In 2019 I began work on a master’s degree. The last time I had written academically was 1980 something or other. Back then, I used index cards to keep all of my research together. Thankfully as my handwriting has become more illegible, software for research and writing has improved dramatically. 

Several software programs were incredibly helpful as I researched and wrote, and I wanted to write about a few of them. I’ll add whether I’ll continue to use them with my current writing/research workflow or if they are already deleted from my computer. 

The second in this series is, Perlego.

The Details:

Software: Perlego – Online Library


Cost: $8/month for an annual subscription ($96). Or $12/month.

(They currently have a deal where if you [subscribe using this link], we both get a free month. Although I believe it is only on the monthly plan, which is weird.)

Platform: Web-based. iOS and iPadOS apps.

What it does: 

Perlego is actually an online service rather than a software program. A good way to think about it is as “Netflix for books”. 

Why I began using it: 

A little over a month into my master’s program, Covid hit, and my school’s library, which was not vast to begin with, was shut down. While many seminaries offer online libraries for research, mine did not. (I bought many books in that first year of school). 

During the lockdown, someone mentioned a new service called Perlego. I signed up for a free trial and was happily surprised by how frequently a book I needed would be in their catalogue. After my free trial, I signed up for a monthly plan while I completed my final two courses.

As I started my dissertation, we were still in lockdown, so my school provided Perlego subscriptions to all students at no extra cost. 

Netflix for Books
A few theology books I’ve been reading on Perlego recently

How it Helped

Perlego basically put a research library on my desk. Even when the school library opened back up, I only needed to go in a time or two over 9 months. Between my own bookshelves and Perlego, I had access to most books I needed. 

As I mentioned, Perlego also saved me a good deal of money. Over the previous two years, I bought a lot of books because they weren’t available in my library. With Perlego, I rarely needed to order new books.

During the early months of using this service, one key frustration was that you could not copy and paste from Perlego into your research notes. [I had to use another app, Text Sniper, to remedy that]. About a week or two after I paid for the additional app, Perlego added the ability to copy from ebooks into note taking apps. This made the research process so much smoother.

How does Perlego fit into my workflow?

When we moved to Ireland, we tried to bring over as little as possible. I have a short list of things I wish I had brought, my tent, my sound system, and my commentaries. 

I have purchased a few commentaries since then and have a few digital editions, but I knew I’d never be able to replace them.

One of the most exciting finds for me was the volumes of Bible commentaries available on Perlego. If I were to start building up my commentary collection again, over a year, $96 would allow me to buy two or perhaps up to four books…depending on the book and the series. But for the same amount, I have multiple choices for every book in the Bible, on top of a vast library covering almost any topic you could imagine. Which is, as a book nerd, really exciting.

Since teaching and writing are still important aspects of my life, having access to these commentaries has been incredibly helpful.

Will I continue using it?

Yes, definitely. 

I am still on the free plan from school, but I use it often enough that Perlego is definitely a service I’ll use going forward. If I had to get rid of Netflix, or Netflix for books… I’m keeping Perlego.