Design and Production Bible (2Krogh + Jongbloed)

One of the most interesting Bibles to pass across my desk in a long while isn't a Bible at all in the proper sense. It's the Design and Production Bible produced by Danish design firm 2Krogh and the Dutch printers Jongbloed. Thomas Silkjær hooked me up with a copy. And it's … fantastic. The cover has a groovy shine to it, but the fireworks are inside.

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The reason for the collaboration is to show what these firms are capable of. Quite a bit, it turns out. Here's the important bit:

"In this book you will find sections by 2Krogh on design & typography and by Jongbloed on printing & book binding interspersed with examples of our work reproduced in full size on genuine bible paper." 

In other words, throughout the book a series of 2Krogh designs are reproduced on various types of paper. At the low end of the spectrum, there's 22 GSM White Indopaque. On the high end, there's Primapage 45 GSM White. In the hands of a Bible publisher, this guide gives you the ability to determine in advance what a design will look like on different kinds of paper, how much ghosting there will be, what various spot colors will look like, and so on. 

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For example, here's one of my favorite of the 2Krogh designs, a complex study Bible layout. There's a lot of information and it's organized well, taking advantage of spacing and color. The scripture text is set in two columns at the top, with two columns of references beside it in red. The notes are set in two wider columns below. There aren't a bunch of superfluous lines dividing everything, just a rule between the top and bottom sections consisting of red dots. Very elegant. 

And note how abandoning the nineteenth century "red letter" innovation gives a designer freedom to use color for aesthetic emphasis.

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This layout is reproduced several times throughout the book on different paper. In this case, I've chosen the highest quality, Primapage 45 GSM White, because nothing is too good for the Bible Design Blog audience. The paper specs are listed in the margin above the page number:

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And to give you a better idea of how opaque the paper is, here's another layout on Primapage 45 GSM White, where you can see some ghosting from the page behind. This is Bible paper, so you're going to get some. On this paper, though, it's much less noticeable than on the others.

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How to quantify something like opacity? No problem. Each type of paper comes complete with a specification chart, listing weight, thickness, opacity and brightness. In this case, the opacity standard is ISO 2471, and for this paper the target is 84, with a minimum of 83. I have no idea what that means, but we'll see how it compares to other samples as we go along.

There's even a formula for calculating the thickness of your final book block depending on which type of paper you choose:

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I should point out here something that should be obvious: I'm not as good a photographer as some of you give me credit for. I struggle especially with photographing paper. Leather I can handle, but when there's white balance to figure out, I tend to stumble. As you can see in the photo below, where the book rests on a white card, my whites are looking a little gray. (I have the same problem with laundry, if you're wondering.)

But check it out:

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If you decide to get wild with accent colors, you can see how different PMS colors will reproduce on paper. This takes the guesswork out of printing. Those brick red backgrounds might look great on screen, but if they're going to turn out muddy in real life, why not drop them?

Here's another layout example, this time on Primapage 30 GSM White. The opacity numbers are lower here: the target is 80,5 with a 79,5 minimum. As you may be able to tell in the photo, the ghosting is more significant. It looks comparable to what you see with Crossway's ESV Study Bible, which is printed on Primalux 30 GSM by R. R. Donnelly. 

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The Design and Production Bible is full of useful information for designers and publishers. For example, there's a chart indicating "efficient page heights and widths with the corresponding numbers of pages per signature." It might interest you to know that if you have 40 signatures in your book, each consisting of 64 pages, your page count will be 2560. Or it might not. 

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In addition, the book showcases the printing and binding process, including some finished products that might look familiar:

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I can only scratch the surface here — there are over 800 pages — but one thing I have to share is 2Krogh's brilliant Dwarsligger® concept. Here's how they explain it:

The Dwarsligger® is a unique and innovative book concept. The small and handy size of this book makes it easy to carry in a handbag or even in the smallest pocket. It can be read anytime and anywhere: on the train, plane or bus, during any odd, spare moment and—due to its landscape layout—while lying in bed or on the beach. 

This book no longer has a conventional left and right page. The text in the Dwarsligger® has been rotated through 90° and therefore reads "crosswise" thus creating one large page. It reads just as easily as a normal book.

While reading you can comfortably hold the Dwarsligger® in just one hand, because of its size and weight and due to its unique method of binding. The book looks like a hard cover, but is completely different, it is in fact a case bound book that is not fixed on the front.

In other words, this:

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And here's an example of page layouts in that style:

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My first thought, looking at this, is: I'd buy one. My second thought is, wouldn't this make a much better "outreach" edition than most of what's out there under that title? Instead of a volume clearly manufactured to be cheap and disposable, an innovative format like this would get passed around and appreciated. It would make a very different kind of statement.

It's a real pleasure to see so much effort going into Bible design and binding. For people in the industry, the Design and Production Bible is a must-have. I'm not sure how widely available it is—perhaps Thomas will chime in and enlighten us. One thing I do know: 2Krogh and Jongbloed are doing great work, both in terms of design innovation and quality production. The Design and Production Bible is full of inspiration.

19 Comments on “Design and Production Bible (2Krogh + Jongbloed)

  1. Wow, that looks really interesting….perhaps I’m too into this bible design stuff now. :)
    That’s interesting that even the very best paper in there has some bleed-through. I tend to not be as bothered by ghosting as some. I do wonder how much thought publishers put into paper selection. I guess it’s just a balancing act between quality and cost.

  2. I’ve been waiting to see this review for a while! Every few months I ask if there are any copies to purchase, notoriously hard to get! Hopefully now reviews are coming out it will be easier.

  3. The Dwarsligger (see more in the website http://www.dwarsligger.com) reminds me of those great old Pocket Canons (see mark’s review in January 2008) in many ways. Unfortunately I don’t believe they were a marketing success. I fear the same is true of the TNIV “Books of the Bible” project. Why can’t a Bible designed specifically to be read (instead of just carried to church for “following along”) succeed in the marketplace?
    Sad commentary on the Bible-buying public. Hey, that’s us!
    On a more upbeat note, I see the Dwarsligger format (at least of the Psalms) moves those intrusive verse numbers outside of the normal reading space! Sure would like to see that practice come back into vogue.

  4. Bill, this is an interesting question: Why can’t a Bible designed specifically to be read (instead of just carried to church for “following along”) succeed in the marketplace?
    Wanting a bible to just read is new thing for me. I always wanted a nice portable bible to bring to church. Problem is, that was all I needed a bible for. Now, I’ve come to realize that my time spent in the bible at church should just be a small fraction of my time spent reading the bible. Sadly, it appears that a very large percent of Christians only need a bible for church. I talk to lots of people at my church and they only use their bible at church. They say that they aren’t really readers. In my case, I find that bibles designed for portability aren’t my favorite for reading for extended periods. So basically, I think that most people don’t need a bible designed specifically to be read. They just need one to open to the verse when the pastor says to. Ask people what their reading in their bibles. You might find it discouraging. :(

  5. The different weights of paper displayed in the book is not to display difference in quality, but all papers are high quality. But by choosing the lightest, will eventually give a thinner book, than the more heavy papers. Also the tint of the paper is interesting: Some might prefer more yellow papers, than others who might prefer them as unnatural white as possible.
    I will be sure to let you all know when we have chosen a way of selling and distributing the books. Up until now, it has been for Bible publishers only.
    There are two Bibles currently done in the Dwarsligger format: The Danish Bible, and the KJV by Cambridge. I would expect a lot more in the future, keep your eyes open! It makes for a nice reading experience on the go, and is a perfect Bible for bringing to church!

  6. Thomas, my understanding is that what gives the Dwarsligger the size advantage over conventional trade paperbacks is the use of thinner bible paper in books that traditionally used thicker paper. Of course, the clever “rotated” layout format of the Dwarsligger permits the page area to be reduced as well so the volumetric savings is not achieved only in a book’s thickness.
    But publishers have been producing bibles with this thin paper for many years! Can you describe more fully the 2 Dwarsligger Bibles you mentioned? If the typesize (font size) is no smaller than traditional Bibles, and the page area is indeed reduced, it would seem the Dwarsligger Bibles are either quite thick (many thousands of pages) or else come in multiple volumes. If the latter, can you describe how many?
    If the Psalms (Psalmen) make up a single stand-alone volume, and that’s ~7% of the 66- to 78-book canon, does that means there’s ~14 volumes in the Danish and KJV full-Bible versions?
    Could I suggest you also consider publishing the Revised Common Lectionary in this format? The 3-year cycle and “seasons” of the church year would make multiple volumes very natural.
    Also, are they planning to use the conventional Dwarsligger covers for these bible editions, or is the more traditional leather cover an option?
    Best of luck with this clever new format!

  7. Bill: Yes, the savings is in parts: thinner paper, new binding style with practically no loss in the spine, that a spread can be treated as a full page, and the quality of typesetting.
    We believe that a typeface do not necessarily have to be a specific font-size to be readable, but a lot of other typographic measures can be taken into account. The Danish Bible, as an example, is 2112 pages, but due to paper, not more than roughly one inch thick. It is a full Bible (NT+OT, 66 books), including cross-references on all pages. To keep readability as good as possible, some changes to the text layout has been made: E.g. have blank lines been replaced by an aligna character, and poetry is also in line, separated by slashes. Find a few photos here and here (from 2krogh.com).
    The Psalms showcased in the D&P Bible above, is a separate product of the Psalms alone, currently published in both Spanish and Dutch.
    Jongbloed is a publisher of Dutch products, and 2Krogh is a design company – all work published in any other language is by other publishers.
    Currently the board covers are the only in production, but I know that there are done some tests with e.g. PU and leather.

  8. Wow, Thomas. You guys really know how to pick typefaces! If you’d told me you were doing in Danish the prophet Isaiah in all italics, I’d have thought you were crazy! But the finished product is gorgeous and highly readable. And the ragged right (left justified) format of the conventionally-bound Dutch bible is also highly interesting–I’d like to try reading full chapters that way.
    The pictures of the red covers on the Dutch Bible make it appear to be available in both single- and double-column formats…or do you alternate between the two depending on the book, like some of the text editions of the Harper NRSV?
    Are any of your layouts commercially available? I tried to find La Biblia del Siglo de Oro on the Sociedad Biblica webpage (hoping to give it as a Christmas present!) but was unsuccesful.
    You make a good point that another advantage of the Dwarsliggger, if bound correctly, is that it eliminates the wasted space in the spine’s gutter. And yet you are sensitive to the fact (at least for me) that if the text comes too close to the outer edges, it creates an uncomfortable feeling on the part of the reader. (And I’m not one to notate in these margins, although that is another advantage.)
    So what are the dimensions (in USA inches or cm) of that Dwarsligger Danish bible? How many total pages is it?

  9. Bill: Thank you! We always strive to make the very best product – every time.
    The Dutch Bible is only available in 2 column, with all longer passages of poetry in 1 column – not only per book. We actually do this kind of typesetting quite often.
    All our typesettings are for clients, and should all be available commercially. I found La Biblia del Siglo de Oro on Amazon – unfortunately I only think they have done a paperback binding.
    The Dwarsligger format is always 12×8 cm – the Danish Bible is 2112 pages.

  10. I agree with Alexis. Can you tell us if this book is available anywhere? I would love to buy a copy, but have not found one yet, after searching my normal sources…

  11. Thomas, my wife loves her La Biblia del Siglo Oro. Wonderful Christmas present! I found several buying options for it. Gorgeous layout, and I suspect getting the Deuterocanonicals in a Spanish Bible is rare.
    Do you have ISBN’s or links for other of the editions shown on your website? I’m particularly interested in the Dutch Nieuwe Bijbel Vertalin setting (with ragged right 2-column layout) with the black-cover, gilded edges.
    And Alexis and Dan sound interested in the D&P book, which might be a “special”?

  12. The D&P Bible is unfortunately not officially for sale (yet). But you are welcome to contact us and we might work something out! (http://2krogh.dk/bibles/#/contact)
    Bill: I can get you ISBN’s, just compile a list and ill look it up for you!

  13. Thomas, Thanks for your kind offer. I’d appreciate getting the ISBNs for:
    1. the left-justified Dutch Nieuwe Bijbel Vertaling shown here (Is this also one of yours?)
    2. the Dutch Het Boek shown here (is there a binding other than pale blue?)
    3. the dwarsligger Psalms shown here (this is in Dutch, right, not Danish, as is the complete dwarsligger bible?)
    4. the larger Norwegian bible shown here
    5. the smaller Norwegian bible shown here
    By the way, your resetting of the Cambridge Ruby is absolutely stunning! Unfortunately, my eyes aren’t good enough for Ruby-sized text. But I think there are others here who would be delighted in know when/if that will be available to replace the “worn plates” look that so many KJV’s have here. Is the 2-color not yet released? Is the single-color in print, at least in paperback?

  14. 1 (first link): 90-6126-861-3 or 90-6126-859-1 (with DC)
    1 (second link): Icelandic, we also did that one. 978-9979-798-81-1
    2: Unaware of other bindings. It is PU with a droplet sewn. 978-90-6539-320-3
    3: The Psalms is in Dutch yes. 978-94-6073-000-9. Also recently made in Spanish 978-84-9945-115-2
    4-5: Has not been published yet, and designs have changed since these shots.
    The Ruby setting was made to replicate the original typesetting as near as possible. It is not available in 2-colors, was only made as so to present in our D&P bible. The 1-color has been printed many times.
    Please let me know if you need anything else :)

  15. Thanks great designs for the bible, it can help keep the bible in tact for longer when binded properly.

  16. Spanish Bibles with the deuterocanon are just about the same as English Bibles with them – you can get them with or without, as Españophones(?) are traditionally and overwhelmingly Catholic (when they have a religion), but many just buy the Reina-Valera [the "Bear Bible"] in one of its innumerable revisions anyways (much as many less-religious Anglophones buy a KJV and leave it at that, regardless of their Catholicism or Orthodoxy; I am unsure if any R-V comes with the Deuterocanonical books except for the original 1569 [the "Reina Bible"] and the 1602 revision [the first R-V], which is impossible to find).
    The most popular Spanish Bible for Catholics and/or with the Deuterocanon is La Biblia Jerusalen – the Spanish equivalent of the English Jerusalem Bible. The one equivalent to the Douay-Rheims, popular amongst conservative or traditionalist Catholics, and my personal favorite of Spanish Bibles, is the Torres and Amat version
    In my experience, the R-V is by far the most popular Spanish series of Bibles. Other popular ones include the Biblia Jerusalen above, the Nueva Version Internacional (the NVI/Spanish NIV), the Biblia Latinoamerica, and the Sagrada Biblia. The other Catholic translations, beyond the modern Biblia Jerusalen and the traditional Torres y Amat are not very popular or even well-known, such as the Nacar-Colunga (much like a Spanish Confraternity Version).
    Note, that “Reina-Valera” is almost equivalent to saying, “Protestant Spanish translations”, as depending on which R-V you get (1909, 1960, 1995, 2011 being the most prevalent, along with the 1602 and 2009 Mormon edition), it is equivalent, in a sense, to a wide range of English translations of other sorts; the 1602 is like the KJV; the 1909 is like the ERV or ASV; the 1960 is like the RSV; the 1995 is like the NRSV (it’s very hard to be “gender-neutral” in a language with grammatical gender!); the 2011, I have not seen; the 2009 is an update of the 1909 altered in certain places, and with all of the chapter headings and annotations and cross-references common to, the Mormon Bible (modified KJV in English).
    So, when one talks of “Reina-Valera”, it’s much more like saying the “Tyndale-KJV tradition” when speaking of English Bibles.

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