Personal Size Reference Edition (ESV)

I’m a fan of the English Standard Version, so when I read about the single-column, reference edition of the ESV in a personal size on Mark Bertrand’s blog I knew immediately that this would become my daily use Bible.

The major problem was that (as is typical of Crossway) there was not a high-quality binding available. Fortunately, however, the “Genuine Leather” edition comes with a sewn binding and therefore begs to be rebound.

I was so tickled about the prospects of this edition that I bought a buddy of mine a copy as well. I was having a bit of difficulty getting used to the idea of spending $70 to re-bind a brand new bible, however, so the PSRE mostly sat on my shelf for several weeks, since the Genuine Leather cover exhibited more cardboard-esque than leather-like qualities.

A few weeks ago, however, I saw my buddy’s  PRSE, which he had been using daily. The state of the cover was so disconcerting (permanently curled up, etc.) that I immediately began looking in to who I should have do this re-bind.

I had previously used Mechling Book Bindery for a black goatskin re-bind of a Classic Reference Edition ESV and was fairly pleased. The quality was excellent, but the action and handling of the bible left something to be desired, which may have been my fault for using a bible with the cheapest paper available. On the other hand, goatskin is slick in the hands and I’ve dropped the bible a couple times while reading or teaching, which involuntarily elicited a “Christian” swear-word right in front of the congregation! Can’t have that happening again (for those of you wondering, I said, “doggoneit” with particular vigor.)

I checked out the prices at Abba Bibles because the photos I’ve seen of their work looks like the richest leather I’ve seen anywhere. While their quote was half of anyone else, the cost of shipping to Mexico and back was going to be four times the cost of the re-bind! So that option was out.

deerskin ESV PSRE Leonard’s Book Restoration happens to be about two hours from my house, so the Long family went on a road trip to see what a custom book binder looks like. After considerable discussion with Eric (the proprietor) and handling all the leather they had on hand, I chose a 2 ounce, natural deerskin.

I received the deerskin bible yesterday (it took 5 weeks since Eric had around 150 bibles to do before mine). I must say that this is the best handling, best feeling bible I’ve ever experienced.

Check out the color and grain of that beauty! I told Eric that I wanted a darker but still undyed, natural skin. What he had on hand was a bit lighter than I was hoping for, but he got a new shipment in, and the result is absolutely perfect. Here’s a close-up of the grain.

deerskin grain

The critical factor behind my choice of deerskin was the way it felt. I wanted that luxurious, thick leather feel, but didn’t want the slick feel that goatskin has. Deerskin was a bit tackier to the feel than calfskin, and not as expensive, plus the natural deerskin color was exactly what I wanted.


I went for a blind stamping rather than foil stamping, and I’m really pleased with how that turned out.  Inside I went with a brown leatherette. I was concerned that the synthetic material would make the cover less “floppy” than I wanted, but Eric assured me that he thought it would work well.

inside cover

Sure enough, it is precisely the right combination, and produced the “action” in the hand that I wanted.  I chose chocolate brown for the ribbons and asked for three.

Eric and Margie are very friendly and will talk with you at length about what you’re looking to accomplish. Make sure to mention every detail that you want, and feel free to clarify whether what Eric describes is the same thing you’re looking for. Eric enjoys talking so don’t call when you’re in a hurry.

Check out the delightful result:

cover action

Leonard’s Book Restoration can be reached at (574) 652-2151; they are also very responsive to email. Their website is


In the Hand

I should point out, however, that I have large hands, so this picture could be slightly misleading.

Crossway & the ESV

Do you remember my posts about the forthcoming ESV Study Bible, here and here? My first post mentioned that I’m decidely not a fan of the artwork for the hard cover edition of the ESV Study Bible (they put that orange triangle on the cover of the TruTone editions as well–I just don’t get it), and my second post mentioned in passing that I’m planning to buy the Hardcover edition anyway and just take the dustjacket off.

Today I received an email from a Customer Service Rep at Crossway who took the time to read my post(s) and then was kind enough to give me the heads up that the artwork is printed on the hardback itself, not just on the dustjacket.

That information itself is very disappointing, but I’m so impressed that they took the time to contact me (he had to figure out how to do that, by the way, as I don’t have my email anywhere on my blog) that it’s quite taken the sting out of the ugly, juvenile artwork.

So, here’s one more reason to use the ESV: it’s backed by an impressive organization of people who legitimately care about their customer.

I would dearly love to see an alternative with a sense of respectability. However, as I mentioned to the gentleman from Crossway, I’ve all ready placed a pre-order with and I’m not going to cancel it. After all, what you really care about in a study bible is the interior content–and that promises to be top-notch.

Learn more about the ESV Study Bible

Buying Bibles

If you, like me, are a fan of the ESV then there are two websites that you should know about. Together they are the two least expensive places to buy any ESV bible you can think of. Often, they’re significantly less expensive.

The first is Right now in addition to having great prices, they’re offering free shipping on pre-orders of the ESV Study Bible. Speaking of which, it was pointed out to me after my last post on the ESV Study Bible that the cover art I have such an issue with is just a dust jacket. Whah-lah, problem solved. So I ordered a copy and plan on taking the cover off. also happens to be the exclusive US distributor of RL Allan bibles, which are the highest quality bibles currently available anywhere. So if you’re looking to drop some serious cash on a bible of surpassing quality with highland goatskin leather cover, an RL Allan will give you goosebumps.

Check out this nifty graphic from the site:

The other site to know about as they sometimes give a run for their money in terms of having the best price is the Westminster Bookstore. Right now, for example, the single-column, Personal Size Reference Edition (which I highly recommend, by the way), TruTone cover, is $17.99 at Westminster Bookstore and is asking $18.89 for the same edition. However, you may be able to get free shipping from evangelicalbible, so look around carefully at the deals they are currently running.