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Eight or nine years ago, when ordering curriculum for Sunday School teachers, I had to order a curriculum book for every teacher. That usually cost me $20 a pop. Now we live in a digital world. Everything is different. You as the publisher have given me great material, but don’t be offended if I don’t have my teachers teach it the way you wrote it. I may do it in a different order. I might even leave out half and add in something of my own that fits what we’re doing as a church as a whole. When I ordered curriculum books from you, I had to type up a guide for the teachers of what to teach, what not to teach, how to change the order and all those instructions. It became a complicated mess of teachers referencing my instructions while looking at the material they’re supposed to teach.

Now in the digital age, this has all changed. I haven’t bought a physical CD in more than 6 years. Sometimes when someone gives me a physical DC… I don’t know what to do with it. In the same way, I don’t want to buy your curriculum books anymore. If I get the curriculum in a digital format, I can cut, paste, edit, re-arrange and reword. My volunteers get what they need in their email or download from a volunteer website where they can grab what they need. If my volunteers weren’t that savvy, I can print it out and give it to them a month at a time so they can be full prepared. It’s more efficient. It saves me money. It serves my ministry best.

I know that most curriculum publishers haven’t gone digital like this yet? Why not? And sending me a CD in the mail doesn’t count. CD’s get lost. I understand that there is profit to be made on every curriculum book sold, but if digital media is better, why not offer it as well? I imagine that the costs would be the same to layout the material digitally as it would for printing a book. Actually, it seems that it would be cheaper. It doesn’t need to look fancy and perfect becasue we’re just going to cut it up, edit it and move stuff around.

I know of at least one publisher that electronically distributes curriculum via “locked” pdf files. I have one question. Why? Why do you even think that’s okay? By locking your PDF, you restrict me from even copying text from the pdf to a word doc so I can custom build the material for my church? I’m not going to use your curriculum they way you think I should use it, so don’t make me waste time searching for ways to freaking copy the text out of your locked PDF. You’re not serving the churches purchasing your materials by doing that.

I know the reasons behind lots of this stuff. It’s intellectual property. By having editable files delivered across the web, you risk having curriculum “stolen.” It’s a valid concern. The music industry fought this same issue for the last decade. They eventually lost. MP3’s are not distributed unlocked through the web becasue it’s what people want. Don’t fight it. Let’s be creative? We’re willing to pay for the resources you develop. We need it. We need creative materials that haven’t yet been developed and you’re the ones who are poised to create it. Let’s be creative. Let us have the materials in a way that serves the church best.

Any thoughts?