Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

20 Sep 2014

On the Buying of Seminary Textbooks

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Schaff, History of the Christian ChurchIn August 1998, I ordered some of my first seminary textbooks as a student. That particular semester, one item stood out above the rest. Philip Schaff’s 8-volume History of the Christian Church stood out primarily due to its price. At the time Schaff retailed for about $249. Most of us discovered that you could purchase the set for a little under $100 through CBD (and if you could find a free shipping code so much the better), but it still wasn’t a particularly cheap item. For a single guy living on a grocery budget of $10/week (yes, I did), it was a major purchase.

Fast forward some sixteen years. I still refer to Schaff from time to time. In fact, someone gave me a second set a few years ago and so now I keep one in my office and one at home for ease of reference. But I recently noticed that something significant has changed about the set. In printed form, it still costs eighty-something dollars at CBD and Amazon. The thing we couldn’t have imagined sixteen years ago is that one can now purchase Schaff’s entire 8-volume set on Kindle for just $1.99.

Budget-conscious students are sometimes loath to spend money on textbooks, but the book market has changed quite a bit in recent years. Many resources that would have cost hundreds of dollars just a decade or two ago, can be had for a few dollars or sometimes even for free. Here are a few more Kindle deals that may be of interest to students, pastors, and other Christian readers.

The Ante-Nicene Fathers and Nicene/Post-Nicene Church Fathers Collection (37 vols.) – $2.99

The Works of Augustine (50 books) – $1.99

The Martin Luther Collection: 15 Classic Works – $1.99

The John Calvin Collection: 12 Classic Works – $1.99

John Calvin’s Complete Bible Commentaries (22 vols.) – $2.99

The Essential Works of John Owen (22 books) – $2.99

The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Banner of Truth ed.) – $2.99

Charles Hodge’s Systematic Theology (3 vols.) – $2.99

W. G. T. Shedd’s Dogmatic Theology (3 vols.) – $4.99

J. P. Boyce’s Abstract of Systematic Theology – $.99

The Essential Works of Charles Spurgeon (14 books) – $2.99

Augustus Hopkins Strong’s Systematic Theology (3 vols. in 1) – $1.99

MacArthur Study Bible (ESV) – $6.00

3 Responses

  1. Russ White

    You can get much of the older stuff for free on — for instance, Schaff can be found with this search:

    The biggest problem with the kindle format is you can’t build a collection, and then search across all the books in that collection to find specific concepts/etc. It would be ideal if Amazon built a Kindle application with real search capabilities, but there’s not one that I know of. It is possible to take stuff off and build Logos books for it, but Logos won’t let you advertise said books in their forums because it competes with their versions of these older public domain books.

    What might be useful is a community project to get older stuff like this tagged and into Logos format — a lot of us working together could build a really nice free library for seminary students. The main stopper has always been a central location for folks to upload and download such books, as well as any sort of coordinated effort at building such a library.

  2. Don Johnson

    Interesting post. I checked the Amazon page for Owen, there is another version with 27 works (as opposed to 22) by the same editor for less money! Perhaps it is an older version? Scanning issues?

    I have picked up some of these on the cheap Amazon titles but have found numerous OCR problems in them. It seems that some people have rushed an out of print book to the kindle market in order to make some $$$ on it. Amazon seems to let the person who gets their first hold the rights to the book. Not that I am against someone making money, but it would be nice if there was some quality checking done.

    Also, I’d be interested in contributing to a project such as Russ White suggests. Sounds like a worthwhile goal.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  3. John Aloisi


    Thanks for the comment. You can report typos pretty easily on a Kindle. I often read in “airport mode” to conserve the battery, but when I’m connected to wifi, I generally report any typos I see. Strangely, a few of the worst books I’ve encountered in terms of typos have been Kindle versions of recently published books that I’ve checked out from the library.