A Bible for Millennials


I came across a profile in The Los Angeles Timesbusiness section profiling Brian Chung and Bryan Ye-Chung, founders of Alabaster, a new edition of the Bible. The title? “Pitching the Bible to millennials: It's a ‘content-rich lifestyle brand.’”

I had never thought of the Bible in those terms.

When Peter Holley’s article originally appeared in The Washington Post, it was titled more modestly: “An Instagram-worthy Bible Aimed at Millennials.”

Holley reports that Chung and Ye-Chung created this edition of the Bible with Millennials in mind. They wanted an edition that was beautiful, readable, attractive, and engaging. They wanted a Bible they would want to read, and that their generational peers would find enjoyable.

Holley reports, “Five hundred years after the modern printing press spread biblical texts worldwide, the book is struggling to reach one of its toughest audiences yet: Millennials, a generation of expressive digital natives who are increasingly likely to read on a tablet than open a book. They are also far less likely to read or trust the Bible than older generations, surveys show, and their skepticism is at the forefront of Americans’ deteriorating relationship with the ancient text.”

Chung and Ye-Chung’s solution was in design, to make the Bible “millennial-friendly.” To accomplish that goal, Alabaster “places the full text of a biblical book, including two from the Old Testament, inside publications that resemble chic, indie lifestyle and design magazines — like those you might find on your most fashionable friend’s coffee table. Alabaster uses the New Living Translation of the Bible.”

Where did the founders get this idea? Where did they find their inspiration? Holley reports that Chung and Ye-Chung “looked not to contemporary Christian artists or the Catholic Church, but rather to urbane magazines such as Cereal, Kinfolk and Drift. They also studied hip, era-defining brands like eyeglasses seller Warby Parker, razor purveyor Harry’s, luxury goods purveyor Shinola, and Swedish watchmaker Daniel Wellington. Those companies, they say, understand something that the discerning Millennial mind treats as, well, gospel: that the quality of a product’s visual packaging is just as important as the quality of the product itself.”

How is it going so far for Alabaster? Pretty well. Holley writes:

“Last year, their second on the market, Alabaster sold about 10,000 books, netting the company $318,000 in sales. It was enough for Chung and Ye-Chung to quit their jobs in recent weeks to focus on Alabaster full-time. This year, both men said, the company hopes to triple last year’s sales figures. Their customers, they said, are primarily women, 21 to 35 years old. Though they have customers as far away as Singapore and Australia, most are city-dwellers from places like Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, Chicago and Atlanta.”

Publishers have done many different things with the Bible not only in an effort to get people to read it, but to get people to buy it. This isn’t a new phenomenon. What’s interesting here is Chung and Ye-Chung’s connection to a generational demographic. They believe their Bible connects with the Millennial sensibility, whatever that may be.

For a look at the Alabaster edition of the Bible, click here.