The eBook of Zondervan's updated NIV Bible ranked high on several bestseller's lists following its Christmas season debut.
The 2011 NIV Bible Ebook – the first Bible to go digital before appearing in print – topped Apple's iBookstore chart in the Religion & Spirituality category when it was released three weeks ago.
Featuring the first update to the popular translation in 25 years, the NIV e-Bible also rose within the Top 100 in Amazon's Kindle Store. It was also among the Top 25 eBooks in Barnes & Noble's Nookbook Store.
"I was kind of delighted and surprised that we could get as high ... out of all books," Chip Brown, senior vice president and publisher of Bibles at Zondervan, told The Christian Post. "I wonder if it's possible for us to get to number one at some point as people get more and more of these devices."
As part of the NIV Bible eBook's launch, the mega-publisher partnered with Biblica (formerly known as the International Bible Society) to donate a copy of the Hindi New Testament for every digital copy of the NIV Bible sold through Jan. 4, 2011.
Although Zondervan did not report the specific number of digital NIVs sold during the campaign, Biblica said it expects to donate about 20,000 copies of the new Hindi translation.
The print version of the updated NIV Bible will be published in March 2011 and replace the 1984 translation.
Brown said the Zondervan is just starting to have conversations with churches on making the transition. Between March and June, there will be well over 100 print Bibles and books related to the NIV that will be coming to the market, he said.
"We are doing more titles at an unprecedented speed just because we want to make it as easy as possible for people to make the transition," said Brown.
"We'll have an NIV update available that will match any of the ones that are currently on the market in the 1984 edition."
The NIV was first published in 1978 and revised in 1984. In 2009, Biblica, the copyright owner of the NIV, set out to bring the current translation up to date with contemporary English language.
An earlier attempt to update the NIV failed after the 2003 and 2005 TNIV Bibles were met with controversy. The debate over the translation's "gender inclusive" language divided the evangelical community as conservatives derided the handling of gender-related passages, including the removal of male pronouns.
A body of biblical scholars from around the world, known as the Committee on Bible Translation, convened in 2009 and completed its translation work in the fall of 2010.
The updated text has been met with mixed reviews, with some evangelicals praising the clarity of the new edition while others were still unconvinced that the gender-related problems of the TNIV were resolved.
The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, one of the leading critics of the TNIV, released a statement in November saying it could not recommend the new NIV Bible. The group said the new text still retains "over 3,600 gender-related problems we previously identified."
Brown said that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, adding that no Bible translation is without criticism.
Most people are in favor of the new text, according to Brown.
"There have been a few places where people wished a certain verse was rendered in a different way," he acknowledged. "But for the most part, we received positive feedback from the overwhelming majority and influencers in the Christian faith."