Single Column Legacy ESV (Part 3): Legacy vs. Clarion

Nothing lasts forever, but if you're waiting on a nicely-bound single column ESV, you might have your doubts. The Clarions seem to have been recalled due to a typographical error in the Old Testament, and the brown cowhide Legacy was pushed back thanks to problems with the binding. All we know for certain is that, some time in 2012, some of us will be pondering the profound question: Legacy vs. Clarion? Here they are to make a comparison:


Clarion (left) vs. Legacy (right)

For the moment, both of the editions pictured above might as well be bound in unobtainium. What you're looking at is, on the right, one of the now-delayed brown cowhide Single Column Legacy ESVs. The problem with this run is that the cover separates from the liner, probably due to the thickness of board used in the spine, which doesn't allow much flex. On the left, you're looking at an unbound text block of the Clarion ESV, the guts of what would be a brown calfskin edition (hence the brown ribbons). While neither of these are quite ready for the market, we can make some helpful observations. 

The Clarion is about an eighth of an inch thicker than the Legacy, but nearly two inches shorter and a half inch narrower. It feels lighter and much more compact in the hand. The art gilt edges are nicer than the Legacy's gold gilt. The Clarion is printed and bound by Jongbloed in the Netherlands, while the Legacy is printed and bound in Italy by Legatoria Editoriale Giovanni Olivotto. The Clarion's text column is 3.5 inches wide and 6 inches tall. The Legacy's text column is 4 inches wide and about 7 inches tall. Both are set in Lexicon type: the Clarion in 8.75 pt. with 10.25 pt. leading and the Legacy in 9 pt. with 10.75 pt. leading. The Legacy features classical page proportions, which means a beautiful and usable outer and bottom margin. The Clarion has cross references in the outer margin. 


Both editions show ghosting through the page, particularly in poetry sections. The Legacy's paper appears whiter and more opaque to my eye, and less prone to curling than the Clarion's. If the numbers make them seem quite similar, in reality they are very different, particularly in terms of size:


Clarion (left) is smaller than the Legacy (right).
Below, the Clarion (top) compared to the Legacy (bottom).


In the first photo above, you see the Clarion text block wrapped in black goatskin cover. Pardon the mismatch of brown ribbon and black leather. Next to it is the genuine leather edition of the Legacy. In the photo immediately above, the Clarion KJV in brown calf rests atop the brown cowhide Legacy. As you can see, the Clarion is the more compact of the two, a thick mid-size edition compared to the Legacy's full-size status. 

So with the comparisons out of the way, which is better, Legacy or Clarion?

If you're looking for an uncluttered reading experience, the Legacy is your choice. The slightly larger type, the better paper, and the elegant proportions all combine to make the Single Column Legacy ESV an attractive choice for extended periods of reading. While the verse numbers are still in the text, removing the section headings to the margin really does promote an unhindered flow. The cowhide edition opens flat and is quite limp, while the genuine leather doesn't open flat and will require some break-in. The Legacy is attractively priced and would make a wonderful rebinding project, too.

The Clarion ESV possesses the same magic for me as the original I reviewed last year. If you're looking for a compact single column ESV with cross references, this is your choice. While the type is smaller than the Legacy's, this is ameliorated by the narrower text column, which some readers will prefer. The thinner, less opaque paper shows more ghosting and is prone to curling at the edges, giving the Legacy an objective edge — but if you're willing to trade some opacity for a smaller footprint and cross references, the Clarion really shines. 

This wouldn't be Bible Design Blog if I didn't make the case for having both the Legacy and the Clarion. When I first realized that the Clarion and Legacy would be coming out at roughly the same time, the either/or dilemma seemed particuarly tense. Then it dawned on me how different the proportions would be. It's a no brainer, now. These two editions are sufficiently different to justify both.

While they don't integrate quite a fully as the Cambridge Pitt Minion and Wide Margin, I envision a similar division of labor, with the the Clarion cast as the all-arounder, the one you tote with you on the road, and the Legacy as the edition you go to for serious reading and study. As my own tastes change, I find myself increasingly drawn to leather hardback bindings. Imagine the Legacy and Clarion each shorn of their factory covers, rebound in hardcover in matching shades of brown (or possibly green) goatskin. That would be heaven, if you ask me.


In the English-speaking world, we've always been spoiled for choice when it comes to translations and the variety of editions. Users of the ESV enjoy more choice than most. Even so, it's quite a pleasure at long last to be writing not about "when will we ever get a decent single column text setting" but "which of these splendid options is the best fit for me." 

66 Comments on “Single Column Legacy ESV (Part 3): Legacy vs. Clarion

  1. Thanks for the helpful review, Mark. It appears that the proportions of the Clarion ESV are slightly different than the Clarion KJV. Is that accurate? Is the KJV a bit thicker?

  2. I picked up a copy of the ESV Legacy Bible in the TruTone binding a few weeks ago. While it isn’t as scrumptious as either of the leather bindings in look, feel, or smell (yes, smell), it does lay flat when opened right out of the box and is wonderfully limp. Having said that, I will absolutely be ordering a copy of the Cambridge ESV Clarion in black goatskin as soon as I am able, the cross-references are a must. But will greatly enjoy and devour both, I am sure.

  3. The ESV and KJV Clarions look the same to me, Steve, in terms of proportion. Keep in mind that I don’t have a bound ESV Clarion, just some loose text blocks and covers. The major difference I notice between the brown KJV Clarion text block and the ESV text block intended for a brown cover is this: the ESV has a rounded spine, which changes the shape of the block somewhat (for the better, in my view). But I don’t know if this is going to be the case with the finished product … we’ll have to wait and see.
    The comparison is somewhat tentative since we don’t have final product on the brown editions of either the Legacy or the Clarion. When the Clarion text blocks are reprinted, paper characteristics and finish could vary, too. I’ll come back to this comparison at that point if anything substantive changes. In the meantime, hopefully this is a helpful set of observations.

  4. Well, the Clarion is gorgeous, so I can’t imagine enjoying a Bible more than that. I might try and get an ESV Legacy in tru tone to check it out.
    But… did you say GREEN? A GREEN Bible? Did you hit your head or something? that’s crazy talk. Next up: the Mars Hill Study Bible, bound in chain mail.

  5. “Mars Hill Study Bible, bound in chain mail” lol!
    Does the Clarion sport the same “line matching” feature that has been touted about the Legacy? After taking a look at some of my other Crossway bibles, I can certainly understand why this feature would boost readability.
    Thanks for the comparison Bertrand. I wonder if I can talk my wife into letting me get both. They would certainly round out my collection of ESV bibles. 🙂

  6. Green would be awesome…but has to be right shade (British Racing Green), with Gold ribbons.

  7. Since the two text-blocks are basically the same (I think), doesn’t the typographical error in the Clarion also occur in the Legacy?

  8. I agree about leather hardback covers. However removing a new and perfectly good leather cover has always seemed a waste to me. Mark, do you know if there’s any way to get either the legacy or the clarion without a cover so I could get it bound myself?

  9. For me, it’s the Legacy, hands down. The Clarion suffers the same problem as Allan’s ESV Reader: it’s an expensive, nicely bound, gilt-edged, glorified paper weight. A Bible is for reading: first, last, foremost. The Clarion and the Reader use such thin paper that the ghosting ranges from annoying to awful. The Clarion is definitely an improvement over the Reader, but the Legacy blows both away.
    What had been common to the Bible publishing industry is now called “luxury” without the quality paper and a steeper price tag. C’est la vie.

  10. Todd F.
    I’m pretty sure I know you and I’m positive I agree with you. It’s all in the paper! I own several cheap text blocks that are wrapped in excellent covers and while the covers feels great in the hand, I find myself living in my Bibles with better paper. Kudos Crossway for using good paper! Now if we can talk Allan’s into binding the Legacy, we might finally have . . . . wait for it . . . . wait for it . . . . the perfect ESV Bible.

  11. Crossway’s Personal Size Reference (PSR) Bible makes for a super nice single column ESV – plus the references are on the inside of the page where they belong! I would rather have my references flow into the harder-to-read crack than God’s Word! Mine is bound in brown lambskin and it is nice indeed! You should do a side-by-side Legacy and PSR comparison.

  12. I agree with Todd and Chris, if the paper doesn’t work for me, it will not fly, no matter the beauty of the rest. I ordered a TruTone Legacy and had it sent straight to Leonard’s Books to be rebound in Goatskin, I should receive it in a week or two.
    I would have preferred that the headings were not in the margins, as they seem in the way for my uses, I would have been just find with them in the text, separating the text; I know others greatly disagree.
    Now I read on the Schuyler ESV coming out…sounds very nice!

  13. Can anyone tell me what exacty is the printing fault with the Clarion ESV? I already have a copy and would like to check it. Rumours suggest it may be in Exodus, but I can’t spot it. Or is it a mistake in all the editions containing the 2011 revisions?

  14. Thanks for the comparison, very useful. Like Josh I’d be interested to see a comparison of the Clarion with the PSR – or even just to know how much bigger the Clarion is?

  15. You mention your interest in leather-bound hardcovers. Are there many options out there for Bibles bound in such a way? I would be very interested in one, but it is rare that I see any.

  16. Brian, I am contemplating the same, any chance you can share your rebind with us when you receive it? I was thrilled to find such a nice Bible in a price point I can afford now but hope to be able to have it rebound in a few years when money isn’t as tight as it is now.

  17. I believe Leonard’s will do a softcover to hardbound leather rebind. Confirm with Margie on the pricing.

  18. I will try and report back here Rachel. There seem to be a lot of people doing this. You can got to Leonard’s Books on Facebook and there are quite a few people mentioning doing this, they may post pictures there as well.

  19. A quite nice hardback leather-bound (bonded) KJV Bible is the under-$25 Barnes and Noble edition from their Leatherbound Classics collection. Nicely sewn, gilded edge, raised bands on spine. 2-column verse-by-verse edition with thick, off-white paper. 6x9x2-3/4 inches. Feels good in the hand. Stately typeface with no italics and no pronunciation. 66-book canon. Bonus: over 200 Gustave Dore biblical engravings. (One reviewer believed it was the complete Dore collection minus the Apocrypha-based ones.) ISBN-13 = 9781435125391

  20. Interesting to note: J. Mark Bertrand spawns a legion of floppy-seeking leather-heads, and now has moved on to the other end of the spectrum. Fascinating!

  21. Great comparison, as usual, thanks!
    I was hopeful, but I’ll have to pass on both of these and continue my search for the perfect ESV single-column paragraph: it would combine the size of the Clarion for good portability with the opaque/thicker pages of the Legacy (Clarion’s pages curl too much/too much ghosting as is). Most of all, it would have the references in the gutter, rather than the actual text-I HATE text in the gutter! Putting the references there pushes the text out nicely-like in the ESV PSR and SCR. (no references at all would be ok too.)At least a 9 font too! And nice binding options.
    Pretty much if they had done the Clarion on better paper with references in margin, it would have been acceptable. This would have been completely doable w/out even making it that much bigger! I would also take the Legacy with the text moved out of the gutter, and the wide margins taken out to make the Bible smaller for portability.
    I currently use an ESV verse-by-verse, which is my fave so far but heavy and huge. I’d really love a nice readable, portable ESV single-column paragraph but they just haven’t made one yet! (Even an ESV PSR with larger font would be fine!)
    Maybe in a couple yrs after they get feedback on these two Bibles, they’ll come out with one that improves on both. (Obviously, according to reviews/comments on here, people don’t like the Clarion’s paper or Legacy’s text in gutter-a fix by the company on either thing might give me closer to what I’m looking for!

  22. I recently purchased a clarion ESV from the UK (calfsplit edition). I have found it to be my favorite non-study Bible. The text is wonderfully readable. I am VERY picky about ghosting, and was pleased with the quality of Clarion, given the size of the Bible. It was worth the few extra dollars to get it from the UK, rather than having to wait till late summer. I would love to know, however, where the misprint is!

  23. Does anyone know if the Legacy’s brown cowhide will look the same as the pictures that have it wrapped in the brown calfskin? If you’re not sure which pictures I mean, go see part 1 of this review.

  24. I’m sorry, I meant to say brown top grain leather, not calfskin.

  25. My ESV Calf-Split Clarion’s paper has several sections which curl dreadfully – just seem to fly up when brought into contact with the air!! Allan’s bibles say when the Clarion is reprinted I can get a replacement free. But I wonder whether I will use the Clarion? I don’t trust the paper to survive long term (daily) use. I was drawn to the single column layout, with beautiful text, but I have to admit that I’m probably going to be using my ESV New Classic Reference Bible (Hardback – Smyth Sewn). I just trust it not to fall apart or crease the pages!!

  26. Adam, how long have you been using the Clarion? I noticed the page curling in a couple of Pitt Minions (same paper)when new, but they “relaxed” after a few weeks of pretty easy use, and now don’t exhibit the problem at all. I think it’s related to the stresses the block is put under while binding, and relaxes over a short period of use. In my experience, the smaller cambridges (Pitt Minions and presumably the Clarion’s) tend to “feel” fragile due to the thin paper and “loose” binding, but in actual use they’re pretty tough.

  27. Ryan, thanks for your helpful comments. My Clarion is from Allan’s Bibles. The paper affected is not throughout the whole Bible. In mine, it’s from about Psalm 118, through to Isaiah 40 (some comfort, comfort!) plus a smaller section in the concordance. Cambridge are aware of the issue, and it seems to affect the whole of their 1st print run. Allan’s are happy to replace it with a new version when the 2nd run is out (May/Jun?).
    My personal issue with the Clarion is that the very thin paper, with it’s 2000+ pages, means it’s not as easy to cross reference verses, and turn to several passages quickly, without fear of creasing, bending, tearing pages. With most of my other hardback bibles, with their thicker (lower quality?) paper, getting around the bible is much easier and faster, and you don’t fear for the safety of the pages. I guess it’s a pretty subjective thing really.
    Also, if I read my Clarion on a angle (e.g. propped up in bed, or on the sofa with my legs up), the weight of 2000 very thin pages mean they all “sag” down, and again I just wonder about how good that is for the bible long term.
    I suppose, like most of us, I’m a fusspot when it comes to personal bible reading taste!
    One solution might be to use the Clarion at my desk – and if I need to quickly access cross referencs, etc… just use a 2nd Bible. (one I am interested in is the new crossway compact, large print version – out 30 april!?) it’s stitched binding, trutone, and nice compact size, so hopefully the pages “flick” nicely. Double column mind…

  28. Adam: I have a Clarion on order with Evangelical Bible and they just sent me an email last week telling me that the second run has been delayed until August. Just thought I would give you a heads up.

  29. Adam, I have no problem flicking back and forth in a pitt minion (same paper) and I’ve had no problem (I don’t baby it, and cambridge’s paper’s stronger than it feels), but it’s also not exacerbated by the single column’s issue of fewer verses per page. You simply have to do more flipping to get to the right page. I have the same “issue” with other single column bibles as well, they just don’t work for me in situations where I I’m juggling between two or more passages.
    I’ve often wondered about the sagging that you described, and if it was actually good for the binding or not. Seems like it’d put a lot of pressure right at the top of the text block and pulls down in an un-natural way.

  30. I just got a Legacy in Top Grain Leather and I love it. Best ESV I’ve seen for pure reading. I own an Allan SCR (for teaching and preaching), an Allan PSR (for carry and travel), and a Calfskin Crossway Study Bible (for study and reference). I also have a Clarion on pre-order, and am anxious to see how it compares for reading to the Legacy. I anticipate that it will replace the PSR as my carry and travel Bible since I believe from the descriptions and pictures that it is actually smaller (though slightly thicker) than the PSR, and also has a text with comparable legibility to the Legacy (the PSR text is just too small, and if I forget my reading glasses, forget it!). But from my experience with the Legacy so far, it is hard to imagine anything better just for reading. The material on the “perfect page” and proportions is not double talk or propaganda; it is really true from my experience. The day I received my legacy I immediately read 20 chapters in Exodus with no strain whatsoever, and without my reading glasses! I am 53 years old. The Legacy is what I’ve been waiting for in a Bible for reading. Now, as others have posted, if only Allan would gain the rights to bind the Legacy……..

  31. Update guys! Allan have sent me my replacement Clarion – they gave me a free upgrade to brown calfskin. They are a superb outfit. I have also got the crossway compact large print version (brown trutone). It’s fantastic! Just as it says – nice print size, small footprint of bible. Nice to read. Quick to flick around when searching cross references. (Although it doesn’t have cross refs itself!!) Great personal Bible. As for the new clarion… well, same issues as Black Calf-Split with paper. Binding superb, feels wonderful in the hand, but actually USING it… I WANT it to be excellent, but…

  32. Adam, your April comments made it sound that the signature(s) from Ps 118 to Is 40 had a true production inking error that was promised would be corrected in later print runs and that you also had some issues in general with handling the thin pages. Are your present comments saying the production error was not corrected, or just that you’re still having trouble handling the thin pages?
    As long as the pages are not so thin that bleedthrough is an issue, I think you’ll find with use that the thin pages get easier to manipulate as they each develop their own bends and folds. Right now, something akin to static electricity is making them uncooperatively stick together.

  33. Mark,
    First, thanks for the recent flood of reviews. Second, I received my ESV Clarion in split calf last Friday so I have had it only 4 days — but so far, this is my favorite text block by far. I purchased the ESV Legacy a few months ago and (for my needs) the Clarion far surpasses the Legacy. It is really surprising to me how significant a difference “leading” makes. I normally cannot bear anything under a 9.5 point — but the Clarion reads very easy. I am thinking that the Bibledesignblog X Allan Bible project (aka, the Bertrand Bible) would do well to use this text block in Atlantic Blue calf (or perhaps even the pink ratskin)!

  34. Hi Bill – I am saying that there is a definite DIFFERENCE somehow between the sheets of paper from Ps118 to Isa 40 – and that the same issue has arisen on my next clarion. Because Allan’s replacement was a different binding, I am beginning to wonder whether they have sent me a REPRINT or just an old 1st print run version of the Clarion.
    Either way, the curling of the paper at these sections in both my bibles is obvious and of a totally different scale to the slight curling that sometimes happens to other pages in certain atmospheric conditions in the room (heat, humidity, etc). I have had my original Clarion since December 2011 and the problem is completely unchanged from then. No amount of time or use has made the slightest difference to how the pages curl annoyingly at just these sections in both my bibles.
    Ho Hum! For study now, I use the cross way hardback, new classic reference ESV – cheaper, thicker paper, but a much more enjoyable read and use!!! (albeit double column). For personal reading I am enjoying my crossway large print compact esv again double column, but just handles so easy in hand. I obviously don’t get on with super thin paper!!

  35. Adam, I wonder if those signatures have an issue with the grain of the paper? (Mark mentions the cross-grain folding issue on some of the Hendrickson 1611 KJVs in a recent post.)

  36. Looks like I’m in the minority regarding the Clarion (goatskin version). I was pretty unimpressed and sent it back. Its not bad, but outside of the soft cover, it doesn’t seem like a bible that should cost $150+. I’d probably rate it 3 stars (out of 5). My main beef is with ghosting. I’ve seen several reviews suggesting that line matching overcomes the thinness of the paper, but this wasn’t the case in my opinion. Maybe I got a bad copy, but there didn’t appear to be any attempt at line matching by the publisher. For now, I’m sticking with the Legacy and will consider the upcoming Shuyler and Allan offerings.

  37. Billy B.,
    You definitely received a defective text if yours was not perfectly line matched. You are correct that ghosting is far worse in the Clarion; however, that only really affects my reading where the ghosted line extends past the lines I am reading. What surprised me most was that (at least to my 50 year old eyes), the leading in the Clarion made it an easier read than the much more hefty Legacy. Plus, I pre-purchased the split calf for $94 from Amazon. So my son now uses (and loves) the Legacy.

  38. BillyB and Kyle, Are you each referring to a Clarion KJV, or Clarion ESV? I recall problems with poor line-matching in Clarion ESVs but the KJVs have seemed problem-free. In fact, I would say the line-matching in JMB’s close-up photos of Romans 1 above (a Clarion ESV) is quite poor, even unacceptable.
    Are ANY of the Clarion ESVs correctly line-matched?

  39. Bill, I was referring to the ESV as well. Perfect line matching in my copy.

  40. Kyle & Billy B Take 2: To quantify the issue, I’d say Mark’s copy of the Clarion ESV in Image0002 above of Romans 1 shows line-matching is off by 20% of a line. (50% would be as bad as you can get.) And the Crossway Legacy on the right I’d say is within 2% of being perfect. How would your two copies measure up by this scale?

  41. bill: Some parts were worse than others. I wouldn’t have had a problem if it looked like the one in Mark’s picture. Using your scale, some sections were close to 50% off. I sent it back, so I’m strictly speaking based on memory.

  42. Just received my Clarion ESV today in Brown Calfskin. OMG. Wow. I’m in awe — this is by far the best Bible I’ve ever owned, and is as flawless in its design as I can imagine a Bible being in this world. I’ve never been able to consider a Bible of this quality before, but last year after reading in this blog about the Clarion line, I placed my order when I had some extra dosh … then was disappointed when it was canceled. This week I noticed it was finally available … after I had allowed my worries about potential problems, and about the cost, to overcome my initial enthusiasm. But I was tempted, and yes, I surrendered to the temptation. No regrets at all! (But then I haven’t checked my bank account this morning!)
    I had worried the form factor would just be too big — I really wanted a Bible I could carry around easily. But this is nicely compact; it’s roughly the size (though not the exact dimensions) of a cheap “gift and award” Bible. And though it’s a fat Bible, it’s only slightly fatter than the standard 1200 page text Bible. Yet it’s about 2100 pages — very thin paper indeed.
    I was also concerned the superscript cross references would be obtrusive, but they seem fine — that is, easy to ignore.
    The text is beautifully readable, big enough but not too big.
    And of course the cover and binding are totally classy, as Mark has shown many times.
    Bill and Billy B, above, talk about the problem with ghosting. I don’t think it’s a problem, not for me anyway. First because it’s not that serious, especially compared to virtually any other Bible on the market. I don’t find that it impedes readability in the slightest. As for the line-matching issue, it’s true, there’s the occasional page where the lines don’t match the lines on the reverse leaf by some fraction of a millimeter. But honestly, I can’t see a cause for complaint. Indeed as I flip through the pages now, Romans 1 is the only page I see this problem on, and even that page is quite readable. At Rm 1, I wonder if the tiny text displacement resulted from the large number of footnotes at the bottom of the page.
    And if anyone does think this is a big problem, then any page with a lot of white space (such as poetry) would be all but unreadable, wouldn’t it?
    In the end, all I can say is, if the worst thing about a Bible is that the line placement on each page doesn’t always match the opposite page to within 2% of the line height … well, that’s a pretty great Bible.
    Now I’m happy as Larry, and I have Mark to thank for it. I never would have considered this Bible without this blog.
    But will someone please shoot me if I buy another Bible any time in the next ten years?

  43. I just received my Clarion ESV from Amazon today (July 13th, 2012). There are, as noted above, a significant number of signatures/sections that were printed cross-grained (i.e., the paper was oriented wrong when printing) on the paper which results in HUGE CURLING of the pages in these signatures. I have taken a number of classes in hand-binding books and am sure that is the problem. Was this the printing defect in the first printing and did Amazon send me a first printing that was supposed to have been recalled, or is this a recurring problem in the second printing? Seems Adam (see post above) has had the same problem with what was supposed to be the second printing as well.
    In any case, it is a beautiful bible; but, IT IS DEFECTIVE and will be sent back to Amazon ASAP. If it is a bad first printing, shame on Amazon and Cambridge for not getting all the defective copies pulled. If it is a recurring problem in the second printing, shame on Cambridge.

  44. I purchased a Clarion KJV and was very impressed with the format, size, binding and the textual features of the Bible. I would say those were near perfect. However, the paper was horrible and kleenix-like. I don’t understand why a publisher like Cambridge would design such an excellent Bible and totally spoil the execution of it by using such awful, transparent paper. Use better paper, make the Bible a little thicker, charge me the few dollars more it would cost, but don’t ruin such a fine Bible with inferior paper. The Bible should be read, but with that paper it would be very difficult to do so for any amount of time.
    After a very short examination period, I returned the Bible. I expected much better for the money it cost.

  45. I also received a defective Clarion ESV from Amazon on July 30. Major curling from about Psalm 110 thru Isaiah 65. You can even see the difference in this section when the book is closed. While turning pages, or even a slight breeze of someone walking by, they completely roll up into the gutter or fold up when turning to another section, ending up with creased pages. Mark’s review attributes this curling to thin paper, but I believe it is the grain of the paper disoriented 90 deg, because everywhere else the pages are perfectly flat. This one is going back for sure. Hopefully they fix this problem because for me, other than this defect, this edition of the ESV is perfect for me in every way.

  46. The “curling defect” in the Clarion ESV is also in the concordance. Specifically, all pages I can find showing the defect are 947-1186 and 1987-2066, possibly a few pages of the preface and Genesis. This is not so much an aesthetic problem as it is functional. Lay the Bible open to a place where the pages are curled upward, now try closing the Bible slowly. The pages roll into the gutter and you just folded them flat, putting permanent creases in them.
    (Also, unrelated to this is the usual disaster area in most Bibles: the two title pages in the very front. They almost always fold up vertically and wrinkle. It is more pronounced with such thin paper.)
    This is really disappointing. After many years of waiting I had the “ultimate Bible” in my hands, and … oops! Sorry 🙁

  47. I got a top grain leather ESV legacy a couple of months ago and the novelty has still not worn off. Because it is such a delight to read, I am spending hours in it, highlighting, underlining, and taking notes in the margins. I am very much impressed with the format and the binding. The handcrafted hubs on the spine really are something special. The leather really is top grain… Maybee not as good as the Allan bibles… Not sure… I’ve never owned one, but as nice as for sure as my goatskin NASB Cambridge pit minion bible. The hubs on the spine blow away anything that I’ve seen. The leather is breaking in from me carrying it spine down in the pocket of my attaché. The leather is already starting to get a worn look which is something that you just can’t buy. I have been on a mission to personalize this bible from front to back, and this will be the third bible that I read in its entirety. At the end I will have a new battle ready sword that is worthy of the hours put into it.

  48. I just recieved my Cambridge ESV Goatskin Clatrion and I must say I am impressed. Cambridge outdid themselves. I have always like cambridge but felt recently quality had declined. It is fair to say that the ESV Goatsking Clarion puts Cambridge in a competition with Allan’s binding.
    If Cambridge was not listed anywhere on the box, binding or front pages; I would have thought it was a new Allan bible.
    Absolutely pleased with what I see. Time will truly tell in the months to come.

  49. Any of you who purchased the Clarion from Amazon and returned it due to the pages curling, could you please let us know how the replacement copy comes out. I’m curious as to whether this is actually a defect, or if it’s just a characteristic of all the Clarions. Or perhaps just those from Amazon. Thanks!

  50. The 36 gsm Thincoat Plus paper in the Single Column Legacy is very good indeed.
    I’ve been comparing a brown Crossway ESV Single Column Legacy (which arrived a few weeks ago) with a brown R. L. Allan ESV Reader’s Edition (which arrived three years ago).
    The Crossway is a more relaxing reading experience. Part of that is probably the uncluttered single column paragraph layout, and the wide margins. But the thing that stands out in my experience so far is the lack of ghosting in the poetry sections, and its virtual absence in prose: a super result from the “line on line” typesetting and the thicker and heavier paper. (The Crossway is 4 oz heavier than the Allan.)
    Is the ghosting as good as it is with 1960s Oxford India Paper? No.
    When it comes to binding, however, I like the Allan more. Not that there’s anything wrong with the natural Italian calfskin binding on the Crossway … it’s the difference between very good and most excellent. The Crossway cover is not as limp as the Allan, and the Bible is still reluctant to lie flat in Genesis. Moreover, there are high-end features in the Allan that I want/need: three bookmarks, yapp cover edges, art gilt page edges, leather lining, and overstitching.
    If I could keep only one, which would I choose? The Allan.

  51. Just got the ESV clarion, Calfsplit. The pages curl like no other Bible I have ever owned. Will the pages calm down? I love my Pitt minion Goatskin and the older brother wide margin goat. I am sad that I bought the clarion. Unless you tell me the pages will stop curling.

  52. Scott, read through this whole post and comments. It sounds like all the KJV Clarions were flawless in terms of paper, line-matching, and paper orientation during printing (which if cross-grained can lead to the curling you describe.) But the ESV Clarions are a bit hit-or-miss, with only about 1/3 of the comments here being fully thumbs-up.
    So no, I don’t think your pages will stop curling; it’s a latent defect. I’d return it with the hope that some printings were executed well and that your distributor wants a satisfied customer.
    And for others, if you want it right the first time, buy a Legacy ESV or KJV Clarion. Or go to a brick-and-mortar store for an ESV Clarion; you might have to glean through a few to find a winner.

  53. Not sure where to post this but can anyone comment on Crossway’s new “large print personal size” ESV bible due for next March release–10 months hence? I haven’t seen a page layout of this 12pt (giant type) text bible yet. But at >2000 pages in a 5×8 Clarion size it would look awful in the claimed 2-column format–too few words per line. Rather it sounds perfect for Mark’s “short and stout” single-column layout. Possible?

  54. After viewing several website–including this one–and videos, I narrowed my ESV choice between Crossway’s New Reference, Cambridge’s PittMin, and the Clarion. Initially, PittMin was the frontrunner with Clarion holding last place until I visited The Bible Student store in Beaufort SC which had all three: I chose the Clarion in brown calfskin. Indeed, all three are well-built, marvelous choices but Crossway’s New Reference was just a bit large for my mobil lifestyle and the PittMin was a tad too-small-fonted for my 51 year old eyes. The Clarion’s font size and line spacing works for me but what really stands out is the overall layout. The outside page reference position gives me a “side-to-side” reading balance I’ve never experienced and my pausing to look at references is now a quicker task since the references are closely aligned with the verses. My Clarion has the 2011 text which I think is Cambridge’s second run (I might be wrong on this point) and I have a little page curling that bothers some. Because I use my Bible often, I’m almost certain the curling will cease but even if it doesn’t, a gentle hand sweep flattens the curl. I must say I am completely satisfied and highly recommend it. Notwithstanding, I think the New Reference and PittMin are outstanding choices as well so I recommend actually handling all three before choosing.

  55. Just got my clarion in Brown Goatskin. My first impressions are that the paper is better than I was expecting and that curling seems to be a non-issue so far. I picked a random day from the M’Cheyne (March 20) and only experienced a small bit of curling in Proverbs which was cleared up after smoothing the page with my hand.

    The reading experience was great, so far I have no complaints.

    That said, I think finding ‘the one’ involves an x-factor that can’t be summed up by looking at the specs. Not sure yet if this one will be the one or not, but it’s very nice.

  56. I have a standard size calfskin Crossway ESV Study Bible, which has single column 9 pt. text in Lexicon typeface IIRC. How does this compare with the Clarion as far as readability–not just the type size, but darkness, boldness, contrast, etc.?

    I can read the ESV Study Bible well enough in good daylight, but at night it’s honestly a stretch, especially for extended reading time. I’d prefer slightly larger print, or maybe the type isn’t dark enough? Therefore, I have concerns about ordering a Clarion.

    I want a Bible for reading cover to cover, hand held in a chair. I think the Clarion would be a good choice, except I’m not sure the type size is quite large enough for me. I cannot find a Clarion locally to actually look at the text, so please compare it to the ESV Study Bible, which I do own. Thanks much, and any other comments (or suggestions for another edition) are appreciated.

    (The translation I want is actually the NASB, but I’m concerned about the print size of the Clarions. I think all the translations are done in the same size and style of type in the Clarions.)

  57. I have the black goatskin nasb.In my opinion the paper is barely thinner than any of my other nasb bibles.Plis mine has absolutely none of the page curling I’ve heard about with other reviews of some esv versions.It is a joy to read.I have found myself reading so much more on account of how easy it is to read.I guess its comes down to some people are used to heavier paper than experience has been very positive.The feel of the bible is amazing.Compact and soft to the touch.If I had never heard of the paper being thin I might have not even noticed other nasb are 28gsm the clarion is 27gsm…for me its a negligible the blog,Thanks for the hard work.

  58. Can anyone tell me what the typographical errors were in the earlier esv printings? I’d like to check mine out!

  59. I just received my NASB Clarion (black goatskin) and am sitting here comparing it to my ESV Heirloom Legacy (brown goatskin) and a single column ESV Heritage (cloth hardcover).

    First let me state my bias – the Crossway Readers are my favorite, both in six and single volume editions. Clean text, a readable size font, perfect line matching, generous leading – what’s not to like? I picked up the Heritage so as to add verse numbers in the same portable size as the single volume Reader.

    The Heirloom purchase was based on it’s beautiful layout and the same attributes mentioned earlier about the Readers – font size, leading, and line matching and text block. It is however rather big, closer to my NASB Ryrie and older NASB Reference (both 1977) but clearly a keeper.

    Now to the NASB Clarion – the font seems smaller than the Heritage, perhaps it is the way the text is crowded up against the references and margins. The leading is much tighter. What really jumps out at me is the overall density of the text on the page which allows the inconsistent line matching to show up. Yes the binding is beautiful, the paper creamy and clear and the size of the volume in my hand seems just right. But the amount of information presented relative to the size of the page is what I am reacting to. A Bible this small shouldn’t try to cram so much on each page. I will spend more gentle time with it before I decide its worth keeping.

  60. For those of you who like to write in Bibles, do you find it’s doable in the Clarion?

  61. Writing in a Clarion would be tough. I’ve used an NASB Ryrie for the last 35+ years and my wife uses an NIV Study Bible. We both put lots of notes on paper as well as underline related verses. She tends to write in real time while in church. I take notes offline and transcribe them to the margins later. In both cases we use all of the 3/4″ margins. In a Clarion I could of course underline but would have only the 1/2″ margin at the top and bottom of each page to annotate and my eyesight isn’t good enough anymore to write that small. In fact I have notes from way back that I now need a magnifying glass to read.

    I see the place of the Clarion as a church Bible, easier to carry, very readable, but I would take my notes elsewhere in the bulletin or a journal.

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