Sunday, February 15, 2015

Premium Bibles

I am new to the world of premium Bibles. Until just recently I haven't often been able to afford anything better than bonded leather. Frankly, I didn't see any need for anything better. Since I collect and study different Bible versions, I have focused on paperbacks and hardbacks much of the time. Many years ago, I did purchase a Thomas Nelson Signature Series NKJV bound in calfskin. It immediately became my favorite all-around Bible. One church goer even commented that he liked the way it lay in my hand when I preached.

Last year, I started my 2015 Bible reading early. I decided to read through the NASB this year. The nature of my current work makes it a dangerous environment for any book much less a printed Bible. So I read on my Kindle (which can be wiped off as necessary). I chose the Lockman Foundation's Daily Reading Bible. I started noticing how nice it was to have a Bible that was set up for reading - not for reference.

I started looking around the web for information about "Reader's Edtions" of Bibles. I ended up reading the Bible Design Blog for an hour or so. I decided to purchase the Cambridge Clarion Reference Bible in NASB, bound in brown calfskin. I fell in love with it immediately. I started getting up early to read in the Clarion rather than read at work on the Kindle. And I found myself picking the Clarion up when I got home. Soon, I was reading 2-3 daily readings out of the schedule each day. The way the Bible was printed and bound made a difference.

I've been learning for myself that the details do make a difference. Line matching (where the line on the back of the page lines up with the one you are reading) reduces ghosting (show through). Paragraphing makes reading more like reading and less like referencing. The opacity of the paper also reduces ghosting. Due to middle age eyesight I am given the opportunity to appreciate larger print. I also recently watched an excellent talk, Why Bible Typopgraphy Matters by Mark Ward, Jr.

Buying premium Bibles is the hard part. Most start at $100 (USD) and go up to about $250. There are some that cost more, but many excellent Bibles are in the $100 - $250 range. There are other sites (of course) but one of my favorite places to purchase them is now For many of us, these Bibles are a very significant purchase. So you want to know as much as possible before choosing a Bible.

That's where reviews are so helpful. As I mentioned, Mark Bertrand at Bible Design Blog reviews many premium Bibles. Beth Rhodes, of, has several reviews at her blog, Tresses' Other Corner. The Bible Buying Guide has reviews of all kinds of Bibles. has pictures of all the Bibles they sell. There are also many video Bible reviews on YouTube such as this one comparing the Cambridge Clarion Reference Bible in black goatskin ESV and the brown calfskin NASB.

And if you want to see a sample, try Christian Book Distributors. Below the price, to the right of the picture you will see the words "Box Cover" "Front Cover" "Sample" (or "Excerpt"). Click on those to see a picture. For instance, here is a sample of the Nelson Single Column Reference NKJV. I save the images from those reviews, then print them out to see what the layout and font will look like. One can even do a rough comparison of Bibles that way. Be sure to print them according to the trim size, not the bound size. usually has the trim size listed.

Premium Bibles are a luxury. The Word of God is true whether it is bound in goatskin on fine paper or found in a paperback on cheap paper. If you are blessed with the ability to purchase one, take your time and research your purchase. The links I've given here will give you a start. You can also type the name of the Bible you like in Google followed by the word "review." Whatever type of Bible you have there is one thing you should do - read it!


  1. Excellent article! My Bible buying experience is similar to yours. I started with what I could afford at the time, mostly getting study Bibles and various translations in hard cover. I thought bonded leather was good stuff and genuine leather was a luxury. Once you've had your hands on a premium, or even a semi-premium, your world changes! We are blessed to have good choices in a day of 'cheap' and 'throw away' and with fewer people reading actual print. Thanks for all the links - and the shout out for Bible Buying Guide!

  2. check out church publishers 55 dollars gets a very nice bible. Here are some links with photos. Very Nice!