Cambridge Clarion KJV in Black Goatskin

As I mentioned yesterday, I was in Atlanta last month at ICRS to promote my new book, Pattern of Wounds. I signed more copies in forty-five minutes than I've probably signed in the rest of my writing career combined. But that wasn't the highlight of my day. Once the autographing ended, it was time to track down two people I've been anxious to meet for … well, for longer than I even knew they existed. Chris Wright, director of Bibles at Cambridge University Press, and Bob Groser his right-hand man, carved out an hour from their busy schedule that turned into nearly two hours. I had the time of my life talking all things Bible. 

And then it appeared. The new Cambridge Clarion. Chris produced the black box, sliding it across the table toward me. It was the only copy they had, though they expected a couple more to arrive the next day. In other words, the Clarion was hot off the presses. I opened the box and a golden light shone from within. Angels sang loud hosannas. And I was tempted by the utterly impious urge to take the Clarion and run! 


You have to understand, I have been dreaming about a Bible like this for a long time. A classically -proportioned single column text setting with elegant, timeless typography in a hand-sized form factor, beautifully printed and bound. People e-mail me all the time asking where to buy such a Bible and I'm forced to reply, "Well … you can't." 

Well … you can now. 

Chris and Bob must have read my mind, or maybe they were tipped off by the frenzy of iPhone photos I started snapping. "Don't look now," I said as I twisted the only Clarion in existence into a yoga ball. I was giddy and I didn't want to part with the thing. Even though I knew the quality of the photos wouldn't be very good, I needed something to prove that the Clarion existed, something I could look at afterward to remember fondly. After awhile, Chris glanced at Bob and some non-verbal communication ensued. The end result was, early the next morning, I met Bob in the lobby of my hotel and received one of the incoming Clarions to take with me. That's the one I'm sharing with you.

Think of this as an extended first look. I hope to show you more of the Clarion, the different binding options, in the future, but for now, let's take a look at what I consider to be an utterly successful single column text setting!



From the page spreads I'd seen in advance, I already suspected that the Clarion layout was a winner. The proportions looked right, the font readable, the page clean and thoughtful. But there's only so much you can surmise from a PDF. Until the physical object is in hand, you can't really tell. My first thought in handling the Clarion was: "This feels so right." Then I was amazed at the size. I was expecting a much larger volume, a big, thick edition. In the past, I've written about the trade-offs required when you print a lot of words in a single column format. If you refuse to pack too many words on each line, then you end up with more and more pages — more and more bulk. Yet the Clarion doesn't feel like a compromise. I was expecting to have to put up with some inconvenience to enjoy a proper single column setting. That's not how it is at all.


According to Chris, a lot of effort went into the details, tweaking the proportions until everything worked together. Knowing that a line should not run longer that approximately 65 characters (a more precise measurement than word count), the column width and height were balanced with the type size in mind. "Guess the type size," Chris said. Put on the spot, I finally went with 10 pt. Wrong. The Clarion is set in 8.75 pt. Lexicon No. 1, with adequate leading (i.e., line spacing) for it to read larger. I've been using the Pitt Minion with its 6.75 pt. Lexicon type, so jumping up 2 pt. seemed like absolute luxury. 


The Clarion is printed with painstaking attention to detail by Jongbloed in the Netherlands. Knowing how sensitive readers can be to "ghosting" on super thin Bible paper, Chris and Bob pointed out how careful the printers had been to ensure proper alignment of the page, so that printed lines back one another. When you hold out a page, the lines printed on the reverse overlap precisely with the lines printed on front. This helps to minimize ghosting. "You'll still see it," Chris was quick to point out, "particularly in the poetry sections," but that old world printing know-how really makes a difference.


As I've mentioned in the past, one of the advantages of single column settings is the space they afford to poetry. The jagged, abrupt line breaks forced by the narrowness of a double column layout virtually disappear, enhancing the aesthetic appearance of the text. Psalm 60 in the Clarion is a wonderful example:


I'd like to think, too, that rendering a translation like the KJV, which is less accessible linguistically to modern readers, in a more accessible, familiar layout will improve readability. So much depends on hearing the ebb and flow of the language in one's mind, a process the traditional verse-by-verse dice-up mitigates against, at least for readers who haven't internalized the needed compensating measures. Perhaps the Clarion hints at the future of the KJV? I'd like to think that, too. It is certainly a handy volume to take with you into bucolic settings for extended reading:



The Clarion is 7.5 inches tall, 5.5 inches across, and about 1.75 inches thick. That's the scale of a fat trade paperback novel. Compact and slightly hefty, the Clarion fits the hand well. 

The single column setting I use most often is my Allan's-bound ESV Personal Size Reference. The Clarion is a bit shorter and thicker than the PSR, but they are more or less comparable. They're both single column reference editions, too, so they make for good comparisons. For the record, despite the shortcomings of the layout, I really like the PSR and have recommended it often. But I think the Clarion demonstrates why a classic, less-is-more approach to design wins out in the end.


The two biggest complaints about the PSR are the small type size (7.4 pt.) and the width of the column, which packs too many words on each line relative to the type size. The Clarion increases the type size and line spacing while featuring a roughly comparable column width. The Clarion's column measures 3.5 inches across while the PSR is a hair wider. The result of these improved proportions is a dramatic increase in readability. (And about a half inch of additional thickness, for those who insist on slimlining.)


Of course, the obvious comparison to make would be to the classic NEB single column setting. First, let's take a look at the hardback NEB with Apocrypha, which is understandably thicker than the Clarion, which does not include the apocryphal books. 


Compared to this NEB, the Clarion's shorter, narrower column strikes me as more readable. In addition, the absence of section headings lends the Clarion a cleaner look. While the NEB moves chapter and verse numbers to the margin, the Clarion keeps them in the text. In theory, the NEB's approach offers a less cluttered, less mediated experience of the text … however, I've obviously made the mental adjustment necessary to ignore the interior numbering, because in practice I prefer having them in the text instead of outside. When they're out on the margin, that's where my eye goes instinctively, so they end up calling more attention to themselves than they should. Still, I can go either way. It's a minor point.


Thanks to the generosity of a reader, I have a couple of leather-bound NEBs to use for comparison purposes, too. This one is an Oxford edition without apocrypha, so the form factor is closer to that of the Clarion — just a bit taller and slimmer.


Here's where things get interesting. The NEB column is nearly four inches wide, like the PSR a bit wider than the type size will support. As a result, I found myself prefering the layout of the Clarion, despite the fact that the NEB has always been my "grail layout" for Bibles. In the NEB's defense, I think the proportions of the early 1960s New Testaments are better than the full Bibles that came out later. Still, it's a testament to the thought that went into the Clarion.


As my "Short and Stout" essay argues, the peculiar challenges of a single column layout lend themselves to form factors that are shorter and thicker than what we've come to expect in a world of tall, thin slimlines. With its narrowed column, increased type size, and generous line spacing and side margin, the Clarion really seems to have hit on a sweet spot.


And this brings me to a truly unfar comparison: Clarion vs. Pitt Minion. Needless to say, the Pitt Minion is much slimmer. Surprisingly, though, the two editions are roughly similar in length and width, with the Clarion edging out the Pitt Minion only slightly. This gives you a sense of how compact the Clarion really is, not at all the behemoth I was expecting:


Then again, we all know what it's like to be photographed at an unflattering angle. We'd all look fat standing next to a Pitt Minion:


When you open them up, however, a little extra skin on the bones doesn't seem like such a bad thing. This comparison illustrates my favorite argument quite well: yes, you do end up with a thicker Bible if you move to single column and do it right. But given the same page size, look how much better the reading experience becomes!


I rest my case.

Look, I love the Pitt Minion and use it constantly. It's my knockaround edition, the one I'm not afraid to ding up and damage. And when people ask whether the type is too small, I say, "Of course not." Never mind that when I read from it in class, I'm always holding it six inches from my nose. The proposition behind the Clarion is really simple. What would you say to a Pitt Minion that's much more readable and twice as thick around the middle. My answer is, "Bring it on."



The binding options are familiar from the re-release of the Cameo line — I'll cover the other formats when they become available. The black goatskin is the familiar, edge-lined, liquidly limp cover that's now become standard at the top end of the Cambridge line. It's grainy, stitched around the edges for added durability, and incredibly flexible. The Clarion comes with two ribbons, red ones in the case of the black.  


The nice thing about a limp cover like this is how flexible the Bible becomes in your hand. A stiff cover imposes its rigidity on the soft paper block within whie a limp one allows the feel of the entire book to conform to the fluidity of the paper. It's not that hard is wrong and soft is right. Both approaches, when done well, can work great. (And both are challenging to do well.) What I like about the Clarion is that its soft cover makes it easy to half the book size while reading, concentrating on one page at a time:


Not to mention, that grainy goatskin is really pretty:


I mentioned before that the cover is "edge-lined," and Bob Groser gave me a hands-on explanation of what this means. In the photo below, you see what Bible covers look like before the text blocks are inserted. On the left, we have the traditional sort of leather cover. The black boards are covered in brown calfskin, and once the text block is inserted, end papers will cover over the boards. The stiffness you feel when you handle the cover isn't the leather, it's the board underneath. Like a pair of good leather shoes, a cover like this is broken in over time. With use, it grows more supple and flexible.


The edge-lined cover on the right is limp right out of the box. It's already complete before the text block is added. There's no board inside, just a layer of black goatskin on the outside and a layer of black polyurethane liner on the inside, with a cut-out in the middle for the text block to be inserted. Bob was quick to point out that "limp out of the box" isn't always better. There's something to be said for the process of breaking in a Bible. My experience with my Pitt Minion bears this out. When I first wrote about it, I couldn't understand why Cambridge has put such a stiff board under the goatskin. I made breaking that board in my mission in life. Well, mission accomplished. Now I actually prefer that broken-in cover to the limp-from-the-box one. Go figure.


Once the text block is added (above), this is what you get. When it comes to color preference, with apologies to Mr. Ford, I like "any color so long as it's not black." Having said that, black is the classic color for Bibles and here it's executed in a very attractive way.


Like all of Cambridge's edge-lined offerings, this one is ridiculously flexible. It laughs at my attempts to bend it out of shape, pliably flouncing back into its original shape. 


To be honest, though, they could bind the Clarion in cardboard and I would still think it was fantastic. The real story here isn't on the surface; it's within. With the Clarion, Cambridge has produced an edition that ticks all of Mark Bertrand's boxes. The fact that they plan to introduce a number of translations in this format suggests it'll be around for awhile, too. 

Chris Wright was gracious enough to suggest that all my advocacy for this kind of an edition played a part in the decision to produce it. If so, I am truly honored. As the name suggests, this Bible is a clarion call — not just to the industry but to posterity. This is the sort of Bible we ought to be making and using. And now we finally can. There are more good single column options on the horizon. It's fitting that Cambridge, with its long history of Bible printing, should be in the forefront.


It's a little late to start, but if you had your hopes set on reading the King James Version during its 400th Anniversary, there's no better way to experience it than the Cambridge Clarion.


131 Comments on “Cambridge Clarion KJV in Black Goatskin

  1. The text block and setting of the Clarion just looks so choice. As a tremendous fan of single-column I will definitely be picking one of these up.
    Mark, thank you for the time you put into this review. It’s posts like this that keep me coming back to the Bible Design Blog.

  2. That looks amazing! Is there word of any other translations being produced in this format? Specifically I’m hoping for either REB or NRSV (plus if it’s an anglicised nrsv then my search for the ultimate bible may be complete!)

  3. Panting…Drooling…Sweating….
    Lou Gramm’s falsetto voice is echoing through my head: “I’ve been waiting for a Bible like you, to come into my life…”
    Dreams DO come true!!! Can hardly wait to get my hands on one. With the bigger font, I think I can even preach from this Bible.
    Thank you, Cambridge. And thank you Mark, because I truly believe your influence helped produce this Bible.

  4. I hope they do the same layout with other translations (i.e. ESV, NASB, NIV).

  5. Woah. After I wrote my comment I noticed the little ads below your article link to the Black Goatskin ESV version available for pre-order for $151.19! A bit steep on the price, but I think it will be worth every penny. If you want portability, and better readability, without the margins, it really is an excellent mid-point between the Pitt-Minion and the Wide-Margin. I think the Clarion is going to be a favorite for many.

  6. Thanks for the “heads up” about this great new edition, and thanks for the helpful comparison with the NEB layout (which you mention often). The NEB page layout is great, but since very few people use it, I could never make the jump to using it as an everyday Bible. It’s nice to be seeing single-column page layouts that we can share with others.

  7. Add the Apocrypha, and it would be perfect. What would that be, another quarter-inch or something? And a real help to some of us.

  8. Kudos to Cambridge for working diligently and in such detail, I love hearing how the worked to keep the paper aligned. I like my current ESV but I really like what I am seeing from these new Clarion models and plan on ordering one. I could wish for a little more margin room, as this Bible will be the one I use at all times, not just a carry Bible. On that note, I wish the review showed it next to something like the ESV1 or ESVR for comparison. Thanks for getting to this review so quickly after mentioning it.
    (I am curious if Cambridge went with the red ribbons because the black ones used in the nicer wide-margin Bibles are of poor quality.)

  9. Thanks for the review, Mark!
    I am pretty sure I will go with the brown calfskin…hearing that it has gilt edges and after using the Pitt Minion for so long I actually like the boards for propping between my fingers.

  10. I think this is the first bible I’ve seen you review that didn’t have any drawbacks.
    I’m thinking that this would be a terrific wide margin starting point, just add 1″ in each direction and you’re good to go.
    Now, the real question: when are they going to get these things to the market?

  11. I wonder if they’ll make an NIV in this layout, then I’ll be 90% of the way to my perfect Bible. A NIV with the Deuterocanon (preferably in the Catholic order) in a single column layout.

  12. The Clarion looks awesome! I wish Cambridge would expand its expertise in crafting Bibles, par excellence, into other, “non-standard” translations. I would love a Clarion-style Bible printed with “The Scriptures” (translated by the Institute for Scripture Research).

  13. I have been following this blog for a few years now, and I can attest that Mark has really pushed for a clean single column layout. Its been a passion of his I do believe. So Mark, I have to say BRAVO! This is a HUGE achievement for what you have done with this blog!!!!

  14. Thanks for the superb review! I’m very much afraid I will have to wait until they become more affordable.

  15. Wow! Now I can’t decide whether to buy the Allan ESV Reader, for the ease of reading, or wait and see if this single column paragraph setting will come out in the NASB.
    Mark, do you think Cambridge will come out with this setting in an NASB within a year? Thanks.

  16. I’ve long dreamed of this Bible, but now I realize that it’s not just the verse-by-verse setting I dislike in the KJV. The archaic language is hard to read in a paragraph, and ironically, I think the KJV might be easier to read in a verse-by-verse!
    I don’t like the verse-by-verse setting of the NASB, so hopefully if/when πŸ™‚ Cambridge gets around to the NASB, I’ll love it!

  17. Mark, I forgot to say congrats on your beautiful new Bible!
    I don’t know if I should thank you or not for making me drool for over Bibles I really can’t afford ;-). Seriously, thanks to your reviews, I’ve narrowed down my ‘good, forever’ highland goatskin Bible to two, but now with three choices – this one, the Allan ESV Reader, and the Allan NASB.
    I think I’ll have to buy the Reader now, and this new Cambridge WHEN it comes out in the NASB – hint, hint Cambridge!
    Thanks, and enjoy your new Bible!

  18. I ordered one back in June, I’m looking forward to its arrival. What is the Reader’s Companion like, and how does it compare to Oxford’s Cyclopedic Concordance? One thing I like about the CC is that it has definitions for obscure words like “emerod”, does the Reader’s Companion do that as well?

  19. A couple of questions, in case anyone knows: (1) As previously asked, will Cambridge release an NASB edition?(I have read this on another blog) (2) Will the ESV edition use the 2011 text? Thanks in advance for any information.

  20. Awesome job Dr. JMB!
    Thanks for all the time and effort you put into this review.
    Looking forward to the NASB CC.
    : )

  21. I expect the new editions of the New Cambridge Paragraph Bible will look quite similar to this. Those should be coming along in November, I think it was. I’m waiting for one of those, with Apocrypha, and all of Norton’s corrections incorporated.

  22. Mark, can you tell us about the BCP/KJV Bible + Apocrypha at the top of that stack in the 14th photo from the bottom? I.e., is it readable, leather quality, 1662 or 1928? The only ones I had heard of reportedly had low production values, but that one looks very nice…

  23. Disregard – I just realized it’s the NRSV/1979 from Oxford that you reviewed before under ‘short and stout’.

  24. Incredible. As I often say, “Cambridge makes the best bibles.” We’ve been hoping for something like this for many years, haven’t we Mark? I’m almost(!) speechless.

  25. I really hope they make this in the NKJV! I have been waiting a long time for a single column edition NKJV that has references. There is no one i would rather have make it than Cambridge!!! I need to know if they plan to make it in the NKJV before I want to settle for the Old KJV edition.

  26. Oooh, I do see that the ESV Clarion is coming out soon – 10-15-11 for and 11-11 for some other retailer I forgot.
    I was going to buy the (double column) paragraph Allan ESV Reader but not now.
    I’m counting the days!
    Thanks Mark for all your good work!

  27. Hey Cambridge – I plan to buy the ESV in the meantime, but please, please, please make this in the NASB! I’ve said it before but it bears re-pleading! I’ll still buy the NASB after I get the ESV. Please, please!

  28. Woohoo! I just pre-ordered the ESV Clarion from Amazon! Can’t wait until November 1. My early Christmas gift to myself…

  29. Wow, Mark! You sure have been busy this week!
    Quick question: Am I to understand that the black goatskin Clarion is edge lined, while the brown calfskin Clarion is not?

  30. it’s even got the wider (not thicker, as many often say, which is a different measurement) ribbons! *swoon*…pretty much the ideal Bible going on here. interesting to see the range of translations they’ll support in this model.

  31. The only drawback I can predict is that finding a particular verse will be more difficult due to the thickness. But for reading, this truly looks like the cat’s meow!
    Nice work on your advocacy, Mark! Well done.

  32. I contacted Cambridge about the NASB Clarion. This is their response:
    Yes, we now have a license to produce an NASB Clarion. We’re just starting work on it. I can’t predict a date with any accuracy at this stage, but it should probably be in the US by mid-year 2012.
    Christopher Wright
    Director, Bibles
    Cambridge University Press
    Tel: + 44 (0)1223 325004

  33. It’s a shame the references were not placed on the inside (gutter) edge of the page, like the PSR. In the PSR, the actual Bible text is protected from curling too close to “the drain.” Why a reference column should be given more prominence on the page than the words one is opening the book for is a strange decision (to me, anyway). Perhaps Cambridge didn’t want to be seen as following “someone else’s” design idea? Or maybe they were hoping the blank space in the reference column would provide a little room for note takers? I like the larger size text and the greater thickness. I do not like the references on the outside of the page.

  34. Fred C., I agree with you regarding the placement of the references. I feel the references on the gutter/inside don’t catch the eye as easily and don’t distract from the text as much as the ones in the outer margin.
    Furthermore, I would prefer no references at all as I find them distracting. It’s very hard to find a text only Bible nowadays.
    If they just have to have references, I’d prefer a thin line between the side column references, similar to the NASB side column reference editions. It stops the eye from traveling to the references when one finishes a line, making tracking easier.

  35. Oops! To clarify, I meant a line between the side column references and the text.

  36. Most bibles, including double column reference bibles, have the text in the gutter. In this case, the inner margin appears to be sufficient to keep the text out of the gutter. In my case, it’ll be nice not having to move my thumbs out of the way when I’m reading the bible while lying on the couch.

  37. To clarif/follow up:
    1) I did not specify to which calfskin I was referring; I suppose b/c I was wondering if *either* calfskin (split or top grain) option might be edge-lined.
    2) I’ve looked into it on Cambridge’s site, and only the goat is described as edge-lined.

  38. @Brian, I don’t quite follow your reasoning. Would you say the entire Bible on a single, very large sheet of paper makes looking up references the ultimate in ease? In that extremal case, finding the correct page is indeed easy, but there’s sure a lot of verses on that page to wade through.
    Yes, comfortable type and layout means more pages to leaf through to get to the correct one, but there’s correspondingly fewer verses per page once you get there so I’d counter there’s no real “lookup time” penalty in a thicker Bible.

  39. @ Terri H
    Good job you have done.
    Awesome news on the NASB Clarion it is.
    Very much thank you for checking I do.

  40. I really want one of these, but without references. There is a lot to be said for just sitting down and reading the Bible, and, at least for me, having references all over the place distracts from the ability to do that. Yes, Bibles with references, and study notes, and all kinds of stuff have their place, but it is so hard to find Bibles that just present the text with no interruption.

  41. I’d love to see a wide-margin using this single-column format. I agree with those who’ve said that the references should be in the gutter. I wonder why they chose the outer margin.

  42. @dbp
    Thank you.
    Welcome you are.
    (Are we speaking Yoda or Japenglish?)

  43. I have been reading for several months from a single column Bible, large print, the Zondervan Find:Clarity NIV bible, only sold at Walmart. It would be great if there were a review of this bible on this blog. It is similar to the compact large print Zondervan NIV bible, the “short and stout” one. It is easy to carry around, light paper. There are the text notes at the bottom of the page, but no references. There are verse numbers within the text, which I could do without.
    I would really prefer a King James Version with NO references, either no verse numbers or numbers in the margin, with large print, that is portable and one that doesn’t cost over $100.
    It would be great if the Washburn Bible were reviewed here. I bought one for $10 at a used bookstore, but retailed at around $70. It is KJV, large print, what is unique about it is that each phrase is on a different line. It is easily the heaviest and largest book I own, the size of a pulpit Bible. I have the one-volume edition.
    It is too big for carrying around, but great for pondering the text.

  44. “I’d love to see a wide-margin using this single-column format.”
    I concur. I keep holding back from doing a pre-order simply because I keep questioning the need for some writing room; I make translational notes, where I write in the margin what I believe a better/correct translation would be and these are invaluable to me when reading.

  45. Is this layer of black polyurethane in the final product? What happens if the Bible get hot from being left in the car? Will the polyurethane eventually crackle or peel off? How does it feel? Why didn’t they just line it with leather?
  46. I wouldn’t leave a leather bible in a hot car no matter what it’s lined with. From my experience, imitation leathers hold up pretty well under normal use. I agree that a leather lining would be nice, but that would likely increase the price significantly, which is why they probably chose an imitation leather lining.

  47. Welcome you are.
    (Are we speaking Yoda or Japenglish?)
    ans: NASB
    Thick NASB’s rock.

  48. Prompted me to dig out my old RSV from 1974, which is remarkably similar in form factor and single column layout to the Clarion – but of course quite beat up these days, but still holding together – untouched, I’m afraid – superceded by an Oxford Annotated NRSV in 1999 and a New Interpreters NRSV in 2006. Your blog awakened an old interest in quality bibles – hoping I can avoid succumbing to the bug!

  49. Does anyone have any idea if the Clarion KJV will ever come in a *brown* goatskin?

  50. Sean, I wouldn’t say never, but I doubt it. They seem to be following the same plan as they did with the reissue of the cameo….black goat, brown calf, black calf-split. I have a cameo in the brown calfskin and I love it. It has a unique feel to it and I love the color.

  51. I’d really like you to do a comparison between the Clarion and the new Personal Size edition of the Cambridge Annotated Paragraph Bible, with or without Apocrypha.

  52. Mark, how does this stack up against the crossway single column personal reference edition for size and readability? That seems like its closest competitor.

  53. Tim, I think you mean the PSR that Mark compares in Image 0002 above. The type is considerably larger as you can see.

  54. Reply from Cambridge regarding the Clarion in wide-margin form…
    I can confirm that we have no plans for a wide-margin Clarion Edition.
    Lisa Hurley
    Customer Services
    Cambridge University Press

  55. I agree with the few above who would love this edition with the deuterocanonicals. It’s necessay in my Lutheran congregation.

  56. Once there was a little boy who loved the holy book. He loved it so much that he spent mucho drachmas (MD) on the wide margin NIV holy book in the kings land called Cambridge. And the little boy loved that book for many years and filled it with his own scribblings. One day the little boy saw the super soft goat’s skin from the far away Highlands and was lured away from the King’s land to another fortress called Allan to spend (MD) on the great reader because he wanted the ESV Holy book.
    Then the kingdom of Cambridge produced the wide margin ESV holy book and the boy spent MD on that and now the great reader sits on the shelf. But the boy was not done with the other fortress. He loved the single column format for the ESV Holy Book and was lured by the super soft goat’s skin and spent MD in the fortress of Allan on the ESV personal reader holy book. The little boy thought it was the most beautiful holy book he had ever seen.
    But now the great kingdom of Cambridge has made a new holy book for the great King James called the Clarion and the little boy fears that soon the Cambridge Kingdom will make the ESV holy book in the Clarion. The little boy is very afraid he will spend MD on that on the Allan PSV will also sit on the shelf. Now the little boy realizes that the great Kingdom of Cambridge is his true home. He carries the Pitt with him every day. He uses the wide margin for his own scribblings and soon will have the Clarion for his relaxed reading. The moral of the story is not to be tempted by the super soft goat’s skin and spend your MD in the Kingdom of Cambridge and be satisfied with the regular goat’s skin. Because we all know the regular goat’s skin will become super soft in time.

  57. Has anyone seen a anything other than the new sample of the Crossway ESV Legacy to compare the readability to the cambridge?

  58. Mark writes, “There are more good single column options on the horizon.” Would this include more single-column KJV options? Such as an edition from Oxford? It makes me wonder…

  59. Does anyone have any idea when the ESV Clarion is coming out? Cambridge says December. Amazon says November. Christian Book Distributor says October. That’s alot of discrepancy, needless to say.

  60. I called baker books (the US seller of the Bibles)and they said DEC 1 FOR ALL THREE EDITIONS.

  61. Beautiful layout! Reminds me of the Revised English Bible compact New Testament from Cambridge. I may have to get one of the ESVs when they come out.

  62. I’ve pre-ordered my KJV Clarion, and Evangelical Bible (.com) emailed me today that they expect the KJV Clarion in stock next week. Another person at EvBible [(.com) – same store, shorter URL)] told me earlier this week that the Clarions are now already in U. S. Customs. I cannot guarantee this, but EvBible told me they get their Bibles first because they are the largest U. S. distributor. Just letting you know since other sites’ due date is November 4, 2011 and EVBibles site’s is October 2011 as per Cambridge themselves.

  63. @Terri H: Thanks for the heads-up with regard to ordering from Evangelical Bible. Just placed my preorder now!!

  64. You’re welcome, Greg! I’m glad this was useful to someone. Hope we enjoy it!

  65. Grrrr! goofed when they talked to me. They got the CAMEO in not the Clarion. They say Baker Publishing has the Clarion and Evangelical Bibles might get them end at the end of next week. So sorry!

  66. It’s okay, I can wait another week. I’ve been waiting for several years already!! And I don’t see that anyone else has the KJV Clarion in stock at the $144 price point anyway (Baker Books is saying $184+shipping). Looking forward to this edition!

  67. I haven’t seen any available yet in the USA. You can order from right now.

  68. Of course, it usually takes about 10 days or so to get orders from Scotland in the USA….might be just as fast to wait for the US distributors. It’s going to be a great bible.

  69. Just received the Brown calfskin Clarion today from Allan’s. (Couldn’t wait for the US distribution. πŸ™‚ ) WOW!!! Better than I expected. While I am not much of a KJV reader, the layout is inviting for reading. The calfskin is very soft and I believe the perfect flexibiloty for this size. Looking forward to the release of the ESV in a few months.

  70. Nevermind! Allan has them for 130 British pounds/$202 USD. I’ll take the $58 savings over the quicker time. Or rather $58 minus $15 I spent on expedited shipping since I couldn’t wait for the slower free shipping – still saves me $43!

  71. I just got the calf-split edition today. This is an excellent bible. I spent some time reading it this evening and enjoyed it immensely. I compared it to my ESV PSR (like Mark did in pictures above) and the difference in legibility is remarkable.
    For those of you wondering, the calf-split cover is very nice. The grain is pronounced and gives the bible an old school feel. It has a synthetic liner that is identical to that which is in the most recent Pitt Minion bibles. Also, it has gold gilt, not art gilt like the goatskin one.
    I’m very happy with this bible. I hope you all don’t have to wait too long. πŸ™‚

  72. It looks like Evangelical Bible removed the words “Pre-Order” from their buying options for the KJV Clarion, now just says “Add to Cart”. They also added what appears to be an in-house photo of the Bible up-close and in-person. Looks like we’re getting close…

  73. Yep, me too! Saw no ‘pre-order’ notice and got an email and tracking number saying SHIPPED!

  74. Hope it gets here before my mom returns from New England on Saturday. I ordered the expedited shipping but it shipped later than I anticipated.
    Why is this important? Some of you have wives who complain about Bible purchases – I have a mom who thinks I have enough.

  75. The TBS 400th commemorative KJV in vinyl-covered hardback (from Evangelical Bible) has the notes to the Reader. And it’s a hard to find plain text version, which I love.
    I got the hardback over the leather because their is a picture of Hampton Court applied right to the cover. I love the smoothness of the paper, but I think the cover won’t hold up at the spine. I should have just left it in the plastic wrap as a memento.
    The calfskin leather version doesn’t have the pic on the cover but it comes in a full-color slipcase with the pic on it! The 400th anniversary dates are printed on the spine. And it’s red, my favorite color! It’s $55 for the calfskin. I plan to buy this one in a few months after I recover from the goatskin Clarion. I hope it’ll still be available.

  76. Mark, you are right; it is indeed easier to read the KJV in paragraph fromat! I just breezed through the second part of Revelation, and it did make more sense than verse-by-verse!
    Glad you let us know about this Bible. I’m looking for forward to reading the Bible over and over again.

  77. All, is anyone seeing a very faint line on the top of each page on their copy of the KJV Clarion? Its very faint, but noticeable.

  78. West, are you perhaps noticing the red dye under the gold gilding? There is a veeerrrrry thin line of red around the three open sides of the pages.

  79. Hi All, For sure it was a crease that must have come from production. Good news is replacement does not have it. So must have been in just that batch. Thank you for the feedback!

  80. The design, printing and binding are excellent, it is hard to make so fantastic bible printing jobs. Thanks! We appreciate it.

  81. Bible printing is a hard printing job compared other regular book printing jobs. Because the paper is too thin, it is a challege for printer’s printing, binding and quality management as well.

  82. Just to confirm the case of crease lines at the top of pages in the Clarion KJV, I went through two Bibles before I received a 3rd from Baker Publishing without these lines. If your Bible has these lines and you are not happy with it, contact Baker (even if you didn’t buy from them), and they will take care of you. Be SURE to have them inspect your replacement Bible before shipping, as it seems that there are MANY Bibles in their stock which have the crease problem. Otherwise, excellent Bible, it is worth the hassle.

  83. Are the crease lines you’re talking about actually red lines of dye on the edges of the pages? Mine has this and it is distracting.
    Also, the ghosting is bad. I have a Cambridge wide margin and I’ve never been distracted by the ghosting, but on my new clarion I’m finding it difficult to read without getting frustrated. I love the paragraph format, so these two problems are really irritating!

  84. @Sam The crease lines I speak of are actual creases, about 1/8″ down from the top of each page. I have seen an occasional bleeding of the red dye on page edges, but nothing distracting for me. The ghosting is more than most Bibles and I believe the reason is due to the thinness of the India paper. The alternative would be a thicker Bible, but I don’t think that would be a good trade off IMO.

  85. I don’t understand why they made a hand-size Bible when they knew they would have to compromise on paper quality. They should have made the Clarion a full-size Bible with writable India paper and chapter subject headings. Anyone know anyone at Cambridge that can get them to see this?

  86. ToddSm
    Ok, Im dying to get one of these in the NKJV! I wasnt willing to wait and see if that will ever happen, so I bought the Goatskin edition in the good old KJV. I am really impressed! I dont think any printing of the old KJV will ever appeal to me after having owned one of these! Its awesome….simply perfect. Kudos to Cambridge for putting the “Translators to the Reader” preface in the front of this edition. Now I really want to buy another one (or two depending on the binding options) of the Clarion in the NKJV! Dear Cambridge, please make it in the NKJV!!! In the mean time, I will start saving up my allowance money…just in case : )

  87. I’m planning to purchase the ESV Clarion in the brown calfskin when it comes available in my area, but I had a question about the flexibility of the covers. I understand that the calfskin editions are not edge-lined, therefore they do have a board under the leather cover. In the review, Bertrand mentioned that “‘limp out of the box’ isn’t always better.” and he says regarding his once stiff, but now broken in Pitt Minion, “now I actually prefer that broken-in cover to the limp-from-the-box one.”
    Any guesses why this is the case? I like a limp Bible, but I really want the brown, so I’m going to take Bertrand at his word that it will eventually, with regular usage, become limp.
    Why would this be preferable to a limp-from-the-box cover?

  88. From…
    Cambridge University Press regrets that the release of its new ESV Clarion Reference Bibles has been postponed until the early summer, due to a printing fault. Stock has been withdrawn while the affected pages are reprinted and additional Bibles bound. Cambridge apologizes for the disappointment and inconvenience that will be caused by this unfortunate delay to the many customers who were eagerly anticipating the publication of this edition.

  89. I personally found the skeptical and unbelieving nature of some of the notes in the “Reader’s Companion” included with the KJV Clarion to be both jarring and unwelcome.
    My recommendation would be that future editions have instead a pronunciation guide since the text is not self-pronouncing and dispense with the dubious “Reader’s Companion”.
    I also suggest that there be an NKJV edition of the Clarion. A short, stout, comfortable edition of the NKJV would be very welcome.

  90. are there less cross-references in the clarion edition than the typical 80,000 in the pitt minion edition?

  91. @James, good question. I don’t see it given in Cambridge literature or Amazon descriptions. Any owners out there that can check the frontispages for that info?
    Visually, the ref’s don’t seem as dense in the Clarion, but there a single column of refs corresponds to a single column of text while there’s a 2-to-1 ratio in a 2-column edition like the pitt minion. Then again, just comparing Ecclesiastes 2 in the above picture, there DO appear to be more in the PM, however the Clarion appears to have more “KJV clarifications” or alternate text readings but that is also hard to compare since the Pitt in Mark’s picture isn’t a KJV. Can anyone who has both comment? It would be in keeping with the Clarion being a “reader’s edition” that it might have more clarifying notes but less study references.

  92. I just sent an email to Cambridge to ask about a NASB version of the Clarion. Here’s their response:
    Yes, we shall be offering an NASB Clarion. I can’t give you a firm date, but we are hoping to publish around Easter time, with stock in the States by the summer.
    As you may know, we already publish an ESV Clarion, and we have plans for an NKJV Clarion towards the end of 2012.
    The NASB Clarion isn’t on our website yet, but I am attaching a page from our forthcoming catalogue. As you will see, it has the same binding choice as the KJV Clarion.
    Best wishes

  93. First, I would like to thank Mr. Bertrand for his works. I live in the Silicon Valley in California where most Christian bookstores closed doors over the last several years. Thanks to I can still find and compare high quality Bibles.
    Regarding the Clarion, I’m delighted see that Mr. Bertrand wrote, “… the absence of section headings lends the Clarion a cleaner look.” I’ve been looking for a quality Bible that does not have section headings! As I continue to grow in the Lord, I’ve started to realize that those summary headings inserted between God’s Word tend to obstruct the inherent flow of the Scripture, making it harder for me to put the events and teachings in the larger context.
    I’m also excited to know that the Clarion will be available in both the NASB and NKJV! I will start saving money to buy the NASB Clarion first. If the Lord wills, I will live and also be able to obtain the KJV and NKJV Clarions, so I could easily compare the three excellent translations on the same excellent format.
    In Christ

    • I have a HUGE bone to pick with the Clarion.

      What is it? My first clarion was the NKJV and I LOVE this bible! But recently I decided due to studies to move towards the NASB. I loved the NKJV format so much I decided to get the same exact binding (brown calfskin) for my NASB.

      It arrived a few days ago and I opened it with mad excitement to find myself scratching my head. β€œThis doesn’t quite look like my NKJV. The pages look crowded or something.” So I pull out my NKJV and do a side by side and lo and behold the formats are totally different!

      If I could post pictures here i would but since I can’t…

      Dialog in the NKJV is formatted with each speaker getting his own line (like a novel). Not so with the NASB which makes dialog look like long run-on paragraphs! When the OT is quoted in the NT, in the NKJV there are line spaces before and after the quotation making it really stand out and creating very pleasant white space on the page. Not so with the NASB which starts the quote either in the same paragraph or the very next line – again resulting in a crowded run-on look.

      So overall the NKJV just has better white space which makes the appearance more attractive and easier to read.

      If you have the chance to compare these side by side open up the NT to a dialog section and see for yourself. The clarion is supposed to read like a novel. And in the NKJV it is just divine! The NASB? Not so much and I am beyond disappointed πŸ™

  94. I for one would love to know your thoughts on the Cambridge New Paragraph Bible, Personal Size in comparison to the Clarion here. They seem to be about the same size and have about the same features, but the Paragraph has the new Norton text, and the marginal notes on the inside margin (a plus for me).

  95. Has anyone heard anymore on the NKJV edition of the Clarion to which Kevin made reference?

  96. I second Henry’s motion. Mark, a comparison of the Clarion and Personal-size CNP sounds like a great idea. And with high-def photographs!

  97. NKJV version will be out at year end 2012 according to Cambridge – I spoke with them on the phone and emailed them. I’m personally waiting for this version.

  98. A great design and quality manufacture. One suggestion – maybe Cambridge should consider making the paragraph numbers semi-bold or bold, as i find the postscripts get confused with the paragraph numbers and it would make for kwiker reference. The line measure is superb, font style, size and the leading perfect! As you say these guys have done their homework. I have the NASB Clarion Calf-skin Split – i purchased the lower priced item to check it out – love it to bits!!!! Now i will obtain the KJV!!!!

  99. this seems to be an ancient blog, but I just got my esv clarion in goatskin from evangelical bible, and it is the best bible i have ever had

  100. I bought a Cambridge Clarion for Christmas and love it. However I have been nervous to mark in it because I don’t want to rip the thin pages or bleed through them. Does anyone have suggestions of pens or colored pencils that seem to work well with this special Bible?

    • I use a mechanical pencil and .005 micron archival pens. I have never had any trouble with tearing the pages, and with these pens there is no bleed through and little shadowing. I haven’t found any other pen that works as well.

  101. Hello,
    I really enjoyed reading your review. This bible truly seems to be what I want. However I have one question, how much room is there for note taking?

    • I have had my Clarion since August 2014. I use micron .005 and take notes quite a bit in my Bible. It’s not a wide margin, but there is ample space for what I do.

  102. I took your advise and got the NASB (my preference) clarion in goatskin. All I can say is WOW! By far the best Bible I’ve ever owned. I really enjoy your blog. That said, I noticed page curl right out of the box and while it’s not bad it’s mostly distracting during reading. I may have missed it but did anyone mention using bounce or another fabric softener sheet to eliminate the page curl? I’ve used that and it has removed the curl. I just rubbed the edges (lightly) and rubbed the inside covers front and back. Now, I can say this is as close to the perfect Bible.

      • Yes, I’m sure that any static free fabric softiner will do. Bounce is just what was handy. Worked like a charm though and now it smells fresh too! lol

        • I just tried this today! Amazing. I wouldn’t have thought to try dryer sheets! (Never even heard of them before this) but it has completely fixed my Clarion, except for 2 pages that I suspect were already bent in the curled up shape. But it’s miles better than before!

  103. Similar to Reed’s question, I’m wondering about the calfskin not being edge-lined. Is it easy to fold it back to focus on one page at a time? Has anyone tried both the goat and calfskin?

  104. This may seem like an odd question. But have you (or anyone) found it harder to memorize from a bible in the single column format that say they Pitt with it’s double column? It seems there are less “signposts” along the way.

    • I know it’s ages since you made this comment, but I use my Kindle for memorisation and seem to lose all “signposts” as you call them in the process. Do you think it’s good to rely on signposts as and aid to memory? I quite like having just the pure text in my head. Just wondering. . .

  105. I must have been living in the ark the past few years! Why did I not discover this Bible until today? It looks like a dream come true, and I have ordered the goatskin one. Now I can’t wait for the delivery!! Thank you for your review, which I read after I had ordered it, and has made me even more impatient to get it!

  106. I have a HUGE bone to pick with the Clarion. What is it? My first clarion was the NKJV and I LOVE this bible! But recently I decided due to studies to move towards the NASB. I loved the NKJV format so much I decided to get the same exact binding (brown calfskin) for my NASB.

    It arrived a few days ago and I opened it with mad excitement to find myself scratching my head. “This doesn’t quite look like my NKJV. The pages look crowded or something.” So I pull out my NKJV and do a side by side and lo and behold the formats are totally different!

    If I could post pictures here i would but since I can’t…

    Dialog in the NKJV is formatted with each speaker getting his own line (like a novel). Not so with the NASB which makes dialog look like long run-on paragraphs! When the OT is quoted in the NT, in the NKJV there are line spaces before and after the quotation making it really stand out and creating very pleasant white space on the page. Not so with the NASB which starts the quote either in the same paragraph or the very next line – again resulting in a crowded run-on look.

    So overall the NKJV just has better white space which makes the appearance more attractive and easier to read.

    If you have the chance to compare these side by side open up the NT to a dialog section and see for yourself. The clarion is supposed to read like a novel. And in the NKJV it is just divine! The NASB? Not so much and I am beyond disappointed πŸ™

    • That’s a translation-level choice — I’ve complained about the NASB for this in the past. Cambridge is simply following the translation’s formatting specs on questions like this. It’s just something you have to live with if you use the NASB until such time as a revision updates the paragraphing.

      • Hey Mark,
        I didn’t know about the specs but I understand that. I just wish it didn’t cost me $140 to find out πŸ™

  107. So any chance you can wield your vast influence and convince Cambridge to produce a Clarion Wide Margin??? πŸ˜‰

  108. This beauty is not the Norton “restored” text, but appears to have the same paragraphing. I can be content with this received text, since it does not involve Norton’s guesswork on the quotation marks (such as John 3.) But the Cambridge Paragraph Bible is the one for those who just want the text only. I have ordered the Clarion KJV in black split calf, and am sorry to hear the rear reference section is deconstructionist is in its textual criticism. Hopefully that won’t spoil the exquisite value of this for personal use.

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