R. L. Allan Reader’s Reference Edition ESV

Critics divide an artist's lifetime of work into eras or periods. If I were to do the same thing for the R. L. Allan Reader's Edition ESV, I'd have to say this comes from a later, mature period, in which a variety of earlier experiments have come together to create a superlative and very refined edition. The ESV1 in its various iterations, the ESV3, the recent PSR … all that labor has now culminated in a work of art.

These days, things often fail to live up to the hype. I'll be honest, the idea of a bigger Allan's ESV didn't get me too excited. I like small. So my expectations weren't as high as some. Then I opened the box and saw the Reader's Edition for the first time. My expectations reset.

Image0023 

It's not a question of innovation. We've seen most of the details before. The genius here is the execution. Everything is better than before. Allan's took the now-defunct Heirloom setting of the ESV — essentially an enlarged Classic Reference — and commissioned a special printing by Collins, adding extra space at the margins and selecting a higher quality paper than what we've seen on previous Collins-printed text blocks. The margins change the footprint. This isn't just a bigger ESV1. It's taller and also wider, which means it takes full advantage of the liquid flexibility of the highland goatskin covers. For the first time, Allan's has delivered an ESV that rivals the KJV Long Primer for look and feel.

Image0024 

The color options are consistent with the ESV1 range: tan with copper/tan ribbons; brown with copper/tan, green, and purple ribbons; and black with dark blue ribbons. As with all naturally grained covers, you'll see variation from skin to skin. Of the three pictured here, the black has the most pronounced, most rustic grain, the brown is the most smooth and refined, and the tan lies somewhere in between.

They're beautiful, of course. My wife is accustomed to a superfluity of Bibles around the house, and as a result they all look the same to her. Not these. She seized one (the dark brown) and started explaining to me everything she liked about it. Needless to say, that one's hers.

Image0015 

While there's variation in the grain, color is very consistent. The new Allan's Pocket Journals match their big brothers perfectly. The paper in the journals is the same as what's bound in the back of each Reader's Edition. Seeing them together reinforces the maturity I mentioned earlier. This is a range of editions now, not just a handful of unrelated options. 
 

Image0026 

Image0000 

Let's start on the outside and work our way in. The Reader's Edition has more in common with the ESV1 than color options. The covers are identical. In a photograph, without any reference for sizing, you might mistake one for the other. That's a good thing, in my book, because the ESV1 is superb. The Reader's Edition has the same naturally-grained goatskin cover, which means there's no heat-stamping to give the leather added stiffness. The inside front cover is stamped HIGHLAND GOATSKIN and the inside back is stamped ALLAN BINDING. As with the other ESVs in the range, the text blocks were sourced from Collins, then bound in the UK by a binder that also does work for Smythson of Bond Street.

Image0001 

But things aren't the same under the cover. Paper quality is a growing concern among readers, and R. L. Allan has taken that to heart. This edition's paper has been upgraded. Combined with the added margins, something magical happens, something that makes the same leather cover that's on the ESV1 seem not at all the same. The weight of the text block and its relative width and slimness create the "Long Primer effect," a melty, decadent slouch that delivers pure tactile bliss. 

Image0002 

Image0003 

If the photo above reminds you a Cambridge wide margin, it should. The Reader's Edition feels very similar in use, though the scale is slightly different. Here's a stack of ESVs, smallest to largest:

Image0008 

On top is the discontinued compact edition (rebound by Abba Bibles for LeatherBibles.com), then the Deluxe Compact (rebound in natural pigskin by Leonard's). These represent the small end of the spectrum, more or less pocket-sized. Third from the top is the new R. L. Allan Personal Size Reference, which is a step up in size, roughing the same footprint as a Pitt Minion but twice as thick. In the middle is the venerable ESV1. Underneath it comes first the Cambridge Wide Margin ESV and then the Reader's Edition. The ESV Study Bible is at the bottom.

This photo illustrates the realities of scale. The Reader's Edition is a little taller than a Cambridge Wide Margin, but not as wide. It's a little taller and just as wide as an ESV Study Bible, but less than half as thick. Another angle to better illustrate the point:

Image0009 

Looking at the spines, you get a sense that the Reader's Edition is the same (perhaps even a little bigger) as a Cambridge Wide Margin and the ESV Study Bible. From this angle, though, it starts looking smaller than both. That proportion — tall and wide but not too wide — accounts for the beautifully balanced feel of the Reader's Edition in your hands. It's big, but not too big. The proportions seem generous but right. Out of the box, these Bibles feel well-worn and broken in, like you've been using them for a decade or so. 

Image0004 

Image0019 

Image0020 

Image0022 

This is probably the best Allan's ESV to use for self-defense, too. Curl it up in your hand like a rolled newspaper (see above) and the size and weight will make it quite handy. Ideal for pounding a pulpit. Speaking of which, I think the name "Reader's Edition" is a misnomer. I understand where the idea comes from: the larger type size makes reading easier. But this is a Teacher's Edition plain and simple. If you preach or teach from the ESV, this is the ideal Bible. The type is large enough that you're not going to lose your place or strain while reading. The cover is limp and flexible enough to fold back so it's never in the way. 

One question that came up on the Bible Design Blog Facebook fan page was whether the Reader's Edition page numbers match the ESV1. They do. This is essentially an enlarged ESV1, so page spreads match perfectly, as you can see:

Image0005 

Another thing that came up was this: based on early photos, some people expressed disappointment with the Reader's Edition because the paper didn't seem any better than the ESV1's. Compare the photo above and you'll see there's "ghosting" on both. You can see through the thin Bible paper to words printed on the reverse of the page, and even on pages underneath. This is one of those instances where photos can be deceiving. Yes, there's ghosting, and it's especially visible on the poetry pages where there's plenty of white space. But the paper is not at all the same as the earlier Collins text blocks. It feels smoother, looks brighter, and pretty much outshines the ESV1 and PSR pages. 

What it reminds me of is the Primalux GSM 30 paper used in the ESV Study Bible. You see ghosting there as well, but not as bad as you get with the lesser editions. Frankly, I had a hard time capturing the differences in my photos, but here's a side-by-side of the Reader's Edition and the ESV Study Bible to get the idea across. The type size in the ESV Study Bible is 9.5, while the Reader's Edition bumps up to 10.3 points.

Image0006 

Image0007 

In fact, the ESV Study Bible came to mind again and again as I flipped through the Reader's Edition. The form factor is so similar, but coming in at less than half the thickness, Reader's Edition doesn't come off like a leather-bound brick. As much as I like the ESV Study Bible (and I really do), it still a little big for regular carry, especially for a weight-weenie like me. But I could see carrying the Reader's Edition. When my wife commandeered the brown one, that's the first question I asked her: "Is this thing too big to carry?" She didn't think so. "It's the perfect size for resting on your lap." So there.

The text is Anglicized, which means words like color are spelled colour. Don't worry, though. The disciples don't wear bowler hats and call each other chaps. If you're a speaker of Americanized English, you might not notice the differences. If you do, be assured they're not typos.

Image0010 

Notice the reverse of the title page (below). It reads "Produced for R. L. Allan & Son Publishers." In the past, the Allan process has typically involved sourcing existing text blocks from their printers and then having them rebound in fine leather. According to Allan's intrepid Nicholas Gray (or St. Nicholas, as I think of him) they've had more input into the production of this edition than any other. And it shows.

Image0011 

Inside the front and back cover, you'll noticed a line of overcasting, a reinforcing stitch used to better support the binding. This is a detail often seen on vintage Bibles — in fact, old Oxfords used to come with a card explaining to consumers that this was a benefit, not a defect. These days, you don't see overcasting very often. Personally, I appreciate the fact that they've located it just before the first page of Genesis, so that you can still open the Bible flat at the beginning. I have some older Bibles where the overcast stitching is deeper into the text, and I don't like that.

Image0012 

                   

The Reader's Edition cover has generous semi-yapp edges, which means the leather overhangs and curves around the text block in a protective embrace. This ought to be standard on Bibles. It serves a useful purpose and looks great, too. Alas, many semi-yapp covers project straight out, leaving you to bend them over (or not). I like the molded look these edges give to the cover. 

Image0013 

The soft semi-yapp edges mean you should never try this at home:

Image0016 

I couldn't help it, though. If you're tempted to keep these beauties on the shelf … don't. Just look at this photo to get your aesthetic fix, and store the real thing horizontally. I'm not sure the weight would really damage the cover, but I'm not a fan of softcovers stored vertically, unless they're in a slipcase.

The larger size of the Reader's Edition makes it a nice pairing with the full-size Allan's Journal, though the covers won't match completely. With black, you're probably good to go, and the antique brown actually looks pretty good with the dark brown highland goatskin (not to mention my Vaja iPhone case).

Image0014 

Like the ESV1, each Reader's Edition comes with three thick ribbons whose utility becomes apparent when you use them for daily reading. One marks your place in the Old Testament, one in the Psalms, and one in the New Testament. It goes without saying that the text blocks are sewn, with the signature Allan's white headband. Covers are leather-lined. The text is black letter.

Image0017 

The layout is the familiar Classic Reference writ large. As you can see, there's some extra margin, enough for note-taking but not enough to make this a true wide margin edition. If nothing else, the extra space gives the layout room to breath, making the proportions easier on the eyes. Tight margins make a page spread look crowded. 

If a true wide margin is what you're looking for, then you would be better off with the Cambridge Wide Margin ESV, which is specially designed for that use. Here, the margins give you more options without moving the Reader's Edition too far into specialized territory. If you're accustomed to making notes in a regular Bible, this will give you more space, and that's the point. 

Image0018 

Which of the three is my favorite? You shouldn't have to ask. My wife may have dibs on the brown, but the tan is all mine. It's such an interested and versatile shade, changing with the light. For you traditionalists, I'm happy to report that the black is gloriously executed. In fact, I prefer its coarser grain. I'm sticking with the tan, though. Your mileage may vary.

Image0025 

    

WHERE TO GET THEM
If you've caught the Reader's Edition bug, you can order them direct from R. L. Allan in Scotland by visiting Bibles-Direct.com. They're also in stock (and apparently shipping fast) at EvangelicalBible.com, which also has an index full of technical facts about these editions.

Here's some buying guidance: if you don't have an Allan's ESV already, this is the one to get. The only obstacle I can think of is the size, so you if can't imagine carrying something that measure 10" x 7.25" x 1.5", maybe the smaller ESV1, ESV3 or PSR would be better. Think long and hard, though. If you already have an ESV1 or ESV3 and you're wondering whether an upgrade is worthwhile, I'd say it depends on whether the ESV is your main Bible or not. If it isn't, then I'm not sure if the upgrade is necessary. But if you're using the ESV primarily and looking for a "lifetime" companion, the Reader's Edition seems to fit that bill perfectly. (I'd be interested in hearing what others think.) If you're preaching or teaching from the ESV, I strongly recommend this edition. 

The PSR is still a better compact reader in my book, thanks to its single column text setting and handy size. I'd love to see the PSR printed on this quality paper, with some extra margin and fuller yapp. 

It's a merry Christmas indeed for people who love quality bindings. The Reader's Edition sets a very high standard, raising the bar for future Allan's Bibles. Every detail here is right, and the result is sheer poetry. Cue the triumphal music, because this one lives up to the hype. It's every bit as good as we were led to believe it would be. And that's saying something.

154 Comments on “R. L. Allan Reader’s Reference Edition ESV

  1. Thanks for another great review Mark. I can hardly wait for my delivery to arrive. Merry Christmas bible lovers!
    Dave

  2. Thanks for the great review Mark, I picked up the brown readers edition and wholeheartedly agree with the thought that they feel well used straight from the box. The bible fills the hand beautifully without being cumbersome in the slightest. Great bible! I’m going to use it for preaching as the pages match with our church bibles which are the collins reference edition.

  3. I have done my best to resist the temptation of getting the Reader’s Edition, as my stack of quality Bibles has grown much in 2009. But after reading this review I will be taking the plunge and ordering yet another Allan’s ESV. Merry Christmas to me (and everyone else of course)!

  4. Good review Mark,the only problem for me now is do I get the readers edition or the Cambridge wide-margin. I was going to get the wide-margin, but after hearing about the readers edition and reading your review as well. Deciding which one to get is going to be a fairly agonizing decision, best expressed as arrrrrgh!

  5. Thanks Mark for an awesome review & pics! I have a brown Reader on the way. Love your comment “If you’re preaching or teaching from the ESV, I strongly recommend this edition.” That’s exactly why I ordered it – will be using it this coming Sunday. :-)

  6. I have just spent a few minutes going through several ESV pics on BDB and Allen’s site.
    In my evolution of what I consider is the “perfect Bible” I like having nothing but the text. If possible, I would do without a linking system and I would really like to go without any type of concordance in the back.
    I noticed in almost all pictures that were available of the text they showed “introductions” of books and such. Is this a standard ESV feature, or are there printings without the feature?

  7. Thanks for the great review! Especially the photo of the antique brown journal over the dark brown RE. I have a antique brown ESV3 and have been agonizing over whether or not to buy an ESVRE. I love my ESV3BR cover but paper quality is poor. Not bright and hardish to read. Compared to the Allan NIV I also have, its definitely lower quality (i.e. harder on the eyes). So if the paper quality on the ESVRE is as good as you say, I just have to pick a color. I’m leaning towards brown now that I know its not the same as my ESV3.
    Mark, if not for your blog, I would never have bought an Allan Bible. Now I’m about to buy my third in 7 months.. Skye and the guys must love you!!
    Maranatha!
    :)

  8. As usual, nice review mark!
    BUT my heart will always belong to the single column PSR.
    I wonder if there is any chance of getting that nice paper on the ESV1? I just like the size better.

  9. Once again Mark, you not only hit a home run; you hit the ball out of the park!
    Fantastic, detailed, and typically thorough review. Your pictures are absolutely stunning and quite honestly, make me drool.
    It makes me even more *impatient* to receive my black ESV Readers Edition this week from Scotland.
    Again, thanks so much for being such an incredible blessing to us ‘Bible lovers’ here in the blogosphere.

  10. As usual I am going to be Mr. Stick in the Mud. As is always the case, the review of this Bible is great, I enjoy reading all of Mark’s reviews even if I have no intention of ever buying the Bible in question. However, this Bible just looks too big to be handy for everyday use or taking to church.
    I guess my tastes have changed over the years in regard to Bible size. I used to like a bigger Bible, in fact when I bought my first Cambridge Concord in 2005 I thought it was a bit too small. Now I lean towards a Bible with a small footprint and thick text block. For my taste the Cambridge Cameo hits the “sweet spot” better than anything else I have found thus far.
    Now I’ll get out of the way and let the Reader’s Edition love fest continue. :-)

  11. Michael,
    I am with you on this. This is a nice edition and a good review but if I am going to spend this kind of money on a Bible I would rather get a true Wide Margin like Cambridge or the Crossway SCR (Though I know verse format is not popular on this blog…:))
    As for everyone who purchased one. Enjoy. Maybe if the exchange rate was not so horrible right now this would make more sense to me but as it is…

  12. Beautiful! Now if only they would have a sale… 75% off to poor students. Maybe someday. :)

  13. Thank you so much for this review. It put to rest the remainder of my questions and fears about the ghosting issue. Because of this problem I had to return the ESV1 I ordered in June (55 year old eyes just couldn’t take it,) and when the initial photos of the Readers edition came out, I was afraid I might have to do the same with this one. But between your review and the comments of Evangelicalbible.com, I am back to looking forward to the arrival of this Bible with great expectation-today would be great, mailman! I was also glad to hear that your wife loves the brown, because that’s what I ordered.

  14. I wonder if I will ever truly have a “lifetime” Bible? I mean, there are so many editions (of course not enough ;) ). Right now I swap between the Tan ESV1 and Cambridge ESV Pitt Minion in black goatskin (modified with leather linings), but still prefer the Pitt Minion because the font seem more appeasing to my eye. I’m sure as my eyesight deteriorates, I’ll be using bigger Bibles, and I’m sure there will be something new out.
    I’d love to own the RE to add to my collection, but since it isn’t going to be my daily Bible, it pains me to pass.

  15. I’ll add my “thank-you” to Mark for many great reviews, pictures and introducing us to these works of art in craftsmanship. However, anything over the $100.00 range is difficult for me to actually use. I’m loving my $100.00 ESV thinline calfskin Cordovan thanks to this site and also my $100.00 goatskin Pitt Minion, again, thanks to this site. However, as beautiful as this Reader’s Edition is, I’d be so terrified to have it on our church Bible Study tables with all of those cups of coffee just waiting to be spilled upon its fine pages. On a clergy income, losing over $220.00 on a accidental coffee spill or losing my knapsack with Bible in it, is too much of a hit to take in stride. I imagine this is how people feel who drive Mercedes or BMW’s, constantly worrying about scratches and dents. For those of us who drive 10 year old Dodge Caravans however, we don’t have to deal with that day to day anxiety. For me, “affordable luxury” in the form of Crossway calfskins and Cambridge Pitt Minions is the way to go if I’m actually going to use these Bibles and not develop an ulcer. However, I sure love reading about these Bibles and can experience all of your joy vicariously through your comments and enthusiasm. Thanks for that!

  16. Enjoyed the photo with the beautiful little icon of our Lord. Thanks, Mark!

  17. I received my today and it is very nice. I thought I would comment on the paper/bleed through issue. I ordered an ESV1 in April ’09 and I was very happy with it. I saw the ghosting but it didn’t bother me. I am in my 40’s and throughout the year my eyes started the change where I will soon need reading glasses. Well, in addition to the font size, the ghosting started to bother me. I think since I have experienced this issue from both sides, maybe I can help, lol. My new ESVR has about the same ghosting, but it isn’t the same impact to readership as it is on the ESV1 (for those who have issues with it). Here’s what I observe: with the larger font and larger paper, the letters are spaced further apart, and this takes away from the intensity of the underlying pages. I pulled out all of my other Bibles to compare. The ESVR does rather well in comparison. I have a Thompson Chain Ref (Morrocco leather w/ India Paper) from the ’80’s, a few other premium ones, and a Baxter LongPrimer from 1910 (yes, 100 years old). The Baxter has India paper with a levant grain goatskin binding that is still soft with white pages (only a touch of fade) – unbelievable but true. All have ghosting, and the ESVR holds up nicely against them all. It’s a keeper. :-)

  18. Mark (and others),
    Thank you for such a great site. I am new to the QBC (Quality Bible Community). I am in need of a new Bible (my NASB Thinline is falling apart), and came across your site a couple of months ago in my search for a quality bible. After much reading, I have narrowed my selection down to two bibles…
    #1. The R.L. Allan Reader’s Reference Edition (ESV)
    #2. The Cambridge Wide Margin (NASB)
    I prefer the NASB translation to the ESV; however, I am worried that the font size for Cambridge Wide Margin will be too small (8.5 point), and asthetically, I love the R.L. Allan Reader’s Reference Edition (font size, yapp, ribbon size, etc…). Can you (or anyone for that matter) give me your thoughts comparing the R.L. Allan Reader’s Reference and the NASB Cambridge Wide Margin? Thank you for your consideration!
    Sincerely,
    Brian

  19. (Sorry for the double post – I intended to comment on this entry, not the previous one.) Thanks for the review, Mark. Allen must be gratified at the reception for this new product. Question: Did any of you who have already received your Allen RE pre-order from evangelicalbible.com? I placed an order on 11/30, and the last time “order status” was updated was when they processed payment against my credit card. This in spite of the fact that I’ve already received the other item from the same order. There is plenty of anxiety at this point as to whether this Bible is going to arrive in time to go under the Christmas tree – going to be a big disappointment to one family member if it’s not, as it makes up the entirety of their Christmas gift. I’m starting to wonder if ordering from evangelicalbible.com instead of direct from Allen (in an effort to support my countrymen) was a tactical error.

  20. JD,
    I know your shipment is of certain precedence simply because of it being a pre-order. Keeping that in mind, I ordered a Journal from EvangelicalBible.com on Friday night and on Monday at around noon that Journal was in N.C sitting on my table from their C.A office. I ordered the “Second Day” shipping. But, you would think with me ordering Friday night around (9 PM EST) I would have missed a cut off point. It basically made time like an over night shipment. I was impressed.
    I think your problem isn’t a shipping problem, but a supply problem. IMHO.

  21. I too returned an ESV1 last year because of the ghosting. Thanks for your review, Mark. I just ordered a Reader’s Edition in brown. Love the three different coloured ribbons.

  22. It may seem impossible that there are any remaining questions after Mark’s thorough review, but does anyone know which ESV text was used? There are two editions of the US text: the original 2001 edition and a revision in 2007. On which is the UK text of the ESVR1 based? I’ve been drooling over my copy since it arrived yesterday morning: it’s quite the best-made Bible I have ever owned. Like many folk here, I chose one in chocolate brown with the discreetly flamboyant multi-colour ribbons.

  23. John the EvangelicalBible site said 2007. It is on a page that I’m having a hard time finding right now.

  24. John there is a table on the EB site that says 2007. I can’t find it right now, but I saw it today. I sure would like to know what “ghosting” is all about.

  25. “I wonder if I will ever truly have a “lifetime” Bible?” Posted by Vincent Ramirez
    Vince, Like you I love the idea of having one Bible that I use for everything. I know of a fellow who has had the same Cambridge Bible and used it every day since the 1940s and I think that is cool, in fact I sort of long for that, but alas it is not for me. There are just too many Bibles with too many various features that I like for me to settle on just one.

  26. Since learning about R.L. Allan, I’ve purchased 3 of their Bibles, the NIVC1-BR, ESV1-T & today I received my much anticipated ESVR1BR!! I’ve purchased all 3 directly from Allan (Scotland). When I first opened my Chocolate Brown Reader’s Edition, of course there was much drooling, fawning, sniffing, sighing and…. well…. you know the deal. However, for the first time I noticed some flaws. Much to my disappointment, there is this fold in the paper which begins with the very first Title Page “Holy Bible,” and although it lessens, it doesn’t end until page 14 (Gen. 17). Then while further checking, there’s this very noticeable black blotching on page 1288 of the Concordance on the left margin. It’s approx. 1″ long and 0.5″ wide. I don’t mean to be picky, but when you’ve spent $216.00, this is hard to accept. Other than these flaws, I’m in *love* with this edition! I know it’s outrageously expensive to return-ship to Scotland, but I’m having a hard time letting this go. Is anyone else finding these problems with the new Reader’s Edition? Thanks.

  27. Wilson Ghosting is where you can see the next pages print thru the paper so that it seems the print looks like there is a ghost white coloring over the next page’s print.

  28. Hi Wilson, I am using ghosting and bleed through to mean the same thing. It’s where you see the text of the opposite side of the page you are reading showing through the paper. Bible papers are thin and other terms used are opacity and tranparent.
    Hi JD, I am gratified, thank you! I ordered mine from evangelicalbible.com on 12/11 and from their facebook comments, anyone who ordered before 12/15 is getting theirs shipped directly from oversees to have a Christmas delivery.

  29. John: I can confirm that the Readers edition uses the 2007 updated text. The majority of work done in anglicizing the ESV text was done in 2002 and in the 2007 revision only words in three verses needed alteration due to spelling differences (Isaiah 8:13, Romans 9:21, and 1 Peter 3:15) so the readers edition mentions the anlgicization of 2002 but rest assured it is the 2007 text that has been only slightly changed to accomodate proper spelling (lol)

  30. Im so sad, you guys are gettiNg yours and mine is still MIA. I ordered in Sept. maybe they forgot about my order!

  31. Hang in there, Steve. Are you out west by chance? If so I bet you’ll get it today or tomorrow. Believe me, it’s worth the wait.
    Merry Christmas, everybody.

  32. Steven I live in Penn and still no Bible shipped from Allan’s as I also ordered back in Sept. On EvangelicalBible.com facebook page it is noted that many have not received theirs as of yet as of today Dec 23 .

  33. I ordered my Reader’s on 11/09/09, I live in So. Calif, and I received it yesterday (12/22/09). However, I noticed some flaws, about which I previously posted. GOOD NEWS: I’m happy to report that Allan’s has requested I return the Bible the least expensive way possible and they will credit me with the cost to return ship it! They are also assuring me that I’ll receive a thoroughly inspected Reader’s, in my beloved brown, sometime after the holidays. Nicholas of Allan is off for Christmas, he saw my email on his Blackberry and he still took the time to call someone in their office and have them respond to me. I just love them!! Oh, and not that it matters, but I’ve actually purchased not 3, but 4 of their Bibles…. I also own the ESVP1-BR (Personal). A bit neurotic to HAVE to add that, but what are ya gonna do?!

  34. Thank you, Gary; thank you, Wilson. Concerning ghosting, Wilson, I can say that — with the ESVR1 — I am aware of the printing on the other side of the paper, but it does not interfere with reading in any way. This matters to me, so I checked it carefully: I am 61 years old and, although my eyesight corrects to 20/20 with multi-focal glasses, small print in suboptimal light can be difficult. As a comparison, with my KJV (an Oxford Reference Bible, Brevier Clarendon Type, still in print as the Allan 6C) I can read the text without being aware of the printing on the other side. But when I bought it in 1965 it was a very expensive Bible, costing nearly 3 dollars!

  35. Thank you Gary for confirming the text edition.
    Whoever is waiting for their Alan Reader’s, trust me, it truly is worth the wait. I have no idea why I received mine so soon after ordering–on the other hand, the copy I received had flaws… so maybe the ones who are waiting will get the perfect print! Anyway, I forgot to add to my last post that I wish everyone a Loving Christmas and a Happy, Healthy & Peaceful 2010. God’s blessings to all.

  36. Perhaps I missed a previous answer, but has anyone who pre-ordered from evangelicalbible.com (not directly from Allen’s) actually received their copy yet as of today, December 23?

  37. KT – that is amazing they responded so fast and are so helpful. Allans has a life long customer from me, tho this will probably be the only bible ill ever need :)

  38. Joanne, I pre-ordered from Evangelicalbible.com and received mine today. I’d also like to hear more comments and comparisons of the ghosting from people who also own ESV1’s and Cambridge Wide Margins and Pitts.

  39. I just got mine, and it is beautiful. Only trouble is, I just can’t see myself ever picking up my ESV1 again.

  40. YAY, I got mine today about 1pm mst. Every thing is amazing like the pictures. Some ghosting but better than my thinline esv and psr. I will definately use this until it falls apart ( hopefull a long time from now ) To be honest tho I was expecting it o be a little softer. We just bought a Cordovan thinline for my wife and that thing is SOFT. Not a negative towards the esvr just unexpected.

  41. Told you it’d be worth the wait, Steve. Congrats and Merry Christmas. As you use it that cover will get softer and softer and better and better.
    Cheers,
    Scott

  42. Sadly, mine didn’t come today even though I pre-ordered from Evangelicalbible.com back in September. I live in central Florida and was hoping to get it in time for Christmas. Oh well, hopefully it shows on Saturday or Monday at the latest. Merry Christmas to everyone.

  43. For all you whose Bible’s were late, remember that traditionally Christians celebrate the 12 days of Christmas. So it’s ok to get gifts after Christmas day. Merry Christmas, Mark…

  44. Thank you Mark for the great review. When I used to preach out of the KJV my congregation bought me “Long Primer” and the quality and look of that bible ruined me for ever being satisfied with anything less. A problem arose when I changed to the ESV. Even Allan Bibles, as great as they all are, did not have the feel or look of the Long Primer. After some disappointing searching I ended up using an ESV “Trutone” and decided to wait for Allan’s Readers Edition but I was not holding my breath because I am not a fan of wide margin Bibles. But this one doesn’t really look like a wide margin and when Mark says that “for the first time, Allan’s has delivered an ESV that rivals the KJV Long Primer for look and feel” I’m sold. Ordering my Black one ASAP.

  45. Mrs. Claus came through with a black Readers edition. It is a beautiful Bible. Compared to what I’ve been using, it doesn’t feel like a big Bible at all. Thinner than either of the calfskin reference Bibles I have carried. (One ESV, one NASB.) Certainly not pocket-sized, but a very comfortable carry to church. Very well done. Great job by the folks at Allan’s!

  46. I’ve been waiting for my chocolate brown ESVR1 since Allan’s confirmed the rumors that they would publish this edition. It is in my hands today and is everything as described. It is the perfect teaching and pulpit bible, even with my relatively small hands. I am amazed at and grateful for the quality and care of its production.

  47. Just to go along with my previous statment of it not being super soft, after using it for a few days it has softened up alot. It has a strong durable feeling to it as well.
    perfect 10/10 love it

  48. Well, mine arrived today. Chocolate Brown with the lovely satin ribbons. I have bought most iterations of Allan’s ESV/NIV Bibles over the last few years in their various bindings. This is certainly the best, certainly my favourite. I totally agree with your assessment that this is their ‘come of age’ ESV. This is the Bible i’ve been looking for for years. Readable size for the pulpit and my ageing eyes, yet not too bulky to feel awkward carrying it in a briefcase. Beautifully made as always, proportionally perfect, aesthetically delightful – a truly worthy presentation of its invaluable content. I love it. Could it be bettered I ask myself? Yes – bound in dark green goatskin – I always wanted a dark green Bible :)

  49. I really don’t see what all the hype is about. This readers edtion is the same as the esv1. From these photo’s, the ghosting is absolutly the same. The text is only 1pt larger and a wooping $70.00 more. This is not justifiable. I wonder if this has anything to do with the esv1 being out of stock?

  50. Since this is a discussion about a Bible with fairly large print, may I go off topic to ask for advice about the print size on the ESV Study Bible? I would want to buy one of these as well, provided my 61-year-old eyes can read it. The main text of the ESV-SB is in 9 point, which will probably be OK, but the notes are in 7.25 point. Is this likely to be readable for someone whose eyes correct to 20/20 with multifocal glasses?

    Or should I wait for the large print edition (which will be quite a brick!) with type sizes of 10.6 points and 8.55 points?

  51. Hi Drew,

    An extra point larger type is a big deal for some of us. Sitting at my desk, with a small spotlight shining over each shoulder, I have no trouble reading the 8/9 point type in my Brevier Clarendon KJV. In suboptimal light (ie most church buildings) the extra size is invaluable.

  52. John I am 58 and with my trifocals I am not at 20/20aybe 20/25 -30, yet I can read both the main text and the notes with only the lamp @ the computer table. Hope this helps. Check out CBD I just bought my second copy for $132.OO 2 WEEKS AGO.

  53. Thank you, Mike, that was useful. I shall be using the Study Bible only under good light, so I have ordered the Cordovan calfskin edition (from Mark’s Last Minute Christmas List) from Christian Book Distributors for $133.

  54. That is the one I bought 2 weeks ago, the black edition I keep at the church office for ref work.

  55. As an ESV enthusiast, I was happy to get the new Reader’s Edition Allen. I would agree with what someone above said about the “ghosting.” I would have liked a thicker paper. However, font size works to mitigate the bleed through. It is in the 2007 text, in answer to a question above.
    In my opinion, nothing has matched the paper size (and very little ghosting) of Crossway’s first editions, both the Classic Reference and the Deluxe Reference. Those editions were also much thicker than the ones that followed. The loss of the Crossway Deluxe Reference was a real blow, I think. However, it came only in the 2001 text.
    Having said that, the craftmanship overall of those early editions (even the calfskin editions) is nothing like the Allen Goatskin. I look forward to making good use of my new Reader’s Edition.
    Walter Taylor

  56. John – My copy of the Readers Edition says, “copyright 2001, 2007 Crossway” and below, “Anglicized edition 2002″

    • Too Much Time on my Hands over Christmas, Part 1

    The Allan Reader’s Edition ESV has captured the interest of the readers/addicts of this blog like no other item in recent months: 60 comments and counting. Fair enough. To many of us, me included, this edition seems to have got everything right. Maybe we shall feel the same about the forthcoming printing of the KJV Longprimer, with three ribbon markers and available in brown.

    What, I wondered, are the other blog entries that have generated lots of comments?

    The top ten are

    1. (with 120 comments) Allan’s Reference ESV in Tan Goatskin (10/07)
    2. (with 93 comments) R. L. Allan’s Oxford Long Primer in Highland Goatskin (5/08)
    3. (with 88 comments) Personal Size Reference Edition (ESV) (3/08)
    4. (with 77 comments) Allan’s Bold Print Reference Edition (NIV) (3/08)
    5. (with 75 comments) Cambridge Wide Margin Reference Bible (NASB) (10/07)
    6. (with 72 comments) The R.L. Allan Reference ESV (9/07)
    7. (with 72 comments) R. L. Allan’s ESV1, ESV1T and ESV1 BR in Highland Goatskin (3/09)
    8. (with 70 comments) R. L. Allan’s Oxford Brevier Clarendon Reference Edition (4/08)
    9. (with 68 comments) Tan Allan’s ESV1 Unboxing Photos (10/08)
    10. (with 60 comments) R. L. Allan Reader’s Reference Edition ESV (12/09)

    Eight Allan discussions, but only one each on Cambridge and Crossway; six ESV discussions, two on the KJV, and one each on the NASB and the NIV.

    Do those simple numbers fairly reflect our communal obsessions?

  57. They probably do John, but not mine – I personally don’t understand what all the fuss is about when it comes to the ESV as a translation (the NLT2 & NIV are far easier to read IMO) but I’m flattered that my ‘Tan Allan’s ESV1 Unboxing Photos’ made it into #9 on your Top Ten list!
    Happy New Year to you all – looking forward to an NLT review from Mark (& hopefully an Allan NLT release for him to review) in the near future ;)

    • Too Much Time on my Hands over Christmas, Part 2


    Having read quite a lot from the blog archives over the last few days, I am left with three significant impressions.

    First, a major reason behind the desire for sewn text-blocks and full leather bindings is the need to preserve the notes written in the margins. As a community we write in our bibles; and as a rule we don’t want either to lose, or to have to transcribe, the notes we’ve made. (We also rather like owning high quality equipment, but that doesn’t sound as pious!)

    Were it not for this, the economics of good bibles would be shaky. An Allan ESV1 costs $165 and will last probably 20 years before needing rebinding; a hardback ESV Classic Reference costs $17 and will last probably 2 years before the cover comes off or pages start coming out.

    A consequence of the need to preserve notes is that the focus of the blog has been on bibles which are used for study. Usually the more literal translations, out about as far as the NIV or the TNIV. If people use, as I’m sure they must, freer versions such as the NLT—for youth work, or for reading whole books of the Bible at a time—they are less concerned about the build quality of the book.

    Secondly, most of the community uses more than one translation. Sure, we have some KJV-only folk, and many more who prefer the KJV and in practice use little else. But we have many who have changed to the ESV in the last 8 years, and these seem to retain an affection for their former version. A lot of names crop up in the comments on both ESV and KJV threads. Ditto, to a lesser extent, ESV and NIV. There seem to be quite a few folk who have a battery of 3 bibles: ESV (for study?), KJV (for poetry?) and NIV (for book-at-a-time reading?).

    Thirdly, the focus of concern is moving from leather quality to paper quality. Perhaps that’s because those who want sewn text-blocks and good leather can now get them—at a price—not only from Allan and Cambridge but also as Nelson Signature or Crossway Cordovan Calfskin versions. But even the best modern bible paper is translucent in comparison with the India paper on Oxford or Cambridge bibles of the 1960s.

  58. Sold!! I want them all! Great pics as always. Fantastic review of these. I don’t own an Allan ESV yet. Decided on the Ruby and Crystal from Allan’s quite awhile back and have not had the errr…ummm proper resources to dive into buying one of these. Thanks Mark.
    Winston Waldemayer, III
    http://www.reigningimmortal.com

  59. Mine shipped from Allan’s in Glasgow on 1/5/10. . . I’m not sure I’ve been this anxious about any other online purchase I’ve ever made.

  60. You are in for a treat, Bryan. I’ve got mine but I can almost feel your anticipation. I remember those long days. Waiting is not easy. I’d tell you to look at the pics more but that may make the waiting worse.;-)
    Cheers,
    Scott

  61. Here’s an easy way to determine which edition of the text is used in an ESV Bible. The first difference between the two editions is at Genesis 2:19.
    The 2001 text begins: “So”
    The 2007 text begins: “Now”

  62. I, too, “pulled the trigger” and ordered the ESV Readers Edition – Dark Brown. My Allan’s library will now be the Long Primer, the ESV1 Tan and soon the ESV Reader’s Edition. My primary reason for the purchase is the larger font. And though I was raised KJV and still dream and quote it, my audience is mostly NKJV & NIV. I also find myself studying, preaching and teaching from this version more lately.
    To the horror of some I will be marking up this bible as I study — always been a part of my study habit. I’ve never been dissapointed with Allan’s bibles, ordered directly from them. Tried to call evangelicalbible.com but could not locate a phone number for them. (I think I remember reading somewhere that they purposely hide their phone number to keep costs down.) Anyway, now I’m anxioulsy awaiting delivery — 14 days? I’ll post my impressions once I receive it if anyone’s interested. Blessings to all!

  63. I received my Black ESV Reader yesterday and it is truly a work of art, however, the paper is not any different than my ESV1. In comparing the ESV Reader’s paper thickness with my ESV Heirloom, the Heirloom paper if far superior. The Heirloom has absolutely no bleed through (ghosting) from the reverse side. Out all my bibles I possess (Cambridges, Nelson Signatures,Oxfords,and other Allans), it feels the best in my hand.

  64. The Tan is even more beautiful in person. As great as these pictures are . . . they just don’t do that color justice. Too bad the Tan I have is a gift and I can’t keep it. It’s not hard to settle for the chocolate brown though.

  65. Does the Reader’s Edition include a red-letter option? On some of the others I believe it was associated with cover color. Thanks for the wonderful reviews.

  66. Hi Kimball,
    I do not own an Allan’s Bible, but I’m sure they do not produce a red letter Bible. All of their Bibles are black letter.

  67. I just received my Brown Reader’s Edition ESV from Allans today! Delivery was a little faster than I had expected. It took only 9 days. I think on their web site they said 10 – 14 days.
    The first thing I noticed was the smell – there’s just something about the smell of a new bible. I love the color in spite of the fact that I think you just can’t beat classic black but since I have the Long Primer in black and the ESV1 in tan this color will fit nicely within my Allans’ library of bibles. I was most interested in the paper difference. It’s not the same paper of the Long Primer but I just can’t tell if the paper is any different from the ESV1. Mark’s review says the paper has been upgraded but if I had to bet, judging on the feel, I’d say it’s the same paper stock. One thing is definitely different, it is a better reading format. My eyes will really appreciate the larger font size and because the pages are larger this will readily accomodate teaching/preaching. The bible fits comfortably in my hand and I love the extra space in the margins for notes. I know this horrifies some but I make notes in all my bibles. I love the ribbons, I wish my Long Primer had more than the single thin ribbon it has.
    All in all, I am pleased with my purchase. It will get many hours of use! Those are my initial reactions. Hope this helps any that are “on the fence” about a purchase. Go for it!

  68. O.k., I am going with the tan. Put in the purchase order today direct from Allan’s–of course after the obligatory mention that I had seen it first here. Now, I can only wait. Wait for this, and of course I am also waiting for Mark’s first novel in the summer.

  69. I need help! I am considering purchasing an Allan’s ESV Reader’s Edition. I read blogs about the ESV1 in highland goatskin. I bought an Allan ESV Bible in highland goatskin, but I could have sworn it was an ESV2. I do not see mention of the ESV2 anywhere. I see ESV1 and ESV3 on this site. Is there a difference between the ESV1 and ESV2, if so, what?
    Regarding the Reader’s Edition, I am truly interested, but am afraid it may not be worth the cost. My original tan ESV was costly enough. Is the difference between the two enough to invest? After all, I just graduated college and my funds are limited.
    I am also curious to the difference between the ESV and NASB translations. Can anyone care to comment?
    In addition, the only complaint I see with the ESV Reader’s Edition is the ghosting pages. Does Cambridge do a better job with this? I am also considering a NASB wide margin or Pitt Minion. However, the Allan ESV in tan Goatskin is the only quality Bible I’ve ever had in-hand. Please cyber chums, can you help? I need counsel regarding this decision…

  70. John the difference between ESV1 and ESV3 is the 1 is top of the line goat skin and leather lined and the 3 (not 2 done in a while I think and it was not goatskin) is goat skin with buffalo grain,( also in the niv) but not leather lined and no maps. I have both and find the 1 is wonderful but I use the 3 as much and also crossway’s classic edition trutone for my everyday for over two years it has worked well for me.

  71. John the Nas is not as good for pulpit or class reading I have found it great for study. I find the ESV just as good but reads better. Go to the ESV web site for more info about the difference, J.L.Packer had a great article in the past n that site. He felt the ESV was between the NAS and the NIV, the best of both translation.

  72. I am on the lookout… Where is the best place to find an Allan Reader’s Edition ESV in black highland goatskin? The two websites I see are the evangelicalbible.com and bibles-direct.com…. Which one is better? How do the prices compare?
    Does anyone out there know where I could find the Bible I am looking for? Please let me know…
    God Bless,
    John
    e-mail: perfectstillness@gmail.com

  73. John,
    When I got my Readers edition I knew I would never pick up my ESV1 again, so I gave it away. For me, the Readers fixed all of the problems I had with the ESV1. Mainly the larger font. But I also think the paper is better. I do not have the sense of “ghosting” that I had with the ESV1.
    Also, either of the two sites you mentioned are equally good places to purchase a bible. Any difference in price will be very small, they both offer excellent customer service! I speak from experience.
    Dave

  74. Any of you happy ESVR owners want to unload one of those old, inferior Allan’s ESVs? I’m here to help relieve your burden, brothers. ;)

  75. Hello Cyberspace,
    How do the ESV and NASB translations compare? I am interested in the ESV Reader’s Edition, but I am also intrigued with the Cambridge NAS Bibles Wide Margin and Pitt Minion. These are the three I am debating between. Can someone please help?
    Is a wide margin pointless if I do not plan on writing in it? The Pitt Minion might be too small for my taste… With the Reader’s Edition I am just concerned that it may not be worth the expense being that I already have an quality Allan ESV1.
    Thanks,
    John

  76. John,
    I own both an ESV1 and a ESV Reader’s Edition as well as a Cambridge Wide Margin NIV. I consider the Allan’s ESV Reader’s Edition to be the perfect middle ground between the ESV1 and the Cambridge Wide Margin. What I mean to say is the Reader’s Edition is a vast improvement over the ESV1, yet it is not as awkward shape-wise as the Cambridge Wide Margin. The Reader’s Edition has a wider margin than the ESV1 but it isn’t as wide as the margin in the Cambridge Wide Margin Bibles. If you don’t plan on taking notes in the Bible I would hands down recommend the Reader’s Edition, which also has superior leather to the Cambridge Wide Margin Bibles. As far as the Reader’s Edition being worth the expense, I believe it is, for me, it is easier to read and the margins make it easier on the eyes. Not to mention it is a pleasure to hold, more of an average sized Bible where the ESV1 is a bit smallish for my taste. I do not regret my purchase in the least. Also, when comparing prices you want to look at what the exchange rate is and bibles-direct has a currency converter that will do that for you. I have ordered from both places and they both have outstanding customer service. I hope this helps you in your decision :-)

  77. Does anyone know what the ESV Upgrade at evangelicalbible.com is? It pictures the Readers but at a different price.

  78. Tiffany: If you have backordered an ESV1 from evangelicalbible.com this page will allow you to upgrade that order to an ESVR1 for $30. The ESV1 will not be available again until summer 2010.

  79. Hi,
    Can anyone comment on the smell of the paper of the Readers Edition? I am allergic to the smell of some book paper, most notably the type of paper used in recent editions of the Message Bible by Navpress (the older ones e.g. 2002 have a different paper which is fine) and also the ESV Study Bible has a similar paper smell (though not as bad as the Message). The message paper that I don’t like looks quite yellow, while the ESV study bible paper is whiter I think it has the same chemical in it though perhaps not as much of it.
    I’m considering the Readers ESV but I would not want to get it and then find I am allergic to it! Once I had a uni maths textbook that I had to keep in a sealed plastic bag in the garage.
    Simon

  80. Very interesting comments, Simon. Good luck with your allergies! I’d like to see paper get more attention on this site so here’s hoping you get lots of comments.
    Have you seen an Augsburg-Fortress “People’s Bible” in NRSV? That has sort of cream-colored paper like the new Peterson Messages. And the NIV Archeological Study Bible has a definite tan paper color. (The ASB is also widely stocked in neighborhood religious bookstores so it should be easy for you to find one if you don’t own one already.) It might be interesting to see if either or both of these set you off.
    I’m having trouble gleaning much technical information on paper off the ‘net. The book/Bible vendors leave the impression that off-white papers are more natural, supposedly using less bleaching, which would be less hostile to our environment. But I’m jaundiced enough to think this could just as easily be normally bleached paper which gets coloring added later. Can anyone confirm/deny? If so, it’s not that the bleaching is necessarily removing something that you’re allergic to, it could just be that the added dyes are what’s bothering you.

  81. Thanks for your comments Bill. I havent seen the People’s Bible but will check it out. I’ve seen the NIV Archeological Study Bible, if I remember correctly its a different kind of paper with quite a different smell, like a book with coloured photos.
    Yeah I would guess that in most cases yellow paper is just dyed but some of it might be naturally unbleached, especially if it looks coarse and “recycled”, which would be more of an off grey color than yellow most likely.
    Its probably only 1 book in 50 or less that I have a problem with. I read somewhere that the paper on the Allan’s Readers ESV is different (better) than on the older ESV editions from Allans, more like the ESV Study Bible (which is what made me concerned)

  82. Love the binding but the paper ghosting is almost too much for my eyes. I was really excited to receive the Reader’s. I must admit that I have put it down and have returned to reading my ESV Study Bible. Much better paper for my eyes. I was so looking forward to my Readers.

  83. Interesting comment, Jerry. Mark’s photo and comment about the paper would lead one to think the Reader’s and the SB should be equivalent in ghosting, with the Reader’s getting the nod in readability if only because the font is bigger.
    Would you say your (reading) preference for the SB is due to actual differences in the paper or possibly differences in ink? The “30” in Mark’s paper description is supposed to be weight so the paper should be the same thickness–can you confirm by measuring any difference in say 1000 pages of the Readers vs 1000 pp of the SB? Maybe it’s a difference in boldness of print or choice of typeface?
    Maybe the single-column layout of the SB aids readability in a psychological way that isn’t readily quantifiable??? The poetic section of Job that Mark illustrates certainly shows, at least to me, the aesthetic advantages of single-column.

  84. I received a black esv readers yesterday and was elated, to say the least. It is almost breathtaking when you open the box for the first time. And then you get to hold it. It is almost a distraction for me, I spend a lot of time admiring and smelling it, not as much reading as I would normally. I have done a lot of research and reading of forums ( this one in particular ), and wanted to make sure that this would be a good investment. I can say without a doubt that it is. I actually received it as a birthday gift so it wasn’t my personal investment, but I sort of requested it. My only qualm with it is what Jerry was talking about, the “ghosting”, it is rather distracting and sometimes just to much to handle, especially when I’m tired. The problem areas are in the poetic type portions of the bible, like Psalms, Proverbs, Job and such. I also have the allan PSR which seems to not have the same problem as the reader, and from what I’ve read the allan esv1. I’m wondering if it does have something to do with the double column format vs. the single column. Maybe its just a matter of paper weight and color, or the combination of both. I don’t know. To conclude my rambling, this bible is awesome, if you are not affected by ghosting than it is without a doubt the bible for you. If ghosting could be an issue than you may want to consider another bible, in my humble opinion. I personally would never give this bible up or send it back because of the ghosting but I may switch to a different bible when the old eyes start getting tired. Lord Bless

  85. I preached from my ESV Reader yesterday. Awesome pulpit Bible. I can’t imagine me ever buying another Bible unless it’s from Allan. These Bibles are superior in every way and a delight to own.

  86. Wow! I just realized I have not used my ESV1T since January! Boxed it and put it away when I received my ESV Readers’ Reference Edition. I took it out of it’s box and let the memories run through my mind but I know now that I’ll probably never use it again. I may give it to my brother or son, not sure who right now. My main bibles are now the Long Primer and the Readers’ Edition. Both fit nicely in my hand and both are easy to read and preach from, both represent the finest tradition of quality. Of the ESVs it think Allans got it right with the Readers’ Edition — very few negatives with this bible. Thanks Allans!

  87. I have a black calfskin Crossway Classic Reference Bible, and I was wondering how the binding and leather quality compares to the Allan Reader’s bibles? I’m guess I’m trying to justify buying one if the quality is much better than the Crossway.

  88. I will be ordering an Allan ESV Reader’s and was wondering if there is a difference in flexibility, or “limpness”, between the dark brown and the black covers. Anybody know? I would prefer the black I think, but not if it is not as limp as the dark brown.

  89. Sally – there is a degree of variation with the highland goatskin i.e. you can get two dark brown copies which differ slightly in feel. I compared the two in my local bookstore and the only real difference was the grain – the black had a more noticable grain while the brown had a smoother finish

  90. Sally – I would agree with John, the only difference tends to be in the grain not the flexibility. I have a brown and a tan. One is a smoother grain than the other but both are wonderfully flexible straight out of the box.

  91. John and Gary….thank you! I think I’m ready to take the plunge now. :)

  92. A few days ago, I ordered one of the Allan Readers Reference bibles in black Highland Goatskin. This will be my first bible of such fine quality and I’m looking forward to years of enjoyable reading. I’m an old guys so it’s likely my son/daughter-in-law will get more use out of itthan I will but that’s okay.
    Bill

  93. A good sentiment Bill, I hope future generations of my family will enjoy some of the fine bibles that i have invested in too…

  94. My brown Readers Bible came in yesterday and it is AMAZING! Thanks Mark for a great review and for introducing me to R.L. Allan and their quality bibles. This is a bible that I plan to read and study for a long long time.

  95. My readers edition arrived a couple days ago. It’s a beautiful thing. As has been said before, the quality is top notch. Now my challenge is to be worthy of such a fine bible.

  96. Well…..after reading this blog, I finally bit the bullet and ordered a dark brown Allen’s ESV Readers Edition from evangelical bible.
    Selected the expedited shipping to have it here this week, but I am already on pins and needles ready to open the package. This will be my first really nice bible and I have been looking for one that would last my lifetime. This may be it.
    Thanks to those of you who gave excellent descriptions of this bible and took pictures. It helped me to invest in one of these.

  97. Alright, the bible came in today and you guys were right: It’s beautiful!
    I’ve been carrying around the black calfskin ESV Study Bible since it was published, so the first thing I noticed about the Reader’s Edition is the light weight. If you want a bible that gives you plenty of room for notes while not being a cumbersome haul, this is a good one to get.
    I guess because I’m used to the ESV Study Bible paper, the ghosting issue that was mentioned previously is not an issue for me either.
    Beautiful bible; ordered on Monday and arrived all the way on the east coast on Wednesday from evangelicalbible.com. If you want your order quickly, I strongly recommend ordering from these guys.

  98. I just “pulled the trigger” on a black Reader’s a few minutes ago, and I’m already getting impatient. Considering the nicest Bible I’ve ever had was a TruTone PSR, I’m really excited about it. A lot of people makes jokes around here about finally buying their “last Bible”, but at $200 this may actually have to be my last. I figure I can reasonably expect to live another 40 years or so … it should last that long, I’m pretty sure. ;)

  99. Good for you, Chris. I think you’ll appreciate the added readability of the Readers in your last 40 years! I think you’ll find the typesize of that PSR mysteriously starts shrinking on you in the next decade.

  100. Thanks, Bill. I had it narrowed down to the Reader’s or the Cambridge WM, and decided that if I was going to have one nice Bible in my life it was going to be the best there was. Also, I sometimes teach the 2nd-5th graders on Wednesday night, so the ability to roll it into a bludgeon seemed like a plus.

  101. Chris, I just bought the Reader as my last bible a month ago. It could very well last you forever. For me, it makes me want more premium bibles. Since then, I got an ESV pitt minion and it is a struggle to not buy more. Oh well, you can never have enough bibles lying around…right?
    You are going to love the reader.

  102. That’s funny John, because the same thing happened to me. I bought the brown Reader’s last week and then about 72 hours later decided I absolutely had to have the Pitt Minion ESV in brown goatskin….haha. For somebody who loves nice books/bibles and has no other expensive hobbies or tastes, these Allan and Cambridge editions are like crack.

  103. John, the reason I found this site in the first place was that I was looking for info on the PM. I’d still like to have one, but part of getting this was a promise to my wife to hold off buying non-thrift store Bibles for a couple of years. I suppose Ol’ Blue, my venerable compact TruTone, can last till the end of the year, and next year being the KJV anniversary means I’ll be carrying that version around instead. Maybe by then Allan’s will have a sweet little pocket model ready for me …
    And I prefer to think of this sort of thing as bookworm porn, Dale. Crack” seems so gauche. ;)

  104. Getting the ESVR T later this week. Can’t wait to get my hands on it! I’m already planning on getting the NIVC1 from Allan’s, the Brevier Clarendon in brown highland, and the black highland goatskin NASB later this year. I haven’t even gotten the first one and I’m already an addict! At least that covers all my favorite versions, so I shouldn’t need a new bible for decades. That should give time to recoup the hit! ;)

  105. I just received the ESVR1T and I’m floored at the quality! The shock from switching from bonded leather was huge. I was becoming an addict before, I think I’ll need an intervention now… ;)

  106. I purchased an ESV1 black… thought it was beautiful but I haven’t used it much. I like the way the text looks on those message bibles. I would buy a readers edition if they would come out with the NASB translation, single column, paragraph format. Although the allans keep their customers happy and come out with better and better products, I think I will hold out for a Bible that has an inside as wonderful as the outside. I guess I’m just picky, but it is a good deal of money. Meanwhile, I’ll open my ESV 1 more often… otherwise..what’s the point? :) Glad most of you love your new Bibles… I am sure they are beautiful.

  107. Alaric, the Tan was a good choice. I bought the Brown and Tan and find myself using the Tan almost continually….there is something about that color that grows on you more and more. Enjoy it!

  108. Page 1…
    I recently received an Allan Readers Edition in Black Highland Goatskin (ESVR1). Before I comment, let me note that in the ESV translation, I also have the Crossway Heirloom and the Allan ESV1, both being purchased in 2007, so my ESV1 may be slightly different than the latest version(s) of the ESV1, more on that later. Both of these Bibles lack the changes made to the ESV in 2007.
    The quality of the ESVR1 is as everyone says, beautifully made. In comparing it to my ESV1, it is much limper; the cover is softer on the ESVR1, I don’t necessarily have a preference either way. My (older) ESV1 has different paper, it is stiffer, where it even makes noise if you handle the paper, where the paper in the ESVR1 is very limp; flipping through the ESVR1 is much more fluid than with the stiffer ESV1. Neither have what I’d call bright white paper, more on that later. The printing on the spine is stamped into the ESVR1, where it is just printed onto my ESV1 and it is wearing off a bit and I don’t handle it a lot.
    Both Allan Bibles open up flat and nice, where my Crossway is thicker and while it now lays flat, the pages “bulge” up near the middle, I prefer the way the Allan Bible’s lay open compared to my Heirloom; I do wish they moved the text a little more centered in the ESVR1. With page size looking the same in my Heirloom and ESVR1, I have a smidge more room to write on the inside of the Heirloom. The ESVR1 and Heirloom dimensionally are about the same, the yapping of the ESVR1 makes it ever so slightly bigger, with one exception, the ESVR1 is thinner and much lighter, both of which I much prefer. The ESVR1 is a joy to handle and thumb through; it works with you rather than against you, if you know what I mean. The Heirloom is heavy and stiff.
    A side note, I am pleased that Allan doesn’t load up the front of their Bibles with a lot of pages of stuff that is unnecessary, in my opinion.
    In the three years using the ESV, my Crossway Heirloom has been my daily reader. While I have always preferred the ESV1 in quality and for size in handling, the Heirloom is easier on the eyes; I actually came very close to sending my ESV1 back because the way it affected my eyes, ultimately I couldn’t bring myself to do it, I have used it as my “carry” Bible, whether to Church or wherever. The Heirloom Bible is big and heavy, it uses paper that is heavy and very white, so bleed through (ghosting) is not an issue; I have a preference for paper that is brighter white, rather than white’ish, or rather, yellow’ish.
    This is where Allan consistently is lacking in my opinion, their paper. In comparing either of my Allan’s to the Cambridge wide-margin Bibles, where I took both my Allan Bible’s in store to compare, I MUCH prefer the paper in the Cambridge Bibles; their paper is much whiter, has far less ghosting, all the while the paper isn’t real thick and heavy, such as my Heirloom. While I believe that Allan is using quality paper, it simply can’t match that of Cambridge, and at the MSRP prices of the Allan Bible’s I find this a bit unacceptable…

  109. Page 2…
    My new ESVR1 has worse ghosting than does my older ESV1; I have read from others where they feel the current (out of stock) ESV1 may be the same paper, mine clearly is not the same. My ESV1 has more ghosting than I’d like, but it doesn’t seem as bad now after comparing it to the ESVR1; if the ESV1 had whiter paper I think I may have less of an issue with my eyes; I have been reading it some the last couple weeks and while I have enjoyed doing so, there is no comparison to that of the Heirloom with its paper and larger print. One thought that comes to my head when reading the ESVR1, to give a visual, it reminds me of reading something written in pencil where words were erased and instead of a clean erase, the previous markings were smeared and then written over. I think part of this is because the ESVR has very dark print, where my ESV1 looks more “faded”. The ghosting in both of my Allan Bible’s is less bothersome in lower light.
    As mentioned above, I compared the ESVR to a wide-margin Cambridge, it was a NASB. When looking at the two side by side, opened, the Cambridge text looks much cleaner, especially when you open up to the Psalms, where the ESVR1 looks like a mess with all the ghosting.
    I really wanted to prefer the Cambridge in light of my issues with the ESVR paper, but it has its short comings too. As noted by many, the font should be at least a point larger. But beyond that, being these wide-margin Bibles are in paragraph format, nothing is done to make the verse numbers stand out, such as make them bold; I found it very hard to find a verse within a paragraph. On that same note, trying to hunt for a margin note or cross reference was also a major task as the print is very small; I had planned that if I wasn’t satisfied with the ESVR1 that I would purchase the Cambridge wide-margin, this now doesn’t look as compelling as it once did.
    As it stands right now, I can send the ESVR1 back, something I am contemplating; it is a bit frustrating as for years I have wanted a high quality Bible that I would use for years. I would consider other translations other than the ESV, but would only consider the NASB or maybe NKJV but there are fewer options for those, at least in the higher-end Bibles. If only Allan could use the same paper used by Cambridge in their wide-margin, dare to dream!

  110. @Tom Nowicki… I also own a Crossway Classic Reference in black calfskin, but wanted the Allan ESV Reader because of the larger font. I’ll comment on it’s comparison when I get it in… probably in about 2 weeks.

  111. Page 3…
    I did decide to send the Allan Reader’s Reference back. Admittedly I did struggle with the decision, but ultimately the ghosting was too much for me.
    I returned it in exchange for the Cambridge wide-margin in black goatskin. In comparing the two, I prefer the leather on the Allan, it is simply a wonderful Bible to handle, but the Cambridge paper is much superior in my view; it is bright white and ghosting is a non-issue for me. The Allan is “broke-in” right out of the box, where the Cambridge is a bit stiff and needs a little break-in.

  112. Ghosting really doesn’t bother me. I agree that it’s hard to beat the paper in the Cambridge wide-margins.

  113. @Brian Miller — I found myself in the same dilemma, choosing between the Cambridge WM and the Reader. The ghosting in the Allan is noticeable to me, but not distracting, but I can see how others might find it a problem. I personally like the larger font in the Reader as well, as I teach a lot and need to be able to find my place on the run.
    All in all I’m just glad we have such a wide range of choices. To own a Bible at all is a blessing; to own a really well-made one is a joy. I hope you enjoy the Cambridge as much as I do my Allan.

  114. The Cambridge and the Allan are both awesome. I couldn’t choose. :)

  115. @Chris Bloom — I too like the larger font of the Reader; I have used the Crossway Heirloom for the last 3 years, which the Reader’s Reference is the same text block, or whatever you call it; I still really like my Heirloom Bible, I just wish it was the 2007 text. Not only is the font large, words are spaced apart as well as each line from one another.
    Both Bibles are to be commended on the dark print of the ink.
    As many have stated, if the Cambridge wide-margin Bible’s used a bit larger font it would improve an already great Bible. And if Allan used the Cambridge paper, we’d be near perfection.

  116. @ Brian Miller – I have to agree with the last comment. As someone who is privileged to own a copy of both the Cambridge WM and the Reader,combining the strengths of both would produce an amazing edition. I have to say that the crucial issue for me is font size so much so that I use my Reader much more than the WM. In fact I’ve always thought that the paper in the WM is so good I’m afraid to mark it (lol) I ended up marking an old bonded leather NASB. But even this has been taken over by my ESV online account where I can write notes and highlight to my hearts content. That’s progress I guess!

  117. To each his own, and to me it’s the Cambridge ESV Wide Margin Reference in Black Goatskin.
    After handling both Allan’s ESV Reader’s Reference Edition and Cambridge’s Wide Margin in Goatskin covers, I have to say Cambridge has made a better product. Granted, it’s a bit like comparing tangerines to nectarines; because the Reader isn’t a Wide Margin, it allows for a larger font size and smaller width. And the Reader also has some nice features like semi-yapp and an extra ribbon.
    Yet, Cambridge has 4 things I adore over the Allan Reader:
    (1) the Cambridge font looks a bit more stylish, classier than the Reader font. Cambridge’s font says “Bible” to me, whereas the Reader font says “I’ve also done some work in Bibles”.
    (2) the Cambridge center column reference is bordered and therefore the text layout looks noticeably cleaner than the Reader as your eye scans down the page.
    (3) the self-titled wide margin. If the font speaks “Bible”, the wide margin on the Cambridge screams it. Not just perfect for note taking, the margin space accents the text layout. Puritanical, yet sensual at the same time. The wide margin is downright sinful to behold.
    (4) the Cambridge paper wins hands down. The font, the text layout, and the margins make the Cambridge look like a Bible; the paper makes the Cambridge feel like a Bible. The paper on the Cambridge Wide Margin is second to none. Thick, white, clean. No ghosting. Turning the leaves of the Cambridge Wide Margin is a heavenly experience.
    The Allan Reader is a fine Bible. The Cambridge Wide Margin is a finely crafted Bible.

  118. I agree with you, Todd, that the Cambridge wide margin is a great bible. I have a hard time deciding which one to pick up every day: the Reader or the Wide Margin.
    I don’t want to do without either one of them, honestly. If I had to buy just one though, it would be the Reader in tan…..

  119. I have the crimson reader’s edition and have to say that it is breathtakingly beautiful. I love the reader’s edition anyway and am not too bothered by the somewhat subjective ‘ghosting’ issue, IMHO all bibles suffer from ‘ghosting’ to some degree. The colour (yes I’m English) is outstanding. It shows a multiplicity of tones depending on the ambient light from a luxurious wine colour in fading light to a full on crimson in the sun.
    The build quality is… well it’s an Allan’s so need one say more.
    All in all this is another quality choice in the superlative reader’s edition.

  120. I reluctantly ordered a ESV Readers Edition in Brown Highland Goatskin (ESVR1BR) on August 11 from Allan. Reluctantly because I am currently living and ministering in the Philippines and I was concerned that it would be stolen from the mail before I could lay hands on it or that the climate would destroy it as it has on my store bought Bibles and my books. My other option was to order and have it sent to the States, to await my return at the end of September. Like a kid at Christmas, I wanted now and I was not going to be here that long, anyhow! However, it arrived on August 31 safe and sound and I have to say that it is a beautiful piece of work! I have never seen such craftsmanship in a Bible. I used to think that buying genuine leather was the ticket. The color of the goatskin on my Allan is a rich dark brown with nice grain. The font is perfect for my old eyes and the bleed through on the paper is not bad at all and does not bother me in the least. And the Highland Goatskin smells like a new car! Three ribbons tops it off, one hunter green, one royal purple and on a golden brown. All in all this investment…my present to myself for being here for 4 years…is well worth the money. Thank you Allan for your professionalism, your dedication to turning out a quality product and I will be buying again from you!

  121. Oh, I forgot to add that I ordered an Allan Journal along with my ESVR1BR in the same color. Like the Bible, it is an excellent piece of work, so much so I almost hate to use it! Well, what are you sitting here reading my posts…go put in an order!!! You will NOT be disappointed.

  122. Wow, I am so glad someone posted a comment on Amazon that mentioned the Allan’s bibles. I have a NIV purchased over 30 years ago. I spent a pretty penny several years ago having it rebound in goatskin as I didn’t want to change bibles & lose my makings & notes. Well, here I am with pages falling out & so now I am ready to finally transcribe them into a new bible. I visited the local Christian bookstore & they had only lower quality bibles. They did however introduce me to the ESV. I was not familiar with it so I called our pastor in AZ (we moved a few months ago) & he gave it high praise. After reading this review, I plaved my order for the new crimson reader direct from Allans. I heard back from them that there have been delays, but it should ship this month. Like most of you, I can hardly wait…this will be my first ESV & my first super quality bible. Thanks to everyone who posted here & to Mark for thr fabulous review!

  123. This is my first Allan. I ordered the tan for me and the brown for my wife. I noticed the brown is a tad more supple than the tan but not by much. Every piece of leather is unique. They are both wonderful. The paper too is fantastic, very “little” ghosting. I have no idea what all the fuss and complaining is about but don’t let it deter you from investing in one of these beautiful gems. I just a brown PSR and can’t wait for that to come. In the future I hope to get a crimson NASB too. I had a cordovan ESV study bible and thinline I bought from amazon but its texture was “too” soft and squishy, and just not right for me, almost causing my hand to sweat and just feel weird, but these goatskins have the soft smooth buttery feel and the nice sturdy grainyness as well. The ESV wide margin goatskin is really nice too but the binding and finish on the Allan is first class too. Thanks Mark for this blog. Thanks Evangelicalbible.com for the great customer service too!

  124. I’ve Just received the Black Readers Bible (and the Longprimer in brown). Fantastic!! I have the HCSB Minister’s bible in calfskin, and while it is soft, there’s no comparison.
    I’ve noticed the point about the bleedthrough of the paper, and yes, it’s there. No, I don’t have a problem with it. The bleedthrough causes this bible to only get a 9/10 score (the Longprimer gets a full 10/10).
    The quality of workmanship is unparalleled, and the smell is probably the most evocative I’ve ever tried.
    Amazing quality.

  125. I received this today…
    Crossway is in the final process of implementing a small number of changes to the ESV Bible text and text notes, similar to what most translations have done in the years following their initial publication. The ESV 2011 changes represent a very small fraction of a percentage (as compared to the number of changes made in recent years to other leading translations). Most changes are minor, primarily involving grammar, punctuation, and the textual footnotes. The ESV 2011 text will be available online in mid April 2011, and the first print editions that include the 2011 changes will be released soon thereafter.

  126. Based on the comments herein, and the excellent review, I purchased the Chocolate Brown Allan ESV Reader’s Edition from evangelicalbibles.com and even changed streams (changed from black binding to the brown) and received the purchase within a few days in excellent condition. In retrospect, I would have elected to buy next day shipping just so I could track the shipment.
    I highly value the new Allan ESV and it is now my primary study/church bible. The binding and layout is superb.
    I’m a very happy return customer, having previously purchased an Oxford Long Primer KJV from Allan/Scotland back in 2006.

  127. Now I’m really confused about the “ghosting” issue with respect to the ESV Reader’s edition. Some persons find it so distracting that the ESV Reader’s edition is not worth the trouble. Others do not even mention the “ghosting” at all and are very satisfied with this Allan edition. Is it possible that the paper or ink varies from text block to text block in a way that creates this “problem”? Or, are different people just “sensitive” to the ghosting issue?

  128. My wife and I both have a Reader and the ghosting is the same. If ghosting bothers you, it will be an issue. Ghosting doesn’t bother me very much. I wish there was less ghosting, but I still enjoy reading this bible immensely.

  129. @Michael – I doubt there is any difference, they all should be the same. As John says, some people are more sensitive than others or maybe some chose to overlook it simply because they like the quality of the binding and cover. While I don’t have as many Bibles as some, I do have quite a few and I find this edition to have an excessive amount of ghosting; I so wish this were not so as this Bible uses the same print as my daily Bible, Crossway’s Heirloom Edition, and I would have been extremely pleased to have replaced my Heirloom with the Allan, but alas, the ghosting was way too much for me and in my opinion quite sad for a Bible of such expense.
    Crossway has their 2011 ESV rolling out this month and while I’d like to have hopes Allan will come out with an edition of this and also not have the ghosting issues, I lack that confidence and suspect it could be a year or so before coming with a 2011 edition, so I am considering a new Crossway Edition.

  130. I really am wanting one of these. Two things are holding me back.
    1. Page ghosting.
    2. The page edges getting caught on the overlap of the cover on the lining. Happens to my NIVC1 and bends the page corners/edges.

  131. Andrew,
    I know what you mean. I have been very close to buying a couple of times but there are too many reports of people returning them due to the paper issue. Is this being picky? Sure it is but for $200+ I think a little pickiness is understandable.
    I ended up going with the Hendrickson ESV Minister’s Bible in Genuine Leather. Reports I have seen indicate that the Leather is very good and paper quality is also good. I have not seen this myself yet but hopefully they’re right. If not my investment is only $40 and I can still return it.

  132. I contacted Allan’s about the possibility of an NASb Reader. Here is their response:
    Dear Terri
    We’re so glad you enjoy your ESV Raeders edition.
    We do plan to introduce a two column NASB reference edition not dissimilar to the ESV Readers edition early in 2012, when it is printed.
    We’ll post the details on the website when we have definite news.
    Kind regards
    Nicholas Gray

  133. Just curious: are the current ESV Reader’s Editions printed with the 2011 text or the 2007 text? Thanks.

  134. I had posted previously regarding my purchase of an ESV3 that I didn’t feel the value was worth the cost of that particular version. I just recieved my new ESVR1 in dark brown and could’t be more pleased. Allan has out done themselves. The quality put into this Bible is a wonder to behold. i would recommend this as an investment which will give you years of Bible study without having to replace a Bible full of study notes after only a couple years.

  135. Thank you for your comprehensive review. I began with your review of the Cambridge Wide Margin and came around, page by page, to this review. I’m excited to receive my *brown* Allan Readers Bible. (Tell your wife I’m with her, LOL) I had never heard of Allan Bibles till now, can’t wait!

  136. Anyone interested in buying a Black Reader’s Edition in highland goatskin? It is in great condition. There is no writing anywhere and no wear to the binding whatsoever. I purchased it a few months ago, but would like to invest in the single column instead. There is nothing wrong with this Bible and it’s still in the original box. Let me know if you’re interested. John – (734)788-4633, jhingelberg@gmail.com

  137. I appreciate these reviews but it would be nice to know the origin of manufacture of these top shelf bibles.

  138. Jim, I think you want to know the origin of the paper, of the printing process, of the textblock sewing/preparation, and of the binding. You can get 4 different companies or countries involved.
    Instead, what the publisher will brag about is the origin of the LEATHER that went into the binding process!

  139. Just bought a copy of this beautiful Bible in black and was wondering how to care for it ( and how not to ). Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

  140. Janet: The best thing for most leathers it to be handled. The oils your body produces are what keep your skin in good condition, and leather really is just skin. SO the best thing you can do for your Bible is read it a lot. Actually.
    I’d believe that God set that up on purpose.

  141. Hello, I just wanted to tell you that based on this review, I purchased this Bible in brown. I waited anxiously for its arrival and loved it when I received it. It does have ghosting but it is not enough to bother me. In fact, to me, the ghosting contributes to the beauty of this Bible! (That’s how much I love it!) I had never heard of R.A. Allan Bibles before this. I’ve had it for several months, and last week we took a trip to California via Delta. I packed my Bible and my study, not knowing that shampoo from a previous (car) trip was in the outside pocket. When we arrived, the shampoo had broken open and leaked into my suitcase. My study was soaked with shampoo, but my Bible, thanks to the full yap, was completely dry except for the cover and ribbons.I cleaned it off, and, No Damage! Woohoo~ I was so happy! I can now attest to the fabulous quality of this binding! Thanks for such a thorough review!

  142. I understand that the ESV Reader is going to be out of print soon and won’t be available again until sometime in 2013. I imagine others of you have heard that also. I’m speculating that Allans is either going to upgrade the paper in the Reader or upgrade to the 2011 ESV text or both. I’m wondering if, Mark, you’ve heard anything specific?

  143. James: I had the opportunity to visit RL Allan at their HQ in Glasgow Scotland recently. I was shown the unbound sheets of what I believe to be the replacement for the ESV readers (of which I have a copy). I can confirm that the paper has been upgraded and the version was I believe the 2011 ESV text. Looks like it will be a great bible, I’ll be getting one when they are released which I believe is in January 2013

  144. Hello Mark
    I was just about to order the readers ref edition but noticed that they are changing it to a “new” readers edition and that it is not available until September 2013. Can you tell me what they are changing?
    Thanks
    Trey

  145. Mark,

    Will you be writing a review of the Allan ESV New Classic Readers Edition? It’s supposed to be coming out this month and I’m excited. I imagine it will be at least as good, if not better, than the previous edition.

  146. Hi Mark. I’m looking for a bible with larger font and I’m torn between this one and the ESV SCR by Allan. I’ve already got the Classic Reference ESV. I’m swaying towards the SCR due to the single column. Is there any quality differences between the editions?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>