Bible Reviews

The Holman HCSB, Deluxe Ultrathin Reference Bible in Black Genuine Top Grain Cowhide, is an Excellent Idea, but Poorly Executed.


I would love to give this Bible a glowing review. It is a good idea. My favorite size Bibles have been ultrathins. They are generally pretty portable and handy. An ultrathin with, sewn binding, some references, top grain cowhide leather cover, edge lined binding, opaque paper, and legible typeset is a wonderful Bible to have. If done correctly, they could sell them as fast as they could make them. Like I said earlier though, the design needs to be properly executed.  There have been some problems with both review copies I was sent. The first copy arrived with the gold stamping on the spine missing in spots,


the tail band was sliced, one of the end pages was dog eared, the cover was not glued down to the inside liner well enough, this allowed the pages to get between the liner and cover, and the pages were all stuck together. The gold stamping would have been enough to send this Bible back as it is fairly expensive. The second Bible sent to me to replace the first one has leather debris sandwiched between the cover and the liner, leaving two lumps on the front cover.


These will cause the cover to wear out and eventually put holes in it. That would have been enough to warrant sending that Bible back as well. Generally, I am very pleased with Holman Bibles. Many of their Bibles are produced in South Korea. This one was produced in China. Almost all of the incidents I’ve had with defects in workmanship or materials, have been with Bibles made in China. It doesn’t seem to matter who the American publisher is, whether it is Lockman, B&H, or Hendrickson when they make Bibles in China the quality control is problematic.

Where Holman stands above some of the other publishers is in their customer service. They have quickly and courteously supplied me with another copy, when I brought the defect to their attention. Some publishers were unwilling to replace defective copies. Lockman has replaced defective copies as well, but this review is of B&H.

If this Bible would have been produced without defects, with a higher quality liner, and end papers, it would have been worth the retail price. I would suggest that B&H stop making this Bible in China, and move the production to someplace with higher quality standards. This would have been a great Bible considering the ambition of the design. It was shipped in a cardboard box with paper packing.


The retail box inside is a two piece box, that should be retained for storage.


The Bible inside the box was wrapped in black construction paper to protect it during shipping. The cover is supposed to be top grain cowhide leather. It does feel very soft,


but it has been pared pretty thin.


I don’t know if Holman supplied the leather or allowed the Chinese binder to provide the leather. The liner looks like a synthetic material. It doesn’t glue well to the hide cover. The end papers are very thin as well. This might have been done to increase the flexibility of this Bible given that it is edge lined bound and not case bound. I appreciate what they were attempting to do, but the end papers just came off as cheap. I love when a Bible has a genuine, high quality hide as a cover. The smell and feel of a genuine hide, not to mention the durability, ensure many years of use. Combine that with a flexible sewn binding, and you have an easy opening Bible that lies flat on your table, or can be wrapped around itself, to be held in one hand for easy reading.

The line matching helps to keep the text legible in conjunction with the uniform printing and ink consistency.


This is a double column paragraph format, red letter edition Bible.


There is an oddity that puzzles me. They printed the book names and chapters on the bottom of the page, instead of at the top where it typically is located. It makes you pause for a moment when trying to turn to a specific scripture.  Chances are good that I could have been sent a Bible with zero defects and my review would have been extolling the virtues of this great little Bible.  Chances are, you might order it and receive a good copy.  I just happened to get tow in a row with defects.  The good news, is that Holman will make it right if you get a bad one.  If you really want an HCSB in ultrathin that is edge lined and covered with top grain leather, this is about one of your only choices.

Make sure to check out all of the pictures I took of this Bible and its replacement on my flickr page.


Bible Reviews

Need a Large Print Personal Size Reference Bible? Holman Has a Great Value for You.

HCSB Reader 003

Let’s look at the Holman HCSB Personal Size Reference Bible, red letter edition, in Brown Genuine Cowhide, with indexes.

Holman shipped this Bible in a cardboard box and cushioned it with paper packaging material.

HCSB Reader 001

HCSB Reader 002

The two piece retail box should be kept for storage.

HCSB Reader 006

Holman wraps their genuine cowhide Bibles with construction paper to make them keep their shape and prevent damage while being shipped. When I opened the retail package I was presented with the wrapped Bible. After removing the wraps, they chocolaty brown genuine cowhide is revealed.

HCSB Reader 007

It has the feel of a quality Bible to it. It also has an affordable price. The cowhide is supple and soft.

HCSB Reader 008

The cover is lined with vinyl on the inside and glued down. This adds a bit of rigidity to the cover, but in my opinion just as much as is needed to make it easier to hold and read. Some Bibles are too floppy.

HCSB Reader 019

This Bible is about 8.25″ x 5.75″ x 1.25″ It is a very convenient size to carry around in your hand or in a medium bag of some kind. It is too large for a small lunch box or purse. I like the size of it for use in a chair without a table or desk. The overall dimensions and format are conducive to reading even though it is not a readers edition.

The spine of the Bible has at the top, “HCSB” and the logo above it, and, “Holy Bible” in the middle, and then, Holman’s logo at the bottom in gold. The spine is also decorated with hubs reminiscent of the raised hubs that were produced by the journals being sewed to the journal cords before the use of thinner journal tapes. Today as a rule they are decorative. They do add a bit of appeal to a Bible.

HCSB Reader 014

This Bible has a modern sewn binding. It is pretty comparable to the other Bibles from China with a sewn binding. Holman seems to do a better job of quality control than some of the other publishers I have seen that produce for the same market. The bindings we see from Jongbloed in the Netherlands are still a cut above. That is why they work for the luxury crowd. For a great value, this fits the bill. You can take it all over and not feel like a sinner for indulging in a $250.00 Bible, and you have the added benefit of not worrying it gets a wrinkled page.

The pages are gilded.

HCSB Reader 010

There is one narrow ribbon marker that matches the color of the cover.

HCSB Reader 016

There is a copyright page showing that this Bible was made in China. Then after that is a Table of Contents, How to Use the Bible, Gospel Presentation, Translation Notes, and then the text of the Bible begins. It is arranged in a two column paragraph format with end of paragraph cross-references, and footnotes at the bottom of the page. This setting is less cluttered making it easy to read. The font is a 10.5 point font that is printed clearly and sharply on the page.

HCSB Reader 032

The paper could stand to be a bit thicker. In this edition the words of Jesus are printed in red.

HCSB Reader 035

I like the way the indexes are cut on this Bible they are rectangular with rounded corners instead of the more common crescent shape. The Old Testament ones are gold text on black and the New Testament ones are gold text on red.

HCSB Reader 018

After the book of Revelation you have, HCSB Bullet Notes, Table of Weights and Measures, Where to Turn, Titles of Jesus, Messianic Scriptures that Jesus Fulfilled, a brief Topical Concordance, and finally eight color maps. I found the Where to Turn section useful for new Christians as well as the section on prophecies fulfilled by Christ.

My overall impression of this Bible is that is a good quality workhorse for daily reading. It isn’t good for note taking due to the margins being minimal to accommodate the text. It isn’t chocked full of notes and references for the same reason. This is a Bible geared for daily reading. The binding does have a bit of page puckering in the gutter near the front and end of the Bible, but it isn’t that bad and doesn’t present at all after the first and last pages.  For that purpose it works excellently and is a great value.

This particular Bible is in the Holman Christian Standard Bible translation. It is a more of an equivalent translation than anything else. It fills the gap left by the NIV when it went all apostate on us. Now when people need an easy to read translation I suggest the HCSB.

ISBN-13: 9781586407926 ISBN: 1586407929 Christianbook stock number CBD Stock No: WW407926