Lessons from Bibliotheca, and More Thoughts on the ESV Reader’s Bible

The funding campaign is over and Bibliotheca has raised in excess of $1.4 million. While success on this scale always brings out detractors, I’ve been impressed how widely Adam Lewis Greene’s effort has been appreciated. While the idea of designing Bibles for reading rather than reference isn’t new, this is the first time in awhile that a Bible publishing project has connected with the wider world on the basis of its design choices first and foremost.

If you missed the Kickstarter, there’s still a window for ordering Bibliotheca. Check out the details on Adam’s new site, Bibliotheca.co.

There are lessons to be learned from the experience, and not just for publishers. Michael Hyatt has summed up four of the big ones, quoting some remarks of mine along the way: “What the Success of Bibliotheca Tells Us About the Future of Publishing.”

So what should you do while you’re waiting for Bibliotheca to ship? How about giving the ESV Reader’s Bible a try. Similar in concept to Bibliotheca, the ESV Reader’s Bible is available now, and for a very affordable price. You’ll experience the benefits of a reader-friendly format for yourself. Here are some links to my pieces on the ESV Reader’s Bible

The Original Review: The ESV Reader’s Bible

A Video Introduction to the ESV Reader’s Bible

ESV Reader’s Bible: Some Notes on Daily Use

My own experiences with the ESV Reader’s Bible have been echoed by many others, including this piece by John Sherrod, who shares his first impressions after he and his wife gave the new format a try: “The ESV Reader’s Bible: First Impressions.” If any of you have shared your own impressions online, feel free to post a link in the comments. 

17 Comments on “Lessons from Bibliotheca, and More Thoughts on the ESV Reader’s Bible

  1. I bought the Readers edition a few weeks ago and loved it. With the trimming of all the fat, the bible was a delight to sit and read, especially in the narrative portions. Some of the major themes in various books really shine through when you’re not slowed down by cross references, two columns, and paragraph headings. I don’t really need to add anything to the already superb reviews.


    I decided that this bible was due for a face lift. I found out about Rahm Bookbinding in Colorado Springs, checked out the website, and decided that this bible would look better in red calfskin. David removed the cover, headbands, and ribbons. It’s now a red calfskin leather hardback cover, white headbands, four navy blue ribbons (think the width of typical Allan ribbons), navy blue silk moire end leafs, and five raised spine bands. Between the first and second bands, HOLY BIBLE is embossed in gold letters over a navy blue piece of leather. The letters are a bit larger than I was expecting, but that’s more of a statement about me than about David and Rahm Bookbinding. Between the fourth and fifth bands is the logo for Rahm, also stamped in gold. Apparently I was the first to ask David to stamp his logo on a piece. It’s a beautiful logo and the gold sits so elegantly on the red.

    David designed the new cover so that it would fit nicely inside the original slipcase. I could have had a box custom made by David for this particular bible, but it really did come down to a numbers game, and I didn’t want to spend the extra cash on the box. The bible still looks nice inside the slipcase, and kudos to Crossway for such a sturdy case.

    Feel free to look at a few pictures here https://www.facebook.com/AlexMillerNYC/media_set?set=a.10152468210673876.1073741827.504568875&type=1

    • Alex, I’d love to look at the pictures of your recently re-bound Bible. But it looks like the Facebook album is not public or something. It won’t let me see them. Could you change the permissions on that?

    • Alex – looks very nice. I’m curious about the rebind turned out with the book binding. Is it still just as easy to open as before or did it get more stiff with the newer cover? I like the way the Reader binding is very loose so that it opens easily and have wondered if rebinding would change that.

      Thanks for sharing it.

      • Hey man, if anything, having the bible rebound seems to have further loosened the feel of the binding. I don’t exactly know what all goes ingot his change. It may be the fact that I asked him to put new headbands on the bible, or it may also be the different boards used, or it just may be that David (the owner of Rahm Bookbinding) is just excellent at his craft.

        I just completed 30+ hours of travel and having this bible around for the whole time was a great decision. The leather still feels and smells great.

  2. I haven’t used either one of these versions yet, but from the pictures it looks like Bibliotheca would be a much better reading experience than the ESV Reader’s Bible. From your pictures, it looks like the ESV has way too much text per page, not enough margins, and overall worse proportions. I would imagine the pages are also thin traditional style pages. Removing verse and chapter markers isn’t the only thing Adam Greene does. Thoughts?

  3. This project got me thinking and searching the internet. Its actually become an obsession for me. On one forum from 2008 I saw someone had requested the right to print a personal copy of the ESV Bible from Crossway broken down into volumes, and that they got a positive response. I thought that was crazy. So, I asked for the same. And they gave me permission. In a week I did some research set the order of the books and formatting it and ordered my first Volume for myself. It should be arriving tomorrow. I am very excited. Working now on preparing Volume 2.

      • I am using lulu.com. It’s the easiest site I have found for this and they have templates for each book size.

        • It’s amazing what you can get when ask. I even asked the Lockman foundation for permission to do the same thing with the NASB and they gave me permission to do multiple copies for friends and family.

          • Working on my project to create a customer Bible in multiple volumes I have created a wordpress blog. I am new to this whole Bible design concept but I am loving it. I welcome any comments. My goal is to record what I am doing for others to have the information they need to do something similar.

  4. I love the way you had the ESV edition rebound. i am sending 2 of my favorite bibles to have them redo them completely.. after seeing your bible , i just had to have one identical to it.. sorry but i know quality when i see it.. your bible is magnificent.. i am sending my Cameo Cambridge Bible which is absolutely my favorite bible and also my Kirkbride 1964 4th edition KJV bible to have it done in another way .. i am thrilled with the method of how Leonard does their work and more than anything else the craftsmanship that these people have.. They are without a doubt the very best i have ever seen. i have done my homework looking at different sites btu so far none come close to the attention , timing and quality which are all very important to me. Thank you for showing it of to us .. i think it is a piece of art work. maybe after i have my bibles redone they will last for the rest of my life.. i read my bibles daily and i have become so attached to them.. i hate to send them out to have repair work done as i knwo i will miss reading them. i keep a bible in every room of my house and just love reading them every time i get a spare hour to do so,. Thanks again and God bless you my friend.. David in Mount Holly, NC

    • That’s awesome! Who is doing your rebinding? Throw some pictures up whenever you get those things back. Can’t wait to see it.

  5. Crossway has a six volume ESV Reader’s Bible coming in October 2016.
    The cloth over board box set is divided into six volumes: Pentateuch, Historical Books, Poetry, Prophets, Gospels & Acts, and Epistles & Revelation.
    Bibliotheca is taking awhile. Crossway has an opportunity with this one.

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