The search for that perfect Bible. What are the most common Bible features available today? (Part 1, Covers)

DSCN3175It is difficult to find that perfect Bible, but this is where many of us start out. When you finally decide to get a high quality Bible, you want to get all of the features you like in one edition. The problem is that rarely is there one Bible that will satisfy all of your requirements. In this article we are going to look at some of these features, a few of the pros and cons of the features, and a little basic Bible design and layout. Hopefully this will help you make an informed purchase, and keep you from having unrealistic expectations.

I know many people ooh and ah over floppy, natural hide, edge lined covers, but these aren’t always the best Bibles to have. There are also a bunch of folks who have no idea what the difference is between bonded leather, genuine leather, and calf skin leather. So, let’s start off by learning about covers. After all, it is the first part of the Bible a person sees and touches.

The least expensive covers are equivalent to those you’d find on a paperback book. Not much to know here. Some of the pros are that they are inexpensive to mass produce. Usually you find these covers on evangelism Bibles. Perhaps you’ve been handed a Bible with a paperback cover? They are only a couple of bucks to buy, and they get the job done. The biggest con is that they are not durable. They tear and dog-ear very easily.

Hardback covers are next. These types of covers are common and inexpensive like the paperback covers. Everyone should be familiar with them. They are a cardboard sheet known as a book board, that is underneath a paper, cloth, or hide cover. In the past these were often made out of wood. They provide rigidity to the text block so the book can be stored standing on its edge. They also support the pages while you hold them. One of the problems with a rigid board is that if you drop it on a corner it will deform and stay that way. If you do store it on a shelf, as you take off the shelf, and replace it on the shelf, the edge will become worn. Also the text blocks tend to pull away from the book boards over time and require repair.

thomas nelson nkkv study bible hard cover 005

Synthetic covers are the next step up. They offer a wide range of appearances and styles. They are also inexpensive to make. They can be made to simulate leather or just about anything else you might cover a book with. They can be made with various designs in them making them very attractive compared to paperback and hardback Bibles. The covers don’t stand up to skin oils, sunlight, and other environmental hazards like being scratched or scraped when compared to the durability of a good quality hide cover. They also lack the smell and texture of real leather.

three bibles 006

Bonded leather used to be one of the most common inexpensive covers before the rise of synthetic covers. I would just like to say, there are no pros to bonded leather… Ok fine, maybe they were not as expensive as a genuine leather cover, but come on! They are basically leather sawdust and scraps, bonded together with adhesive and dye, and then they have a fake leather grain stamped into them. They are generally not very flexible either. They are more durable than paper or had back. They are even more scratch and scuff resistant than synthetic covers, but when the surface is compromised, the oils and salts from your skin will sink in and make the damage worse. It will swell, and flake apart where the crease or cut is. There is a new bonded leather called Cromwell bonded leather that is supposed to be a very durable, long lasting bonded leather. I’ve just never liked the feel or smell of the bonded leather covers.

DSCN2970

Now for the genuine leather covers, but wait, all is not as it seems! You might think that if it is labeled, “Genuine Leather” that it is cow leather, but you’d be wrong! Oh no my friends, don’t be deceived by this clever marketing. Many of the bibles sold in the $40-$80 range listed as genuine leather are actually… pig skin leather. Yep, pig skin leather is much less expensive than cowhide leather. It is split thinner, it is colored, and gets a grain stamped into it, and it is shiny like plastic, and not that flexible. These covers are pretty tough though. I have to give that to them. They don’t smell as good as cowhide leather either due to all the processing they go through. Because the pig skin is so tough they can use very very thin splits of it.

DSCN3009

Just under the premium category of covers are the calfsplit leather, French Morocco leather, and genuine cowhide leather covers. There is not a market standard on this so there is quite a bit of variance from publisher to publisher. For instance a cowhide leather cover from TBS feels like the French Morocco leather from Cambridge. Basically they take the section under the top grain and stamp a grain pattern into it. It is stiffer and more fibrous, but still smells like cowhide leather because it is. You get all of the great durability of a good cowhide leather cover at a lower price. Honestly this is probably the lowest quality leather I would want on a Bible. All of the others I mentioned before this I would not buy for myself. I expect a Bible to be something I can hand down to my kids and hopefully my grandkids. I won’t buy anything under this. I recommend shopping calfsplit/genuine cowhide and above. French Morocco leather doesn’t necessarily have to be from a cow either. It is also split thinner typically than calfsplit. Don’t get French Morocco mixed up with Moroccan either. Moroccan leather is much higher quality goatskins from Nigeria that are imported and finished in Europe.

DSCN3109

tbs windsor text Bible 047

The next class of covers is the premium range. It includes top grain cowhide, calf hide, Vachetta calfskin, Buttero calfskin, and goatskin. There are other hides that are available from rebinders and are occasionally available from publishers. I am not going to address those as they are not commonly available from mass produced Bibles from major publishers.

The top grain cowhides can have natural grain, they can be ironed flat to reduce the grain, they are generally tough and supple, which is a good combination. Calfskin is even softer because it is taken from well, young cows. It is also a bit thinner. It isn’t as resistant to scratches and scuffs as the top grain cowhide. All of these leathers take color during processing very well.  Goatskin covers usually have a nicely pebbled grain to them making them aesthetically pleasing.  They can be dyed in a wide range of colors, are supple, durable, and more expensive.  You don’t get as many covers out of a goat hide.  Goats are smaller than cows 🙂   

DSCN2856

DSCN3224

Keep in mind this is just about covers.  The next article will be about the difference between case bound and edge lined Bibles.  Thanks again for reading, and if you haven’t already make sure to follow my blog.  God bless!

Finally, a Wide Margin Bible with Ruled Lines in the Margins! The Holman NKJV Wide Margin Journaling Bible in Two Tone Bonded Leather.

DSCN4416

I don’t know how many of you have shared my lament over wide margins with no ruled lines, but I can imagine it is a common want, hence stencils being recommended to scribe the lines ourselves. I am so glad to see Holman pick up the idea from Crossway, and put it to use with the different translations available to them. I remember having many conversations with people about how it would be great if someone would make a wide margin with ruled lines. It was one of my gripes. It seemed like such a simple and obvious improvement to me. I actually refrained from purchasing wide margin Bibles because of the lack of ruled lines. The 1 3/4” margins are filled with wonderful ruled lines that match the lines of text so you can put your notes and cross references right next to the text that they are about. Of course, if you want you can write in front of the line and get about 2 inches out of the margin.

DSCN4436

DSCN4446

My handwriting is very difficult to read and tends to slope. It lacks uniformity in spacing between the letters and lines. I NEED ruled lines to write on. I know that my sloppy brethren are out there and enthused. I also know there are a select, rare, few, who are endowed with the gift of lovely handwriting. If you find yourself in that crowd, God has smiled upon you, but for me and my illegible brethren, “Vive la ligne!”

When you open the cover on this Bible you’ll see that the end pages are decorated. It is a case bound Bible.

DSCN4424

In the front you have, God’s Plan For salvation, Presentation page, Preface to the New King James Version, and the copyright/publisher page.

DSCN4427

In the Bible you’ll find one ribbon marker that matches the color scheme of the cover.

DSCN4421

In the back there is a fifty page concordance, eight full color maps, and a Bible reading plan.

DSCN4452

DSCN4453

This Bible is just the right size to offer legible sized font while maintaining a manageable size to keep open on your lap and write in during Church. It measures 8.50″ x 6.50″ x 1.50″

DSCN4418

I for one am very pleased with this new Bible and not just because the lines. The paper on this thing is great. It is kind of an off white or cream color. It is a bit heavier and opaque. There is less ghosting than on most Bibles in this price range. Line matching was employed during the printing. This is when text on the opposite side of the page is printed directly behind the text on the other side of the page.

DSCN4434

The layout was done by 2K/Denmark. The Bible was printed and bound in South Korea.

DSCN4427

The font looks to be 8 pt in size and it is printed uniformly and sharp contrasting very well against the off white paper. It is one of the easiest on the eyes to look at since the pages are not a bright glaring white or a super thin translucent mess. The text is in a single column paragraph format red letter edition. There are no cross references. You are responsible for that my friends.

DSCN4443

There is a page of ruled paper at the end of every book. It is arranged in two blank columns for you to use as indexes of your references, notes, or whatever you like. It is up to you.

DSCN4447

I’ve written in this Bible with wet highlighters, fountain pen, fine tip ball point pen, and pencil. Of course the highlighters bled through a little bit depending on how long I left the marker in contact with the paper. The fountain pen I used is a Lamy with a broad tip nib. It lays down a lot of ink in bold dark lines. It does show through the paper. When I used a fine tip ball point pen it shows through, but not nearly as bad as the broad tip fountain pen.
DSCN4533

DSCN4532

DSCN4531

DSCN4534

The Bible was shipped in a cardboard box and padded with paper. The paper was all at one corner and the Bible was at the opposite corner.
I was in a retail sleeve instead of a box. It arrived with some damage to the spine towards the bottom and back of the Bible. I think this was incurred during shipping. I don’t believe it was Holman’s fault. If I had purchased this Bible and it arrived damaged the retailer or Holman would have replaced it under warranty. Due to the damage I was able to see that the maps are held to each other with binding tape as well as being sewn into the binding. This will make for a very sturdy Bible. Frankly, as good as this thing is built, I’m surprised it got damaged at all. It must have taken a pretty hard bump. The retail sleeve type packaging had all of the expected information on it.

DSCN4411

DSCN4412

DSCN4416

DSCN4415

DSCN4454

The Bible I received was black smooth textured bonded leather over the spine and a saddle brown colored more textured bonded leather over the rest of the cover. The cover is perimeter stitched in white thread. It is an attractive Bible.

DSCN4419

The Bible is a hardback of sorts with very thin book boards. They wanted to make sure you had a portable desk so you could write straight on your super cool ruled lines. I don’t want to hear anyone asking for this in a flexible edge lined calfskin leather cover. That would make it more difficult to use. This Bible is all about being used. I haven’t even mentioned the sewn binding with overcasting. Whoops, I guess I just did. The sewn binding on this is great. The signatures are just the right size. The sewn binding makes the spine very flexible so that the Bible lays open quite well. For a journaling Bible it is important for it to lay open and flat. That makes it so much easier to write in and increase the longevity of the Bible.

DSCN4441

DSCN4420

Overcasting is when several of the pages from the front signature are sewn to several of the pages of the signature behind it through the spine. This is done to reinforce the book. It can also be done to the back of the book. However, I didn’t see that in this one. The overcasting appears just in the front that I could see.

DSCN4432

If you like the design that Crossway came out with, but you wanted to use the KJV, NKJV, or NIV instead of the ESV and wanted to spend a bit less while still getting a very well made journaling wide margin this is the Bible for you. It fills a real niche and should become a favorite for many years to come. I think it will be a big hit for Holman.

Make sure to check out the rest of the pictures on my flickr page.

ISBN-13: 9781433691584

Have you ever wanted to compare the changes in the 2011 NIV against the KJV or NKJV?

Have you ever wanted to compare the changes in the 2011 NIV against the KJV or NKJV?
Hendrickson’s Complete Evangelical Parallel Bible with the KJV, NKJV, NIV, & NLT in black bonded leather gives you that opportunity.

DSCN2956

I saw this Bible on Hendrickson’s web page.  It struck me as an interesting opportunity to look for myself at the changes made in the NIV and compare them to a trusted version like the NKJV.  I’ve read a number of books on the topic.  My studying was done between the time when the TNIV was introduced and when the 2011 NIV replaced it.  I’m not going to say I can tell the future, but I called it when I told my wife that they will just drop the, “T” off of TNIV and try to sneak it by everyone.  Well, I was right.  That is what happened.

Hendrickson did a decent job of packaging this large Bible.  It was shipped in a cardboard box, with airbag type packaging cushions inside.

DSCN2954

The Parallel was wrapped in plastic, and was in a clamshell retail box, that should be retained for storage.

DSCN2960

The Parallel has a black, bonded leather cover.

DSCN2970

Bonded leather is less expensive than genuine leather, which is made from pigskin.  Good bonded leather can last a very long time.  Bonded leather is kind of like the particle board of leather.  It is bits and pieces of leather that are pressed together with adhesives and die to make sheets of bonded leather.  It is typically a bit stiffer than calfskin leather and very stiff compared to goatskin leather.  It is the lowest grade of leather cover, but it does fill a niche in Bible cover options.  If I were to buy a goatskin hide from a supplier it would cost me about $80.00.  I could probably get about three or four Bibles this size case bound.  So if the publisher wanted to make any money they would have to pass the costs along to the consumer.  Synthetic covers are less expensive.  They are also almost as flexible as premium covers.  The problem is that they aren’t as tough and don’t last as long.  Bonded leather covers, in my opinion are tougher than the synthetic covers.  It might not be as flexible as a synthetic cover, but it will add more structure to a big Bible like this than a synthetic one.  Your other option is to get a hardback.  These are good for giving the Bible structure.  They are also pretty durable, but they can get bent, torn, scratched, and waterlogged pretty easy.  They are easy to rebind as well.  So you see, there are several options, you just have to decide how much you want to spend, what features are must haves, and what you can compromise on.

I think as far as parallel Bibles go this one is built pretty well. This Bible has a sewn binding.  That is almost a necessity on a Bible this size.  You actually have four complete Bibles in one volume.  The sewn binding makes this Bible much more flexible than a perfect bind.  Perfect bound books have all of the pages stacked up, cut square, and glued together to form the spine.  A sewn binding stacks pages into separate pamphlets called signatures.  These are stacked up against strips of material called binding tapes.  The signatures are sewn to the tapes and to each other.  This gives the Bible the ability to open fully, last longer, not lose pages, and hold together even if the glue gives way.

It is case bound, which means it is glued into the cover by the end papers.  An edge lined binding glues the inside cover tab to the end papers of the text block and then covers the tab with another piece of paper, vinyl, or hide/fabric.  You see edge lined bindings on premium Bibles.  Premium Bibles usually are $150 and up.  Case binding is the most common kind you’ll see.

DSCN2996

On top of having a sewn binding, four Bibles, ribbon marker, and a bonded leather cover, this Bible has pretty decent paper and print for a giant like this.  I was expecting to have some difficulty with legibility due to how much they had to put in this volume, but this one uses clean sharply printed modern digital typeset.

DSCN2975 DSCN2988

It was printed in China.  The font is 8 point in size.  That doesn’t sound like much.  Don’t let that fool you.  It is very legible.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The paper is pretty good too.  It offers good contrast with the font without being too white.  The spine is square, not rounded.  There are decorative head and tail bands, a ribbon marker, publisher’s notes, limited foot notes, and gold colored gilt page edges.

I am not going to address the translations in depth for this review.  I wanted to focus on the quality of materials, features, and manufacture of this parallel Bible.  If you want know more about translations and methods just do a search for translation notes, the version you want to know about, and the year of the edition.  Google is your friend, kind of…  It is also the gubbermint’s intelligence machine!  Put on your foil hats and look out for the black helicopters!  I’m not joking!  Do it NOW!  GET TO THE CHOPPA!!! (In conspiracy mode the government is always referred to as gubbermint)

I don’t want to sound like a, “negative Nelly” and wait for it… wait for it… BUT I didn’t expect to dislike the NLT so much.  I’ve always heard that it was, “dumbed down.”  I never expected it to be as gender neutral as the NIV.  Now, don’t get the wrong idea, I am not anti-NIV or NLT per say.  I am just a big fan of formal equivalent translations.  Dynamic equivalents have their place.  There are many new Christians who have trouble and need the extra help.  My first Bible I was given was a parallel KJV/NIV.  There are people who have trouble with English and need a little help.  When you get down the road a little bit, you really need to get an NASB or ESV in my opinion.  If you feel that you need a little help, I would suggest an HCSB over either the NIV or the NLT.

Overall a person buys a parallel Bible for the purpose of comparing translations.  In that regard alone this Bible handily accomplishes that end.

 

ISBN-13: 9781598569490

ISBN: 9781598569490

Size: 6.5 x 9.5 inches

Pub Date: February 2013

Item Number: 569490

Need a Chinese language New Testament? Review of the Mandarin CSB/CUV Parallel New Testament, Black Bonded Leather from Holman.

chinese new testament and greek book with workbook holman 008

This New Testament in CSB/CUV according to what I’ve read is very clear and easy to understand.  I do not understand Chinese.  I am reviewing this New Testament from a quality and value perspective.  I received it gratis from Holman for the purpose of review.  This New Testament was well packaged and arrived in great condition.  It was shipped in a box with a couple other books; a copy of, “Learn to Read New Testament Greek” and the workbook, “Learn to Read New Testament Greek, Workbook.”  I will be doing more in depth reviews of those resources throughout the coming year.  Obviously, learning Greek will be an ongoing adventure and require more than a week to do the review of those resources.

chinese new testament and greek book with workbook holman 001 chinese new testament and greek book with workbook holman 002 chinese new testament and greek book with workbook holman 003 chinese new testament and greek book with workbook holman 004

The New Testament provided is a parallel, meaning that it presents both the text from the Chinese Standard Bible (CSB) and the Chinese Union Version. (CUV)

chinese new testament and greek book with workbook holman 006 chinese new testament and greek book with workbook holman 007 chinese new testament and greek book with workbook holman 005

The cover is black bonded leather.

chinese new testament and greek book with workbook holman 033 chinese new testament and greek book with workbook holman 008 chinese new testament and greek book with workbook holman 009

If you are not familiar with bonded leather it is made from leather scraps that are bonded together with adhesive and died to the desired color.  It is less expensive and pretty durable.  It doesn’t hold up as well as leather and is not as flexible.  The inside of the cover is lined with black paper glued down.

chinese new testament and greek book with workbook holman 012

It appears to have a sewn binding.

chinese new testament and greek book with workbook holman 026

This will add to the durability.  There is a presentation page and some publication notes with translation notes.

chinese new testament and greek book with workbook holman 014 chinese new testament and greek book with workbook holman 015 chinese new testament and greek book with workbook holman 016

There is one black ribbon marker and the page edges are gilded.

chinese new testament and greek book with workbook holman 011 chinese new testament and greek book with workbook holman 010

The words of Christ are in red.

chinese new testament and greek book with workbook holman 021

The paper is very opaque.  The hanzi characters are printed clearly with sufficient contrast to make out all of the details.

chinese new testament and greek book with workbook holman 027

There is even a concordance of Chinese hanzi characters in the back.  Included are some colored maps.  If you know someone whose first language is Chinese and they are interested in knowing more about Jesus this is a good value for evangelism.  It is not so expensive that you couldn’t afford to buy several of them, and it is made well enough to last them for a while.  If your primary language is Chinese and you would like a New Testament to carry around as you witness to people this one would fit the bill.  It is a good value at around eleven dollars from some retail sites.