The Holman HCSB Large Print Ultrathin Reference Bible in Black Genuine Cowhide Leather is a Wonderful Demonstration of How High Quality Bibles Can be Made in America for a Very Affordable Price.

DSCN4304Yes, it is true! We can still make high quality Bibles here in America, and they are affordable! I’m not saying this is a cheap Bible by any means, far from it. It is a high quality Bible. I will go over all of the features later in the review. This Bible sells for around $80.00 online. Even if they sold it for the suggested retail price of almost $120.00 it would be worth it. So to all of my patriotic friends, “‘MericA!” The Holman HCSB Large Print Ultratin Reference Bible showed up on my doorstep well protected inside an appropriately sized cardboard box padded with paper.   DSCN4302

The two piece retail box is sturdy and should be retained for storage. The Bible was wrapped in black paper to further protect the black genuine cowhide leather cover.

DSCN4308I’ve read some other reviews of this Bible and much ado was made over the cover’s softness. I’ll admit that is the main reason I wanted to review this for myself. Although, it is a very nice cover, I wouldn’t call it the softest or most supple cover I’ve ever seen. Considering that soft does not always equate to good, don’t let my mention of that stop you from getting this Bible. I quite like that it isn’t as soft as what I was reading on other sites. For instance, I have an R. L. Allan Readers in goatskin leather. It is nothing like the goatskin I have on a Cambridge Clarion Bible. The Allan was thick and tough compared to the Cambridge. When you get into Bibles, one of the first things that gets you going is that there are Bibles out there with very soft covers. This new excitement wears thin after a while. After using Bibles with super supple covers for a while you begin to notice some drawbacks. Super supple covers or ssc’s for short, do enhance the flexibility of a quality edge lined, sewn binding. What you’ll notice though is that you will begin a tendency to bend your Bible in ways that are not conducive to a long useful binding life. You’ll also become annoyed at your Bible flopping around at inconvenient times. If you have a larger Bible that is ssc it will become more difficult to sit and read as you have to support it someway. The ssc’s also are more susceptible to scratches, and abrasions. The cover can flop away from the pages and leave your pages unprotected. I don’t know how many more dog eared pages I’ve gotten solely due to the ssc. There is a happy medium, thank goodness. I think that this Bible fits in that category very well. The genuine cowhide leather cover IS supple, but not too supple.   DSCN4309

DSCN4310  It is coupled with a case bound text block instead of an edge lined one.   DSCN4314

This also keeps it from being excessively flexible, without too rigid.

DSCN4346  The cover offers just the right amount of support and protection. When I open it to read from it, I can read both the left and right pages while holding the Bible in one hand, without one of them folding over so it can’t be read. With an ssc you can’t do this. With a rigid cover you are fighting the cover, constantly trying to keep it down and out of the way. This Bible is just right in that regard. When I took it out of the box and the paper it was wrapped in, I didn’t notice any chemical smells, just the smell of leather, as it should be. It felt good in my hands. The spine wasn’t too thick or thin. It is manageable in size at 9.75″ x 6.75″ x 1.25″ The texture of the leather’s grain is natural and pleasing to the touch. The spine is decorated with 6 raised hubs. At the head of the spine is the Holman sword and shield logo with, “HCSB” under it. In the middle of the spine are the words, “Holy Bible.” At the foot you’ll see, “Large Print Ultrathin Reference Edition” with the Holman logo beneath it.   DSCN4312

It has gold gilt page edges rounded corners and a slightly rounded spine. The signatures are fairly large. I think this is what accounted for some pretty dramatic looking page waves when I first took this Bible out to use.

DSCN4325  The good news is that those wrinkles you see in the pictures went away after a day of being out of the box and packaging. With just light use everything kind of balanced out. For some reason the pictures made the problem look worse than what it was. Since this Bible has a lifetime warranty through Holman, if you received one with this problem I am certain they would take it back and do what they needed to do to make sure you were happy. I just used it for a little while and it got much better. In the front of the Bible there is a Presentation page. Then there are record pages for Marriage Certificate, Births, Marriages, Occasions to Remember, and Deaths. After the records pages there is the Title page, copyright/publisher’s page, Table of Contents, God’s Plan for Salvation, Introduction to the HCSB translation and finally the text of the Old Testament starts.   DSCN4327

The paper is white enough to offer good contrast with the sharply printed modern digital 9 pt. font. The layout and typesetting was done by 2Krogh AS, Hojbjerg, Denmark and proofreading by Peachtree Editorial Services in Peachtree City Georgia. This Bible uses the 2009 Updated HCSB and cross references.

DSCN4335  This is a red letter edition. It is a double column, paragraph format Bible with center column references and footnotes at the bottom.   DSCN4344

In the footnotes there are alternate readings or notes on textual variants that is quite helpful.

DSCN4343  All of these features lend themselves to a highly legible text. It is easy on the eyes and will be a pleasure to use. The book names and chapter numbers are on the bottom of the page instead of the top along with the page numbers.   DSCN4334

If you are holding this Bible in your hand or lap while reading from a chair this makes more sense. If you are leaning over this Bible reading it at a table or desk the placement of that information can be less convenient. It is not the conventional way to do it, but that is not necessarily bad. There are two ribbon markers for your daily reading in the Old and New Testaments.
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There is a concordance, eight full-color maps, and HCSB Bullet Notes in the back of this Bible. Overall, I have been pleasantly surprised lately by the quality and value of Holman Bibles I’ve been sent for review. I am actually beginning to expect this level of quality and value from Holman. Because of their work and the fact that we can have a domestically produced Bible of quality and value, I am expecting more from other Bible publishers. This is good for Holman, it might be painful to other publishers, but they can look at it as a negative and stop sending me Bibles to review like some have, or they can pick up the challenge and step up their game. Make sure to check out the rest of the pics I took of this Bible here.

ISBN-13: 9781433603020

The Holman NKJV Compact Ultrathin Bible in Brown Genuine Cowhide is a Winner! It is one of the Best Small Bibles I’ve Seen.

DSCN4223      The Compact Ultrathin from Holman arrived at my porch, well packed in a cardboard box, with paper packing.     DSCN4221

The retail box is a two piece box that should be retained for storage. (Once you get this it will never be stored, it is that good.)

DSCN4226    Inside the box the Compact Ultrathin is wrapped in black construction paper to protect it during shipping. DSCN4228

The Holman New King James Version Bible in brown genuine cowhide leather is one of the best compact Bibles I’ve seen. It is a bit smaller than the Pitt Minion settings, larger than the Ruby Text settings, while also remaining an ultrathin. Here is a picture of it with the Cambridge Cameo on the left and the Cambridge Pitt Minion on the right.
 
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It is a great design. 2K/Denmark did the typesetting/layout for Holman and I have to say it looks excellent. Even though this Bible was manufactured in China, Holman has managed to ensure quality control. I don’t know how they accomplish this, as many of their competitors have failed. The cover is their standard chocolate colored, soft, cowhide leather. It remains one of the nicest covers you can get for the money.

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It is aesthetically pleasing with decorative spine hubs adorning the spine and gold lettering. NKJV inside a circle is at the head of the spine, with, “Holy Bible” in the middle, and the Holman logo at the tail of the spine.

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The Bible is case bound so the inside color matched, vinyl liners are pasted down to the inner cover.

DSCN4236  The covers corners are mechanically folded with precision.   DSCN4235

Inside you’ll find a, “Presentation Page “and three, “Occasions to Remember” pages.

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Next are the, Copyright page and the, “Table of Contents” along with a, “Preface to the New King James Version” and, “God’s Plan for Salvation.”

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The paper appears to have a good amount of titanium dioxide in it as it is pretty white and opaque for being so thin. The print is also laid out with line matching, which greatly aids in legibility. 2K/Denmark used a modern digital font that at 6 pt. in size remains easy on the eyes during reading. They got the line spacing just right as well. At the beginning of each book the title is printed boldly in larger font on the top of the page. The chapter headings are bold as well. Book names and chapters are indicated on the top, outer margin of each page, while the page numbers are on the top near the gutter of each page.

DSCN4268  The print of this red letter edition is arranged in a double column, paragraph format, with limited notes on the foot of the page.   DSCN4252

There is a brown ribbon marker, as well as decorative head and tail bands. They match the colors of the cover and liner. The page edges are gold gilt and there is a small concordance in the back.

DSCN4267  The individual word entries are in red while their concordance information is in black. This makes looking up words quick. It is easy to distinguish between the word you are looking for and the concordance information.   DSCN4254

After the concordance are eight pages of color maps printed on slightly heavier and more glossy paper.

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It is the same as the, “Presentation” and, “Occasions to Remember pages.” Measuring in at 6.75”x4.5”x .75” this handy little Bible is very portable and can fit in a lunchbox or purse easily, leaving plenty of room for other items. It can be had for $22.50. Considering its size, low price, and brilliant design, I predict that this will be number one in my top ten compact Bibles of 2015 Comparison. (If I do one… would you all like a top ten?) That being said, GO BUY ONE NOW! Visit my flickr page to see all of the super cool pictures of this Bible 🙂

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

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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,

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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.

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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.

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

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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,

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but it has been pared pretty thin.

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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.

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

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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.

9781586404314

Review of the Lockman Foundation, Large Print, Ultrathin, Reference Bible, in Black Calfskin Leather.

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I’m kind of biased because I love the NASB translation and Lockman Foundation… but, I know there is always a, “but” after the review starts the way this one did.  The, “but” in this case is the hit and miss nature of  some of the Chinese manufacture processes.  This would have been a great Bible if fit and finish quality of the work were better.  This is $100.00 Bible and should reflect that in the finished quality.  Their was a section in the back where the overly thick card paper edge was glued improperly so that the white paper edge was visible and exposed.

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also on the front of the Bible the card paper was splitting on the bottom corner.  I don’t know if it was not glued well, bent during shipping from China, or the card paper that was used was just to thick and rigid for this application. three bibles 147

The Head and foot areas of the Bible could do with more precise attention to quality.

The notches could be smaller.

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The ribbon markers could be a thicker, higher grade of ribbon. three bibles 169 Lockman needs to move away from using the higher clay content shiny paper for the presentation pages and maps and move to a flat paper.  The glossy ones are too prone to falling out.  The presentation page should have been a couple of pages in so that you could actually write on it.  It is glued to the card paper that attaches to the binding and cover.

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I think if Lockman Foundation left the manufacture of their Bibles that cost less than $50.00 in China it would be alright, but with their middle and top end products they really need to bring it back home.  They sent me a copy of the hardcover Charles Stanley text Bible that is made here in America and it was excellent.  I loved the paper and the binding. If this Bible got the same treatment it would be worth the $100.00 price tag, but as it is I would have to pass.  They did send this Bible to me for free to be reviewed on my blog. With all the cons, I don’t want you to get the idea that this Bible does nothing right.  It has a sewn binding, and a calfskin cover.  It includes two ribbon markers and it is pretty thin considering that it is a real reference Bible.  You get all the benefits of a full reference Bible with a pretty thin profile. The Side Column Reference Bible I did a review on previously had more attention paid to fit and finish.  It was better so I overlooked some of the smaller cons like the opaqueness, excessively notched near the head and foot, and ribbon quality.  The opaqueness isn’t near as bad as other Bibles I’ve seen.  I just mention it because it isn’t as good as some in the same price range.  It seems like a more flexible card paper was used to connect the cover and text block on the side column reference which I love. This one con seems to cause others or make them more noticeable.  It is difficult to design the perfect Bible because, well it is subjective.  We like what we like though, so you can either make a ton of variations and try to please a lot of people, or you can make a few, really well made Bibles and hopefully sell a bunch of them to a smaller crowd. The bottom line is that you still get a great translation, in a sewn binding that is very flexible and lays flat, with genuine calfskin cover.  If you order one and it is good it will be very good.  If not, it has a lifetime warranty.  Just mail it back for a replacement.  I’m sure Lockman Foundation will stand behind their product.  I would just suggest they make these here in America or lower the price. Features, Ultrathin, large print 10 point font, making it easy on the eyes, double column verse format with center column references, Black letter edition, 8 pages of full color maps, Concordance, 2 Ribbon markers, gilt page edges, Presentation page, Family record pages, Gilded edges, Smyth Sewn, Printed on high-opacity paper to limit bleed-through, Lifetime guarantee, Black Calfskin leather.

Review of the Holman NKJV Ultrathin Reference Bible in Brown Genuine Cowhide.

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***Update 09/12/14***  I heard back from the publisher and they confirmed that this particular print of this Bible was not a sewn binding however the ones made after it in the same year do have a sewn binding.

*** Update 08/21/13***  Ok, I have to add some info here.  You can still read my original review below, but as I’ve been using this Bible I have been able to see some things I originally missed.  The first thing is that the paper is much better than I expressed in my original post below.  It is pretty smooth in texture and the ink is sharply printed on it offering good contrast and limited ghosting.  The second thing is that the cover is much softer leather than perhaps I explained.  If it wasn’t on card paper and lined inside with vinyl it would be floppy.  It is also pretty thick leather.  I doubt it will be easily hurt.  Last, I’d like to note that Holman as of yet has not responded to my questions about the binding.  I can observe that the maps in the back and the presentation pages in the front are sewn into the Bible, but that doesn’t mean the Bible itself has a sewn binding.  I still can’t see any dimples on the inside that would indicate stitching and the binding doesn’t bend like a sewn binding.  I’m going to wait a bit longer before I damage the Bible to find out if it is in fact sewn.  I really hope it is sewn.  Even if it isn’t, this is a great Bible.  I love the size and weight.  It is a good all around thinline reference Bible.  If it turns out to be a sewn binding, I would compare it to the $35 Lockman Foundation NASB.

The Holman Ultrathin NKJV Reference Bible almost got it perfect.  My only gripe is that it is a glued binding.  The advertisement on Christianbook.com says it is a sewn binding http://www.christianbook.com/nkjv-ultrathin-reference-brown-genuine-cowhide/9781433615030/pd/615030?event=ESRCG  and reviews on other sites have also said it is a sewn binding, but I don’t believe it is.  I took a close look at it and it looks and lays like a glued binding.  Here is what a sewn binding looks like when it is opened up

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Notice how it bends where it is opened.  The pages don’t have to bend from a central glued point in a sewn binding.  This is what the Holman looked like.

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I would hate to have to cut such a nice Bible up to see if it is truly sewn or not so I think I will first e-mail Holman and ask them.  If they say it is sewn, I’ll probably have to cut this Bible up to see.  They might be paying for it to be sewn in Korea, but who knows if it is getting done.  Perhaps there is a mix up over at Christianbook.com?

Having that said let’s take a look at what makes it a good buy.  First off, I like the New King James Version (NKJV)  it is a good translation.  It is easy to read and it is accurate.  It has been around for quite a while now and I am pretty familiar with it.  My favorite is the NASB, but the NKJV comes in fourth for me.  NASB, ESV, KJV, and NKJV.  I don’t think I’d bother with any other translations.  Too many agenda driven ones out there now.

The Bible came in a cardboard box, cushioned with paper.  The Bible was inside a retail box that would be good to store the Bible in as it is pretty sturdy.

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The Bible itself was wrapped inside two sleeves of thick, brown, paper.  This was to protect the cowhide cover.

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I liked the cover.  It was genuine cowhide and pretty thick.  It was somewhat tacky in texture making it easy to hold on to.  It is lined with what looks like vinyl glued to the inside which is pretty typical of Bible in this price range.  The Bible has a suggested retail of $49.99 but sells for approximately $39.99 on Christianbook and about $45.00 on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Large-Ultrathin-Reference-Genuine-Cowhide/dp/1433615037/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408390491&sr=8-1&keywords=9781433615030

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The Bible measures about nine inches by six inches by an inch.

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The spine of the Bible has raised hubs on the back that appear to just be decorative.  Just because there are hubs doesn’t mean it is a sewn binding.  I do like the look and feel of it.

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There is one brown ribbon marker and the page edges are gold colored as well as the spine.  I don’t know if it is real gold leaf or not.  For the price I’m guessing it isn’t.

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The font is 8 point.  It is clearly printed and easy to read.  The words of Christ are in red.  The Bible is printed in Korea.

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The Bible is printed in a double column format with center column references.  There are also book introductions.

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There is a sixty six page concordance and eight color maps. The paper that the maps are on aren’t as glossy as some and might hold up better because of it.

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The paper is good quality.

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ISBN: 1433615037
ISBN-13: 9781433615030

Review of the NASB Ultrathin Reference Bible

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The Lockman Foundation has been producing some affordable and well made NASB (New American Standard Bible) Bibles for quite some time now.  The NASB has become known for its excellence in staying true to the original languages.  The NASB Ultrathin Reference Bible is no exception.  It is bound in genuine leather and is smyth-sewn.  A sewn binding makes the Bible more durable and helps it to lay flat as opposed to a glued binding.  Pages are folded into groups of pages and stacked, then sewn together.  In a glued binding the pages are just cut and glued in the spine.  These types are always loosing pages.  Sewn bindings are far less apt to fall apart that way.

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The Bible has center column references and is a two column format in approximately an 8 point font.

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This Bible is almost 9 inches long, 6 inches wide, by almost and inch thick.  It is a light bible to carry.

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This Bible is light to carry and the pages are pretty thin because it is an Ultrathin.  Here is a shot of one page held up to the light.

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The page thickness is sufficient and doesn’t lend itself to as much show-through as is prevalent in similarly priced ultrathins.  There is ghosting.

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The font is clearly printed and easy to read.  There is some room in the margins for limited note taking.  This Bible is crammed full of quality and features for the price making it a very good value for the price of around $25.00 depending on where you pick one up.

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This Bible is a red-letter edition.

I mentioned that this Bible is a smyth-sewn binding and you can tell from this picture that right out of the box it lies flat on the table.

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This is a case bound book.  The covers are lined with vinyl paper.

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You can see where the corners are glued here.

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The pages are edge gilt and the spine is hot stamped with gold colored foil as well.

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There are some pages in the front that record family info and the like,

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One thing I noticed and liked about the construction is where the first and last pages are glued into the lining to stop the Bible from falling apart as easily.

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There are also decorative head and foot bands.

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The Bible came in a hard cardboard box.  The Bible was wrapped in clear plastic.

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This Bible also comes with a quite useful concordance which is a surprise for a Bible this thin.

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As well as a concordance there are 8 color maps.

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There is also on ribbon marker to keep your place.  I hope all of the pictures were helpful.  Lockman did a good job of making a “users” Bible.  This thing is a good value and can take all the punishment of being dragged along where ever you happen to go…  within reason, I mean come on, it isn’t water-proof or fire-proof.  If you are in the market for an ultrathin and you don’t want to spend big bucks for a premium Bible this is the way to go.  Again it is genuine leather, and has a sewn binding all for about $25.00!  Come on people, that is pretty good.

Disclaimer, I received this Bible free from the publisher for review purposes and am in no way obligated to give a good review.