devices are supported. Once you have downloaded the app, launch it to access the full features. To start, Deseret Book fills your personal digital library with a set of free titles:

Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt

Discourses of Brigham Young

Gospel Doctrine, by Joseph F. Smith

Joseph Smith History, by Lucy Mack Smith

Jesus the Christ, by James E. Talmage

Lectures on Faith, by Joseph Smith

The Miracle of Forgiveness, by President Spencer W. Kimball

Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith

The LDS Standard Works

You can add additional titles by searching the Deseret Book online library and making a purchase. The e-book is immediately downloaded and becomes available to read on your mobile device. As well as popular new titles, like Elder Bednar's Increase in Learning or John Bytheway's Isaiah for Airheads, Deseret Book reached back into the archives and published e-books that have been out of print and hard to find for years. Titles like John A. Widstoe's Rational Theology, Joseph Fielding Smith's Answers to Gospel Questions, and Heber J. Grant's Gospel Standards are just a few.

Deseret Bookshelf is a free app from Desert Book that functions as both an e-reader and a library of LDS books.
Deseret Bookshelf is a free app from Desert Book that functions as both an e-reader and a library of LDS books. Photo: Courtesy of Deseret Book

At the dedication of the BYU Broadcasting Building in Provo, Utah, on Aug. 12, 2011, President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, said, "The Lord's plan is to advance ever more rapidly His word and His works and the effects of His gospel throughout the world." He acknowledged that the Lord "has revealed the technology that enables the Church to take full advantage of these advances."

Deseret Bookshelf is a free app from Desert Book that functions as both an e-reader and a library of LDS books.
Deseret Bookshelf is a free app from Desert Book that functions as both an e-reader and a library of LDS books. Photo: Courtesy of Deseret Book

By using Deseret Bookshelf, members are fulfilling President Eyring's words to more rapidly assimilate the gospel in new and exciting ways.

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Deseret Bookshelf is a free app from Desert Book that functions as both an e-reader and a library of LDS books.
Deseret Bookshelf is a free app from Desert Book that functions as both an e-reader and a library of LDS books. Photo: Courtesy of Deseret Book

Nearly 1 million e-books downloaded since launch

More than 120,000 installs

Nearly 1,500 titles available

Dozens of new titles added each week

Downloaded in more than 75 countries

Top-ranked download in Apple's app store

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