Single Column Legacy ESV (Part 1): Interview with Crossway

I'm going to post a full review of Crossway's new Single Column Legacy ESV in the coming days. In the meantime, let me share an interview I conducted with the folks at Crossway. Randy Jahns, Senior VP of Sales, Marketing, and Bible Production, invited me to send some questions and he tracked down the answers from various team members at Crossway. Here is the result, along with some quick snaps of the Single Column Legacy in brown genuine leather.

Q. If you had told me in 2001, when I started using the ESV, that ten years later it would be one of the best-supported translations in the world, available in a rich variety of formats, I would have been surprised. Back then, I was doubtful whether there would ever be a wide margin edition. It’s a testament to how much effort Crossway has put into the ESV, and how responsive you’ve been to reader feedback. Tell me, how exactly does a new edition come about inside Crossway? Where do the ideas come from, how are they developed, how long does it take from idea to finished Bible?

Most of our Bible ideas are generated in-house, by our internal Bible Publishing Committee.  Also, we love hearing customer feedback: what new features and formats they would like to see in a text Bible, etc. We factor this helpful feedback into the new projects that we are developing. 


New Bible ideas go through multiple stages of review by the committee before approval and publication. Usually this process begins with the review of a brief proposal and summary of the new idea. Then it progresses to a careful review of sample pages and proposed specifications.  The initial idea for the Legacy Bible originated in 2009.

Once an idea is approved it can take anywhere from eight months to multiple years to go from idea to finished Bible. 


Q. What is the story behind the Single Column Legacy ESV? How did the idea originate?

The original project was conceived under the working title of “Reader’s Thinline Bible.” The goal was to create a single-column, text-only, reader’s edition that focused on an inviting readable page and beautiful design. 

Our Bible typesetter relied heavily on Canadian typesetter Robert Bringhurst’s The Elements of Typographic Style as he developed the page design. Essentially, we tried to follow the "Renaissance Ideal" or "perfect page" layout. This layout refers to a set of principles called the “canons of page construction” that all focus around a 2:3 ration of page geometry. Jan Tschichold reintroduced this typographic ideal in the twentieth century, calling it a method “upon which it is impossible to improve” and which produces “the perfect book.” We stuck closely to this design philosophy, although we did have to make a few adjustments for the sake of overall page count.


Q. For a lot of people in the Bible Design Blog community, this looks like the one we’ve been waiting for. When the marketing copy uses phrases like “the Renaissance ideal of a perfect page,” I get dizzy with glee. What was it like for the designers working on such a uniquely anticipated project? 

It was a tremendous encouragement to note the interest on your blog and elsewhere when people were first hearing about it. We loved this Bible already, but it was great to know that there was already an audience who appreciated what we were trying to accomplish!

At the point that the Bible Design Blog community started talking about it, we were mostly done with the typesetting process, but we’ve definitely put a lot of time into the small details of this important ESV Bible edition.


Q. The most striking things about the page spread are that there are no cross-references and even the section headings are moved to the margin. What was the thinking behind these choices?

From the initial idea of having a Reader’s Thinline, we wanted the Bible text itself to be beautiful on the page, with simple and effective design. Our goal was to achieve clean blocks of uninterrupted text that would aid in the reading experience, which is why we moved the headings into the margin. This also added the benefit of slightly shortening the overall page count. 

One of the things you can’t see in the sample PDFs is the effect of the “line on line” typesetting, which we use for the Single Column Legacy and several other ESV Bible editions.  To achieve this, we employ a set typesetting grid, which allocates a full line of space for each line of Bible text.  This effectively “lines up” each line of Bible text with a line of text on the opposite side of the page. This eliminates some of the show-through and helps make the printed page look cleaner.  It also increases the readability and visual appeal. 


Q. From a design and binding standpoint, one of the things I appreciated about the ESV Study Bible is the colophon, which included the typefaces used, the specs on the paper, and the fact that R. R. Donnelley & Sons had done the printing and binding. Can you fill out the colophon on the Legacy ESV for us?

Printer: Legatoria Editoriale Giovanni Olivotto (located in Vicenza, Italy)

Font: Lexicon, 9 pt / 10.75 pt

Paper: 36 gsm Thincoat Plus

Q. It appears there will be four cover options: two TruTones, a black genuine leather, and a brown top grain leather. I’ve always been a fan of Crossway’s “cordovan calfskin” bindings. Is the brown top grain leather the same, or something different?

Although it comes from a different supplier than some of our other calfskin Bibles, the Legacy’s top grain cover is Italian natural calfskin.  Since it is made from the whole skin (not split), it maintains both the characteristic soft feel of calfskin and the individual markings that differ from cover to cover. The hubs on the spine are handcrafted.



Q. Whenever a new single column edition comes out, there are two questions readers always ask me, so let me ask them of you: (1) I realize the Single Column Legacy ESV already has a usable outer margin, but might there ever be a dedicated wide margin edition? (2) Is there any chance of the Single Column Legacy being offered in a hardcover edition? 

Although these options are not currently on the schedule, we appreciate the suggestions!

And finally, I’d like to take the opportunity to say thank you to the design and production team at Crossway. You’ve set a fine standard in Bible publishing, and with the Single Column Legacy ESV, it appears you may have done some of your best work yet.


93 Comments on “Single Column Legacy ESV (Part 1): Interview with Crossway

  1. What are the odds of getting a red letter edition? I know Crossway and Hendrickson tend to produce mostly black letter. Any chance Crossway will offer one in the future?

  2. Thanks Mark. I’ll be looking forward to the upcoming review! My copy will be here by end of month hopefully.

  3. I really like this Bible, and it’s almost what I’ve been looking for, but it’s not quite my ideal. I think the section headings in the margin disrupt an otherwise very clean look. In a Bible designed primarily for reading, I’m not sure how much value section headings add. They are useful in a reference-type Bible, so you can flip through the text to easily find a particular section, but I have plenty of reference Bibles. I want a good reading Bible. I would lose the section headings altogether. I’d also like to get rid of the chapter and verse numbers. For pure readability, present the Bible as though it were a novel or any other book, not a reference work.
    I recently purchased the NIV edition “The Books of the Bible” published by Biblica, and I think its format is wonderful. I had never really thought that all the clutter got in the way until I started reading a Bible without it, and the text seemed to come alive. In addition to studying the Bible, I firmly believe we need to simply read it. There is a huge selection of Bibles available for study, but precious few that are optimized for reading. I think the Single Column Legacy is a step in the right direction, and I hope they further refine this format in such a direction.

  4. If you get a chance to speak with the Crossway folks again, I hope you’ll encourage them to get rid of the TruTone covers, since they tend to degrade rather badly (it chips off and flakes off the Bible) after a short period of time.

  5. Just got my Single Column Legacy this week and could not be happier. I’ve waited for years for a great reading Bible: excellent translation, single column, paragraph format, black letter edition. Definitely a reader’s Bible. Congratulations to Crossway for a truly excellent Bible!

  6. Well, This just cost me $35.00 on Amazon. I went with the TruTone, figuring on an Abba rebind down the road. This just seems like it would be beautiful with a full yapp.
    The “right way to do it” line on line typesetting sold me. I remember listening to my dad and my grandpa talking about that when they were showing me how to set type to use on our 1860’s letterpress when I was a kid. What a contrast this shows between the poorly-printed PSR text block from China (that I still bought an Allan’s binding of) and the attention to detail apparent in this italian, old-world craftsmanship. Well done, Crossway, and thanks for listening!

  7. Being the Bibliophile that I am I have been searching for (and buying) countless Bibles through the years looking for that perfect one. Although “perfect” will never happen in this world, this edition by Crossway comes about as close to it as a Bible can get. I pre-ordered this Bible on Amazon a couple of months ago and just received it two days ago. Expecting another disappointment, it has turned out to be far better than the pictures make it out to be. I ordered the Trutone cover because I have made the mistake in the past of ordering the expensive versions of Bibles only to be disappointed when they arrived. This one, however, will be going to Leonard’s Books for rebinding in the soft classic styling. The line spacing is right; the font is highly readable even for my 60 y/o eyes; the paper is NOT thin with hardly a hint of bleedthrough; no cramping of the text in the gutter; no red letters; no cross-references or section headings cluttering up the landscape (which to me is an irritating distraction); a nice feel to the paper; and the most aesthetically appealing layout I’ve seen in quite some time ~ if not ever. Plus, it’s the ESV an outstanding translation.
    Crossway…Thanks! You’ve hit a homerun with this edition in my book! I may have just ended my search for the “perfect” Bible….
    Rev. Scott Davis, RN
    Anglican Church

  8. Question, please: are all the versions smyth-sewn or only the pricier ones?

  9. Greetings,
    I discovered your blog yesterday and you’ve already sold me on the single column paragraph format. However, if I want this format in a formal equivalence translation with the deuterocanon, how narrow are my choices? I’m already looking for the best price on a calfskin New Cambridge Paragraph Bible, but what alternatives to the KJV are available?

  10. Mark,
    My question is this: Do I go with the Cambridge Clarion or this edition – which is better?

  11. Oh, this looks fantastic! I viewed a sample page yesterday, and can say that it’s delicious. The closer Bibles can get to being laid out like an actual book (I know that statement sounds odd, but it is true) is the best. Next: Hiding the verse numbers, or scooting them to the margin as well. The Message Bible got their layout right, even if the rest is a paraphrase. Thanks for covering these kind of design things on your blog!

  12. I’m really concerned about readability. The font seems a little small (though I know others factors in addition to size are involved). I printed a pdf sample from the Crossway site & it didn’t seemed to be as great as I read here. Maybe my eyes are too old. Perhaps the actual Bible reads better – I’ll await the review & hopefully see one first before i make the purchase (though I’m really tempted to ‘roll the dice” on a trutone edition).)

  13. I would add my “amen” to Bob Z. The Books of the Bible project is very refreshing, and I’d be a very happy chap if it were available in the ESV. I spoke to Crossway a while back about this and they said that it is possible to personalise your preferences for reading on the online ESV study bible, and remove headings, verse numbers etc but I want a book to hold, carry, and most importantly read. Obviously you can (and should!) read whatever bible you currently have, and I love and use my ESV study bible, my Allan’s personal sized ESV etc, and they serve different purposes which is exactly the point. When you just want to read sometimes they can seem amazingly cluttered by the introductions, headings, verse numbers, footnotes etc which are so helful when studying A clean, stripped-down (or returned to how it was originally!) layout for pure reading would be wonderful.

  14. The only thing it is missing is… CROSS REFERENCES!
    I am looking for an ESV, 2011 TEXT, black leather cover, wide margin, single column, reference bible. No such thing exists. I pray someone comes out with one soon. When I heard that Crossway was doing away with the single column reference, I cried, literally. : (
    Thank you for the wonderful information and update!!

  15. It does indeed appear to be a beautifully made bible. Ever since I heard about this one I’ve been eagerly anticipating its arrival in my local bookstore. My wife and I were both looking to get new bibles, she went with the Hendrickson Minister’s Bible, but I couldn’t bring myself to get a copy of that without holding this one from Crossway in my hands first and really comparing the two.
    I have to agree with Grace, however, that having cross references with a good sized font would really be wonderful. The type in the ESV Personal Size Reference was just too tiny! But this does encourage me to find my own cross references of sort through my studies, and as I already have an NASB with cross references this isn’t a deal breaker.
    Very excited to see this up close and personal!
    Also, I must say thank you for writing this blog; it’s done much (for better or worse!) to encourage my fascination with bible printing and binding!

  16. Scott, even the Tru-Tone are Smyth Sewn.
    I couldn’t wait to get this in my hands so I ordered the two tone brown Tru-Tone. Beautiful Bible, and quite hefty. Heavier than I anticipated, but a small price to pay for such a nice layout.

  17. Oops, it was Jesus’ question, not Scott’s. That line looks like a divider between posts.

  18. Since Crossway seeks customer feedback, I would absolutely love this Bible in the chocolate lambskin they used for the PSR. Second choice is the cordovan calf. I purchased the tru tone for now. If no plans are made in the near future to use a better binding, I will send this one off for a rebind. I have never used ABBA but love their stuff. Anyone have any recent experiences with ABBA?

  19. I wish they would offer a semi or full yapp version of this.
    I have become soo spoiled with my Allan Bibles.

  20. Mark,
    Thank you for this nice preview! This may be a Bible I buy to replace my ESV Literary Study Bible, which I use only for reading.
    I must echo the requests of several other commentators for an ESV Bible that does away with the chapter and verse numbers in the text. This is a Bible I have wanted so much that I went through the trouble of making and printing my own version! If the folks at Crossway were to make a Bible just like this one, sans headings, chapters, and verses, I would buy one in a heartbeat!
    Thank you again,

  21. I received a copy of the brown TruTone edition a couple of days ago & posted a 5-star review on amazon. Wonderful, wonderful edition. I had a few minor complaints, though. Before reading this blog post I suspected Crossway had designed the page specifically to achieve a certain proportion that really does look beautiful and invite reading — but I wonder if the firm commitment to a certain page proportion is what has yielded a really large bottom margin. Too large, IMHO, unless what you want is a true “wide-margin” edition. It makes the whole Bible bigger than it needs to be.
    Also, regarding overall size, my copy is 6.5″ x 9.5″ x 1.5″. Two pounds, ten ounces. Yeah, it’s a big boy! — though it fortunately doesn’t reach the telephone directory size of some study Bibles.
    And try this: open the TruTone edition fully, then look *under* it, at the outer binding and spine. In my copy, the soft brown spine area is literally crumpling instead of curving gently when the book is opened. And some of the creases are staying in the exterior of the spine even when the book is closed, creating lines of “micro-wrinkles,” if I might coin a phrase. Over time, if this continues, the spine is going to become quite ugly.
    BUT BUT BUT! Regardless of any complaints … this is a truly gorgeous Bible.
    PS To respond to a previous commenter’s remark about the headings in the margin: I find they don’t detract from the flow of reading; they’re in a small italic font and easily ignored. I like them: they remind me of certain very old Bibles (perhaps early KJVs?) that similarly placed headings in the margin. Restrained and classy. As for verse numbers: they’re there, true, but they’re less obtrusive than in some previous Crossway Bibles. I’d prefer they were moved to an inner margin, but I really don’t mind them.

  22. Thanks for your comments, Frank. It seems that the rest of the articles by Mark will have to wait till next Week, so your review is very welcome. Any chance of uploading some pics? Do you reckon that rebinding the block will solve the wrinkles problem or will it reproduce caused by the text block?

  23. Looks like a great Bible, but now I feel slightly stupid. I bought an ESV Clarion and now after seeing this I like the Legacy better. The only way this could be more perfect is if the margins were lopped off to bring this Bible down to a much smaller size.

  24. Jesus — sorry, my photographic skills are such that I’d just embarrass myself if I tried uploading photos. Besides, Mark’s photos in this blog post are quite good. Yes, rebinding would surely solve the wrinkly spine problem. It seems to be an issue with the outer TruTone material.
    Jacob — top margin (from header to page edge): 3/4″; bottom margin: about 1 1/4″, but it varies depending on the number of text notes; some pages have 1 1/2″ white space on the bottom; inner margin: about 5/8″; outer margin, not counting headings in the margin: about 1 3/8″.
    Contrary to what some have said, there is some show-through in these pages, but it’s mostly concealed by the printing technique Mark describes. However it’s rather noticeable in the poetic sections. For me, though, it’s not a problem at all.
    And I just received an e-mail from amazon canceling my order for the ESV Clarion: they say it’s unavailable and they don’t know when it will become available! Has Cambridge decided to make this a UK-only edition?

  25. Does your Bible “crinkle” and have bowed pages that like to stand up on their own?

  26. I am considering Bible surgery. Have Mechling trim the SCL ESV top and bottom. Rebind ala the Jeremie TNIV project: (who also had pages trimmed). Usually it’s the side pages that need protection from thumb wear and the gilt would remain there. This may be as close as I/we will ever get to the lauded Cambridge NIV Single Column Text Bible in the ESV. I put up with [cross-references] in the PSR because they push the text further out of the gutter, which JMB called “genius” at the time (and I agree. hey, re-read the section called “A Stroke of Genius” ). What I would really like to have is the SCL ESV text *without* the wide margins, *with* the line-over-line setting and heavy paper, and a _wide_ GUTTER to keep the text on the flat of the page, like the PSR. How about making the headings in a smaller font and putting them in the gutter? No cross references. I like to have headings and chapter+verse markings, though, as they are useful for quickly comparing to another translation if something rings a bell. I know the vocabulary of the NIV well and often search with it, but I mostly read the ESV now, and compare with the NET, NASB, and NIV. I write notes and copy verses into a notebook, so that’s where I’m coming from on the “let’s chop it” opinion. I read in many different Bibles, and I want my notes to follow me, not stick to one particular Bible copy. Hope that’s not too much explanation. Did I mention “thank you” for *not* putting cross-refences in the SCL? 🙂

  27. Josh — Not sure what you mean by “crinkle”, but if you’re talking about the issue with unevenness of the page in the gutter, then no, it’s not a problem. As for “bowed pages,” if you mean pages that curl up at the corners when the Bible is lying open, again no, not an issue. But if I was in Miami on a hot summer day, who knows? (The air here in the northeast now is very cool and dry.)
    Fred — I’m not familiar with the page trimming project you mention, but if you trim the top and bottom margins off the SCL, you’ll destroy the maps in the back and the presentation/family pages in the front. I suppose you’d want to just remove those completely. And much as I’d like to see this Bible in a slightly smaller format, trimming the pages would also destroy the “Renaissance ideal” Crossway talks about; the height-width proportion would be thrown way off, and I don’t think the result would be attractive. But that’s just me.

  28. Frank — The links in my above posting can be copied and pasted into your address window to see the articles I was referencing. // You’re right. Upon reflection, I shouldn’t have posted what I did. This edition should be left to stand as it’s designed. I apologize that the SCL just looks like a wide-margin Bible to me. I want an upgraded PSR or a Cambridge/Crossway Single Column Text ESV, with heavy paper, line-on-line type setting, and a wide gutter, preferably with Mr. Bertrand as a consultant. A 2″ or even 2.5″ thick Bible is AOK with me. I got carried away since other postings suggested changes that I certainly don’t want. The SCL *is* closer to what I’m looking for than the Cambridge Clarion. The PSR is what I use every day. Eagerly waiting for Mr. Bertrand’s full review.

  29. I have received my copy (trutone) yesterday. I hit about 20 chapters today, mixing poetry and prose. Overall, it us easily worth twice the 30.00 that I spent on it. It is not perfect, but, in many ways, it us closer than anything else out there. My daily read is an Allan PSR. The SCL is everything that the PSR isn’t. It is beautifully set, on decent paper, using quality ink. Conversely, the PSR is everything that the SCR isn’t. It is compact. That is about it.
    I tried leaving the two alone in the dark, but was disappointed to find this morning that there was no perfect offspring on my table.
    The renaissance perfect setting is beautiful, and my margin-loving, copious
    notetaking wife likes it even better than I do. With that said, I need something that fits better in one hand.
    I am considering the “chop”. Ifi take the extra margin from the top and bottom, I can reduce the weight a bit. I’m still thinking about the side. The only way it would be worth it, is if I cut between the headings and the text, training the chapter and verse, but cutting the page numbers. This would reduce my outer margin to less than 4mm, but would make my book block only slightly larger than my beloved PSR.
    The nice thing about this is, ifi ruin the book, I’m only out 30.00. No risk, no reward. Heresy? Perhaps. Tempting? Definitely.

  30. @Jacob Tallmon “I tried leaving the two alone in the dark, but was disappointed to find this morning that there was no perfect offspring on my table” and then I spilled my tea on the screen. Ha ha ha ha.

  31. Let us know how “the chop” works out for you Jacob. I understand it is an expensive process. I always wondered if someone tried it with the ESV Wide Margin. I’m assuming you’ll be sending it to Leonard’s or ACE or someone else to do the chopping and rebinding. Thanks!

  32. This is simply fantastic. To those complaining about the margins: the tiny margins of the twentieth century are barbaric. You have been wandering in the darkness, and have found the light. It may take some getting used to, but soon you will never be able to go back.

  33. Joel, someone on the Facebook blog commented that it was due to a misspelling in Exodus. (Someone then joked that it might have said Thou Shalt Commit Adultery, or something similar.) But it’s not cancelled, just delayed.
    Andrew, I think you’ve seen the light. The early pdf samples made the “perfect page” seem gimmicky and wasteful of mass and volume. But now that we’re out of Flatland and can see actual photos, I agree that the layout is near magical, if not perfect! There’s something peaceful about it, for lack of any other word. Now if only they’d omitted the silly verse numbers!

  34. @Bill – “Peaceful” s a good word for the SCL – maybe just plain old “comfortable” works too. I bought the first copy of the SCL that I saw in the bookstore (happened to be the same day of, but just prior to, Mark’s interview coming out). I initially thought that the margins were too wide and that the text was a little too close to the gutter but only by a tad (everything else I loved). But, as I have been continually reading the book over the last 1 1/2 weeks, all my quibbles have gone away. The SCL is basically effortless and a joy to to read, and that is all due to the layout. Call it “peaceful” or “comfortable” or whatever word you would like, the design just flat works for readability.
    For those who would like reduced or chopped down margins, I think once you lose those margins, the text will seem to your eyes/brain as much more cramped and you are going to lose a lot of readability that the proportions of current payout provide optically to your eyes/brain.

  35. Thinking about buying one of these. Recently I was given an Amazon gift card so might just do so. Slightly worried that I will miss cross referencing (but then I don’t use it every day anyway). I really want a good quality bible that will stand up to daily use and last a long time. It needs to be large enough to read easily but not so large that I can hold it to read in bed or take to church with me.
    Looking forward to the full review.

  36. Mark I predict the demise of the single paragraph bible even as it gains in popularity. I have several – including the Cambridge Clarion – and have come to the conclusion that given the sheer size of the bible (a couple of thousand pages) it is, from a visual and aesthetic perspective, a mighty uncomfortable way to the read the scriptures. In fact it has made bible reading a daunting task for me. Wading through unrelenting pages of tightly packed script has become a soul destroying experience. I realise now like I never have before why the bible came to be broken into two columns. For one thing it made it easier to read out loud. I have recently read and preached with difficulty using a single paragraph ESV bible. Even meditating on single verses has become a chore because they are wedged between layers of print which makes it impossible to rest one’s eye comfortably on a particular scripture – or even find it if you’re chasing references issued from the pulpit. I predict that single paragraph bibles will have a short life span and become an exotic collectors item within a decade.

  37. Brendan, short and stout is what we need here. What your soul is suffering from is too many words-per-line. The Legacy has about 16 and the Clarion 14, but what you really want is about 12 words per line, and like you say, with enough leading between lines to keep things loosely packed, and enough margin space for peace and comfort. Such an animal would fit nicely in your palm, like a Pitt Minion, but it will be THICK. Short and stout in other words. I think you can do it within the 2″ thickness limit of a modern sewing machine, but I’m not sure how the market will react to a Bible that’s the form factor of old volumes from 150 years ago. Someone’s bound (no pun intended) to try it eventually.

  38. Thanks for your comnments Bill. Even with my Cambridge Clarion its quite an ordeal studying a brief text like Ephesians (which I’m currently going through). I found it very difficult to unpack Paul’s dense thoughts in the single paragraph format. When I went back to my two column KJV version Paul’s ideas were more obvious and easier to get a handle on. You could be right about 12 words per line. Anything that isn’t a mass of print will be a huge improvement. Publishers need to realise that the bible is a big book. To cram it all into paragraphs makes reading a labourious experience – and is not conducive to getting folk to read scripture systematically. I stiull sense, for good or ill, that the days of the SP bible are numbered.

  39. I think what you’re accustomed to plays a factor, as well. Literature professors are accustomed to unpacking difficult texts in a variety of formats — verse, prose, etc — while Bible teachers, especially the older among us, are used to the Bible looking a certain way. Two column, verse-per-line is a given for anyone who came of age prior to the now-almost-universal practice of paragraphing the text. Even the idea that a phrase should be meditated on as broken down by Estienne, not by the individual reader — as it would be if you were thinking over a phrase you’d underlined in, say, Moby Dick — is conditioned. For readers who didn’t grow up with verse-per-line formatting, it isn’t more natural than single-column, paragraphed text.
    If the days of printed text are numbered, as they seem to be, I doubt we have enough time left for single-column column editions to edge out double-column ones. (In print, at least. On screen it has already happened.) Paragraphed editions have, of course, already edged out verse-per-line for most readers.
    I disagree that paragraphed text discourages systematic study; in fact, I’d argue just the opposite. It helps correct the “forest for the trees” reading habits that dominate so much of the discourse, where phrases and words are too often magnified at the expense of sentences and paragraphs. Reading Paul at the sentence/paragraph level is a different experience than at the granular word/phrase level … different for the better, I think. Formatting alone doesn’t determine such habits, but it certainly plays a part.

  40. Just got an email today from (where I ordered mine) that there was a “production flaw with the top grain leather” and that shipping on this binding would now slip until late April or early May. Can anyone else confirm this? Am I ever going to get my hands on this one or on the ESV Clarion in goatsking? This is getting a little heartbreaking as I carry my Bible everywhere and cheaper bindings do not hold up.

  41. Confirmed. I’m hoping to get something more concrete to share, but my understanding is that there’s a delay and that the edition in my photos is therefore not representative. I don’t know what the nature of the “production flaw” is, but Crossway is going to send me a replacement when they’re available.
    In the meantime, I’m going to juggle things a bit and share some thoughts on the genuine leather edition and the text block. I also want to address the Clarion vs. Legacy question that’s inevitably going to be asked.

  42. Thanks for confirming. I really appreciate your site and your time.
    Grace and peace,

  43. Mark, I bought the genuine leather edition on Friday when it was confirmed that the top-grain leather edition was significantly postponed; so while I’m forming my own opinion on it, I’m anxious to hear what you think!
    To anyone who may know: I’ve heard that despite the delay, some customer from who pre-ordered have in fact begun to receive their copies of the top-grain leather edition. Can anyone confirm this? The announcement on the Crossway blog seems to imply that they may have received a shipment of advance copies that did not contain the production flaw.

  44. Thanks for your comments Mark about reading habits and SP texts. I’m 50 so I guess that makes me old. Still, I teach biblical languages and I am currently studying Classical Syriac – so would say I have a pretty sharp mind. Even so plunging into narrative passages in a SP bible challenges my levels of concentration. Perhaps a younger generation who only know the SP format won’t be affected by dense paragraphs. But I’d equally bet that a ‘close reading’ of scriptural texts is not the forte of contemporary bible readers (levels of biblical illiteracy are high among Christians). It remains to be seen whether the new SP bibles facilitate deeper study of the Word.
    Best wishes
    p.s. I live near Cambridge, UK, and frequent the CUP shop. You’d be hugely disappointed in their bible section.

  45. Dr. Brendan Devitt, 50 is by no means old! You mentioned that you teach biblical languages; and I notice that both my USB and NA Greek NTs, as well as my Biblia Hebraica, are all in a single-column, paragraphed format. Do you find it difficult to do deeper study of the Word when studying from the original languages? Or do you do your deeper study using an English translation? I hope the question doesn’t come across bad, I’m just curious.

  46. Received my Cowhide Legacy edition today from Evangelical Bible. I really like the execution of the interior, and the size is very good in my opinion.
    But there is a lot of movement in the spine (ie it is loose), and looks as though the cover around the spine will begin to pull apart from the liner. It may be an issue with the adhesive, but also the spine itself with the raised bands seems “stiffer” than any Crossway edition that I have held with raised bands. I will most likely return it, and get the genuine leather or send off a tru tone to be rebound.

  47. Matt, we here at Crossway are sorry to hear about your troubles. I would suggest contacting Evangelical Bible. We will of course provide a replacement copy when it’s printed in several months, but Evangelical Bible should have a plan for how to best handle that. Once again, we apologize for the disappointment and inconvenience!

  48. I’m grateful Crossway is taking the time to keep up with this blog. Other Bible publishers–Nelson? Zondervan?–would do well to do the same. Crossway has really made an effort to improve their product and seems to be listening–thank-you!

  49. I am impressed with how Andrew has stayed on top of the Bible Binding world. Of course my comment was not meant to be negative at all but simply an FYI to those that had wondered about the Evangelical Shipment. Some may be problem free, but my seemed to have the issues that had be mentioned elsewhere. I appreciate the effort Crossway has put into the release of this bible and look forward to the release of the Cowhide later this year.

  50. Matt M, that was what I was wondering about. For a while I thought maybe I had made a mistake in pre-ordering from Westminster rather than Evangelical Bibles, but now I’m OK. As I tell my kids, the only way to learn patience is by having to wait, so I guess I’ll thank God for the opportunity to learn patience! In the meantime, I’ve got the genuine leather edition to tide me over for the next few months. It’s a bit stiff, but I’m doing a good bit of reading from it each day, and I’ve got a few months before the cowhide edition finally comes out to see how well the genuine leather edition breaks in. In fact, if it looks like it will last a while, I may even decide to hold off for the possibility of an Allan SCL coming out within the next few years!

  51. I can’t speak for all of the shipment that EVB received, only the one I have. Initially it seemed fine, but as I held it when it was opened I noticed that the backing on the spine (connected to the raised bands) had a bit of movement and would go off center while it was opened. There is always space between the spine and back of the book block, but this seemed much more than normal.

  52. My copy came in today from WTS Books. I purchased the Genuine Leather edition. Haven’t had much time with it, but one word I would use to describe it is refreshing. Single column paragraph with generous margins and minimal distractions. What more could you want? I can’t wait to break it in and start reading it daily. Thankful for this edition and I hope it serves many well. Hats off to Crossway.

  53. Fernando – good point! I think with Greek and Hebrew bibles one tends to read shorter chunks of scripture – especially if analysing grammar, or comparing the original with modern English versions – so it isn’t so significant that the texts are single paragraph. But there is also the fact that Greek and Hebrew bibles have much larger font sizes – so in this respect it isn’t too demanding on the eyes. Don’t get me wrong. The Cambridge Clarion and Crossway Legacy productions are gorgeous beyond words. I’m just trying to imagine folk sitting down to read through a gospel or epistle at one or two sittings. I don’t imagine that most people will find this a relaxing ocular experience!

  54. Dr. Brendan Devitt, that’s true about the font size in the Hebrew and Greek Bibles. I suppose that is a luxury they can afford since they are published in separate volumes! Perhaps some can adapt easier than others. I’m 35 and I don’t have the best eyes, but I’ve been reading from the Legacy for about a couple of hours at a time every day since Sunday, and I can’t say my eyes have suffered too greatly, so far. But everyone’s different, of course! I appreciate your response.

  55. Matt M, from the Evangelical Bible website, it seems that the Cowhide Legacy is supposed to have lined notepaper in the back. Since you’ve received a copy of the Cowhide, can you confirm whether or not that’s true? Thanks!

  56. Fernando – I did not see lined paper in the back. I flipped through, but nothing. BTW do you like the genuine leather binding?

  57. I second the Clarion vs. legacy comparison! Would make a good blog post.

  58. Nick, Are any of the ESV Clarion’s that are out immune from the recall? What caused these printings to actually be called back?

  59. Our church has just started the Bible in 90 days program. I picked up the legacy for that purpose and it has been wonderful.

  60. I have been trying for weeks to contact ABBA to do a rebind on my ESV Legacy. Unfortunately, despite numerous emails, I cannot get a response. Anyone have any ideas? The contact person on the website is Miguel. That is who I have sent my emails to. Anyone have any ideas? Thanks.

  61. Others may chime in, but I have never received an email back from them (sent a few). While some have had bibles rebound by abba it seems that it can take a lot of work and time (months) to get your bible back…I would go with Leonards or another “local” binder.

  62. Thanks Matt. I have had great experiences with Leonards (Just sent them a Bible last week) as well as Mechling and Paul Sawyer. They are all excellent. But my personal preference is that stitched, pressed calfskin like those posted by Cristian and like my original cordovan calfskin ESV from ABBA and the chocolate lambskin PSR ESV from ABBA. Hopefully, someone else will have some helpful hints. I intend to keep on trying for now. Thanks again.

  63. To chime in a bit late, I disagree with the Dr. Devitt, who is saying it is hard to read a single column Bible. I have been reading the Bible for years, and I vastly prefer single column. Now, I’m trying to read it as a book, and this really works for me that way. ESPECIALLY over the old school KJV, which puts each verse on its own line. I could never read that and get into the flow of the text. NIV and ESV double columns were better, as text was arranged in paragraphs. But single columns are even better.
    For normal readers, I think having it laid out like an actual book is helpful. We don’t read Lord of the Rings, for example, in double column format. Why read the Bible in that fashion for normal reading purposes?

  64. Nice work, Ryan. From the stated volume dimensions, I’d say a page is 9″ tall. I count 48 lines of text, but clearly 50-52 could fit on the page for a calculated line spacing of ~0.18 inches per line or 12.75 points per line. The “leading” appears generous so I’d guess the type size to be 9 points. I’m seeing about 17 words per line, 20 syllables/line, so you wouldn’t want the lines squished together too much.
    Again, given the stated volume dimensions, it appears the 1196-page text block is 2.25″ thick, for a sheet thickness of .00375″, which is thick for bible paper. So even if the paper is not a terribly high quality, bleed-through should be minimal, which the page images are probably fairly showing even if the lighting is low.
    I’d sure love to know if the bindings are glued or sewn. Unfortunately the ASV’s page images, in particular, seem to show the inside words being “lost” in the “gutter”. With a sewn binding, you’d have thought the images would have shown a flatter page. If glued, sending one of these off for a leather re-jacketing is only going to exacerbate the problem.
    A very minor complaint is the existence of occasionally awkward upper case letters. This setting was probably based on a versed text in which each verse began with an uppercase letter And so when the verse numbers were removed, Then you get capital letters When you don’t expect them.
    Intriguing indeed. Mark, how about a review?

  65. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Crossway! I spoke with a delightful young lady in your development department in 2008 requesting that you publish a single column paragraph style ESV edition in something with a larger font than the Single Column Reference Bible. Finally, this is it! My cowhide edition should arrive today and I can hardly wait! I am a pastor and own the older Single Column Reference, which I use for teaching (and it is ideal for this due to the verse-by-verse format and consequent ease of locating individual verses) and the Personal Size Reference for carry and travel when I am not teaching or preaching. But I have wanted a version just for reading for some time and this is, I believe, just about perfect.
    I disagree strongly with the comments of Brendan earlier about the effect of the single paragraph format, although his comments helped me to understand something of the rationale for double column format. Previously, for the life of me, I could not understand how or why the double column format became the traditional standard. For a better understanding of that I thank you, Brendan. My experience is completely different. My sister gave me a single column paragraph Bible when I was in college (the only one I ever owned until purchasing the ESV Study Bible a few years ago), and I never could understand why I enjoyed reading it so much more than any other Bible I had ever seen, until I realized that it was because it was laid out like every other book I read. I think that for reading, the single paragraph is by far the best because minute analysis of small segments is not the goal; understanding the flow of large chunks is. I suppose that both formats have their place and adherents, but my Single Column Reference with verse-by-verse format is as atomistic for study as I want in a Bible format. Otherwise, I prefer by far a format that reads as much as possible like a regular book, and I believe most other readers do as well. I must say that I believe the prediction about the demise of single column to be a bit ridiculous (not to be offensive). Whenever it is offered and a choice is possible, it by far outpaces the double column format in general preference. But I would never advocate discontinuing availability of double column options. To each his own!
    Again, thank you so much for listening to your customers. This is very rare and very much appreciated!

  66. My Bible came in yesterday. The Legacy is everything I thought it would be. A pleasure to read. The paper is outstanding (very little ghosting) and the binding is superior, although the Bible doesn’t stay open in Genesis and Revelation quite as well as I hoped. But this may improve after it is broken in. In any case, great job, thank you again, Crossway.

  67. I enjoy using the Cambridge KJV Presentation Reference and the ESV Paragraph Reference for verse-by-verse study, but had not yet found the perfect bedside reader. The ESV Personal Size Reader and the Clarion have a nice size and supple calfskin feel, but the print in the PSR is a little too small, and the line spacing in the Clarion is a little too dense, for my 52-y.o. eyes. The Legacy ESV, which arrived this week, is my favorite of all for sheer ease-of-reading and for sensual appeal: supple calfskin, lovely gold-edged pages, and the aroma of leather and ink and paper. It opens flat to display the entire text block, unencumbered with references. It is perfect for just reading in bed. If I could change one thing, I would make the type size bigger by 0.5-1 point. If I could change 2 things, I would keep more of the KJV Biblish that has been revised out. Example: in the Bread of Life discourse, “Do not labor” [for the food that perishes] has been supplanted by “Do not work.” Not a deal-breaker. I will get the Legacy for each of my 3 children – its beauty alone will draw them in.

  68. Having preordered the ESV SCL cowhide edition and then the production delay, impatience drove me to buy the brown Trutone edition. From viewing evb’s cowhide edition photo gallery it appeared that the problem was with the binding…and that’s what it turned out to be. I love the SCL format and type, though the text could be another 5mm away from the gutter because it does not lay flat. The paper is beautiful, but if you get a crease in a page you will not be able to get the crease out. There is some ink “splatter” and pages with light and dark printing which is annoying. The brown two-tone Trutone is beautiful. And yes, Richard, the spine wrinkles. I’ve had the same problems with this Bible that I had with two Crossway Trutone PSRs, i.e., the card liner is cheap and if one bends the shell back the card will “break.” The card was not properly affixed to the corners and next to the spine and needed glueing. The head and tail bands came loose and needed adhesive; the head and tail bands are not wide enough so the signatures in front and back are not secure – I had to use hinge tape in places. I’ll continue to use this Bible indefinitely and continue to repair it as needed (even though I treat my Bibles very carefully and am not hard on them at all). Besides, I totally love the ESV version over and above the [KJV, NIV & NASV] translations I read over the years in spite of the fact that the 2011 revision could still be improved somewhat. How I wish that Crossway would attach a really high quality binding to the ESV SCL book block but they just simply have not done so. In lieu of that, I hope that the block will be made available to Allan or Cambridge, the sooner the better. On a brighter note, it appears that the upcoming ESV SCL verse-by-verse will be printed in the U.S.

  69. I recently bought two of the TruTone ESV SCLs as gifts (Sometimes when you really want something, yet cannot justify the cost, it helps to give the thing in question away). I was distraught by the degree to which they simply did not lie flat. On its own, the TruTone SCL will not lie open to (e.g.) Ephesians. Likely not anywhere in the entire NT. I’m curious if this is something people think will improve with use as the SCL is “broken in”—also, have people had this experience with the more expensive bindings?

  70. Duncan, Have you considered having a tru-tone (or the PSR that you’ve got that’s falling apart) rebound by one of a half-dozen different folks? You can get just about anything you want wrapped around the text block of your choice for anywhere from 80-200 dollars.
    Kaleb, I’ve got a genuine leather one that hasn’t seen a whole lot of use, and it’s starting to relax a little bit. Especially with the tru tone (which is more limp than the genuine leather leather), it’s a matter of the binding itself “relaxing” a little bit.
    If you haven’t already, go through the “how to break in a new bible” proceedure (google it) a couple of times and you’ll notice it helps.

  71. Well, you convinced me to buy one. Finally decided on the Legacy over the Clarion for better readability (and availability) and I don’t regret it. This will me an amazing Bible that I hope my entire family will use often. You can check out my full review here:

  72. I just received my ESV Legacy (Top Grain) and I the only previous experience I have had with higher quality bibles is the goatskin pitt minion ESV. However, when I open the Legacy I noticed how “limp” the bible was, and it felt a little too limp, is that normal? And I believe another poster also mentioned this but the spine moves a lot and it feels like it will rip off the actual pages in the bible. Is this normal? Hope someone can help me, or I am thinking about returning it and getting either a genuine leather, or tru-tone and get it rebound (never done it before, I live in CA what would be a good place that would be less than $120-total)

  73. Jay, I suspect Crossway’s black genuine leather is more of the traditional bible binding you have in mind.

  74. Received my true tone brown ESV Legacy bible today. It’s as everyone else has said….very very good paper and quality…very readable. Like Greg I will be replacing my literary study bible with this for daily reading. Will probably send to Leonard’s for rebinding some day…

  75. How does the leather actually compare to the ultra-soft cordovan calfskin? My copy is arriving Monday. Can’t wait.

  76. I managed to get hold of a copy of the ESV legacy in the Tru-tone binding and to be honest even that is a lovely bible to read, yet even so I could only dream of owning the top grain leather edition, or so I thought. A few weeks ago I was browsing my local bookshop (in Perth, Scotland) and was looking at the various ESV editions they had in stock when the shopkeeper approached me and asked if I was looking for an ESV. I replied that I was only browsing. He then told me that if I was looking for one they had a really nice one in the second hand section. He then disappeared and I assumed that he would come back with an ESV in bonded leather or something similar. Well, you can imagine my surprise when he reappeared and placed in my hands the Single Column Legacy bible in Top grain leather. Not a mark, not a blemish. The pages were still unopened and the gilded edges didn’t even have a scratch. Even the ribbon was still tucked in to its original place. The best thing about it was the fact that it was only £7.50!!!!!! As you can probably tell, it is now at home with me. Amazing bible, beautiful to read and a lovely thing to hold. Still can’t understand how it ended up the second hand section though?

  77. Congrats Rob!
    I too have this edition and am very impressed with the quality of not only the layout, paper quality, and nice wide margin, but also the quality of the leather binding. It’s really nice eh?

  78. Some good and bad. I love this Bible. I have one, purchased it at the Desiring God pastor’s conference this year. It is great for note taking, outlining the flow of thought, adding in sermon outlines, etc. And most of all, it reads like a book. The single column format makes it much more agrreable to the eyes. MY ONE PROBLEM: they call this the “legacy” bible as though it should last. Ive had it since February (3 months) and all I do is study from it and do personal reading. THE BINDING ALREADY BROKE. Huge dissappointment. I don’t know if crossway offers repairs, but this Bible has week bindings and won’t last long. It might not even last the year it will take me to read through it with the ESV chronological reading plan! My NASB thinline took way more abuse and its ladted years without falling apart. Not much legacy to that.

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