Cambridge KJV Clarion (Revisited): Three Binding Options

Now that Cambridge's new Clarion KJVs are hitting the market, it's time to revisit them and take a look at the binding options on offer. (This is a supplement to my original piece on the black goatskin edition, so if you haven't read that one already, check it out.)


There are three flavors of KJV Clarion on offer: black goatskin (above, right) brown calfskin (above, middle) and black calf split (above, left). If you like your cover limp and liquid, the goatskin is your option. If you prefer your cover firm, go with the calf split. If you like your cover flex somewhere in between — not stiff, not soggy, just right — go with the calfskin. While the edge-lined goat cover is limp as a noodle out of the box, both the calf and calf split covers have boards underneath that will soften up and break in with use. 

When it comes to picking a favorite, I'm kind of torn. I love the brown. It's a great shade in a nice, smooth calfskin that reminds me of the Bibles that Cambridge was putting out, say, fifteen years ago (if not in detail, at least in concept). On the other hand, I'm a sucker for pronounced grain, and that black calf split really speaks to me:


These are essentially the color/cover options we saw introduced with last year's re-introduction of the KJV Cameo, only this time wrapped around what I would argue is a much better KJV. (I realize for Cameo fans that sounds like heresy, but I'm sticking to it for reasons I'll get into shortly.) 

If you've already handled a Clarion, you can back me up on this: the form factor is surprisingly compact. When I met Mark Strobel last week, I brought the Clarion along, and that was the first thing he remarked on. It's essentially Cameo-sized, so it's compact but not exactly svelte. Many of us were expecting a single column edition to be a big brick, though, and I suspect the Clarion benefits in comparison to that imagined form factor. Here's a real world comparison with the brown goatskin Cambrdige Pitt Minion:


This is a nice comparison for two reasons. You can see the relative thickness of the Clarion, and also the lighter mid-brown shade of the calfskin in comparison to the goatskin's darker hue. At the risk of raising unrealistic expectations for the future, here's a shot comparing the thickness of both editions with a fancy measuring thingie next to them:


On the leather value hierarchy, you could easily rank the covers this way: first, goatskin; second, calfskin; third, calf split. In Cambridge's taxonomy, calf split occupies the quality rung between calfskin and French Morocco. It's not as nice as the full grain calf because it's had the top layer split off, but it's nicer than the non-calf stuff below it.

For me, however, this is mainly an aesthetic choice. All three are quality bindings. You just have to decide which one you want to carry.  

The black goatskin and brown calfskin come with art-gilt page edges. To my eye, the goatskin's edges look redder. It could be the angle, but whenever I compare them, I end up with the same impression. Don't take this to the bank. Your mileage may vary, etc. With the black calf split, you get regular gold gilt edges. They look just fine. 


I have a couple of gripes about the brown calf. The first one is universal — i.e., it applies to every example of this edition. This second concerns my copy in particular. First, the inside cover of the brown calf is … black. My brown Pitt Minion was the same, so I'm not shocked or anything. But in my world, black and brown don't go together. It's like wearing brown shoes with a black belt. It don't look right, you know? A complimentary color would be preferable. Back in the 1970s, when Cambridge was offering aquamarine water buffalo covers, the liners were switched out to match. That's all I'm asking here. 

The second glitch has to do with the imprinting on the spine. The gilding machine (or whatever it's called) went a little crazy and laid some gold outside the lines. As a result, I feel like my eye perscription needs updating whenever I try to read the words KING JAMES VERSION. I've seen this sort of thing before. It's not a big deal. But I figured I'd mention it in passing.



I'm so in love with the Clarion layout that you could bind it in hot pink ratskin and I'd be satisfied. Happily, we have much better options to choose from. I have to say, I'm really loving the raised grain on the calf split:


Not that the brown is shabby or anything:


As I said earlier, I think this is a much better KJV than the Cameo on the inside. In fact, I'm hard pressed to think of a better KJV, period. In the original review, I raved about the Clarion layout. It's worth raving about. A single column, paragraphed KJV is a huge step forward. My understanding is that the practice of breaking the text down verse by verse originated with the Geneva Bible NT in 1557, the purpose being to isolate the phrases so they could be more readily compared to Estienne's Greek NT. It's the same rationale that led some twentieth century publishers to insert numbers from Strong's Concordance above the corresponding English words — it's apparatus, in other words, but it's been around long enough that people who don't know any better assume that's how the Bible was "meant to be." 

Now I'm a big fan of the ex-pat team that brought the Geneva Bible into being. I just wish that particular innovation hadn't caught on so universally. Even people who like their Scripture diced up that way would gripe if any other book they were trying to read was formatted likewise. They're simply acclimmatized to the Bible looking funny. (And if you ask me, it's when we're acclimatized to Scripture that we most need to see it in a new way.) 

But enough of that. You already know my predilections where single column, paragraphed text is concerned. Let's talk about another reason the Clarion is a great edition of the KJV:


The magnificent team of translators who gave us this classic of the English language also included an introduction entitled "The Translators to the Reader." In other words, they wrote a letter to you … a letter that hasn't lost its significance over the centuries. Somehow publishers got into the habit of omitting this document from the KJV, which made it easier for people having lost the translation's context to supply fantasies of their own in its place. A lot of grief might have been avoided over the past hundred years or so if "The Translators to the Reader" had been more widely available — and read. If your KJV doesn't have it, you should replace it with one that does. Of course, that's easier said than done. Most bargain price KJVs omit this section, making them no bargain at all in my book. 

But hey, let's not get worked up. The omission of the preface is pretty much univeral. And it's more a matter of neglect than the result of some dastardly conspiracy. The Clarion restores it, that's the point. The Clarion layout will improve your comprehension of the KJV, and "The Translators to the Reader" will improve your comprehension of it, too, though in a slightly different way.


Paragraphing makes the elegant sentences of the KJV flow again. It also makes versification possible where it's actually appropriate (as you can see on the right-hand page above). The Clarion comes with two nice thick ribbons: brown for the brown calfskin, and black for the black calf split. The black goatskin has bright cardinal red ribbons.


So if I had to make a choice between the three, which would it be? The black goat, the brown calf, or the black calf split?


Decisions, decisions …


Oh, wait, I forgot: I always choose brown over black! That makes it easy. I'll go with the brown calf. But let me tell you, they're all nice. And what's inside is a lot nicer.

The goatskin is limp, as you can see below. The calf is quite flexible though on the firm side. The calf split is rigid but not stiff. In the yoga photo below, you can see the comparative qualities play out:


We are spoiled for choices. A great translation in an appropriately superb layout and excellent binding options. Choose the one that speaks to you.


78 Comments on “Cambridge KJV Clarion (Revisited): Three Binding Options

  1. I appreciate the “measurement thingie”. Probably should add for our international readers that it’s scaled in inches, which seams appropriate for a 1611 edition.
    Actually inches are modern compared to firkins, farthings, furlongs, and fortnights. In 1611 small measurements were being made in units of barleycorns.

  2. Thanks for the review, Mark! Alas, it looks like the black goatskin is the only edition without the “Holy Bible” stamp on the front cover?

  3. My Pitt Minions vary when it comes to the color of red under the gold. The black goatskins have a more light pinkish red, and brown goatskin has a darker/muddier shade of red.
    For whatever reason I am just not in love with black goatskin…both of the other editions look preferable. I personally ordered the Brown.

  4. I have the calf split Clarion. I really enjoy reading this one and can’t wait for the ESV version. I too was surprised by the size of this bible. As you showed in your first Clarion post, the difference between the ESV PSR and the Clarion is striking.

  5. With the thickness of this bible, I wonder how thick the paper is…Pitt Minion thick or Wide Margin thick???
    Other than that the print and paper seem to be up to the beautiful Cmabridge standard.

  6. Concerning the practice of putting verses on a new line, it is perhaps worth noting that the earliest manuscripts of the Vulgate (e.g. the Codex Amiatinus) were punctuated “per cola et commata”; that is, they used line breaks rather than written punctuation. This is imitated in the Weber-Gryson Biblia Sacra Vulgata, if you’re curious. (None of the versions floating around on the Internet reflect this, unfortunately, and have left out the line breaks, leaving the text without any punctuation at all.) Whether this ultimately had any influence on later Bibles is another question.
    Much as I’m normally a fan of paragraphing, Henry Gifford does make the point (and I’ve also experienced) that the pauses created by having verses on separate lines are really helpful in public reading. Still, this new edition is pretty fantastic; all we need now is one with the Apocrypha.

  7. I’m choosing the pebbly calf split, looking forward mainly to the beautiful paragraph format more than anything. This will be my first paragraph Bible, and I am eager to become friends with it. It looks really great in these photographs. If I like the paragraph format as much as I expect to, and if I say my prayers regular and don’t cuss, maybe Cambridge will produce a wide margin paragraph?
    By the way, I just noticed that EB now has the New Cambridge Paragraph Bible available for pre-order, due to be in stock next month, they say. I’m choosing this Cambridge Clarion over the New Paragraph because it retains the italics.
    Off point, but I have a question. Does anyone know if each book of the Bible has been printed recently in a scroll format? On nice vellum or parchment paper perhaps. Each book on a separate scroll. That would be cool, and collectible. Yes, I know some of the books are quite short in length and would look funny on a scroll and be a nuisance to produce I suppose. But so what? God never referred to any of His prophets as minor. Neither should we.

  8. I have been in contact with Cambridge here in the UK and the Clarion ESV is due out shortly (probably later this month or early next), in the same three bindings and colour [sic] options. I am looking forward to reviewing the brown calfskin for the Baptist Times. I am esepcially pleased that the KJVs come in a paragraphed format. Verse-by-verse has no justification in a modern layout and would look entirely wrong in a single-column setting. I also understand that CUP may well will make other translations available in a Clarion setting and binding, just as they have done in their Pitt Minion and other ranges. So perhaps we should expect a Clarion NIV, NRSV and even NLT.
    Also, I have been privileged to be invited to a service next month in Westminster Abbey to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the KJV. Doubtless some of the more recent Cambridge editions will be in evidence.

  9. I can’t help but wonder – is it Norton, Schrivner, Blayney or what.
    Also, EB has better price I see…
    I bought a hard cover of the Norton and am delighted. But then, I like large.
    I couldn’t wait for the the new smaller size to come out in November – but impatience had it’s price. About twice the list price from back in 2005.
    My first paragraph was a Jerusalem Bible back in the late 60’s, I now have 6 of them. Mostly the NJB version as the original is very hard to find. I even went through the trouble/expense of getting a genuine British printing because Doubleday is just not up to par these days.

  10. 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. Or maybe I’ll just get the $29 regular version. It looks nice as well, and I don’t need the slipcase or commemorative label.

  11. Does anyone plan to get their names imprinted on their goatskin bible? Does it change the feel or suppleness of the leather?
    I’m just afraid to take one w/o my name on it to church lest I lose it.

  12. Absolutely gorgeous Bible & I’m seriously tempted to spring for an ESV edition (though in my perfect world I’d prefer a Catholic NRSV). But I also just noticed Crossway will be issuing their own single column ESV text Bibles in January, the Single Column Legacy; the sample on their website looks like an improvement on the PSR. But it surely will not withstand comparison to the Clarion editions. And for some reason I find Crossway’s ESV fonts slightly annoying, though I can’t why for sure.
    And don’t I recall a single column ESV from Crossway a few years ago with large type and each verse on a new line, KJ style? Very odd duck.

  13. —edit: can’t SAY why for sure.
    Note to self: always proof before posting!

  14. Christian Book’s website claims they’ll release the ESV Clarion on 10-15-11.

  15. Got my Clarion today (five minutes ago). It’s a joy to hold. The size fits great into my small (female) paws. The leather is so supple, it’s a dream! It’s much smaller than I expected: the box fit into my mail box.
    There are no tacky (in my opinion) presentation and family records pages made out of that stiff, shiny paper. There is one presentation page in the front, but it only has lines, not writing, and the paper is not shiny. I usually buy my own Bibles, so I tend to dislike the presented to/from page. Just a place to write my name and perhaps a sentiment is ideal, and that’s what the Clarion provides. The end papers are stiff, and I hope they will soften.
    The paragraph format does indeed make it easier to read than the verse format.
    Now for the not so great. The font size is not as easy to read as I expected, but I’m severely nearsighted and middle-aged. I’d do better with a large print Bibles (10 to 12 point). I was hoping the font and line spacing would make it easy to read but no go.
    The good news, I can easily read the Bible through my bifocal lens part. And because the Bible is so short top to bottom, I don’t have to strain much to look through the bifocal part.
    It almost stays flat from the beginning of Genesis, and it does at the end of Revelations but that’s because it has about 150 more pages at the end of the book. I expect that it will get flatter with use.
    I reckon the Reader’s Companion would be better if they still included a separate concordance. It takes a while to wade through the Companion, with all the nice extras it includes, just to find a word.
    Forgive me for any ramblings or grammatical errors – I’m excited and eager to spend more time with my Clarion.

  16. I think CBD date of 10-15-11 for the goatskin Clarion is a misprint. The other two editions say 11-15-11, and the pre-order button is still on the goatskin.

  17. My new Clarion arrived last week and I’ve been using it as my reading Bible since then. (I’m reading from the KJV at the moment partly since it’s the anniversary, and to make a change from the ESV which is my usual reading) I went for the brown calfskin, and couldn’t be more pleased with it. I don’t find the black lining as off-putting as J. Mark suggests; it is, after all, barely visible when the Bible is open. Although I am glad to see Cambridge are bringing out an ESV edition, my money is on the Crossway Single Column Legacy (I’ve already preordered a copy of the brown cowhide, although Amazon says I’ll have to wait till well into February before it arrives in the UK) The main reason I think it looks superior to the ESV clarion has to do with the section headings, which in the Clarion are in the text, but the Legacy moves them to the margins, which I think is an inspired decision; and should also leave lots of space for notes, even though it’s not a wide margin, per se. It’s also quite a bit larger than the Clarion with 9pt type. Out of interest, does anyone want to comment on the quality of Crossway’s high-end leather offerings? How do they compare to Cambridge?
    For those of you asking about the text in the Clarion, I’m fairly certain that it is Blayney, though I don’t have anything to check it against. It’s definitely not Norton, as the traditional italics are present.

  18. Received the Black Goatskin KJV Clarion yesterday. A beautiful Bible. Love the use of paragraphs, inclusion of italics and references. Perfect amount of yap around the edges. The goatskin is a real pleasure to hold.
    Agreed with Failedluddite, this is NOT the Norton text. I’m glad that this edition came out before the New Cambridge Paragraph Bible due next month, since the minimal alterations to that (Norton) text are so few that it seems better to just leave the KJV as it is for uniformity. Quotation marks in this edition would have been nice, but not necessary.
    Something notable at this point for me is concerning the font weight. I am accustomed to a Black-Face font (Allan Brevier), so this text appears lighter to me. Also, I would have liked to have seen some sort of pronunciation guide for proper names at the end of the Bible, though this is a minor point.
    Overall, very pleased with the purchase. Thank you, Mark for providing such detailed reviews, and Cambridge, for answering the call to produce a Bible in this format.

  19. I’m very pleased with my calf split which arrived today. Very pleased.
    I’ve only ever known the traditional indexed verse format. My first thought regarding the paragraph format: it’s particularly great for the Old Testament and its rolling narratives. I’m reading the same words I’ve always read, but in paragraph format the words of the Word seem more natural, more alive, more purposeful, more approachable.
    Oh, I could quibble regarding the paragraph breaks if you like, but out of honour and respect for my British friends at Cambridge Bibles, I shan’t quibble. When I am reading this Bible silently to myself, my inner ear hears only the sound of the text that my eye sees, if that makes sense. My brain doesn’t hear the constant staccato of the indexed verse format, with its constant return to the left margin, sometimes mid-sentence, for no logical reason, like an out-of-control carriage return on a typewriter. (My apologies to any of the young readers who have no idea what a carriage return is. Or a typewriter. Sigh.)
    Anyway, I made a new friend today. I’m very pleased.

  20. How much do the Clarions weigh versus the versions of the Personal Size References?
    I own a PSR and it is suprisingly heavy and sometimes has me leaving it behind if I don’t know for sure if I’m going to use it. I’ve heard promising things about the paper in the Clarion though.

  21. The Clarion is heavier than the PSR, but not by much, and given that it is thicker, may not feel so heavy. That being said, I can’t see you wanting to take a Clarion anywhere you wouldn’t take a PSR.

  22. I can’t believe how much more readable the Clarion is than the PSR. Quite a feat for a Bible that is hardly any larger.

  23. I’ve had my goatskin Clarion for about four days and LOVE IT. I think it’s the bible I’ve been looking for my whole life, being a KJV guy. I’m not sure what is the best feature- the limpness of the binding, the suppleness of the goatskin, the chunky thickness that fits my hand perfectly, the surprisingly large and easy to read type. No, what’s best is seeing and reading the poetry in perfect structure and format. It’s addictive. I keep flipping through just to read the poetry.
    A couple of nits, though. The bleedthrough is pretty bad due to the ultra thin paper which was necessary to keep the thickness and weight down. They did line up the front and back pretty well, but that’s not possible all the time. When it’s not lined up, it’s a distraction. Also the paper is so thin, you have to be careful turning the pages. And that’s all I can come up with to nit.
    I love this bible so much I may buy one for everyone in my family. Even my good friends. Thank you Mark for championing the cause and for Cambridge for delivering. I know it was years in the making, but your (our) patience has been rewarded.

  24. Yes, a beautiful Bible. But … sad how most people only care about the cover and not the text. Is this new Clarion setting the true 1769 “Blayney”-KJV or a reprint of the 21st century tampered “version” by Norton & Co. called “The New Cambridge Paragraph Bible”? Changed spellings, changed punctuation, changed words? In doubt better buy a nice Cameo, Concord or Emerald by Cambridge or some good old settings of Oxford made by RL Allan. In today’s end times one cannot be careful enough. The forgers are galore.

  25. Preppie, this isn’t the new paragraph bible. It’s the Clarion. From what I’ve heard it is the 1769. Either way, be careful trying to judge others hearts in regards to whether or not they care more about the cover or the text.

  26. The Clarion and The New Paragraph are two separate Bible editions.
    I agree with Johns S, you are way harsh to judge people by their KJV Bible. I think most people don’t know there is a difference in editions, and even if they did, just… wow…

  27. I just received notice from Amazon that the goatskin ESV will not ship as expected and has now been moved to December 16. Anyone hear any news about why? Does it have anything to do with today’s end times — or is that just an issue with the KJV? Thanks.

  28. Here in the UK, both Amazon UK and The Book Depository are listing all 3 ESV Clarions as 30 November, so 16 December seems about right (perhaps a little on the late side) for US arrival.
    I have a goatskin on pre-order from TBD so will let you know when it arrives. TBD are offering all 3 versions at 25% list price for UK customers, which is the cheapest I’ve seen (they do ship worldwide, but have a habit of offering different prices to different destinations, so I’ve no idea what they’ll charge for other countries)

  29. Am I the only one who wishes for a bible of this quality with silver gilding?

  30. I just spoke to someone at Baker, the US distributor for Cambridge Bibles. The due date now for the ESV Clarions is January 31.

  31. Frank, thanks for the info. I just got an email from Amazon yesterday asking if they should cancel my order because they don’t know when they will get them.

  32. I received a e-mail fro Cambridge they are saying in the US bt beginning of DEc. Thay are published in UK. I hope middle of Dec.

  33. I ment to end by saying I hope we in theUS have the Bibles by middle of Dec.

  34. Brian, I would also love to see this Bible (and other quality options) with silver gilding.
    I sure hope the mid-December prediction proves to be more accurate than the January 31st estimate!

  35. Sent my Clarion to Baker for a replacement – still waiting after three weeks. I waited months to get it, mow another month to get it replaced/back. Been on her desk for two weeks. So sad! 🙁

  36. Terri H,What was the problem with your Clarion, that it had to be replaced? I just ordered one, and i am wondering…

  37. Does anyone know if the ESV Clarion text will have section headings? I see that the KJV does not. thanks!

  38. Thanks Mark! That’s good news. I definitely in favor of the headings. Got a Brown Calfskin waiting for me whenever they ship.
    Really appreciate your site. It’s always a great read!

  39. Two of the three Clarion ESVs are now available, at least here in the UK: the brown calfskin and the black split calfskin appeared mid November, but Cambridge tell me they are waiting on the black goatskin, which may not be available until the New Year.
    I was privileged to attend the 400th anniversary service of the King James at Westminister Abbey. The Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Charles were all there. Afterwards, I met with a contact from Cambridge Bibles who gave me a hot-of-the-press brown calfskin ESV. It is one of the most delightful Bibles I have seen. If I could take only one Bible to a desert island, this would be it.
    What makes it a real winner is the crisp and clear typography. The font, line length and line spacing are all so well thought through, influenced in no small part by this blog. And the font is significantly easier to read than the Crossway/Allan’s PSR.
    Downsides: 1) there is a little too much see-through; and 2) the covers could do with overlapping the pages a little more. A little more yapp, if you see what I mean.
    The calfskin is a creamy mid-brown, perahps a little nondescript, but a good alternative to the black. Personally I think the darker, richer brown of Cambridge’s Pitt Minions is more attractive, but it is an individual choice. A red or rich crimson would be even better.

  40. Sent my Clarion KJV back to Baker for replacement – have now been waiting for several weeks. Have been assured by Baker that they have notified Cambridge of the problem – creases at top of many pages. They are waiting for word from Cambridge as to how to proceed with these complaints (mine is not the only one). Baker asked me to be patient – and so I wait.

  41. The back cover was separating.
    I asked them specifically to contact me when the Bible was due back to me to avoid theft or damage. They promised they would but didn’t. I arrived home from a trip last week to find the mailing box so soggy it was falling apart. The plastic cover on the Bible box saved the day, leaving only a page or two inside that was rippled due to moisture. That shouldn’t have happened at all but I don’t feel like returning the Bible to Baker again.
    Ironically the old Bible had better cut pages. This one has wrinkles between many front and back pages due to some too tight seams, and there is an uneven edge across the top of this new copy. I’ll just learn to live with it and learn to love the flaws because I’m ready to did into my Bible instead of waiting for it to be replaced again. Sigh.

  42. Yes, it is now apparent that crease lines at the top of each page are a common problem on many of the KJV Clarions. Baker was very kind to replace mine twice, the second time actually opening Bibles to find one WITHOUT creases (which apparently was a task in itself), and sent me my 3rd copy which is in perfect condition. IMMENSELY enjoying reading this Bible!

  43. Some black goatskin ESV Clarions are now available in the UK. Mine was dispatched today, so I’ll hopefully have it in my hands by the end of the week. I’m really looking forward to reading it, and seeing how it compares to the KJV, which I have used a lot since I got a copy six weeks ago.

  44. I got mine a couple days ago, and I’m a little torn. I love the paragraph format, but the ghosting is distracting. I would rather have a larger Bible, without the hundred pages of extras, and have it printed on thicker paper with blacker font.
    Small is nice, extra notes are nice, but if you can’t read the text without being distracted by the bleed through from the opposite page, what’s the point? I’m trying so hard to like it, but the text almost looks blurry when I’m reading it.

  45. My goatskin ESV clarion arrived yesterday and overall I’m very happy with it, it’s my first “high quality” Bible and it’s clearly a cut above anything I’ve owned before. I love the single column setting, it’s just right. My only reservation is the bleed-through, as mentioned above – when thinking about it, yes it does become a bit of a distraction. I would have traded the concordance & maps for thicker paper too. I’ll have to wait a few weeks to see if I still notice the problem after I’ve forgotten that I’m annoyed about it. I will definitely enjoy using the bible though.

  46. Hey Two Hundred and Thirty-Two…can you post some pictures of your ESV Clarion?? please! How did you get yours so “early”? We’d all love to see it.

  47. I forgot to say, I guess I got it “early” because I’m in the UK, it was from The Book Depository on pre-order.
    Here are a couple more closeups of the text (trying to show the bleed-through), and one of the whole book. Note the curled-up page – this happens a bit, the paper is very thin.
    I feel a bit bad focusing on the problems because overall it’s fantastic. Being an Oxford man I obviously take every available opportunity to shoe the tabs, but you’ve got to give it to them, they make nice Bibles.

  48. Thanks for posting the ESV pics! Much appreciated. The ghosting is a bit alarming. I hope I can get used to it. We’ll see..probably in January.

  49. This from this morning:
    “We’re sorry to report we won’t be able to obtain the following item from your order:
    Baker Publishing Group “ESV Clarion Reference Brown Calfskin ES485:X”
    Although we’d expected to be able to send this item to you, we’ve since found it’s not available from any of our sources at this time.
    We’ve cancelled this item from your order. Your order is now closed.”
    I’ve had it on order since it was announced. Will have to see if it shows as available again in the new year.

  50. 232, now that it’s been about a month…what are you thinking about the ESV Clarion? How distracting is the bleed-through?

  51. Mr. Bertrand,
    In your review of the KJV Clarion, you mentioned that Jongbloed had been careful to ensure proper alignment of the page so that printed lines back one another (i.e., the lines printed on the reverse overlap precisely with the lines printed on front to minimize ghosting). I noticed in the pictures posted by Two Hundred and Thirty-Two (on 12/11/2011), that the ESV Clarion does not seem to have the back-to-back alignment. Is that a feature only for the KJV printed by Jongbloed?

  52. Has anyone noticed a decrease in Allan binding quality? I purchased a Reader’s ESV in black highland goatskin and the print on the spine was crooked. I sent it back. I just received a Reader’s ESV in brown goatskin and some of the leather was not attached properly. There seems to be glue where the leather is folded over on the top of the spine but I had to push together the folded over leather to either re-attach or attach it. Perhaps I’m too critical over the binding but after all this bible costs over $200.00. My “fix” may be good enough so that I don’t have to send it back. Does anyone else see a decline in Allan quality? Just curious.

  53. Been reading this Bible for a few months now, and I must add agreement with those who mention their annoyance with the bleedthrough. It is quite noticeable, and therefore annoying. I’m such a fan of the paragraph format, however, that I’ve decided to tolerate it. Perhaps Cambridge will use non-ghosting paper when they publish a paragraphed KJV wide-margin for me, hint hint…

  54. This is something I noticed as well. Does anyone know if Cambridge used a different printer than Jongbloed for the Clarion ESV? The ghosting and the mismatched lines on the ESV is a bit alarming after seeing the gorgeous pictures of the KJV.
    From Michael:
    “Mr. Bertrand,
    In your review of the KJV Clarion, you mentioned that Jongbloed had been careful to ensure proper alignment of the page so that printed lines back one another (i.e., the lines printed on the reverse overlap precisely with the lines printed on front to minimize ghosting). I noticed in the pictures posted by Two Hundred and Thirty-Two (on 12/11/2011), that the ESV Clarion does not seem to have the back-to-back alignment. Is that a feature only for the KJV printed by Jongbloed?”

  55. Mark,
    Thanks for your work and for this post. I just ordered my KJV Clarion in black goatskin.
    Unprofitable Servant

  56. I try to like the Clarion, but the ghosting is massive, it’s all blurring before my eyes and appears just grey (I’m just 40). I wish they would have used thicker paper and a much bolder print. In my opinion this book is a fail. I returned happily to my Concords and Longprimers and Cameos. Those old grannies are far superior above all the KJB wannabees of today. Sorry, Cambridge, nice try… And in the Reader’s Companion are printing errors also. Please print the Clarion on Concord Wide Margin paper! That’s the best! No matter if the book is getting thicker. I want to read it!

  57. I agree 100% that the KJV Clarion should be made with writable Bible paper. Cambridge has sacrificed readability for superficial convenience(thickness). I also want in-text headings like all the other translations get! It seems for Cambridge the saying is true, “the porch light is on, but no one is at home”.

  58. So how much thicker would the Clarions become if they used Concord WM paper? A CWM is 1400 pages; a Clarion 2080. I’m only estimating, but I think they’re presently comparable in text block thickness. (Can anyone provide an actual measurement?) Which says the Clarion’s paper is less than 70% the thickness of the CWM, which pretty much explains the ghosting difference. It would therefore be 50% thicker if it used CWM paper, or well over 2″ thick.
    One problem with this is that I think present Smyth sewing machines are limited to 2″ volumes (verify???) But even if this were not a limitation, I suspect the market would shrivel to just a few of us if they were to market a Bible that thick meant for normal usage.
    You sort of have to trust the free market on this…these are major businesses with considerable competition and if there was money to be made doing things differently, I’ve gotta’ believe it would happen.
    Although I agree with the spirit of these comments, would I spend 50% more for a Clarion with better paper? Personally I find the Clarion layout a little too busy: too many words per line, the reference subscripts and verse numbering are intrusive…so just thicker paper probably wouldn’t make a sale for me anyway. (The ESV Legacy just seems so much more readable/comfortable, though I’m not a fan of ESV.) To me, Cambridge’s biggest hit of late was the original-sized New Cambridge Paragraph bible, but it was soundly denounced on this blog as too big and heavy. So I see Cambridge’s conundrum.

  59. I have an NIV hand-size paragraph Bible with better paper than the Clarion and it’s not even 2 inches thick. And the Clarion with writable India paper would not have all the blank lined paper in the back that the Concord wide-margin has.
    The thickness of a “hand-size” Bible is not a problem at all to me because it’s such a small Bible.

  60. One cannot have all three of
    1. opaque (and therefore thick) Bible paper,
    2. lots of pages, from study aids or a single-column paragraph setting, and
    3. modest size.
    My recent thinking has been that we need two types of Bible:
    primarily a reading Bible, suitable for taking to church or house group, which focuses on 1 and 3: which has opaque pages and modest size … at the expense of dispensing with study aids; and
    primarily a studying Bible, suitable for use on your desk or in your lap, which focuses on 1 and 2: which has opaque pages and good study aids … at the expense of allowing the size to grow.

  61. JO: random thought…Larger cheaper computer displays will likely shrink the study bible market ( has certainly made my bound copy of Strong’s Concordance obsolete) but the reading Bible market is at least stable, if not growing.

  62. I had a question about the Clarion, which you all may be able to give me some advice and answers. I’ve emailed a few places, including where I purchased the bible and Baker’s publishing, and after waiting some time for a reply I thought this would be the best place to look for advice while I continue to wait, especially since it is thanks to this blog that I decided on buying the Clarion in the first place.
    I received a new Cambridge clarion bible Monday and after an afternoon of reading and “getting to know” my new bible I noticed my thumb rubbed off some of the art-gilt page edge. Is there a way to fix this? Is this normal wear? Is this something normally covered under the Cambridge guarantee? I’ve tried to let this go but it’s pretty apparent (as you can really see the white/pink underneath in that one spot). Please I could use some direction and any advice would be appreciated!

  63. “Please print the Clarion on Concord Wide Margin paper!” (x100)

  64. Brian, it’s not normal for the gilding to come off on your thumb. Please contact Cambridge, for surely this will be covered under their quality guarantee.

  65. I’m still debating the different binding options. But here’s my main concern: The sewn edges.

    It look as though the black goatskin has sewn edges, but the brown calfskin does not.

    Would this be a disadvantage for the brown calfskin? Enough to push you towards the black goatskin?

      • Great, thanks for the clarification. I do like the aesthetic the stitching adds, but I think I’ll be getting the Brown Calfskin.

  66. I discovered your blog when I was trying to read up on the Cambridge Clarion because a friend had told me about his. I had never laid eyes on it in person and wanted to be really sure before making a decision. Your blog made that decision so much easier for me.
    I decided on the brown calfskin, and I haven’t looked back. I’ve had it for 9 months and it is my treasure. I use it every day and every day I am so happy with my choice. I just love this Bible. Thank you so much for your detailed review! I love your blog!

  67. Thanks for the great review. I hear that there are some Clarion Limited Editions coming out. Not sure if pink rat skin will be in the offing, but one can always hold out hope. Btw…that comment made me spit my cocoa out my nose I laughed so much. Has anyone heard more of the story on the limited editions though? When might they be expected and what colors etc.?

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