When I heard that R. L. Allan planned to have some of their editions not only printed but also bound by Jongbloed in the Netherlands, I had mixed feelings. True, Jongbloed has set the bar high in the editions they’ve produced for Cambridge, so much so that their name has become synonymous with high quality Bible production. The fact remains that the quintessential Allan binding, the Old World leather-lined semi-yapp cover, the style I associate so much with the brand, is not the kind of binding Jongbloed has specialized in. Would the Dutch editions measure up to the standard set by Allan’s hand-bound English bindings? I had no idea. In terms of quality, the answer was yes. The Jongbloed editions for Allan have been beautifully made, just as you would expect. However, side-by-side I’ve always been able to tell the difference between the two. I still can, but the new Allan NASB comes closer to the classic line than any of its predecessors.
There are two “tells” to look for. First, the imprinting inside the cover. The inside cover of the English bindings are labeled in small caps, whereas the Dutch bindings use upper- and lowercase letters (in the style familiar from Cambridge editions). This is a difference not of quality but style. The second tell concerns the cover’s semi-yapp edge. The English bindings curve around the book block, while the Dutch ones jut out without much of a curve.
Apart from this, however, the styling of the bindings is nearly identical. The one in the photos comes in the lovely and versatile chocolate brown goatskin, an Allan standard, matched with three thick gold ribbons and a gilt line around the inner edge. The book block is sewn, with art-gilt page edges and extra lined paper in back for taking notes.
My review copy was quite limp, just as you would expect. I noticed, though, that the cover felt a little heavier and more substantial than I was used to from Allan, which went along nicely with the leather’s pronounced, tactile grain. Obviously natural leather covers will vary from one to another, so there’s no guarantee these observations apply across the board. Still, the words that come to mind in handing this NASB are rugged and substantial. It has some heft.
The quality of the book block is excellent, no surprise given the Jongbloed pedigree. The text setting features an old style double column layout with center column references and the text divided verse-by-verse. Over the past couple of years, a number of excellent single column, paragraphed text settings have become available. Personally, their existence makes it harder for me to get excited about these older style layouts, which feel more optimized for reference than reading. But variety is the spice of life, and if you’re in the market for a NASB and prefer the reference-oriented layout, this new edition from Allan and Jongbloed delivers in style. Available from R. L. Allan direct and from EvangelicalBible.com.
What I Like
A beautiful binding matched to a beautifully-printed book block, Jongbloed quality from the ground up.
What I Don’t Like
A reference-oriented two-column, verse-by-verse layout. (Yes, I know I sound like a broken record.)