Why I Haven’t Given Up on Bibliotheca

It’s the beginning of 2016 and Bibliotheca, the Kickstarter project that took the world of Bible publishing by storm over the summer of 2014, raising nearly $1.5 million dollars to print a multi-volume, readable edition of the American Standard Version, still hasn’t delivered the goods. The culprit seems to be mission creep: all the design and printing choices have been made, and now we’re waiting on a revision of the ASV that wasn’t part of the original pitch. This has caused a lot of frustration — a lot of us backed the project in spite of its use of the ASV, not because of it — and a number of my friends have gone so far as to request refunds. Since I backed Bibliotheca on Day 1 and wrote about it extensively for Bible Design Blog (you can see my coverage here), I get polite e-mails on a regular basis asking whether I’ve given up on ever seeing the end result. And I get a few not-so-polite ones suggesting there is egg on my face for promoting Bibliotheca to my readers.

The fact is, I haven’t given up on Bibliotheca, and I want you to know why. First, I need to clarify a few things. I don’t have any insider information about the state of the project. All I know is what has been released to the public. Although I was in touch with Adam Greene during the fundraiser, I have not heard a thing from him since it ended. I’m in the same boat as the project’s other backers. If I’m not giving up, it isn’t because I know something you don’t. It’s because I’m putting a different interpretation on the knowledge we have in common. Fair enough?

So here are the six reasons I haven’t given up on Bibliotheca:

1. I haven’t given up on Bibliotheca because, where Kickstarter projects are concerned, late deliveries are the norm. Of the four projects I backed in 2014, none of them delivered by the deadline. The earliest arrival hit my doorstep six months late. None of them, when they finally showed up, was a disappointment. Now Bibliotheca is the last one I’m waiting on, and they’re currently talking as if the set will be in our hands by mid-year.

2. I haven’t given up on Bibliotheca because mission creep isn’t always the kiss of death. I hate mission creep. If Adam had asked me, I would have told him the most important thing following his unprecedented success was to deliver what was promised in the time it was promised. Use the leftover funds to pursue bigger projects in the future. Instead he started thinking about how to upgrade every aspect of Bibliotheca, and then made the decision to abandon the light update to the ASV originally pitched to backers in favor of a deeper revision. The thing is, mission creep of this nature, while it delays the end result, also improves it. And some of the best results in history can be attributed to mission creep (see the Emancipation Proclamation).

3. I haven’t given up on Bibliotheca because Adam Greene seems intensely committed, and that makes a difference. Some of the disillusionment with Bibliotheca stems from the belief that his huge success led Adam to take his eye off the ball. I’ve even seen some people online speculating that Bibliotheca would never ship and Adam would take the money and run. I don’t understand this, frankly. The reason for the delays strike me as the result of the fact that, for Adam, this is a life goal, an obsession. I’m sure there were people telling the Pope that the Sistine Chapel would never be finished and Michelangelo would disappear with the money and sun himself on the Lido. Meanwhile the maestro was wiping paint from his eyes and saying, “It’ll be finished when it’s finished.”

4. I haven’t given up on Bibliotheca because, obviously, I’m still in love with the concept. You’re talking to a guy whose life work centers on making the Bible readable. If the original pitch had included the caveat that Bibliotheca wouldn’t ship until this summer, I still would have backed it.

5. I haven’t given up on Bibliotheca because its influence has been positive. Call it self interest, but I’d been blogging about readable Bible design for seven years by the summer of 2014, and I’ve now had more conversations with people in publishing about making my own dream edition a reality than in all that time. Way more. And Crossway recently announced the release of their own multi-volume Reader’s Bible coming in October of this year, which means you can have a Bibliotheca-style edition in a translation you’re more likely to use.

6. Finally, I haven’t given up on Bibliotheca because I’m actually looking forward to discovering how Adam’s revised ASV will turn out. When the project passed the $1 million mark, I remember people saying that this would give Adam the change to license an in-demand translation, the assumption being that he’d settled on the ASV because it was royalty-free. Based on the way he talked about the translation, though, I figured that was unlikely. While I am not nearly as excited about the American Standard Version as he is, I can relate to the impulse that led Adam to love it and want to reintroduce it to the world. And if the result ends up finding favor, the extra investment made in creating the revision could make a kind of sense: Adam could license it, or release new editions in different formats.

Those are all the reasons I haven’t given up on Bibliotheca. It’s not that I’m not frustrated, it’s just that the frustrations seem understandable to me, and haven’t blunted my desire to see the books on my shelf. If you feel differently, no problem. My goal isn’t to convince anyone to see things my way, just to explain why I feel the way I do. Whether you backed the project or not, the good news is, we can expect more reader-friendly editions of the Bible in the future. While they may never supersede the classic reference format, I have hopes that at long last readable Bibles, which have come and gone over the years, will carve out a sustainable niche.

90 Comments on “Why I Haven’t Given Up on Bibliotheca

  1. I backed the project. My frustration isn’t so much the delays, but the fact Adam has done an absolutely horrible job at communicating with his backers.

    In one update he promised to start delivering quicker updates, and a help desk for questions. Neither happened in the timeframe he said they would. It literally would take 15-20 minutes a week or every 2 weeks to give a short status update. Instead the updates are full of the same material over and over and never really give any new info.

    Also if I had known the revising of the ASV was going to be as extensive as they have made it now, I likely wouldn’t have backed it. It was made to sound like it would only be a few words, here and there.

    Anyways, like I said, the fact that it’s late doesn’t bother me so much. I knew it would most likely be late when I backed it. But Adam’s lack of interest in updating his backers, has been discouraging.

    • Given my spotty record of updates, I’m in no position to judge in that regard, Kevin. But I hear you. Poor communication had been a Kickstarter norm, too, at least in my experience.

      • Mark, it’s fine for you to have a spotty record of updates, but there is a basic difference between what you’re providing and what Bibliotheca is providing, so I don’t think this excuses them for a lack of updates. Your blog provides a free service. Bibliotheca received over a million dollars for a product and they are way behind on delivering it. I understand the kind of delays they are facing, and these things do happen, but I think more frequent communication on the part of their team would help assuage a lot of the anger directed toward them.

        And just because other Kickstarters have had bad communication, I don’t think that’s a good excuse for just lowering our standards….

        • You make a good point. All I’m saying re: Kickstarter is that, unlike a retail transaction, you’re not typically handing your money to a business with customer service capability, but to relatively inexperienced entrepreneurs trying to tackle communications for the first time. That doesn’t change with the scale of fundraising success; if anything, it’s easier to get overwhelmed. Bibliotheca has clearly done a poor job communicating, and I’m not trying to make excuses. But I do understand why the project finds itself where it is. Make sense?

    • I’m with you Kevin. I wish there were more updates and when they promised to make monthly updates 6 months ago, they haven’t lived up to that promise.

  2. Thank you for posting this. It needed to be said. The sanctimony and incivility in the project’s comments is wildly out of control and disproportionate to the situation. Kickstarter isn’t a store. You’re backing a person’s dream and hoping to share in the reward.

    When a Kickstarter blows past its funding goal by an order of magnitude, you can safely add a year or two, at least, to its projected ship date. This is normal. People who have big ideas and little large-scale logistical or production experience (e.g., most Kickstarter people) can easily get in over their heads. In my experience, they usually come through in the end, and a little mercy goes a long way to helping them get there.

  3. I finally pulled out and requested a refund. The reason wasn’t so much the extended timeline or even the lack of updates as much as it was he decision to revise the ASV. Getting rid of the “thees and thous” is fine but I don’t need another translation which is based on Adam’s translation theory. Like you, I wish he’d have left revising the ASV until after delivering on the original plan.

    Having a quality printed bible with his vision is still something I support. It will be interesting to see how Crossway’s entry will compare to Bibliotheca’s and I look forward to your reviews of both editions.

    • Yeah, the translation has been a major (MAJOR) oversight in his timeline from the beginning (http://www.bibledesignblog.com/2014/06/bibliotheca-multi-volume-readers-bible-kickstarter.html#comment-114268). That said, I’m hopeful in seeing the devotion of a lot of time and energy getting the translation correct, e.g. being reviewed by reputable (presumably?) scholars. It also helps that Adam getting a good translation is not just wise from a humble theological perspective but from a pragmatic business perspective: the translation is his only real asset. I’m still concerned about translation quality/trustworthiness, but the fact that his company’s future rides on the translation gives me hope to stick with them.

      I’m also ecstatic to see competition kicking off! That was a large motivator for my joining in and I’m glad it appears to be panning out. Even those who didn’t get involved with Bibliotheca or who exited early from the project will still reap the benefit of the bible publishing industry including beautiful reader-friendly multi-volume bibles in their lineup. Even if Bibliotheca itself falls through, I’m content considering this an investment in the Church universal. More accessible, more readable bibles, is great!

  4. I have only backed a few Kickstarter projects myself, and yes – they tend to be late, and yes – they are not a foolproof way of purchasing things . We are funding a persons dream – usually a person who isn’t already a publisher or owns a factory to build it or is sitting on a small fortune to just bring it to pass on their own. That’s why they ask for help.

    I wish it would have come out sooner as well, as did the fellow I purchased a set for at Christmas 2014. But I think these are the common challenges to any Kickstarter type project.

    I hope the process that the Bibliotheca team (mostly Adam…) is going through is only the beginning for them, and that they are able to move on from this project to become what they have dreamed to become. And we got to be a part of making that happen.

    For me, it will all make reading the finished product that much more special. Even if its not perfect. I would personally rather have an imperfect work of art than a mass produced copy.

  5. I’ve been feeling frustration at the delay, but now I think I’d rather have the 6-volume ESV from Crossway. I love my ESV Reader’s Bible, and I had no clue they were planning a 6-volume one. The Reader’s Bible can be a bit heavy for long reading, and I’ve been wishing they’d release a multi-volume Bible. I’d much rather have an ESV than a heavily edited ASV.

    • Interesting, this is the first I’ve heard of a six-volume ESV Reader’s. I had high hopes for the first ESV Readers, but I ended up selling it because the because the paper was so lousy. I might bet we get our hands on the six-volume ESV before Bibliotheca. Crossway is going to beat Adam to the punch.

    • The closest I came to regretting that I backed Bibliotheca was when Crossway announced its six-volume edition. I spent a day or two thinking about asking for a refund, since I know I’ll pay for the ESV when it comes out, but the madness soon passed. I’ll just have to make room on my shelf for both sets.

  6. I’m not too concerned because I know that supporting a Kickstarter project is not a guarantee of anything.

    Hindsight is 20/20, Adam and the rest of us were surprised by how my people supported the project and how much money was raised. But imagine if he had chosen to simply reprint the ASV unedited, or even the KJV; we would have had our books months ago, and Adam would have the seed money for the next edition, whether a revised ASV or a modern version. He could have ironed out all the problems and decisions concerning format, paper, binding, printers, distribution, etc. without worrying about the huge task of editing an entire version of the Bible. On the next edition he could have done the AVS revision without the time pressures of delivering the first edition. I guess what I’m saying is that jobs are always easier after you’ve done it once; Adam is attempting too much on his first go.

  7. I’m thrilled for the 6 volume ESV Reader’s. Just couldn’t justify the cost of Bibliotheca for a translation I knew I wouldn’t spend much time with, but I also acknowledge that Crossway probably wouldn’t be doing this if it hadn’t happened.

  8. I haven’t given up on Bibliotheca either. I think anyone who has taken on a big project can recognize the process Adam is going through from afar. I’m not bothered by the “mission creep.” Instead it feels like it’s better to go all the way then produce something half-way. The success of the project let him re-examine what was realistic. No longer limited by resources, he could do it right. Good for him.

    I’m not even that bothered by the infrequent communication, although I’d be fascinated by an insider look into the process. I’m sure he’s hemmed and hawed over each decision, and changed his mind multiple times, and giving updates only to change his mind later wouldn’t feel right. Better to keep a bit of a private workshop and only update when things feel concrete enough to do so.

    I also recognize in Adam’s update a real anxiety and pressure to deliver. I recognize that having taken on big public projects myself. He’ll come through and with some grey hairs for his worries.

  9. I had been in contact over the months with the folks at Bibliotheca. Wonderful, they do seem to be. Nice responses, but, no hard information. To me, with no intention of posting a strong negative comment, it was like talking to a salesperson with a big smile, but no solid information.

    When I finally, “gave up”, I sort of expected a bit more information, or at least a “Hold on, we’re almost there, and would hope you’d consider sticking it out with us”, instead, I got a “…glad you found another Bible to purchase.”

    From my former days in bookselling, that locked it up for me. Nice folks. Maybe in 2017 or 2018 we’ll see the edition.

    The initial tenuous push was the ASV. I gulped in considering it. Then, the long, long delay. Finally, the sort of “Thanks, and have a nice day.” These pushed me away from any further consideration of purchase (throw in the increased price prior to actual publication, or hope of publication).

    Obviously, Adam and his crew have lots of lessons learned and to be learned, but sadly I could no longer consider this project, for me, as viable.


  10. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Mark. I’m glad I backed Bibliotheca, if only for the salutory effect it’s had on Bible publishing. Of course I’m still looking forward to Adam’s finished product, and I don’t mind waiting. It is a serious undertaking and I imagine he’s struggling to deal with myriad issues, not to mention disgruntled backers.

  11. Amen, Mark and Thomas. One of the major attracting points for me was the use of the ASV. It is his project, let him work it out. I have found the communications to be frequent enough to keep me updated, and waiting.

  12. I’m of the same mind. Kickstarters never complete on time and it and Adam was up front that because of the money raised, he was going to up his game. I’d rather wait for a high quality product than get it fast and less than it could be. In any case, the wait seems to be coming to an end.

  13. If the Kickstarter project wanted a readable revision of the ASV, why not just adopt the World English Bible? It is public domain so they can adopt it without paying royalties. I mean, any revision of the ASV would look almost like the WEB, or even the RSV. It would be a needless duplication of effort that had already been done. The only question is, will they keep the name Jehovah like in the ASV, copy the WEB’s use of Yahweh, or follow almost every other gutless modern translation and use the generic Lord.

  14. If Adam does not give a VERY good update by the middle of April, I’m going to report him to the FTC. I’m tired of updates that are few and far between with no real information. If Heather can reply right away to posts then why can’t Adam give timely updates? I’m beginning to wonder if Heather and the others aren’t even real people. I did some research on Adam and found where he had purchased a small printing press online right before he came out with this campaign. That’s where he got the samples he showed on the Kickstarter page and how he was able to get the prints out to people right away. I think that was one reason why people purchased these Bibles. They saw a finished product and thought they would get theirs in no time at all. I was also informed by others not to say much on Kickstarter because Adam was refunding the money of complainers to get rid of them. Very nice!

    • Bryan: Wow, Your comment is a great example of the misunderstanding plaguing this project. Kickstarter isn’t a store — it’s a place to invest in a person and their product.

      Having a prototype ready for a KS campaign isn’t deception, it’s a normal way of helping potential backers see the end result. It doesn’t mean the product is ready to produce and ship. Anyone who thought that is silly.

      I’d suggest you read the Kickstarter FAQ (https://www.kickstarter.com/help/faq/kickstarter+basics). Reporting a crowdfunded project to the FTC just because it’s behind schedule will probably get you laughed out of the office.

      • I’m sick and tired of people saying Kickstarter is not a store. WE KNOW IT IS NOT A STORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If Heather can take the time to relpy to every comment, WHY CAN’T they post more frequent updates. I can guarantee you is is because doesn’t want them to. People are asking and demanding updates and he’s just thinking that they can go take a flying leap. It’s time to call a spade a spade. And I’m really tired of people making excuses for Adam. If you say anything bad about Adam and crew, they will kick you out of the campaign so you cannot post anything else. Isn’t that what Communists, Socialists, and Dictators do.

        Need Proof.

        Here is the email: It appears from your communication that you are predominantly unsatisfied with aspects of Bibliotheca and the Team; although this saddens us, perhaps it would be better for you to bypass our early pre-order stages and wait until Bibliotheca has officially been launched to purchase your set. We have refunded your support in full and apologize for any frustration we have inadvertently caused.

        How dare you cancel my pre-order without my permission.Others have posted on Kickstarter that you guys canceled orders if anyone asked for transparency and accountability. You guys have failed to deliver and failed to give updates on a regular basis and with that comes concerned backers. That is a result of missing the mark, but censoring your customers via removing from Kickstarter is not the right way to solve it.

        • I received my copy of Bibliotheca + Apocrypha a couple weeks ago. It is gorgeous, and I love reading it. Waiting patiently pays off.

    • Bryan, have you ever been part of a Kickstarter campaign before? You’re demanding instant gratification for a process that has significantly outgrown its original scope. This is the nature of Kickstarter. It can be frustrating, but the end product will be much beyond what was originally proposed.

      The point of Kickstarter is to get funding for a project, not to sell a completed project online. Development starts when the project is funded. Because of the overwhelming response, Mark was able to up the game and do more than he initially proposed. This kind of revision and editing takes a long time. It’s tantamount to publishing a new English edition of the Bible. You don’t do that in a few months.

      I’m excited about the end product, and I’m willing to wait. Don’t let the delays eat you up inside.

    • I’m with you, Bryan – I’m not sure this thing is really going anywhere but to allow Adam the chance to blow $14 million. I googled the project and there is an article that said that Adam had UNPAID INVOICES related to this project – with this kind of money, he should be more responsible than that. I’ve requested my refund and am hoping there’s money left to return.

      • I don’t know if the project will ever make. Thankfully I got my money back. I also filed a complaint with the FTC. Not sure that it will do anything. Looking forward to buying the Crossway set.

        • I got my copy a couple of weeks ago. It’s gorgeous and makes for a very engaging, easy read. Patience is a virtue.

  15. I finally gave up and asked for a refund. Heather was polite and refunded the money without any problems.

    As I said 2 months ago when Mark originally wrote this post, the delay doesn’t bother me so much and I would continue to wait if progress, any progress, was being shown. It’s Adam seemingly not caring about his customers asking for updates that has taken away my excitement for the project. Updating once a month shouldn’t be too much to ask, especially for a project that is a year and a half past the scheduled delivery date.

    Also as others have said, the translation is going beyond the initial scope of the project.

    Good luck to you all, I hope you get what was promised initially.

    • Thanks for the well wishes, Kevin, but you’re missing the point. I hope I don’t get what was initially promised, because the product is far beyond that now. Considering my investment, what I’m getting is more than I could buy for the same amount if it were a finished product.

    • Maybe not. Crossway is taking pre-orders for a “forthcoming” product. It could still take months to publish. Also, the $175.00 price tag for Crossway’s Readers Bible is twice what I invested for Bibliotheca and I get the Apocrypha as well (not included in Crossway).

      I already have the Crossway ESV Readers Gospels, which I like. I’ll likely get their whole Bible when it comes out, but the price is a bit stiff.

  16. I wound up in this thread by a convoluted path. Related to my search for a nicely produced NASB, I’ve also become interested in obtaining a decently done edition of the ASV. Many that are available get bad reviews–errors and such–and there are few from which to choose. I’d like to have the ASV to use as a reference resource because of its reputation as being very accurately and literally translated, which for me is an important factor. I already use my Kindle edition of YLT as a reference, but I’d like to eventually get a physical edition of that one, too. Anyway, I find myself here. What an interesting project Bibliotheca is!
    But first:

    Do any of you know of a decent copy of the ASV that’s currently available with large readable print? I can read most smaller print in good daylight, but I need at a minimum a boldish 9 pt., preferably 10 pt., at night. Any suggestions for a similar YLT would be appreciated as well.
    I don’t want to spend premium prices for these and probably won’t do much extended reading, just selected passages.

    Getting back to the topic of this fascinating thread, a significant revision of the Bible seems like a huge project for an individual to undertake, even with a million dollars! Just reading the Bible cover to cover takes a lot of time. No wonder it’s running behind schedule. I certainly admire Mr. Greene’s commitment to this work.

    A couple of idle questions: At what point can the translation no longer be referred to as the ASV? I’ve read somewhere that publishers must change at least 10% in order to obtain a new copyright. Will his completed project likely become a new “translation” or qualify for a copyright?

    I was unaware of Bibliotheca and therefore am not involved in the project, but nevertheless I’m going to say that if I were, I’d be uneasy with such an extensive revision of the Bible by an individual. I would have had no problem with the original plan of using YLT to tweak a few passages and updating thee and thou, etc. But that’s just a personal thing. Mainly, I’m astounded at the scope of the project. I wish Mr. Greene well and I look forward to reading the comments here after the project ships.

    Another mostly off-topic question, while I’m babbling. Do any of you have any information about the 2016 update for the NASB? I can’t find any specific info. I had almost convinced myself to purchase the navy Allan Readers edition, but should I wait now? I was surprised to learn an update is in the works. (I hope it’s not one of those “politically correct” revisions. *sigh*)

    Thanks for any suggestions or info anyone may provide (ASV, YLT, NASB update). Of course, best wishes for an awesome Bibliotheca edition! 🙂

  17. Meant to also say in my above rambling post:

    Re the Crossway multi-volume ESV Readers Edition, I found a price of $110 available for pre-order at CBD. That also looks like a wonderful edition, but I’m getting short on storage space.

    I have their ESV Readers Gospels and absolutely love it, along with its very nice price.

    How encouraging when publishers listen to their consumers! I’m sure Mark and Adam Greene were primary among the motivators for this offering by Crossway. Crossway does seem to want to provide lots of choices for their customers, which is greatly appreciated.

    Re the Bibliotheca project, if there was an Edit button, I’d change “extensive” revision to “significant” revision in my third-from-bottom paragraph of my previous post.

  18. cec, I heard about a month ago that the NASB publisher, The Lockman Foundation, planned to release a newly updated NASB by the end of 2016. This information was confirmed by Beth at evangelicalbible.com. Schuyler was planning a single column reference NASB for this year but has postponed it until the new NASB text is released.

    • Thanks, Donna. I had seen on one of Lockman’s FB pages that a 2016 update is being done. I couldn’t find any details then, but today I did turn up a few.

      According to what I read today, most of the changes will be in the Old Testament. The reason stated for the update is to keep up with the best original language texts. Others expressed some of my concerns but were assured the NASB will still be an accurate word for word formal translation. That’s good news, but I’m still surprised at this update of the previous update. Let’s hope for a good one. Apparently Lockman plans to publish some “super-premium” editions. Also, the expected release date was shown as early 2017. I still couldn’t find a thing about the update on Lockman’s official website, however, which seems strange. ??

      I didn’t realize the Schuyler SC NASB that had been in the works was planned for this year. They’ve been busy lately! But with a new revision coming out, it makes sense they’d wait. I’m glad they still plan to do one. I suppose I’ll wait for it unless I start hearing negative things about the new update, and in the meantime keep looking for an ASV edition. Does anyone have an ASV edition they recommend that’s still available?

  19. When my wife and I saw this Kickstarter we immediately ordered 2 full sets. I don’t like physical media. We don’t have books, DVDs, or CDs everything is digital for us.

    The Bible being in physical form is really the only thing we want.

    I can understand that the popularity causing an issue and things getting behind. The original timeline for delivery was I believe 8 months from when the campaign started. We are now looking at closer to 2 years. Casual requests for an update have been pretty much ignored. After 4 requests to just get my money back it was finally granted.

    I can understand getting in over your head. The project had a substantial media push then went virtually silent. From a business standpoint it sounds like a pump and dump scheme. I don’t think that’s the case. No actual delivery date 2 years later though doesn’t lend itself to very much benefit of a doubt.

    • I have my copy of Volume I (Genesis-Kings) in my laptop bag. It’s gorgeous, and it delivered two months after you wrote this comment. It’s sad that so many backers lost their patience so close to completion.

  20. I’m a bit surprised at the number of people who says they’ve asked for their money back. Is it petulance, pique, impatience? We live in an age of instant gratification and if the desire isn’t instantly gratified, we become angry, resentful, feel we’ve been cheated, etc.

    I just got an invoice recently for a board game I pre-ordered 3 years ago. It had been in the works for at least 3 years before I pre-ordered it (I assumed its release was imminent when I pre-ordered; silly me).

    Even for the original scope, 8 months to delivery was overly ambitious. The amount of revision, editing, more editing, then proofreading, more proofreading, still more proofreading, is considerable when someone is effectively producing a new version of the Bible. Typically, this kind of work is years in the making, even if the revision is a minor language change and there are a large number of people working on it.

    To the best of my knowledge, I’ll have the set I ordered by late summer/early fall. Even if that date slips, my investment isn’t so considerable that pride or petulence would cause me to pull out and get a refund. Maybe I’m just old school. I can easily recall a world where physical media was all there was, ordering things by mail took time, and things moved much more slowly.

    I’m content to tell myself that Bibliotheca will arrive when it arrives. Like the line in “The Agony and the Ecstasy” when Pope Julius asked Michelangelo, “When will you make an end!?” Michelangelo just says, “When I am finished.” Sure, Bibliotheca is no Sistine Chapel, but it’s art and art takes time. If Adam just rushed out some hastily done product to satisfy the impatience of a few, all would be disappointed. I’m glad that my investment is blossoming into more than I paid for. Why fuss that it’s taking longer than I hoped?

    • I don’t think a person’s character need be attacked just because they want a refund.

  21. FYI, to anyone still following this thread, Adam posted a pretty substantial update the other day. They have reserved dates for the printing beginning May 18th and say they will have the files to the printer May 11th. There is also some (very brief and general) commentary on the translation revision by David deSilva, Distinguished Professor of Greek and New Testament at Ashland Theological Seminary. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/530877925/bibliotheca/posts/1563093

    I agree that the revised ASV translation that has resulted from this project might end up being its most interesting aspect. I’m very interested to see how it reads (and very excited to finally get my hands on these!)

  22. Hooray! Thanks for the update. I’ve been excited about this work from the get-go. I take to heart Dr. deSilva’s comment about the time involved for this kind of project. It’s a huge undertaking and two years to completion is a marvel.

    • I think you’re right about Adam and Bibliotheca setting a trend. There have been reader’s versions before (though not the whole Bible, as far as I know), but Bibliotheca showed that there was strong interest for this format.

  23. I realize I’m rather late to this thread, and perhaps no one will read my comment, but there are a couple of things I feel need to be said.

    First, I appreciate this blog post. I think Mark has captured some of the frustrations and does a nice job of balancing those with common sense. But he misses one source of frustration that happens to be my own.

    You see, I was not an original backer on Kickstarter for this project. Many of the commenters on this thread correctly make the point that backing a Kickstarter project has inherent risks – similar to those of a business investor. Delays and even failure are part of those risks.

    But I purchased a product. Yes, I agree, Kickstarter is not a store. But offering your product for sale on your website? That is a store – with the legally binding agreements that come with selling a product.

    In July of 2015, long after the Kickstarter project had closed, I purchased copies of these books on the understanding that they would be delivered around September of 2015, the date that was published in Adam’s updates at the time.

    They took my money at that time – one year ago. (The fact that a year has passed explains why I’m now poking around on sites such as this one.) And they did not deliver the product that they promised.

    I see that Bibliotheca is still doing this. They are still offering the product for pre-order – which is another way of saying they are selling it. Until shown otherwise, I’m going to think that they are continuing to take people’s money just as they did mine.

    That may be legal, but I don’t think it’s ethical. I do know that if I treated my clients that way I would find myself in court.

    Does that distinction make sense? I did not back a Kickstarter project. I purchased a product.

    Now, I’ve been looking for something like what Bibliotheca is doing for a long time. I have a few copies of the Bible that come close to the idea, such as the Ernest Sutherland Bates. But, my goodness, I was excited to see what Adam first proposed. But this extensive scope creep and the resulting frustrations threaten to spoil my enjoyment of the final product when I do receive it. I hope not. I hope to put all this behind me and enjoy it when it arrives. But the process has been unpleasant. I hope the product is worth it.

    Again, thank you for an excellent blog post.

    • I’m also a purchaser, rather than an original backer. I bought Bibliotheca in 2014. I’m *very* happy that I had the option of purchasing the product rather than being shut out from being part of the initial release. I fully expected that because I was buying an unreleased product on Kickstarter, I would have the same wait and risk as any of the original backers.

      I somewhat understand the frustration that a lot of backers and purchasers feel. I’ve been part of other crowd-sourced or pre-order projects that seemed to take forever with a lot of delays. I think that must be expected from crowd-sourcing. The producers are aware only that they’re unaware of all the challenges and opportunities that await once their project is funded.

      Adam had no way of knowing the size of the response. I’m glad that the scope crept because I’m getting a better product than I bought (or that backers expected). He could have provided less and pocketed the profit. Instead, he took the opportunity that the windfall funding provided to make a better product.

      Crossway is taking pre-orders for their six-volume reader’s Bible at $299.99. For my $85.00 purchase, I’m getting a product of equal quality and equal value — more, actually, since that price includes the volume of Apocrypha (Deuterocanonicals to us Catholics) that Crossway doesn’t provide.

      I’m as eager as anyone to get my hands on Bibliotheca, but I’m willing to wait because I think the product will be worth it.

      • It’s completely understandable that delays happen with any project. Delays are expected.

        Going from a 2014 release to a “maybe 2016” release is well beyond the reasonable the normally expected delays.

        In the same time I’ve received products for all of my Kickstarter contributions in 2014 and most for 2015.

        Part of my frustration is the fact this is guy who’s doing this project is I’d assume a Christian. Theres missed deadlines, and then theres straight out deception. Starting in mid-2014 promising a late 2014 release being this late implies that there was no way of him getting this done by late 2014 and thats how he presented himself. Best I can tell from the updates he’s given he didn’t clear editorial review until this year. Getting through Editorial review isn’t a scaling issue.

      • Pre-order for the ESV six volume are only $111 on Amazon.com. That $2 more than the current Biblotheca Pre-order price and probably much cheaper for shipping from Amazon so not really a big difference at all

    • I am very late to this thread as well. I found the thread because I just received a Westminster Bookstore catalog and found they are releasing one for 50%, $99 – it looks beautiful. I frankly don’t even remember I ordered this via Kickstarter until I am reminded of it, ie the catalog or the annual email update from Adam. I was thinking to myself, wow, I was in Pittsburgh spending the summer back in 2014 when I first ordered this, a lot has happened since then.

      You’re right, you purchased a product and that product still hasn’t shipped, over a year later. I saw a post that asked if it was a scam. While I don’t think it is a scam, something very serious is wrong here. I was one of the crazy people who purchased 10 of them, the bookstore collection. I still hold out hope, but hope is fading, at least in respect to this project.

      • I hope you’ve gotten them now and are satisfied. My copy is gorgeous. It’s easily my favorite Bible to read.

  24. The six volume cowhide over board set is available for pre-order for $334 from christianbook dot com, and it includes a walnut slipcase. The stated release date is October. The cloth over board set is available for about $111 there, too. Sometimes shipping is free on high-end Bibles (I didn’t check for these), but regardless, you can almost always find a promo code for free shipping for orders over either $35 or $100. The cowhide set would have to be totally awesome, but I like Crossway’s cloth over board editions, too..

    I would love to have a multi-volume readers Bible, and if I had the space I would order one of the ESV sets in a heartbeat. (Won’t say I won’t eventually get it anyway.) While I admire the Bibliotheca project, I’m too wary of the final (more extensive) revision to the translation. An accurate translation is of utmost importance to me, as I read from all of my Bibles from time to time. Above all a Bible is the word of God.

    My only Kickstarter purchase so far has been The Jesus Story. It had been completed, I believe, by the time I heard of it here. It’s an excellent little volume and I’m very pleased with it.

    • Yeah, I’m with you on the issue of the translation question. I’ve emailed them several times over the last years or so asking if they have some sample texts of the translation but they’ve never had anything to offer up. Maybe now that all the proofreading is finished and its being printed they might have something to share.

      • I’m with you and the others as far as the translation is concerned which is the only reason I cancelled my order.

        I thought that the lack of communication and followup on previous timelines was very poor indeed but that didn’t cause me to cancel. My concern was the translation. A Bible such as this and Crossway’s is only good if it’s read. While I wasn’t thrilled by an ASV translation I supported updating some the archaic language (thees and thous mostly) and recognized with that change it still may not be an “easy read”. But I know the ASV translation philosophy and history. But when it was decided to do more than that is when I bailed.

        Translating – even from English to English – is not an easy task and requires more than an individual/small team to do it properly so I realized I wouldn’t read it as it was intended. Rather than a reader’s Bible I’d end up stopping to compare with other translations. Kind of defeats the purpose of the project.

        It will be interesting to see how the translation actually comes out. Too bad they didn’t reply to your questions.

        • I’ll probably keep an eye out for reviews after its shipped. I imagine others will review it and write blogs commenting on the translation. Problem is they said the price is going up to $175 after the pre-order is closed – so I probably won’t buy it anyway.

  25. By coincidence, I just now received an email from Evangelical Bible with a special price of $300 for the ESV cowhide set with walnut slipcase. VERY enticing…

    Well said, Ben and Larry. You’ve nailed my concerns about the individual/small team revisions to the translation. At best that’s a huge job even for large teams of acknowledged experts in the fields. I don’t have enough confidence for anything beyond the thee’s and thou’s as was the original plan. I too would spend way too much time “checking” which would defeat the purpose.

    I’d still like to find an affordable regular edition of the ASV.

  26. I understand all your points and would have agreed prior to May of this year when they stopped responding to any of my inquiries. I got ignored, then told I needed to contact a different “team”, then when I contacted that team I was told that there seemed to be a case of “mistaken identity” and the bibliotheca I contacted was an entirely different company and not the one I was looking for. After waiting more than 2 years, many missed deadlines and misleading information, and now being ignored and given bad contact info – I’m done and have asked for cancellation and refund and if I don’t get a real response very soon I am going to assume this whole set up is a scam and speak to my attorneys. The initial kickstarter amount is small but I don’t like being scammed for any amount.

  27. “Adam’s revised ASV” about sums it up. A proud moment to be sure for every sincere hard working student of the Bible who spent their lives learning how to correctly translate the original languages so the Word would remain pure and true. Here’s a guy who broke every promise he made on this project and hasn’t produced even one Bible from the hard earned money that was given to him, nor has he shown any accountability for the funds he now has in his bank account, hasn’t communicated anything of real substance about the project, yet he is a heroic, committed man able to single handedly revise an entire Bible translation with no training whatsoever. Really? The Word saved my life and is meant to save the lives of many more. This isn’t a game.

  28. Call me crazy if you like, but I’m remembering what got me so excited about the Bibliotheca Project. Even with all of the delays and the disappointment these delays has brought, I find that I’m still looking forward to the project’s completion. Don’t get me wrong a nicely formatted digitized edition while we wait for the printed editions would’ve been most appreciated. Based upon most of the comments from backers, they seem to be more interested in the layout, the physical form, and understandably the completion of the project. Personally I’ve been more interested in the actual translation such as the editing choices that were made and any translation work. I’ve even asked for a list of textual notations of any changes made to the original ASV. The Bibliotheca Project is supposed to be a modernization of the 1901 ASV w/ the Young’s Literal Translation used in certain instances where the YLT conveys the literalness of the Hebrew and Greek better. I think the Bibliotheca Project’s a brilliant idea if Adam ends up pulling it off. If he pulls it off this will be the most literal word for word translation available. Not exactly a brand new translation, but a modernization of a very literal one, a translation that follows closest to the word order and syntax of the original Hebrew and Greek

    • IF you trust his knowledge and judgment to do his own revision.

      I’m very wary of that aspect of the project. Nothing personal toward him; I’d feel the same way about any other individual or small group of people who are not recognized experts in the original languages, biblical culture and history, and such. This is God’s word we’re talking about. Honestly, even in the extended time it’s taking so far, I don’t know how anyone could do their own accurate revision (or even a paraphrase) of the whole Bible in that period of time. Hopefully he’s doing a good job of it.

      That said, I’d love to have such a set, and I’m glad this project seems to have inspired Crossway to finally publish an ESV multi-volume readers edition. It’s strange what it sometimes takes to make things happen.

  29. As I kind of figured I eventually would (due at least in part to the influence of this blog LOL), I’ve responded to my latest email from EB by pre-ordering the ESV Readers set in cowhide. The email included a link to the first actual review of the set that I’ve seen, and I suppose that was the proverbial straw–not that a very heavy straw was needed in my case.

    Mark, I’m very eagerly awaiting your review of this set! (And of course of the Bibliotheca set as well.)

  30. Keep in mind, the layout of the ESV set was a preexisting layout from the Reader’s Bible and Crossway has been in the publishing business for quite some time, so it was no big feat in producing the ESV set. Adam’s just an average joe and I think it’s incredible how much he’s accomplished so far, I know the books aren’t complete as of yet, but it just shows me that anything is possible, all you need is an idea and the will to follow through.

    • Norm, without a doubt it is much, much easier and faster for Crossway, an established publishing company, to get an edition of an existing translation out, even if they hadn’t already done a similar single volume readers edition. The delay, nor even the puzzling lack of communication, isn’t the reason I chose Crossway’s set over Bibliotheca. The ESV is a mainstream translation and one I trust, and Adam’s revision will be a new unknown. That’s the deciding factor for me.

      Lest we ever get too focused on form and presentation, it is the content that is of utmost importance, and of course the greatest gift, in any edition of the Bible.

      Considering the huge scope of the revised project, I’m amazed Adam is as far along as he is at present. Neither am I saying it won’t be a quality product and an accurate revision; hopefully it will be. I wish the Bibliotheca project well, and I give it a lot of credit as a factor prompting Crossway to publish its multi-volume readers editions. That’s quite an accomplishment, even if unintended, in itself!

      • Adam’s updating is the reason I cancelled. He may do a good job but without any information from him or his team I don’t really know to what extent and under what translation philosophy he’s doing the updating. I’m not interested in another translation on my shelves.

        I knew going in that the ASV was the basis and on it’s own it may be a good translation but it’s extremely difficult to read. The thees and thous, “ist”, and sentence structure would not make for a good and easy read. Even if he updated the archaic language it still would not be a smooth read.

        As you say, the content is what matters. I’m sure it’ll be a good quality Bible but if it’s not read then it’s a waste of money and time. For me, the lack of information from anyone on the changes makes me uncomfortable. I’m afraid I may end up spending too much time cross-checking some passage that catches my eye or doesn’t sound right.

        What bothers me too is all the positive comments and excitement and looking forward to reading the Bible. That’s not bad it just bothers me that so many don’t seem to think that perhaps when they get it they won’t like reading it and so it’ll sit on their shelves. And so few seem to care that Adam is doing some updating without asking to what extent.

        /rant off

  31. cec, Larry, I think we agree for the most part on the editing or translation choices. I know it’s been a long wait and I think much of the uncertainty regarding the editing process could’ve been put to rest with a digital download of the text. I’m just hoping he stuck to his original editing plan, because that’s what everyone backed. 🙂

    • I looked the names up of the Biblical scholars doing the review and they will be editing the Bible from a liberal point of view.

      • Thus far I haven’t found anything leaning toward one position or another. I’m still working my way through Genesis at a slow pace, but I’ve looked up other passages for reference. As far as I can tell, it’s a faithful update of the ASV.

  32. I’m sick and tired of people saying Kickstarter is not a store. WE KNOW IT IS NOT A STORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If Heather can take the time to relpy to every comment, WHY CAN’T they post more frequent updates. I can guarantee you is is because doesn’t want them to. People are asking and demanding updates and he’s just thinking that they can go take a flying leap. It’s time to call a spade a spade. And I’m really tired of people making excuses for Adam. If you say anything bad about Adam and crew, they will kick you out of the campaign so you cannot post anything else. Isn’t that what Communists, Socialists, and Dictators do.

    Need Proof.

    Here is the email: It appears from your communication that you are predominantly unsatisfied with aspects of Bibliotheca and the Team; although this saddens us, perhaps it would be better for you to bypass our early pre-order stages and wait until Bibliotheca has officially been launched to purchase your set. We have refunded your support in full and apologize for any frustration we have inadvertently caused.

    How dare you cancel my pre-order without my permission.Others have posted on Kickstarter that you guys canceled orders if anyone asked for transparency and accountability. You guys have failed to deliver and failed to give updates on a regular basis and with that comes concerned backers. That is a result of missing the mark, but censoring your customers via removing from Kickstarter is not the right way to solve it.

    So, if you think Adam is such a wonderful guy, think about that for a while.

  33. I don’t receive updates from Bibilotheca. Have there been any delivery dates given by the company?

  34. Bryan, if you read update #48 you’ll see that the scholars reviewed the project and recommended changes and I’m assuming Adam used some measure of judgement before adapting any of those recommendations. I’m not familiar with every Seminary, but it looked like scholars were consulted from a broad spectrum of institutions. I don’t know Adam personally, but if he proves to be unfaithful I’m sure God is capable of working it all out, just like He’s fully capable of preserving His own words. This will be like any Bible translation, people will weigh it out and feedback will be given just like every other translation.

    • Thankfully, it seems pretty faithful to me so far. It’ll take me a long time to read through the whole thing, but I’ve spot-checked it in a few places and not seen any improper liberties being taken.

  35. We can romanticize this as much as you want. Thats fine.

    Here is the bottom line. 2 years ago he said something would be out by Christmas and it failed.

    Here we are 2 years later and there’s no update as to why orders from 2 years ago haven’t made it out to people.

    Kickstarter isn’t a store… i get it… thanks for the secular humanism.. i’ve received products from after that time from Kickstarter…

    This was sold as a mostly complete product and 2 years later nothings happened.

    This kind of bait and switch is what makes Christians look like they can’t do business in the real world.

    I know it sucks for the owner. I get that. I canceled 2 orders for the complete set because the fact I ordered this for my father who’s a pastor slowly turned into an indirect joke.

    The fact they haven’t shipped a single unit yet after 2 years is completely and utterly shameful. No one has an up to date status. Thats shameful considering the context they marketed themselves with. The Verge highlighted them, probably as a publicity stunt. No units shipped.

    Transparency goes a long way. No units shipped 2 years later. Pump and dump?

  36. My original post:
    Call me crazy if you like, but I’m remembering what got me so excited about the Bibliotheca Project. Even with all of the delays and the disappointment these delays has brought, I find that I’m still looking forward to the project’s completion. Don’t get me wrong a nicely formatted digitized edition while we wait for the printed editions would’ve been most appreciated. Based upon most of the comments from backers, they seem to be more interested in the layout, the physical form, and understandably the completion of the project. Personally I’ve been more interested in the actual translation such as the editing choices that were made and any translation work. I’ve even asked for a list of textual notations of any changes made to the original ASV. The Bibliotheca Project is supposed to be a modernization of the 1901 ASV w/ the Young’s Literal Translation used in certain instances where the YLT conveys the literalness of the Hebrew and Greek better. I think the Bibliotheca Project’s a brilliant idea if Adam ends up pulling it off. If he pulls it off this will be the most literal word for word translation available. Not exactly a brand new translation, but a modernization of a very literal one, a translation that follows closest to the word order and syntax of the original Hebrew and Greek

    • I see all sides and see why people are frustrated and why people would wait it out. I decided to wait it out. Looks like most will ship early December per the update from last week.

    • I am still waiting for Bibliotheca and haven’t cancelled my orders, but I did purchase Crossway’s reader set that was just released, it arrived on Friday. It is beautifully done, great paper, printing is very good, binding solid and smells great. Yes, I like the smell of books! I have started reading the Epistles, what a wonderful way to read the Bible. My other chapter and verse bibles are going to become a bit lonely. I obviously wont abandon them completely considering the studying aspect of the chapter and verse bibles, but this read version is fantastic.

  37. The latest on the Bibliotheca Project, here’s hoping: 🙂 “All five volumes are completely printed. Binding is almost finished—three of the five volumes are completely bound, while the remaining two are in the finishing stages and will be bound by October 7. I spoke with one of our contacts at Kösel yesterday, and he has confirmed the entire order will be ready—arranged in slipcases, packed into custom shipping boxes, and ready to send over the ocean—the first week of November or sooner.
    The books, weighing in at a total of about 150 tons, will be loaded onto eight forty-foot shipping containers. Our international and domestic ocean freight and trucking logistics are lined up and ready to go.
    What all of this means—and what I know many of you are anxious to hear—is that if everything goes smoothly, the books will arrive in port by late November to early December, which means that U.S. orders and most international orders should arrive in time for Chanukkah and Christmas.” Adam Greene

  38. I’ve had a terrible experience with Bibliotheca. I paid for the full four volume set. They’ve sent me only the New Testament and are claiming they’ve delivered on their promise. They’re also not responding to my emails. Really disappointing to feel cheated after two and a half years of waiting.

    • I’m sorry that you’ve had this frustration, Raj. I hope they clear it up for you soon. Despite your justified disappointment, please don’t jump to the conclusion that you’ve been cheated. There’s been too much of that kind of accusation over the last year or two and it’s unfair to Adam & company.

  39. I received my set (5 volumes) on Monday and am delighted. Bibliotheca is all I’d hoped for. The wait was worth it. I’m genuinely sorry for all those who bailed out along the way accusing Adam of malfeasance etc. — especially those who bailed just in the last year or 6 months. They let their impatience drive them to a rash act of petulance and have thereby lost out on a good thing.

    I’ve spent a lot of time reading in various volumes over the last few days. The version (the flyleaf calls it the American Literary Version – still too early to see if the ALV will become a thing) reads very smoothly for the most part. The complete absence of any chapter and verse enumeration (even the Psalms are unnumbered) is an amazing aid to reading. I never knew how distracting they and all the notations were until I went without.

    There are a few changes in the text that got me saying “hmmm.” In the NT, they translate “ekklesia” as “gathering.” That’s not incorrect, technically, but I wonder if it reflects an underlying low ecclesiology. The ASV uses “church,” so it’s a deliberate departure from the text that isn’t a cleaning up of “thees” and “thous.” It does, however, reflect Young’s Literal Translation. Another head-scratcher was rendering “macheira distomos” as “two-mouthed sword,” which is technically correct while being wholly wrong. The Greek phrase is an idiom for a sword that cuts or “bites” on both edges, hence distomos – two-mouthed. But the idiom falls flat in English, which is why every English translator since Wycliffe used “two-edged”. Not even Young’s Literal Translation uses “two-mouthed.” It’s an odd choice.

    I like the use of “YHWH” in place of the ASV’s “Jehovah” (It reminds me of the Jerusalem Bible’s use of “Yahweh”). It really stands out in the text.

    Overall, the version is beautiful and reads beautifully. It has all the literary and poetic cadences of the King James Version without the archaic language that can sometimes read awkwardly. My congratulations to Adam and company. They have – in just two and a half years – produced a wonderful version of the Bible that will have an impact on future editions of the Bible. It has already prompted the just-released ESV Reader’s Bible from Crossway and a reader’s version of the KJV from Holman.

    I’m very happy to have been part of this kickstarter and to have endured to fulfillment.

  40. I received my 4 volume set a few weeks ago.

    Overall I’m impressed with the edition. I like the font and page layout a little better than the 6 vol. ESV Readers. I haven’t read enough of it to comment on the revision of the AVS.

    My only complaint so far is that the book titles are not printed on each page. There’s nothing to give you a clue where you are when you open a volume. I think in this instance “less is more” became just “less is less.” I also wish the Psalm numbers had been retained.

  41. I have received mine as well – wood edition. I opened it took a look at a few pages gently I might add and now want to sell it. Print too small for me.

    • What is the font size? I looked on the web site but couldn’t find any information. Just curious.

      (Sorry, I’m not interested in buying. I ended up buying the ESV Readers set, hard cover edition.)

  42. Just an update on my experience: Bibliotheca finally responded to my issue (sending me the NT only when I had paid for the full set). I received what I paid for a couple of weeks back and am very impressed with the set. I was doubtful that they were going to make things right but they came through in the end.

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