A reader writes:
I own a Logos Libronix (LDLS) collection of ebooks and love the many of the functions of the LDLS system especially the search functions. However there are few Catholic titles available. I know Harmony Media has a great selection of Catholic titles but I would love to be able to search the Catechism, and Papal Encyclicals, and Vatican II documents in LDLS.
Recently another Catholic user has posed the question in their newsgroups as to why there are so few Catholic titles. The response was the following:
"The Libronix Digital Library System is just that - a library system with many books by many publishers. And many of those books disagree with each other in one way or another. For comparative study this is a very good thing. It means you can compare multiple theologies and a variety of doctrinal positions. Yet for many Catholic publishers, that's where the problem lies. Most love the idea of their books being searchable in the LDLS, but when they find out that other non-Catholic books can be added to the system by users, they stop loving the idea. It's the commingling of books on Catholicm and perhaps, books on Calvinism that stops them short. For many specific reasons, they cannot and will not allow this to happen. Yet, if Logos were to build a special product that effectively put a wall around Catholic material, our Library system representing many books by many publishers would cease to be a Library system, at least in the way the LDLS is constructed. "
Are Catholic publishers not allowed to publish their books with Nihil Obstats and Imprimaturs in a system that allows the use of non-Catholic material? That seems to be the answer we are getting. But in a normal library all kinds of books are in one place, it doesn't make sense that the Church would have such a restriction.
We have no responses fro any Catholic publisher on the subject.
Do you know of any other electronic versions of Catholic titles besides Harmony?
Harmony is a leading producer of Catholic e-books, though there are other companies that have put them out. To date many of the results have not been that impressive (the USCCB, for example, put out an electronic edition of the Catechism a few years ago that was simply awful; you had to click seven different things before you could get to your first screen of Catechism text). I'm sure this is something that will be solved with time and--to a significant extent--can be done at home using online resources. IntraText also has critical editions of certain key Catholic works available online.
As far as your question about what Catholic publishers are allowed to do, nothing in canon law prevents them from allowing their works to be placed in a particular storage medium as long as it is made clear that any imprimaturs that their works carry apply only to their works and not to other works also placed in the storage medium. This is the principle, for example, by which the Vatican allows the Catechism and the Code of Canon Law and the Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches to be placed in the IntraText archive, which also contains many non-imprimatured works.
That being said, I do not know who at Logos wrote the reply that you quote or whether it would be endorsed by higher-ups at Logos. It also is not clear to me what the person means, but at first glance the person appears to be trying to blame Catholic publishers for not wanting to have their works put on CDs for Catholic publishers that also contain unlockable versions of non- or anti-Catholic works.
In the old days, Logos did not have a problem preparing special edition CDs for Catholic publishers. I know, because they did prepare a special edition CD for Catholic publishers at one time that omitted the anti-Catholic footnotes of the 38-volume Church Fathers set.
If Logos has now decided that they will no longer prepare special editions for Catholic publishers and they insist on putting unlockable non- or anti-Catholic works on CDs then that is entirely a marketing decision of the people at Logos and has nothing to do with a concept of a library.
A library can include whatever works the librarian wants, and if the librarians at Logos are insisting on putting unlockable non- or anti-Catholic works on proposed CDs for Catholic publishers then that is entirely their own choice. There is no reason in the world, assuming the economics of the deal would work, why an all-Catholic library CD cannot be produced except the choice of Logos management.
I'm also dubious of the broad-brush approach that the author of the statement applies to Catholic publishers. Catholic publishers are not monolithic, just as Protestant publishers are not. They have different degrees of openness to non-Catholic ideas and different degrees of risk tolerance. As someone who works in Catholic publishing, I am leery of catchall statements about Catholic publishers saying that they (as a group) are not willing to do certain things.
I suspect that there are Protestant publishers who have resisted placing their works in Libronix format for the reason that they don't want their works next to works hostile to their viewpoint, and I suspect that there are Catholic publishers who would not have a problem placing their works in Libronix, even on a CD containing non- or anti-Catholic works. The statement that you quote thus strikes me as taking a broadbrush approach that attempts to place blame on Catholic publishers, which is not good PR to my mind.
Knowing that a company is likely to make such statements as part of its public relations efforts is also the kind of thing that would make Catholic publishers leery of doing business with Logos. One could easily have said, "You know, we've talked to a number of Catholic publishers, but thus far we haven't been able to put together any (or very many) deals, although we'd love to. If you'd like to see your favorite Catholic works available in Libronix format, contact the publishers and let them know that there's a demand for this."
Trying to make it sound as if Catholic publishers are overcautious (or even paranoid) and thus to blame for not making their works available in this format is not the kind of thing likely to encourage them to make them available in this format.
This is the information age, and sooner or later a large number of Catholic works will be available in electronic format. Whether Logos wants its Libronix format to be the one that wins out in that regard is something that is principally Logos' responsibility.
I'm also glad that you have had a good experience with Logos Libronix. Personally, I have had a bad experience with it. The Logos system was good when it was in the 1.6 version but when they made the jump to 2.0 they (in my opinion) overbuilt the thing so that it became so musclebound it was simply easier to use Google or CTRL-F to search html documents. Libronix, when it came out, crashed my system and I haven't been able to use it, so they may have solved some of the overbuilt interface problems from version 2.0. Perhaps at some future point I'll try it again and discover that the problems have been solved (something that would please me very much).
Hope this helps!