Sneak Peek: Crimson Reader’s, Cambridge Cameos, and an iPad App

My stack of Bibles to write about gets taller and taller, so I thought I'd share some snaps of things to come. No reviews here, just some eye candy to whet your appetite. I shot some test photos and figured I should share them. 

First, some views of the new R. L. Allan's Reader's Reference ESV (available here and here) bound in crimson goatskin:






I'm very excited about Cambridge's re-introduction of the classic Cameo setting of the KJV. Imagine something with a roughly Pitt Minion footprint, only thicker. There are three flavors of black to choose from — imitation, split calf, and goatskin — as well as brown calfskin. I have to say, I'm partial to the grainy split calf KJV with Apocrypha. See below:






The Cameo editions are available for pre-order below. Note that the pre-publication photos aren't representative. The images here represent the actual bindings.

The iPad was a birthday present from my wife. I promptly installed the Olive Tree ESV Study Bible app, and like it even better than the version for the iPhone.  I'm not sure that I'll actually write this one up, but if you're wondering, it's a worthy application. Behold:


If you turn it sideways, you get a very reader-friendly, BDB-approved single column setting with notes on the outside margin.

25 Comments on “Sneak Peek: Crimson Reader’s, Cambridge Cameos, and an iPad App

  1. Correct me if I am wrong but the Crimson Shade looks like it could pass for a shade of burgundy?
    I am mentally comparing with the nice Alhambra Red on the PSR. The crimson color reminds me of the Burgundy NIV Pitt Minion that Mark reviewed. THe shades look almost identical.
    Personally I am a fan of the Alhambra Red.

  2. I was very disappointed with the Reader’s Edition. The margins are too small for any kind of significant notes and the paper is too thin to hold the ink. Readability is hampered by short columns and the terrible center column reference. Take away any sense of portability and you have a terrible Bible with a perfect color and a binding to die for.
    I went with a hardback cambridge wide margin for notes, and an ESV slimline goatskin for reading, porting around, preaching, and teaching. I frequently use the paperback New Cambridge Paragraph KJV as well – terrible cover and binding, perfect layout inside.
    I wanted to love the Reader’s Edition, but a cover doesn’t make a Bible.

  3. I hear that. I think the Readers serves another use other than replacing a wide margin. It is highly readable and does have more room than the average Bible for notes…yet at the same time it comes right up to the line “too big to carry” without crossing it. Going back to the original review, it is a great Bible if you are looking for something easy to read or if you are a preacher/teacher. I suppose though that that is the case with all Bibles…a great Bible for one person can be a terrible choice for another simple because they intend on using them differently. Anyhoo…it’s nice to live in a day and age when we have choices like these.

  4. I love the Reader’s. Same basic bible as my Crossway Heirloom, but not as thick, better paper and better binding and cover. Best of all is the font size and contrast between print and paper,which is bright white. Margins are wide enough for my kind of notes, as I go with a minimalist approach within the Bible itself. I only wish I could get the NIV is the same format. Love my Allen’s NIV, but the print is a little small for my 56 year old eyes.

  5. A lot of ESV love on this site! Certainly the ESV is unique in being available in so many different formats so soon since its release. But has anyone seen an ESV without versification? Some of these Allans have gorgeous paper and typesetting, but the combination of so many reference letters and verse numbers leaves me cold in terms of interacting with the text. Putting this apparatus off in a side margin would be acceptable but I’d sure like an uncluttered text to go with the quite-stately ESV translation. Of what I’m aware of, the simple Large Print Text is about the best I’ve seen in this regard, since the versification is easier to ignore when it’s always in the same place.

  6. If you’d like single columns everywhere in BibleReader then you can turn off Multi-Column Text under Other Settings. Though what I just did last week was do some simple CSS modification of some of the app’s source files and made my top window single column, commentary double column (in portrait mode) and added a margin to all. I also modified the app’s header and icons, though I don’t think I’ll bother doing that again once an app update overwrites my changes.
    Here’s what it now looks like: (be sure to zoom in).

  7. J.Kru’s comments got me thinking. I bought an Allans NIV a couple of months ago and was disappointed with a couple of things too. First the red die bled through onto the pages so you ended up seeing blotchy red ring around each page. Not sure if that was a fluke or not. I can’t quite tell from Mark’s pictures if his has that too. Also I’m not real crazy about the piece of cardboard (or whatever it is) attached to the inside of the cover. Maybe my tastes are warped, but I have become accustomed to the leather like paper substance on the inside of most bibles.
    So I wonder if rebinding is the way to go if you cannot find anything off the shelf that pleases you. From the checking that I’ve done, the costs between a rebind, and any various cambridge or allans is about the same (roughly).
    My question is .. if you wanted to reproduce your own Allans-like version using one of the rebinding shops, could you? Do the leathers compare? Even though there are issues, could you find a textblock as good as an allans or cambridge? For those of you who have had a bible rebound, how is it holding up? Are you still happy with it?

  8. First, I love Allan bibles. In my opinion, they are the best. It is normal in an Allan bible to have some of the red edging bleed onto the page. It usually isn’t very far onto the page. It will vary on each individual bible.
    It’s hard to find the perfect bible. Rebinding is a very nice option. The price will add up quickly though if you want goatskin and leather lining. Then your main limiting factor is finding a text block you like because you can’t customize those. I have had a couple bibles rebound, and I’m very happy with them.

  9. @bill — The closest I’ve seen to a completely unadorned ESV is the Literary Study Bible. There are no references, only a few translator’s notes, and the verse numbers are very small and in lighter print than the text. In addition, the study notes are confined to book and chapter introductions, both of which are clearly set off from the text and easy to ignore. The setting itself is single-column and paragraphed, and the margins are about as wide as the Reader’s, meaning that people with small handwriting (like me) can fit a lot of notes there.
    The only issues some people have are the paper, which is beige or sepia rather than white, and the font, which is a little small and slightly more … ornate(?) than one usually sees in ESVs. Neither bothers me — I think the paper color and font work together to make a very classy package — but I know some might have an issue with them.
    I’m actually considering having mine rebound, which amazes me since I only bought it because it was 80% off at LifeWay. I hope this helps!

  10. Chris .. so funny you mentioned that LSB. I am also thinking seriously of having it rebound. I normally cannot handle any font size smaller than 10pt, but the LSB for some reason works for me – even with its 8pt font – I think its the leading. I picked up one at LifeWay too .. $10. And the paragraph format spoils you very quickly.
    My deli ma for the last couple of weeks was do I rebind the LSB, or just go with the Readers Edition. Even though I just knocked the Readers a little, its still a awesome bible.
    Maybe we need to compare notes on rebinding the LSB! 🙂

  11. Oh this is more a rant than a comment, but why can’t the premium Bible printers update the fonts in their KJV Bibles to more legible, modern fonts, as done for other translations? Most (if not all!) high-quality KJVs are still stuck with old-style fonts (such as this Cambridge Cameo).

  12. ChrisB & Derek, thanks for reminding me of the LitSB. If you rebind yours, I’d love to see the results here or on the FB page.
    I agree it’s an attractive layout, and I even like the off-white paper, although I think the inclusion of the versification was completely out-of-character with that project’s stated goals. Still, as you say, the verse numbers aren’t terribly intrusive. My beef with the LitSB is more with the typeface. Although attractive, it’s quite narrow for it’s height, and worse yet, it seems to be way too “light” in terms of the boldness of print. (It seems fine reading a Crossway sample pdf on a monitor, but the bound copies just don’t work for me.) I almost find the smaller font of the standard ESV-SB (also a paragraph format) easier to read with over-50 eyeballs. I’d like to see one of the new large(r)-print SB’s–I suspect I’ll find that larger font quite readable–but the intrusion of the added reference letters and the sheer bulk of the volume won’t be real positives for me. A large-print LitSB may be just what I need!
    It’s funny, I think these comments about the font of the LitSB apply to the 2nd Chris’s comments too. The modern fonts may be more attractive, but I’d argue they are NOT more legible compared to the old KJV typefaces if you’re trying to manage page size and page count in your overall design. Those old guys designing the typefaces really knew how to make small Bibles readable, even for aging eyes. Maybe because they ruined THEIR eyes with all the lead and backwards-reading they had to do during a lifetime of setting type!

  13. One thing is clear, it is impossible to make a Bible that all can agree on! Like others, I like Allan’s bindings and quality leather, but until they can “get control” of the paper I will always be cautious before any other purchases. Many are thrilled with the Reader’s Edition; I would be as well if better paper was used, less bleed through. Alan G. above correctly notes that this Bible is basically the same as the Heirloom Bible from Crossway and that the Crossway is thicker, well I prefer the thicker Crossway with its more opaque paper; I tried the Reader’s Edition and went back to the Heirloom. Yes, the Alan is of better quality, though the Heirloom isn’t bad itself, but if it bothers one to read, what good is it.

  14. @Brian — As I always say, we’re blessed to have such a wealth of choices. I personally love my Reader, but I’m glad the Crossway works for you. I own a few Crossways as well, from the tiny Deluxe Compact to the TruTone PSR to the HC Study Bible, and have yet to find one that I didn’t enjoy reading. I suppose that will change as my eyes get older, but for now it’s just nice to have so many options.
    After all, if you have a Bible you can read, you’re better off than most, right?

  15. @Chris — I am not sure what you mean by your last line.
    We are blessed with many choices, that said, we are discussing higher end Bibles, a luxury that we are willing to pay for, and therefor expecting more, yes? I tried the Readers Edition, I simply loved holding and thumbing through that Bible, but my eyes are sensitive to print, unfortunately. The print type is the same in this Bible as the Heirloom, so I’d prefer to own the Allan, unfortunately I couldn’t keep it.
    I also own an older ESV1.
    While I have many Bibles, I tend to get attached to one; I’d love to have that be an Allan bound Bible with Cambridge paper, in the ESV. It isn’t like I am picky. 🙂

  16. Brian —
    I meant no insult or disrespect to you. As you say, these editions are something we pay a great deal for, and we therefore expect more from them. Having recently acquired a Cambridge Pitt Minion, I have to agree that Cambridge paper in an Allan cover would be ideal.
    The remark about being better off than most was directed as much to myself as to anyone else. Like I said, I’m glad that you’ve found a solution (the Heirloom) that works for you. Any Bible is a blessing, but a really well-made one that’s easy to read is a joy.

  17. @Chris – I took no offense in your post, sorry if I replied as if I did. 🙂 The Heirloom is a nice Bible, but I would much rather own the Allan Reader’s Edition, if it had better paper, that was the gist of what I was saying.

  18. Is the new Cameo, without Apocrypha, in black goatskin, also missing “Holy Bible” stamped in gold on the front cover – I can only see the Cameo with Apocrypha in the calfskin in the pictures … thanks in advance if anyone can answer this question!

  19. Chris: The goatskin Cameo without Apocrypha *does* have HOLY BIBLE stamped on the front cover.

  20. Thanks Mark! That’s too bad – I actually prefer the cover unstamped, like the volume with the Apocrypha – it appears more classy to me that way.
    On a related note, is there any safe way to remove the stamped gold foil from a cover like that?

  21. Good question. Someone with more experience will have to field that one, but I will say that given the fact that several of my stamped Cambridges have lost their gilding through use, I assume there’s a way. If I were going to try, I’d start by rubbing with a damp cloth and escalate from there. Honestly, though, you’ll be left with the impression in the leather, so I don’t know how much rubbing off the gilding really accomplishes.
    I prefer no stamp on the cover, too. Minimal ornamentation = greater elegance, IMO.

  22. I’ve had good luck removing “wrong names” on Bibles by using lacquer thinner on the end of a Q-tip. Try to just get it on the gold stamping (the impression helps in this regard) let it soak for ~15 seconds, then wipe away with a clean Q-tip and cloth. Might take about 3 applications to get it completely off. But Mark’s right, there’s still the impression left on the leather. You can fill it in pretty good with about a dozen coats of black shoe polish (assuming the cover’s black) but it’s never completely invisible.
    But if it’s just the words “Holy Bible” you’re trying to remove, I wouldn’t rush into it. It might grow on you.

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