Phil Auxier asked a question recently, and I'd be interested in hearing what other readers think.
Q. "Is there a way to open [a new Bible], bend it, etc, that will give it a longer use? I had always heard that you should open it in the middle, then alternate gradually towards the back from the left and right of center."
A. I've heard the same thing, but I'm skeptical. I doubt the way you first open a Bible has much impact on its longevity -- assuming you don't do anything crazy. When I receive a new Bible, the first thing I do is pull the pages apart, since modern gilding tends to result in sticky edges. Until they're separated, the text block won't "flow" properly. Aside from that, though, I don't do anything special, or observe any rules about careful handling. So far, I have never experienced any problems as a result of this negligence. (Knock on wood.)
Having said that, there's probably some truth in the idea that, until a Bible has been used a bit, you should be careful how you treat the cover. Some loosen (in a good way) and grow more limp with use, so perhaps you might observe a "breaking-in" period. I don't, but that doesn't mean it isn't prudent.
I'm interested in what other people think. Does anyone have a special ritual when opening or breaking in a new Bible? Any care instructions to pass along?