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September 21, 2007


Todd France

Have you found the different spelling and vocabulary of this British edition a hinderance to your reading and study of this edition of the ESV?

J. Mark Bertrand

Not at all, Todd. In fact, I can't think of a single instance in which I've been "thrown."

Alex S. Leung

Mark, a couple questions:
1) Does this contain the ESV 2007 revision text?
2) What does the layout of the pages look like? It appears to be 2-columns -- but is it Verse-by-verse rather than in paragraphs (every verse begins a new line) ?

I am considering Crossway's ESV Single Column Reference (Black, Premium Calfskin Leather) which seems to be a great value at $122 (37% off msrp) from Amazon.com! This large fonts, verse-by-verse layout, and flat-lying sewn binding is just what I'm looking for in the perfect teaching/preaching Bible.

Allan's Reference at 85pounds (~$175 usd?) is just too expensive!!

Any insights on this would be appreciated ;-)


It appears this Bible is two-column...and not wide-margin. Correct?

J. Mark Bertrand

Alex, this article should answer your questions about the interior of the Allan's ESV:


To make a long story short, it's basically the same layout as a Crossway Classic Reference, minus the book intros and red-letter text. The only verse-per-line setting of the ESV is the Single Column Reference. I don't think it's in the same league as the Allan's ESV, but if you're looking for a larger text and the traditional verse-per-line layout, it's the only game in town.

J. Mark Bertrand

PDS: That's correct. It's the same inside as a Classic Reference, two columns and regular margins.


Alex -- I have the ESV Bible you are considering. By the way, I think there is a new one on EBAY right now for $99. It is a super nice Bible -- my biggest complaint is the thickness of the paper for note-taking. If you are simply using it to read, it's fantastic...if you want to fill it up with notes etc, you may be disappointed.


Alex -- I have the ESV Bible you are considering. By the way, I think there is a new one on EBAY right now for $99. It is a super nice Bible -- my biggest complaint is the thickness of the paper for note-taking. If you are simply using it to read, it's fantastic...if you want to fill it up with notes etc, you may be disappointed.


I agree with PDS on the paper thickness for the Thinline ESV...it is too thin. It is a pretty nice binding aside from the paper issue.


The question is which binding of Allan's do you prefer: The Tan ESV or the Black ESV???


I have trying to nail down where Allan's gets their "Highland" goatskin from. I know that mechling binds with a "standard" goatskin and if you pay $50 dollars more you can get Harmatan goatskin with a hand finish, I wonder if the hand finish is the same as Allan's? The next time I send a bible to mechling I would like to find a cover on par with Allans.

Anyone know about leather differences between say mechling and Allans?

Alex S. Leung

Thanks for your help PDS & Mark!

I think I'll stick with Crossway's SCR premium calfskin:)

I currently have a Thinline ESV (tan/premium bonded leather) and I do a lot of underlining with pen/pencil -- and I totally agree, the paper is too thin for notetaking! I'll try to contact Crossway to see if they have plans to fix this -- cause for some, the page-thru-page bleeding of the text is bothersome.


In speaking with Crossway recently, they have received numerous complaints about the paper-quality. While they didn't give me a definitive answer, it is something they are well aware of and I believe are in the process of addressing. But, in terms of what, when etc...no idea.

Jesus Saenz

PDS, I was on the horn with Crossway just today. I had a problem with The English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament that they resolved so I called Stuart or is it Stewart(?), in customer service to thank him for replacing the damaged copy I had. While conversing with Stuart I asked about the latest printing of the Single Column Reference and wether or not it was going to be reprinted using heavier paper. Crossway is currently out of stock on this particular edition and they expect delivery of new stock in December. I was informed that the printer keeps unbound book blocks of all their editions warehoused until Crossway needs more. The paper issue is something they are aware of will take into consideration in the future but first they need to exhaust the current stock on hand.

I own the Deluxe Heirloom as well as the Single Column Reference, the Heirloom used 27 lbs. paper while the SCR uses 21 lbs. The SCR is 42mm thick at the spine while the Heirloom is 45mm thick, about 1.5" for the block itself. The trim size is almost identical at @ 6.5"x9.25" with the SCR only slightly smaller. The real difference is in the page count. The Heirloom has a 1328 page count while the SCR has 1784 pages. The difference of 456 pages is equal to 11mm or a 1/2". The SCR would be a tad over 2" thick were it to use the same paper as the Heirloom.

If the complaints keep coming in, it seems that Crossway is willing to do something about it.


my original Reference esv in bonded leather had something like 27ib...it was thick!!! but the quality lasted through tons of marking, and the binding fell completely apart but the pages held together perfectly.

Although the two ESVs I bought lately (cordovan Reference in calf/ thinline in calf) have horrible paper.


I ordered the Allan's ESV in black highland goatskin last week. I spent all of that time wondering if it was really going to be worth the cost. It arrived today, and I have to say that it is more than worth it. It surpasses by far the quality of Crossway's original calfskin edition that I also own, as well as that of my Nelson Signature Bible, and my NASB single column Bible in Calfskin by Foundation Publications in quality. The smell of the leather, the art-gilt edges, the semi-yapp cover, the inside lining, and the overall feel of this Bible all cried out to me that it was money well spent. Any time I have need of a fine Bible, I now know where to turn.

Alex S. Leung

I just received an email response from Crossway about the paper thickness issue:


I just received my black ESV today and it is beautiful. Thanks Mark for the review. I have one question for others who have ordered this one and the tan. The first pages, from Genesis 19 and back to the first or second blank page at the beginning, are stitched together so that they do not open as completely as the rest of the Bible does. It doesn't hide the text, but I was wondering if there is a reason for this, is it normal, or do I need to consider returning the Bible? Thanks for any response.

Chad Smith

Mr. Bertrand,
I want to thank you. I am also one who cannot stand the quality of today's bibles, it's quite sad. However after visiting bibles-direct.com I now have in my possession the best bible I have ever seen or handled, the Allan's reference ESV in black Highland Goatskin. This is an amazing bible, and an end to a long search for a quality bible. I have owned the heirloom reference edition of the ESV, as well as numerous Cambridge bibles, but finally a bible producer that takes great pains in making a quality bible that will stand the test of time. Thank you for the review of your Allan bible, and all the info given about it.


How do the Allen ESVs compare with the Standard Reference Editions in Calfskin (not the thinlines). Are they of superior leather, binding, and overall construction to warrant the purchase?


Josh - They are of superior leather and binding, and I believe warrant the extra cost. While the ESVs in calfskin are very nice, The black calfskin is very supple IMO and the cordovan has a unique look, they do not trump the beauty of the Allan's ESV. The Allans ESV also has a stronger binding, yet also a much more flexible binding.

Allans simply has a more refined look and feel. I guess that accounts for the extra $60 or so.

I would add that some have brought up issues on the blog regarding a stiff book block, etc, which happened in the most recent printing, but Allans is putting out a reprinting later this year (with the updated ESV text) which you may be interested in which is said to fix all the areas in need of attention.


Yes, I would wait for the new Allan ESV to come out. I haven't noticed any comments about this issue -- but once one gets a Calfskin or Goatskin cover, what is the proper way to maintain and care for the Bible so it lasts a very long time???


1. Natural leather products like goatskin and calfskin are supposed to be handled regularly so the oil from your hands can "condition" the leather...I have heard stories of quality bindings not lasting very long because they are purchased and then shelved for years.

2. I would stay away from leather cleaning products because all the ones I have used either add a smell or slightly darken the leather, plus I dont think they work all that well for bibles. A damp cloth should be sufficient on most bibles.

3.dont be like me and set a bible down on a counter were a chemical was recently spilled thats a sure way to strip the color and finish off.


Good info. Thanks Matt -- anyone else???


this seem to be an outstanding bible, what Allan KJV would be most like this one? in comparison.... ?

Jesus Saenz

PDS, be sure to lay your leather Bibles flat rather than upright. The softer covers will not give much support to the book block and it may soon start to separate from the spine.


Thanks Jesus -- good tip.

pastor ajomia

Am Pastor Anthony Ajomia i just reside here in Nigeria just for few years ago and am awarded here for good character and genuie goods so that is the reason why open Store for Bible so i will like to Order THis Items from you
Bible Standard Full Color Bible KJV Bonded Leather (Brown)

so give me the cost of it withs shipping cost to
22,ogungbaye st.
Am Looking forward to hear from you ASAP.
Best Regards,
Pastor Anthony Ajomia

Tone Benedict

I want to get the Black ESV but I am wondering when Allen's is coming out with the 2007 version of the ESV. Can you tell me the expected date? Tone


Tone - Allan's will be releasing the updated ESV text in June / July 2008. See this article. (http://jmarkbertrand.typepad.com/bibledesign/2007/12/allans-esv-with.html#comments)


How does the paper quality of Allan compare to the Premium Calfskin Crossway Reference? Does the print bleed through on the Allan papper? WHen is Allan going to use the updated ESV? Thanks!


DJ - Allan's will be releasing an updated ESV text Edition in June / July 2008 (in fact they're taking pre-orders now - http://www.bibles-direct.com/category.phtml?Category=219) Also you can read several comments on this blog re the updated ESV text Edition here:- http://jmarkbertrand.typepad.com/bibledesign/2007/12/allans-esv-with.html#comments
Sorry I can't help you with your other Q's :)


If I'm going to order a black Allen's ESV, what will be the advantage to waiting for the new printing? Will it only be the updated text, or are there formating, paper, construction issues that will also be resolved?



Hi Allan Community,

evangelicalbible.com now carries the ESV 2. This Allan Bible has a Goatskin Shell and semi-yapp edges (leather protruding to protect pages). The ESV 2 has no lined paper and 1 ribbon marker.

It is another classic example of remarkable Bible craftmanship.

The ESV 1 in both black and tan is now due in June. We will keep you posted.

Please forward any questions to info@evangelicalbible.com.


In regards to paper quality. The Allan Bibles are at about 24-26 pounds-which is comparable to the Crossway Classic Bibles-a bit heavier. It is not bleed through, provided you use a correct pen for writing purposes.


I just received this Bible today (i.e. ESV2 from Allan's). This is a very nice Bible. A few observations- 1) The cover is stiffer than I expected. Compared to the Bold Reference NIV, it doesn't quite mold to your hand the same way. This cover is very similar to Cambridge goatskins. I prefer the Highland goatskin in that it has a more elegant feel to it and is more flexible. 2) The waves on the pages' outer edges referred to in another article were evident. This doesn't bother me as much as creases on pages I have seen in pages in the Crossway calfskins. 3) The inside cover overlaps the outer skin versus being glued underneath it. This was a surprise but not a distraction. 4) While there are not the lined pages like the ESV1, there are unlined pages in front and back that are very useful for notes. 5) I find the Bold Reference NIV to have a better print and font. I am really ready for a different type set for the ESV reference Bibles. I don't know if the Pitt Minion arrangement will suit me, but I would like to see something different. 6) The paper as compared to the BR NIV is "grayer." Bottom line- a great Bible. For me the BR NIV is better and more appealing in design. Since I've sort of come to the conclusion that the ESV and NIV/TNIV will be my main translations for preaching and teaching, I'm still hunting for that "perfect" ESV. Maybe Allan's ESVT1 will be the winner.


How does this Bible differ from the calfskin edition of the same?


A few quick notes on the Allan ESV1 (Black and Tan)
1. They are scheduled to ship from the UK next week. (9.22-26)
2. They will have the Oxford maps, but will not have the lined paper.
3. The font is bolder than the first edition.
4. The paper doesn't have the "wavy" aspect as in the first edition.
5. Only 250 of each have been bound.


Margerey Sarabia

I want an Allan Bible with the best quality leather in Black, red letter edition, margins with references, concordance in the back, indexing and subtitles under the chapters.
Where can I get one?



You left out the most important part: Version. :) Check out Allan's site: http://www.bibles-direct.com/index.phtml. All they currently have are listed there. Also, check out the great reviews here.

David V. Hurst

I haven't seen anything about the "paper quality" of the Allen's Bible. Is it good India paper?


Update on the Allan ESV1 Black:

We have a total of 20 remaining copies....that is until the 3rd printing in 2009.....


What do you guys mean by "waves"? Are they bad?


I clean and condition my Bibles with the same leather cleaner/conditioner that I use on my Harley Davidson seat and leather jacket. I trust it on a $500.oo jacket I surely trust it on my quality Bibles. It also softens the leather at a quicker pace, plus the more you read it the softer it will become.


Any insider information on the 2009 3rd printing? Will there be any changes/differences?



Any insider information on the 2009 3rd printing? Will there be any changes/differences?


Mike Smith

I e-mailed EvagelicalBible.Org and they said no change just the additional $20.00 increase


I purchased the ESV2 from evangelicalbible.com after reading this article because I didn't need the lined paper but was intrigued by the quality of the Allans and that website was offering them for $75 shipped. When I received the Bible I opened it up only to find that the leather was very rigid. Upon opening the Bible I was surprised to see that every page was warped and then I found that the page containing Genesis 19 had a line of stitching running the full length of the page. (Not in the binding) That line of stitching seemed to be holding the first set of pages together. Overall I was extremely upset with what I had received and I will be returning the defective Bible, but I am now hesitant to purchase another Allan's, at least from that site.

mike smith

Paul most of the better bound Bibles have the same stitching as in a Bible from 1962. In my collection, and the wavy pages come from the hand binding so each Bible will be different. The Allan's ESV2 is goatskin but not highland goat and is not leatherlined, that is why it is stiff. I have the same edition and it softing more each week.


Mike thanks for a little more insight into the Bible I purchased. Maybe my expectations were a bit too high. I understand the rigidity of the goatskin now a little better and my mind is a little more at ease with the binding. I am just a little concerned with the stitching on the 26th page that appears to be holding the first few pages together. Perhaps is it just some reinforcing for those pages or is this a flaw? I am now re-considering the fact of sending it back. Thank you for the information.

Steve Irvine

11/28/2008 I odered two ESV 1 bibles. On 12/05/2008 they were shipped. So far so good. 12/10/2008
delivery was made on the date specified. Can you imagine my horror when I read on the copyright
page "Printed And Bound In China". How could anyone decieve people into thinking the bible was
printed and bound in the U.K. when it was really "Printed And Bound In China"

mike smith

Paul most of the Bibles I have which have that stitching have held together longer then those without because this keeps the first section from coming apart @ between the section. This is why better Bibles have the stitching in front and back, some Bible will use cloth tape to reinforce the first section to the next. This I do not like so I will not buy unless the cost is low.

mike smith

Steve this topic was discussed earlier in this blog and Allan did not have control over the printing since they only hand bound the Bibles, and most binders are having this done in China. Such as the lockman foundation press with their NAS update Bibles.

Stan McCullars

"Printed And Bound In China"?

So is China binding the printed pages together and sending them to Allan's? And then Allan's is binding the bound pages to the leather cover?

mike smith

Stan as far as I know from previous info from Allan, Collins had first had the papers printed in China but they were done not the way Allan wanted (see info from Evangelical Bibles.com a couple months ago) so the binding was delayed from July? to Oct-nov time frame. I think Allan both binds the papers and the goatskin leather @ their pace. You could e-mail Allan and find more info, and let the rest of know.

mike smith

Stan look at the post just below your commits David on allan's ESV delivery for more info about the binding.

Robert Lombardi

Nicholas at R.L. Allan mentioned that they use Smythson on Bond Street in London for binding. I'm not sure where they get the paper. Perhaps multiple sources. They do have mutiple sources for the actual printing. The ESV was done in Chine by Collins, but many others are printed in London or other locations near R.L. Allan.

Michael L. Coleman

Mark -

I've been enjoying my Tan ESV1 that I received in Oct. I agree with you - its amazing. I've almost underlined half of it! Its the nicest binding I've ever seen. But, I've noticed a clear separation between the 1st and 2nd sections at Genesis 31-32. Yet it still seems to be tight? Is that something I should worry about of is it one of those imperfections that come with a hand sewn "work of art"?

Peace - Mike Coleman


Just as an FYI to poster Paul above and to any others who imagine that an extra line of stitching on first and/or last signatures of a Bible might represent a defect; it is nothing of the sort, rather it is an indication of superior quality.

Speaking from a perspective as a Bible store manager from over three decades ago, it was once the rule for ALL best-quality leather-bound Bibles to be so stitched. Although far less common today even with Bibles from the the University presses, it used to be the case that ALL best-bound leather-covered Bibles and Testaments from Cambridge and Oxford, as well as many from Collins (all of which were printed in Great Britain, none of them in China!) had the first and the last signatures separately stitched, as a means of reinforcement, since with each and every opening of the book, those end signatures were stressed, and the reinforcement sewing made the beginning and end signatures therefore less likely to pull off from the Smythe-stitched text bundle.

Alas, it's my observation that Bible-making materials and execution aren't like what the best examples once were (in the '70s), either in terms of paper density and opacity or regarding binding methods. Most Bibles today are printed in China, and the typical leather covers even on "premium" Bibles are shoddy stiff affairs with glued paper, cloth or plastic linings which pull away, and whose spines wear out fairly quickly. Oversewn end-signatures are almost never seen.
The Allan Bible cover materials and attatchments are excellent, however, even though the paper quality of the current editions I own from Allan is not up to the level of the best that was once used by Cambridge and Oxford.


Well, I just took the plunge and ordered an ESV1 in Highland. I noticed that the exchange rate is particularly good right now (the bible and one Allan's Journal came up to 100 pounds even, or $145 bucks American), and I had me some Christmas money burning a hole in my pocket, so I done did it! I already own a Cambridge Wide Margin NASB (wonderful, marvelous, delicious in every way, but the print is microscopic!), and a Crossway SCR/ESV in Calfskin (not too shabby, actually, but I was never gaga over it), but I figured I owed it to myself to try out one of these Allan's bibles. I also read somewhere on here that a price increase is in the works for 2009 on these, so between that and the current exchange rate favoring the dollar a little, "Let the games begin!" I noticed there was no shipping charge, either! Now I must sit on my thumbs for, what, a week? *tick tock....tick tock...*


Note, Allan's website now lists two new editions of the ESV1 due in February: the limited edition one in black with red ribbons and red/white headbands that someone else mentioned recently, and one in chocolate brown with three ribbons (green, purple and brown).

Robert (Bob) Anderson  Scandinavian and Scots by decent

I received my Allan's ESV 1BR today. Feb 2, 09. The Bible is everything you said it would be and more. It is the nicest bound Bible that I have ever had in my hands and I have held a few. My Allen's bound ESV is a rich dark brown highland goatskin, it's beautiful. They just don't bound books in the USA like that anymore. It is worth every penny I paid for it. Thank you for the information

living in the beautiful and wild land of Alaska by choice.

robert anderson

I received mt Allan's ESV1BR. It is beautiful. The nicest Bible I have ever held. The leather is a dark rich brown. I love it. They don't do binding like the Allan's in the USA any more. Allan's Bible is the finest quality workmanship that I have seen.

Living in the beautiful land of Alaska

AJ Bergren

This is the article that started me on my expensive obsession for R.L. Allan Bibles. Not that I'm complaining. :)

forex forum

this is so good. i would love to hear more.

AJ Bergren

Forex forum,

If you want to hear more then please see the "Bible Reviews" section of this blog at the right side bar and click the link on the top of the reviews titled:
"R. L. Allan's ESV1, ESV1T and ESV1 BR in Highland Goatskin ".

This review (stated above) covers the third printing of the R.L. Allan ESV1 reference Bibles in black, brown and tan colored Highland goatskin covers.


I got water on my black highland goatskin ESV 1.


AJ Bergren


I feel for yah bro. How bad is the damage?


The damage isn't as bad as it could be, I suppose. But, having the "wavey-wrinkly- and lumpy-bumpy- page" feel for the first third of an Allan highland goat bible, and losing the red-gold sheen on the art-gilt to a kind of slight zebra-pattern of brilliance, with a bit of fraying too, was enough to make me a sad camper.

On an unrelated matter, however, I do find that such a wonderful binding appears like a silk hat on a pig (to quote a movie that used to be one of my favs) when joined to the industrial-looking Crossway double column interior. It's like having a blue blood's cover on the outside and Chairman Mao's 'The People's Bible' on the inside. I am starting to crave a highland goat cover with full yap and an ESV translation whose beauty is more than merely skin deep. How about a gorgeous page layout, and font and paper for your ESVs, Allan?

Too bad I'm poor or I'd shop around on their page to see what else they have.

Still, if anyone has a home remedy for a water damaged bible, I'd love to hear it.


Joe P

It looks like there have been no comments on this bible for almost a year and a half. I just ordered one. Has there been any changes?

AJ Bergren

Joe P.,

There has been some slight changes to the ESV1 since this review came out.
Those changes are:
1)Better paper (the old paper usually came with ripples or a waviness to it).
2)A classy gold border line on the inside edges of the cover.
3)Non-lined note pages in the back
4)The semi-yap Highland goatskin cover may or may not be molded (it could come pretty much flat).

AJ Bergren

Joe P.,

I forgot one more change to the ESV1 since this review came out:
It now comes with three thick ribbons!!

Ronald Skwier

Mr Bertrand,
Do you know if Allen plans on producing an ESV Study Bible?

Thank you, Ron


My wife teased me today as I was online looking at Bible reviews and video reviews on YouTube. :) I said it was better than ogling over the next Apple gadget and cheaper, if only slightly. LOL. After finding your blog, I am very thrilled to get my new ESV Dark Brown Readers Edition from Allan.

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  • J. Mark Bertrand is the author of Back on Murder, Pattern of Wounds, and the forthcoming Nothing to Hide, crime novels featuring Houston homicide detective Roland March. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston and lived in the city for fifteen years. After one hurricane too many, he and his wife moved to South Dakota. Mark has been arrested for a crime he didn't commit, was the foreman of a hung jury in Houston, and after relocating served on the jury that acquitted Vinnie Jones of assault. In 1972, he won an honorable mention in a child modeling contest, but pursued writing instead.

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