Design and Production Bible (2Krogh + Jongbloed)

One of the most interesting Bibles to pass across my desk in a long while isn't a Bible at all in the proper sense. It's the Design and Production Bible produced by Danish design firm 2Krogh and the Dutch printers Jongbloed. Thomas Silkjær hooked me up with a copy. And it's ... fantastic. The cover has a groovy shine to it, but the fireworks are inside.

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The reason for the collaboration is to show what these firms are capable of. Quite a bit, it turns out. Here's the important bit:

"In this book you will find sections by 2Krogh on design & typography and by Jongbloed on printing & book binding interspersed with examples of our work reproduced in full size on genuine bible paper." 

In other words, throughout the book a series of 2Krogh designs are reproduced on various types of paper. At the low end of the spectrum, there's 22 GSM White Indopaque. On the high end, there's Primapage 45 GSM White. In the hands of a Bible publisher, this guide gives you the ability to determine in advance what a design will look like on different kinds of paper, how much ghosting there will be, what various spot colors will look like, and so on. 

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For example, here's one of my favorite of the 2Krogh designs, a complex study Bible layout. There's a lot of information and it's organized well, taking advantage of spacing and color. The scripture text is set in two columns at the top, with two columns of references beside it in red. The notes are set in two wider columns below. There aren't a bunch of superfluous lines dividing everything, just a rule between the top and bottom sections consisting of red dots. Very elegant. 

And note how abandoning the nineteenth century "red letter" innovation gives a designer freedom to use color for aesthetic emphasis.

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This layout is reproduced several times throughout the book on different paper. In this case, I've chosen the highest quality, Primapage 45 GSM White, because nothing is too good for the Bible Design Blog audience. The paper specs are listed in the margin above the page number:

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And to give you a better idea of how opaque the paper is, here's another layout on Primapage 45 GSM White, where you can see some ghosting from the page behind. This is Bible paper, so you're going to get some. On this paper, though, it's much less noticeable than on the others.

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How to quantify something like opacity? No problem. Each type of paper comes complete with a specification chart, listing weight, thickness, opacity and brightness. In this case, the opacity standard is ISO 2471, and for this paper the target is 84, with a minimum of 83. I have no idea what that means, but we'll see how it compares to other samples as we go along.

There's even a formula for calculating the thickness of your final book block depending on which type of paper you choose:

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I should point out here something that should be obvious: I'm not as good a photographer as some of you give me credit for. I struggle especially with photographing paper. Leather I can handle, but when there's white balance to figure out, I tend to stumble. As you can see in the photo below, where the book rests on a white card, my whites are looking a little gray. (I have the same problem with laundry, if you're wondering.)

But check it out:

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If you decide to get wild with accent colors, you can see how different PMS colors will reproduce on paper. This takes the guesswork out of printing. Those brick red backgrounds might look great on screen, but if they're going to turn out muddy in real life, why not drop them?

Here's another layout example, this time on Primapage 30 GSM White. The opacity numbers are lower here: the target is 80,5 with a 79,5 minimum. As you may be able to tell in the photo, the ghosting is more significant. It looks comparable to what you see with Crossway's ESV Study Bible, which is printed on Primalux 30 GSM by R. R. Donnelly. 

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The Design and Production Bible is full of useful information for designers and publishers. For example, there's a chart indicating "efficient page heights and widths with the corresponding numbers of pages per signature." It might interest you to know that if you have 40 signatures in your book, each consisting of 64 pages, your page count will be 2560. Or it might not. 

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In addition, the book showcases the printing and binding process, including some finished products that might look familiar:

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I can only scratch the surface here -- there are over 800 pages -- but one thing I have to share is 2Krogh's brilliant Dwarsligger® concept. Here's how they explain it:

The Dwarsligger® is a unique and innovative book concept. The small and handy size of this book makes it easy to carry in a handbag or even in the smallest pocket. It can be read anytime and anywhere: on the train, plane or bus, during any odd, spare moment and—due to its landscape layout—while lying in bed or on the beach. 

This book no longer has a conventional left and right page. The text in the Dwarsligger® has been rotated through 90° and therefore reads "crosswise" thus creating one large page. It reads just as easily as a normal book.

While reading you can comfortably hold the Dwarsligger® in just one hand, because of its size and weight and due to its unique method of binding. The book looks like a hard cover, but is completely different, it is in fact a case bound book that is not fixed on the front.

In other words, this:

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And here's an example of page layouts in that style:

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My first thought, looking at this, is: I'd buy one. My second thought is, wouldn't this make a much better "outreach" edition than most of what's out there under that title? Instead of a volume clearly manufactured to be cheap and disposable, an innovative format like this would get passed around and appreciated. It would make a very different kind of statement.

It's a real pleasure to see so much effort going into Bible design and binding. For people in the industry, the Design and Production Bible is a must-have. I'm not sure how widely available it is—perhaps Thomas will chime in and enlighten us. One thing I do know: 2Krogh and Jongbloed are doing great work, both in terms of design innovation and quality production. The Design and Production Bible is full of inspiration.