R. L. Allan’s ESV1, ESV1T and ESV1 BR in Highland Goatskin

The past few months have been good to the English Standard Version, with the release not only of the long-awaited ESV Study Bible but also the Pitt Minion and Wide Margin editions of the ESV from Cambridge and the latest line-up from R. L. Allan's, too. My inbox is jammed with questions about them, and people are always asking, "When are you going to post a review?" In the case of the Allan's trio, the answer is now. 

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The latest R. L. Allan's ESV1 is a Classic Reference text block printed in China under the auspices of Collins, the UK publisher of the ESV, and bound with highland goatskin covers in the United Kingdom under the direction of Allan's, available in your choice of three colors: black, tan, and brown. As of today, the black (ESV1) and tan (ESV1T) editions are still available and the brown (ESV1 BR) is awaiting reprint. There is also a limited edition in black with red ribbons (ESV1 r), not pictured here.

ABOUT THE TEXT BLOCK
Let's pause a moment for Allan's 101. What is it exactly that this Glasgow-based bringer of goodness does? If you visit them online at Bibles-Direct.com, you'll find a variety of Bibles listed, some marked with asterisks and others not. This is because, in addition to selling their own editions (the ones with the asterisk next to the item number), Allan's re-sells Bibles from other publishers. A Cambridge Pitt Minion ESV listed on the Allan's site is going to arrive on your doorstep looking exactly like the Pitt Minion distributed in North America by Baker. Why? Because that's what it is. Only the item numbers with asterisks are specially bound by Allan's.

So let's talk about that special binding. Inside the cover, an Allan's Bible is a lot like any other. They source text blocks (the thick, papery thing with the words on it) from the various publishers who commission the printing, then have them bound to their own specifications. In this case, the text block comes from Collins, and it looks exactly like the UK edition of the Classic Reference ESV … because that's what it is. There is, however, a difference. The Collins text block is printed with the words "Printed and bound in China" on the copyright page, but this is only partly true of the Allan's ESV. The text blocks are printed in China — we'll talk about how they compare to the earlier edition in a moment — but they're bound, as I said earlier, in the UK. 

This caused a lot of confusion when these editions first hit the market, as you'll see if you check the comments. If you understand the way the Allan's business model works, though, it begins to make sense. Text blocks are sourced from publishers, so where they're printed depends on where the actual publisher is having the work done. Allan's applies the binding, and it's the binding you're paying a premium for. 
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THE BINDING
So let's talk about that binding. It's beautiful. Highland goatskin is a natural grain skin, which means it hasn't been imprinted with artificial grain, a process that apparently involves heat and results in some stiffening of the leather. As a result, these leather-lined, natural covers are extraordinarily flexible, as you can see in the photos. They are limp, but not exactly "floppy" — instead, there's a more traditional, structured feel than what you get with the matte calfskin bindings most publishers are offering at the high end. 

Obviously, tastes vary, but I'm a big fan of the highland goatskin, because I think it affords just the right amount of flexibility without getting unmanageable. Of course, the text block plays a part in the way the cover behaves. The ESV1 text block is thick and rather tall in relation to its width. When you put the same highland goatskin on a thinner but larger edition — such as the Long Primer KJV or the new NIV Cross Reference (once again brown, which I'm going to review, is awaiting reprint) — you get a more floppy effect. For this reason, I'd love to see what an ESV Thinline would look like with an Allan's highland goatskin binding. To illustrate the cover's properties, some Bible yoga:
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Above: The traditional yoga position (right) alongside a newspaper curl (left).

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Above: Yoga, like all exercise, is more fun when you do it with friends.

So there are three colors to choose from, and in addition to that there seem to be two general grain characteristics. Because the grain is natural, it will vary from copy to copy, but if my own experience and what I'm hearing from others is reliable, it seems some copies have a courser, more pronounced grain, while others have a smoother, more refined grain. Let's take a look at the colors and grain:
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Above: The black highland goatskin. My copy has the coarser grain.
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Above: The brown highland goatskin. This is the smoother grain.
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Above: The tan highland goatskin. This is also the smoother grain.

It may not come across in the photos, but the smoother grain isn't as deep, and the covers seem more light reflective than the coarser ones. You don't get to choose your grain, so it helps that they're both quite attractive. The color options are worth talking about. Originally, we only had one: basic black. Then the ESV1T debuted in glorious tan. As you can see from the photos, we're talking about that rich, orange-brown color sometimes called British tan. It's not for everyone, but I happen to love it and think it's a unique and versatile color, a great alternative if you're trying to avoid the "big black attack Bible" stereotype. 

I was happy in a world of black and tan, but then chocolate brown came along, and it glowed with near-confectionary goodness, living up to the name. Originally, I'd pushed for a brown option thinking it might be a conservative middle ground for people not interested in black, but not daring enough for tan. Turns out, you need a certain kind of daring for the brown, too, just to keep people from trying to take a bite out of it. 

For now, though, I'm staying loyal to tan:
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Of course, that's easy to say when you already have both. If I had to choose just one, I'm not sure which it would be. The brown is certainly tempting. And to be honest, so is the black, especially considering those exquisite blue ribbons.

RIBBONS
There are three of them, and there's a reason. Ever since Crossway released the Daily Reading Bible, I've been stumping for three ribbons as a minimum for the simple reason that three are required for the plan — especially if you're using a Bible like this one, without the reading plan notes in the margin. When you see those three ribbons, think Old Testament, Psalm, and New Testament. Then it all makes perfect sense. In all three editions, the ribbons are nice and thick. Once you've tried them, it will be hard to go back to the scrawny little things that come in most Bibles.

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The black Bible comes with blue ribbons, a much classier combination than black on black. If you don't mind an aside, let me explain it like this. In one of his novels — I think it may be The Club Dumas — Arturo Perez-Reverte has one of his characters thinking that a gentleman never wears black socks with black shoes. He wears gray or blue. Now if you hear this and think, "But what could match black shoes better than black socks?" then you're not going to get the ESV1's color combination. If you see why black-on-black doesn't work (and I admit, it's a purely aesthetic thing) then you'll love it.

With the tan cover, you get three nice, thick copper-brown ribbons. The ESV1 BR stirs things up, though, coming equipped with three ribbons in three different colors: copper-brown, purple, and green. Now a Bible with different colored ribbons isn't new. Breviaries have had them for ages, with each of the colors carrying a different significance. In this case, the choice is aesthetic, and I think it's brilliant. Each of the colors "goes" with the brown, particularly the green, but together they're something special. As I mentioned earlier, you can also get the ESV1 r, which comes with red ribbons — which is like wearing red socks with black shoes (i.e., outstanding).

DIFFERENCES WITH THE EARLIER EDITION
Since the text block is printed in China, one of the questions that people have asked is how it compares to the previous run. So let's take a look at the original ESV1T alongside the new one. The biggest difference I observe is actually an improvement. Search the site and you'll find that quite a few people complained about the wavy edges of the older text block. The photo below illustrates the issue well. On top, the original ESV1T, the irregularity in the gilding corresponds to the waves in the pages. 

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Above: The old ESV1T had wavy pages (top), but the new one is uniform.

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Above: You can see the difference in waviness between the old edition 
(bottom) and the new one (top), as well as the comparable 
level of "bleedthrough."

As far as I can see, the new text block is an improvement over the original. Even when it comes to "bleedthrough," where the translucence of the page allows you to see printing on subsequent pages, the two editions seem fairly similar. The paper of the older edition might be slightly more opaque. I've had that impression, but when I put them side-by-side and try to substantiate it, they look the same to me. You can look at the photos and judge for yourself.

Of course, bleedthrough creates eyestrain, but a lot depends on the level of light. After playing around with various lighting scenarios, I managed to take a photo I think best represents how the text block reads in ordinary light. Here it is:
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Above: In terms of opacity, these pages run about average. 
Bleedthrough is noticeable and might cause strain 
if you're sensitive and reading in poor light.

Another new aesthetic feature in these editions is the gilt line running inside the cover, a detail often seen on vintage Bibles, though not so much anymore. It's a nice touch. And it conveys something important about Allan's bindings, which is their attention to detail. When I compare them to other quality editions, there's a difference that's not always easy to put into words. Fit and finish is part of it — the bindings exude quality — but there's something more to it than that. Perhaps the classic style of these bindings is what I find so appealing. In addition to feeling good and wearing well, they suggest a care and attentiveness too often absent in our mass produced world. 

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Another way to think of it is this. As Bibles, they're splendid, but they're also impressive as books, too. A pleasure to handle, craftsmanship worthy of contemplation and appreciation. But I should be careful here, because whenever I extoll the virtue of Allan's bindings (or any other quality edition), someone invariably fires off an e-mail to the effect that, "I bought this on your recommendation, and when it arrived, in spite of all the money I paid, it wasn't perfect!" 

So let me say it right now. These things aren't perfect. And I know that at these prices, we're often tempted to think perfection is what we're owed. But the reality is, what you're paying for is quality, not luxury, and certainly not perfection. The goal posts have shifted so far these days that it's easy to confuse the two, since quality itself is considered a luxury. To spare you disappointment, let me just say that if you're looking for the perfect Bible, this isn't it. But if you'd like a beautifully bound, quality reference edition of the English Standard Version, this is the best option out there. I recommend it wholeheartedly.

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PLAYING FAVORITES
One last thing. As I mentioned in the opening, we're now spoiled for choices when it comes to editions of the ESV. So if you're hunting around for the "one," which edition should you choose? It depends on what's at the top of your list of priorities. If the most important thing to you is the finest quality binding, then I think your choice has to be the Allan's. Cambridge offers goatskin bindings, but nothing compares to the highland goatskin covers that Allan's provides. So if that's your single biggest factor, you have your answer.
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Above: Three recent editions of the ESV. Top to bottom, they are 
the Cambridge Pitt Minion in brown goatskin, the Allan's ESV1 BR, 
and the Cambridge Wide Margin in brown Cabra bonded leather. 
Which is best? Depends on what you're looking for.

If a wide margin is what you're after, things change a bit. Cambridge now offers three wonderful editions, available in goatskin, Cabra bonded leather, and hardcover. I'll be writing about them shortly, but suffice to say, if you're looking for a wide margin ESV, this is the best currently available. It has the added benefit of being the same setting used in the Pitt Minion — nice, if you're one of those people who can remember where on the page a certain passage happens to be, since it means your wide margin and your portable are always "in sync." 

And obviously, if you're looking for something as small as possible without sacrificing references or readability, then you should look at the Pitt Minion, which I've already reviewed. No, the goatskin isn't in the same league as Allan's, especially with those stiff boards underneath, but I'm a big fan of the Pitt Minion's spring-open feel.

Here's another look, for size comparison:

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VERDICT
Obviously, you haven't been waiting for my verdict before buying, otherwise the brown wouldn't be out of stock already. But I'm giving you my verdict all the same. The new Allan's ESVs improve on the earlier edition and make an excellent all-around Bible. As Paul at EvangelicalBible.com has hinted recently, there is more ESV goodness coming from Allan's in the not-too-distant future. But the goodness that's already here sets a pretty high standard of excellence. 

I've loved the ESV1 since I pre-ordered the very first edition, and nothing has changed since then. We can be grateful our friends in Glasgow are putting so much effort into these editions. With references and three ribbons, they're perfect both for daily reading and study. If you're only going to have one copy of the ESV, this is still the one to get.

80 Comments on “R. L. Allan’s ESV1, ESV1T and ESV1 BR in Highland Goatskin

  1. Thank you for another excellent review and some beautiful photos. I agree with your assessment of the ESV1 completely. I have the tan, and I am very happy with it. Whenever I pick it up I am struck anew with the impression of QUALITY. Allan’s sets a beautiful frame for God’s word, and enhances the experience of reading it.
    Blessings
    Dave

  2. You didn’t mention my favourite feature of the Allan ESVs: the fact that since the text blocks are from Collins, it uses anglicized spellings. Being from Canada, I find it much less distracting to read Bibles that do this.

  3. I stumbled onto this website a few weeks ago, and I received my Allan ESV1 in black about a week ago. All I can say is WOW! I was amazed at the quality of this bible when I opened it and flipped through the beautiful pages. I am so pleased with this bible and the quality that Allan puts out. I am really excited about the new offerings they will be bringing out later in the year. I am now a big fan of anything that Allan releases! Thanks Mark!!!

  4. Mark…Have anxiously awaited your review of this bible ever since I recieved mine in October. Glad you waited. The brown is as impressive in its own way as the black and the tan. I have the black and it has the course grain as yours does, except the long lines in the grain on mine run the length of the bible instead of across as it seems they do on yours. Just another beautiful anomoly of natural skins. Appreciate the blog and all of the varied viewpoints expressed herein. Keep up the excellent work.

  5. Mark, thanks. Just a great review that highlights the magnificent work Allan does and explains very well the process Allan follows. And I will second your comment,”We can be grateful our friends in Glasgow are putting so much effort into these editions”. You really can’t put it better than that. They (Allan) really are outstanding and a pleasure to work with.

  6. Mark
    Great pictures…thanks for posting them. I would like to say that I did get my ESV1 Black, its beautiful, smells great, the ribbons are perfect size. The print is bold and clean…very refreshing compared to the inexpensive bibles. But sadly to say…I am returning the bible tomorrow, what I didn’t like, was almost everything I just mention…it too NICE!! Seriously, the distraction from the red lined edging and the verse layout…I don’t care for the verses placed within the text, what I am used to seeing is the verses having there own paragraph. Its easier for me to find the verses that way during studying time. So I am off to purchase a new bible again, sadly the only version that is available in the style is the King James, so I suppose this is my only choose.
    Mike

  7. Mr. Bertrand
    I’ve read many of your reviews in the past year or so and I have to say this review gave me the most smiles. I especially liked the two “yoga” pictures. The picture where all three are stacked on top of each other is so funny!
    Oh and the text content of this review was very informative and witty (as usual) to. :)
    Andrew in Champlin, MN

  8. Great comments and great bibles by R.L. Allan. My only desire is for larger print editions of the Allan bibles offered. The print in the Cambridge and Oxford wide margin bibles is so small that any lengthy study is out of the question for me. The print in the Allan longprimer is better in my opinion, but as the reader may know the King James italics have been removed and placed in regular type (done by Oxford in the book block). I want the italics myself since they are there for a reason. If the reader can study with the smaller type in the Allan bibles then Allan is the way to go! I hope that Allan will offer a larger print edition soon!

  9. Mr. French
    Good news on the wish larger print Allan Bile front!
    I don’t think it’s a secret so I’m going to relay this.
    Nichols Gray at R.L. Allan informed me a few days ago via email that:
    “We are going to introduce a new larger size ESV later this year to be called the Readers Edition”. Nicholas also commented: “The font size will be 10.5pt rather than the normal 9.5pt and the page size will be 9 x 6 1/4 inches.”
    Isn’t this cool?!! I can’t wait to see it!
    Andrew

  10. Sorry about the typos in my last comment! I meant “Nicholas” and “Bible” (not “Bile”). :)

  11. Great review. Thanks for your hard work on this.
    I love my ESV1T – every day it is a joy to pick it up and read the Word of God.
    As an Englishman, a secondary but significant joy is also that all of the words are spelled correctly!
    Is it also British to say you wait a month for a Bertrand review and then three come along at once :) Or does that joke apply across the Atlantic as well.

  12. Andrew, that’s interesting news about the new Allan ESV. The dimensions will make this similar in size to the Cambridge NIV single column Bible. I wonder if it will be a single or double column typeset; did Mr Grey give any indication?

  13. Kathy,
    No, Mr. Grey did not comment on what column format this future “Readers Edition” Bible will have. Mr. Grey at R.L. Allan and Sons was just replying to my comment that I think a full yapp ESV Highland goatskin would be a good idea. I’ve been coveting the Allan Longprimer KJV full yapp because if its full yapp cover and its easy to read font. :)
    Andrew

  14. That is great news! The newly announced Allan’s is exactly the dimensions I love in a Bible. Currently I’m stuck with the ESV thinline from Crossway (I’ve already worn out two — it doesn’t take long). I love the dimensions, especially when paired with a moleskine, but it has all the typical problems — paper too thin, imprint too light, cover too stiff, etc. Sign me up for the ESV RL Allan Reader’s Bible!

  15. I’m curious if this “Reader’s Version” is one in the same with the new and improved classic reference ESV coming out around May/June that evangelicalbible.com has mentioned. Maybe it’s an additional version. It’ll be interesting to see. I wish I knew the details now. I’ve been considering that ESV1r limited edition but can’t pull the trigger on that without knowing what this new version might be like.

  16. Do we know if the new RL ESV Readers edition will be a wide margin, and if so will it be the Crossway format or will it be versed paragraphs? Is there an expected release date?
    thanks
    mike

  17. Mike,
    All I know is what I posted above on March 19th at 7:12pm (typos and all). I’d suggest you email R.L. Allan (rlallan@btinternet.com) to see if they will reveal any more details to you. If they do reveal more details, please share (if it’s ok). :)

  18. Thanks for the update and the good news about a larger print Allan ESV. I hope that a reader’s edition is not a text only bible–I’m a little concerned about that. I do like a reference bible that has center column references. If anyone obtains further details I would certainly be interested in finding out more about this reader’s edition.

  19. The brown ESV looks good enough to eat, though I recently received my new brown Cambridge Pitt-Minion ESV which I am very happy with.
    I am eargerly awaiting some photos of the new Allan 6C Oxford Brevier Clarendon Ref (KJV) Highland Goatskin-Chocolate.
    Allan says this will be using the same goatskin cover.
    Can’t wait :)

  20. Mark,
    I agree with you on the Tan — and I just ordered one. Thanks for doing these reviews.
    In my email correspondence with Nicholas Gray I asked if Allan’s had any plans for a single column reference edition and he replied: “I’ve asked Crossway if we can work with them on a single column edition and I await their response.”
    We can only hope …

  21. I have one reservation on the ESV1 Brown: The multicolored ribbons. I know, many people like the three different colors and it’s obviously not hurting the ESV1BR sales but they seem distracting to my eyes.
    I want to enjoy the rich chocolate brown color of the ESV1BR but my eyes always end up focusing on those three different colored ribbons. I understand the reasons for the three different colors but it seems just a touch (dare I say)…..gimicky.
    After drooling over the many pictures of the delicious cover of new Allan 20BR (dark brown with brown ribbons) at evangelicalbible.com….I felt myself moved me to write this response.

  22. I have to say I love the colored ribbons on my ESV1BR. If they do the same combo on the new ESV later this year I’ll be first in line for that one too. I’d like to see a black ESV with say a black, dark gray, dark blue ribbon combo. I’d probably go traditional black if Allan did something like that this year. Needless to say, it is a great time to be looking for great Bibles.

  23. Can someone shed some light on this: I am torn between the Tan and Chocolate Brown. Lots of photos out there, but I am wondering if the Tan is something akin to the color of a good basketball, if that makes sense. I originally thought it to be a rather light brown, but now I am not so sure. I know the choice is good either way.

  24. Chris, I have the tan ESV and I love it. The pictures in the above review are very accurate as to color-at least on my monitor. You could say it is in the same color family as a basketball; British tan is what I would call it. Hope that helps!

  25. These are amazing. Any idea if there is a wide margin in the future?

  26. I purchased an ESV2 from Allan last year, then purchased a Pitt Minion this fall. I was disappointed at the paper quality in the Allan and wish it were more in line with the paper of my Cambridge. I realize about the waves in the pages, but I’m talking more about the actual texture and finish of the paper. I don’t really know how to describe the difference. I suppose the paper in the Allan just appears dull and lifeless compared to the paper of the Cambridge. How do these new reprints stack up beside the paper that Cambridge uses?

  27. I personally LOVE the paper in the Allan ESV’s. I too thought the matte finish looked dull and lifeless when I initially saw it, but then I realized something. Overhead lighting does not reflect off the paper as much as some other paper I’ve seen out there, so eye strain seems to be reduced.

  28. Mark, superb, thorough review – thank you. One area I feel publishers need to improve on is with regard to font. I can’t say that the ESV/NRSV/TNIV et. al. are aesthetically pleasing in this connection. They lack the kind of visual majesty associated with older editions of the KJV, for instance. Font is everything as far as I am concerned.

  29. J A Byrd,
    I also bought an Allan ESV2 Bible last year (November). The wavy and stiff pages were a disappointment. I found it hard to ignore the bumpy texture of paper of the ESV2 as I like to caress my pages from time to time (weird, I know). Additionally, the ESV2’s stiff pages made it difficult for me to quickly find the passage I was looking for (especially when leading in church) and that wore on my patience.
    ** So, I decided to recently purchase an ESV1 Black direct from Allan’s site and I am very happy to report the new Allan ESV1’s (the latest/3rd print) paper is excellent! The ESV1 paper is a night and day difference from my ESV2. The ESV1 paper is smooth, flawless, turn with easy and grace. The font also seems more black on my new ESV1 compared to my ESV2.
    The ESV1 is so much an improvement over the (first print) of the ESV2.

  30. A hint release on the new ‘Reader’s Edition.’
    Original text block-not the classic reference text.
    Largest ESV typeface (10.5) except for the ESV Large Print.
    Widest Margins save the “Wide Margin” Bibles..ok enough for now.
    Paul
    evangelicalbible.com

  31. Thanks Paul!
    Well, I was planning to save up for an ESV1, but I think I’ll hold off until this “reader’s edition” comes along. Wow, this anticipation is like waiting for the ESV Study Bible or the Pitt Minion ESV to all over again. This is very exciting!

  32. I would love the binding of an ESV1, but the hard part for me would be getting along with the anglicized spelling.

  33. Paul…. not even a hint at an estimated release date????? Alright, I’ll be patient, I suppose.

  34. Here’s what I was told by Nicholas at R L Allan”
    “You may like to know that we plan to introduce a ‘double width margin’ Readers Edition of our reference ESV with type10% larger than the regular size in the Fall.”

  35. Having been in the business for a while-I must say that it is dangerous to predict publishing times with any degree of precision. I think “Fall” is a good word here. Another piece of info. in regards to the Bible-we will have the best Bible paper on the market. This has been consistently the most important feature on all of our surveys. Actually we have acquired a Bible paper that is essentially coated to allow for non bleed through marking. I can confidently state that the ‘reader’s edition’ will be the the best ESV available in every category-text block and binding.
    Blessings.

  36. Great, thanks for the update, Paul. I would say “I can’t wait” but it wont be to hard waiting until then while I enjoy my ESV1BR.:-)

  37. Cicero,
    The Allan “anglicized spelling” has never bothered me. I thought it would but it doesn’t. I actually never even notice these words in my daily reading.
    I have to actually try to find anglicized words, otherwise I don’t see them. Sometimes I have to go at least 3 pages into any area to even find one anglicized spelled word (when I’m trying to find one).

  38. Does anyone know where Allan gets their new, coated paper? For me, the quality of the bible paper is the most important characteristic of bibles. Papers that “show through” and “bleed ink” just ruin the most expensive bibles. I think that the special French coated paper used in the NASB In Touch wide-margin bible is about the best you can get. The fact that the In Touch wide margin bible is printed without any references is disappointing for me, but it is still a great choice bound in calfskin. Does anyone else have the In Touch wide margin calfskin bible, and what do they think of it? Also, does anyone have information on where one can purchase high quality bible paper?

  39. I emailed Nicholas Gray about the text and layout…his response:
    “The Allan ESV Readers Edition will be exactly the same text lay out as our standard ESV, only 10% larger and with wider margins.”
    Kind regards
    Nicholas Gray
    So for all those, including myself, that was hoping for a verse-by-verse layout, will be disappointed. The wider margins will be nice though…I would hope for translation that is not paragraphed, I suppose that is done for reading purposes. Nevertheless If you can’t beat them, join them. I suppose I would rather have larger print an wider margin.
    I shall wait with much anticipation for the release of the new RL readers addition.
    Mike

  40. To get an idea of the size of the “Reader’s Edition” pages (9″ x 6.25″):
    The pages are .5″ taller (lengthwise) and .5″ narrower (width) than the pages in a Cambridge Wide-Margin Bible.
    I think the best part about this new Reader’s Edition (other than the binding) will be the original type. I’m very much anticipating this; my Pitt-Minion will keep me until then.

  41. Does anyone know the approximate price range of this upcoming “reader’s edition”?

  42. “Does anyone else have the In Touch wide margin calfskin bible”
    Yes, I have it. It seems like a very well made Bible. Unfortunately I haven’t taken much notes in it. I have added some of my own references here and there and it seems to hold up fine. The paper is nice, but as for wide margin goes, I also have the Oxford Breviere Clarendon Wide Margin and that’s simply amazing in terms of paper, font, etc. But it’s also very big. Too big to be carying around Church. But before I received the Allan LongPrimer and Allan ESV, I used to carry the In Touch NASB around with me everywhere. I wish I had the sense to write in it more, but I only recently had the desire to take notes in my Bible. For several years, I didn’t want to write in any of my Bibles. That’s changed now.
    Also, I use the Micron pens that are meant not to bleed, so I think if you use those pens, you might have more success across a wider variety of Bibles.

  43. With respect to the Oxford Breviere Clarendon Wide Margin Bible are you referring to the KJV with ISBN: 0191179515? If so, that is a great bible but the print is small compared to the NASB In Touch bible–do you also think so?

  44. Nicholas emailed me this info:
    The ESVR style will be the same as ESV1 but 10% bigger type and a wider margin.
    This will be a fresh printing to a new page size.
    The layout is in paragraph format with verses.
    The ESVR range will have cross references. We expect to release it about October.

  45. Here’s the Oxford I’m referring to.
    http://evangelicalbible.com/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=109_149&products_id=498
    I didn’t even notice the print to be small. It’s really an awesome font and seems to be extremely readable. It’s actually rated more readable than the Cambridge Wide Margin, but I would say it’s just as readable as the NASB. I think the font of the Oxford is more pleasing to the eye than the In Touch NASB.
    Also, In terms of usable margin space, I think the Oxford might be unrivaled. It has an incredible amount of margin space for notes and lined paper in the back for more notes.
    Check out this comparison.
    http://evangelicalbible.com/recommend.htm

  46. There not many crafts in the stratum of hand book binding, which is considered one of the most difficult crafts in the world. Buyers expecting unflawed perfection should look to their local book outlet for laser duplicated blocks and glued bindings. The irregular funk congruent with the Queen’s bookbinders art and the occasional wavy edge, wrinkled page, dog-ear or smudge denoting the traditional offset process is a glorious blessing that may soon be consigned to the past as inferior rank in favor of Chinese machine made books.

  47. Robert, I also have and have had the IN TOUCH CALFSKIN BIBLE this was my first Bible I bought at that quality. Since then I have bought many top of the line ESV, NLT, NIV, (most from Allans and some from crossway pub. Like you it has taken me many attempts to write in any of the Calfskin editions ,I do and have always written note, underlineing, etc in several cheaper edition. I have now decided to start with one wide margin Bibles next with gathered notes from all my older Bibles and my notes.

  48. Nicolas from R.L. Allan’s replied to me in an email that the price of the ESV Reader’s Edition (ESVR) will be around ₤125/$195.

  49. I’ve just got an email back from Nicholas Gray at Allan’s in response to a request for a single column ESV. Apparently the new readers edition will be two column. Sigh.

  50. Sigh, indeed. I, too, was hoping for a single column ESV from Allan’s. However, with the enlarged font, wider margins and top-of-the-line bible paper I will be sure to pre-order this wonderful new edition. It will be interesting to learn what cover material and colors will be offered.

  51. I just received my Allan ESV-1 in black highland goatskin. FINALLY, I now have the ESV that I have been looking for ever since the ESV came on the scene. This Bible is fantastic! Just holding it in the hand, the smell of the leather, the beautiful way in which the art-gilt edges contrast with the gold-etched/black semi-yap leather is an aesthetic experience in and of itself. The print quality is excellent–with a clear and bold text that is easy to read for these 50+ year old eyes. There IS some bleed-through from the text on the other side of the page. But I do not find it distracting at all. I’m just really impressed by the craftsmanship that has gone into this Bible. I am “sold” on the R.L. Allan company. There is NO doubt that in terms of quality binding–Allan’s produces the very best. Expensive? Yes. But in the long run I believe one will end up SAVING money. I have gone through numerous ESV’s produced by Crossway. If I had known about Allan’s highland goatskin ESV 1 (and if it had been produced in 2001) I would have saved myself hundreds of dollars. So in the end, it is actually more economical to purchase a high-quality Allan ESV-1 than to continually buy a cheaper ESV each year or two–especially if you are a heavy Bible reader.
    My Bible came with 3 ribbons. I wish this Bible contained a Bible reading plan–but alas, it doesn’t. The 9 maps are of good quality. The concordance? Well, it’s typically brief. And it would be nice if it included a Bible dictionary. But be that as it may, this is the ESV that I have been looking for ever since it came into production in 2001.
    Also, being a pastor, this Bible is very comfortable in the hand. Indeed, I would say it is the ‘ideal’ size. For ESV lovers, your search for a truly “high-quality” ESV is over. I believe you will be more than pleased with the Allan highland goatskin ESV-1. I give it a 5 star rating.

  52. Mark, I just want to say that I really appreciate the excellent Bible reviews that you provide. The pictures simply reveal that you are a man who “goes-the-extra-mile” to provide informative and high-quality reviews. Keep up the great work. You are a blessing to many.

  53. Well, the R.L. Allan website says that “A further limited edition will be available in September.” This may or may not be referring to the Reader’s Edition.

  54. I feel that the inside of the bible is more important than the outside. Don’t get me wrong I love the covers of these bibles, but when buying I feel that the inside should be on view. And why no red letter edition?
    I would hate to have a bible so good to hold but not good to read.

  55. Charles,
    You’ll notice there are several pictures in this review that show the inside of the Bible. If you click on the picture, you will get a larger view to help you get some idea of features such as how dark the font is, how much bleed through there is, etc. Obviously, pictures are not always as good as seeing it directly, but Mark usually does a pretty good job on his reviews of showing the inside of the Bibles. I agree with you–readability is probably the top feature I look for when deciding what Bible to buy.
    As for why no red letter edition: There’s a pretty good post on that issue back in March that talks about why many of us here prefer black letter to red letter. The gist of the argument is that a) black letter tends to be more readable than red, and b) putting Christ’s words in red can lead to the impression that his words are more “inspired” than the rest of the Bible.
    Incidentally, my experience is that red letter Bibles seem to be more for the American market. All the Spanish Bibles that I’ve bought here in the US are red letter; all the Spanish Bibles that I’ve bought either in Mexico or that are imported from Mexico are black letter. I’ve heard that that is the same in Great Britain as well. Since Allan’s uses text blocks from a British publisher, that’s probably the simple reason for why they have no red letter editions.

  56. Fernando,
    What kind of Spanish bibles have you imported from Mexico? What edition are they and are they better than the Spanish bibles we’re offered here in the U.S.? Tell me, I’m interested to know. I’ve spent several hours over the years looking for a quality Spanish bible. Finally I got tired of looking and because I like the block and paper of my old Spanish Scofield, I recently took it in to get rebound from a book binder here in CA.

  57. I just received my second Allan’s ESV1T to compliment my 1 year old black one. One glaring difference is the inside of the tan covers appear and feel much stiifer, almost bonded leather and not the soft luxurious black inside leather of my old bible. This makes the covers not as pliable and soft. Any feedback would be great. Blessings.

  58. Cesar,
    The two Bibles from Mexico that I have are from Sociedades Biblicas Unidas. One is a pocket size Bible I bought at a bookstore here in Texas. The binding is imitation, but it is sewn. I use it to make pastoral visits. The other one I bought in Mexico for about US$30 when I was there last November. It’s a thinline bound by Abba Bibles. I’m not sure if it’s real leather or not, but it opens flat and feels VERY FLEXIBLE. I use this one mainly for preaching. And they’re both black letter editions.
    My own search for a quality Spanish Bible has led me currently to Leatherbibles.com. They’re rebinding Holman Publisher’s 1960 Reina Valera Special Reference Edition Bible (red letter, unfortunately). I’m about a month into their projected “4 to 6 month wait” (AAAARRRGGGHHH!) I’ll let y’all know how that turns out.

  59. Thank you for the info. Fernando. Asociacion Biblica Internacional from Texas make a very nice bible too but Reina Valera 1909. I have a couple of them but the Spanish is a little archaic for me. I look forward to hear how your project turns out.

  60. Just got my Tan ESV Tan today and it is absolutely gorgeous!I had originally ordered a Premium Calfskin Thinline by Crossway only to return it because it wasn’t what I had hoped for. But this one is….

  61. Question about the “Bleedthrough.” (That being the amount that the test on the opposite page is visible on the viewing page.)
    How does this compare to Crossway’s Classic Reference?
    I have found that the Classic Reference is quite acceptable in this area. If Allan’s is equal to or better than this then that would be excellent. Some of the pictures I have seen both here and at Evangelical Bible make me a bit concerned about this but pictures can only tell so much. I am hoping that someone has, or has seen, a copy of each side by side and can give me some first hand info.
    Thanks.

  62. In answer to the question about the bleedthrough, here is my opinion. I received the tan Allan ESV1 a couple months ago, and sadly, ended up returning it. To me the bleedthrough was significant, far more than the Classic Reference from Crossway. I ended up getting the Cordovan Premium Calfskin Classic Reference, which is a beautiful Bible, and in my opinion, far more readable. I still may end up getting the Allan Reader’s Edition ESV, which comes out this fall, in a larger font (10.5 I believe.)

  63. I received the Allan ESV1T today. I have been looking for a replacement Bible to replace an old NASB that is falling apart and have tested 3 different Bibles; none of which were what I was looking for. I’m glad to say that I’ve finally found the one that lives up to what I’m looking for and will hopefully last for many years. I had never heard of RL Allan until finding your site a few weeks ago. I’m glad I did because I’ve never seen such quality in a Bible.
    Hopefully you are earning kickbacks for recommending their products so heartily!!

  64. Question about the tan.
    How accurate are the pictures here? Is the leather more orange or brown? The pictures I have seen range from more orange to light brown (tan). I would prefer it to be more tan than orange.
    I have been saving up for an Allan Bible for awhile now and sure enough, just as I get close to having the cash, the Black and Brown are sold out at evangelicalbible leaving only the Tan. Before I take the risk and buy it I am hoping to get a little feedback. (That or I wait until next March…)

  65. Pulled the trigger on the Tan ESV1 after reading your review. Actually ordered the last one of the 2nd printing. Received it this week and the pictures online don’t do it justice. I absolutely LOVE this Bible. Thought I wanted the chocolate brown but didn’t want to wait until the spring. Sure glad I read your review and how much you appreciate the tan. Thanks! Convinced me to take the risk. Sure glad I did! Best Bible I have ever owned. Been using the Cordovan Thinline for 5 years as my primary Bible for preaching and general use. That’s about to change!

  66. Anyone know if there are any more ESV1’s out there? (If not I’ll hibernate ’til March next year)

  67. If anyone is looking to get an ESV1 black with blue ribbons, please email me at barringer_a@hotmail.com. I am looking to sell mine – it is new, only used a couple of times for light reading.

  68. I just lost one of these in the chocolate brown to a guy on Ebay! I talked to a seller in UK who listed it, but it didn’t sell. I contacted him about it, he agreed to relist it, we decided on a price through email, he relisted at that price, and someone else swooped in and got my deal! There is a five hour difference between UK and Central Standard time, so I was asleep when it happened. I’m sick about it. I have looked for a LONG time for the chocolate brown. And now… the search continues.

  69. In lieu of the upcoming release of the ESV1 I asked RL Allan some questions and one reply I found very interesting, here is the exchange…
    ***
    Me: Do you know at this time if there will be anything different with the upcoming ESV1 from the previous run?
    RL Allan: As far as I know it will be a straight re-run of the previous edition. We may tweak the page size and the yapp width slightly if the sheets will allow.
    Me: when you say, “tweak the page and the yapp width slightly if the sheets will allow”, would that be to make the page a little larger, that is, a little more room in the margins? I realize you are not saying this will be done in fact, but rather possible.
    RL Allan: Yes, that’s right. I’ve asked our binder to see if we can open up the margins more and we may then increase the cover size slightly too.
    ***
    Clearly this isn’t a guarantee, but it would be great if they added a little more margin to the ESV1. Kudos to Allan for continuing to tweak for the better; now, the paper… :)

  70. It would be better if they made the paper more opaque. This is the only thing stopping me from getting an Alan Bible. I have the ESV1 for about 2 weeks and could not stand the bleed-through.

  71. I have to agree with you Knight, unfortunately. My older ESV1 has less bleed through than what I saw in the ESVR, and I am told the (newer) ESV1 uses the same paper. I’d really like to own the ESVR or new ESV1, but until they deal with the ghosting in the paper I will refrain.

  72. I ordered mine last night. I have waited a LONG time. I can’t wait to open that box of chocolate brown goatskin goodness.

  73. Received my ESV1BR today, i ordered it July of 2009. Officially the longest i have ever waited for a book, but well worth it, a beautiful Bible. My Pitt Minion will get a little shelf time now. Great paper and binding.
    Matt

  74. It is here!!My very own ESV1. And it is AWESOME! So comfortable, well made, and gorgeous! It is everything I expected. I look forward to a lifetime of studying God’s word within it’s chocolaty goatskin flaps of luxury. This bible is what dreams are made of when one dreams of a good bible. PERFECTLY sized. Small enough to be carried comforably, yet large enough to read with ease. Mark, thanks for all the great reviews and education on fine bibles. It is much appreciated. I’m a happy man.

  75. The paper is the problem for me. It’s a beautify Bible and I love it. Except, I don’t read it because weak opacity. If good quality paper were put in this Bible, it would be the best on the planet. It’s frustrating to have such a nice Bible, and be annoyed at reading it on account of the paper chosen to put in it.

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