« On the Radio: Prime Time America @ 4:30 PM (Central) | Main | Design Case Study: NEB New Testament Paperback »

October 22, 2007


David Dewey

Why do we assume that the best way to get the Bible's big picture is to read it in any printed format at all? For most of history, more people have been listening to the Bible than reading it. And the best translations are often those prepared with the listener in mind (This is probably what was meant by the KJV frontispiece 'Appointed to be read in churches'.)With the advent of mp3 players, it is easy and affordable to have a listening Bible. I would encourage people to consider a mp3-format Bible as an alternative to 'The Books of the Bible'. The TNIV dramatised 'Bible Experience' (now with OT as well as NT), is excellent. Other options are the ESV 'Listener's Bible' (Max McClean) or the NLT 'Holy Santuary'. Easy and light to carry too!

Doug Rutter

I love the idea of this Bible. Now I hope they produce one in a version I don't find personally reprehensible...

Do you hear my Crossway?


I must admit, I would much rather read this font than that stupid looking non-serif font that has plagued the majority of TNIV printings.


I didn't look close enough. That is the stupid font. What a waste of trees.


It's not of major importance but what about the cover color? Is the Sage color more on the greenish side or the grayish side?


Can someone tell me what the major difference is between this and F. LaGard Smith's chronological Bible?

J. Mark Bertrand

David -- I'll have to post something about audio recordings of the Bible. After hearing Kenneth Branagh's reading of Samual Pepys' Diary, I really wish he'd do one of the KJV. I'm not a big fan of dramatized readings with S/FX and everything, and I've never really warmed to the way Max McLean reads, which seems a bit portentious. In a word, I'm hard to satisfy on the audio front, just like I am in print! But your point is well taken. Audio Bibles are a great resource, especially in our iPod-toting age.

John -- I made the same discovery you did after writing the review. The font seems to be something IBS inherited from TNIV design in general. Too bad.

BL -- The sage is definitely pale green rather than gray.

Brandon -- I'm sorry, but I'm not familiar with the work you mentioned. If it's a chronological Bible, then I'd say this is very much in that spirit, though the particulars no doubt vary.


Great review. I have had my copy for about two months and have enjoyed the ease of reading provided by the new layout. I am a fan of the single column setting and in the past have bought a few different translations in this format. I also prefer a clean design with as few headings, footnotes, and marginal notes as possible. With its removal of chapter and verse numbers, this new effort from IBS meets my desire for a bible where the text is pre-eminent and the distractions are kept to a minimum. I agree with you that the printing suffers from excessive bleed-through and that the margins are too narrow, but I am puzzled by your dislike of the type. When I first saw this style of type in a TNIV by Zondervan, I thought it was a great choice. To my eye it is a very clean, modern style with a minimum of distracting elements. I find it to be refreshing and easy to read. I am interested in hearing what elements of the type you dislike.
Thanks for your thoughts.


I too am very fussy about who reads an audio bible. I have the Max McLean ones (KJV,NIV,ESV) but I don't really like them. Stephen Johnson is my least favorite who also happens to do the most versions.

The only voice I ever really liked reading the bible was Mike Kellogg unfortunately he only has done the NLT.

Samples here.


I also quite enjoyed Johnny Cash Reading the NKJV New Testament.

Some people Like James Earl Jones reading the KJV New Testament.

I am always on the Lookout for a quality Audio bible though.

I doubt I will ever find the "Allan" of audio bibles.



This gets my vote for "Allan" of audio bibles:


It is freely available online in Real Audio format:



A bit of a technicality to be sure, but hopefully a helpful one nevertheless: Luke-Acts wasn't (and isn't) a "single book" that "translations or tradition divided." While I appreciate TBoTB's placing them sequentially, they aren't perhaps the best example of that particular bullet point.

John Newell

I ordered some of these recently and although I am very tolerant of "bleedthough" issues, the copies I got display this problem to the extent that you can almost read the text on the other side of the page. It makes what should be an unusually easy reading experience very difficult. I think it'd be better to increase the price a bit and use better paper for what is a great concept.

James Cartiin

Can you help me find a copy of the Books of the Bible leather bound?

Kimble Dement

I'd like to offer several observations and questions - a little give and take.

First, the review of TBoB expresses my personal feelings very well. I have owned one for over a year, and I like it very much. After the initial rush of enthusiasm, however, I confess that I am far more impressed by the vision than I am the execution. The grouping of thoughts not only facilitates, but in some instances alters prior understanding. But the page lay-out renders reading more difficult than you might imagine. The text is distractingly close to the gutter, causing lines to curve into shadows. The comment about line-length is especially valid. I often read aloud for my wife and myself. The lines are fatiguingly long and do not facilitate easy reading. The lack of decent margins is a serious deterrent to note-inscribing. Inspired concept; careless execution.

I do like TBoB well enough to have asked the publisher if it is available in a hard-bound edition. I was told that the paperback is the only current edition, but my suggestion would be passed on to the product development department. So, if you want a Bible unencumbered by verse and chapter numbers, this is the only option of which I am aware.

To answer another poster - TBoB is nothing like F. Lagard Smith's edition of the Bible. TBoB preserves all of the books as discreet entities.

My question: Ideally I would like a text-only, single-column, wide-margin, red-letter, quality, preferably NASB, ESV, NKJV or TNIV. Can anybody help me?


For those of you bothered about the text disappearing into the gutter, try breaking in the binding a lot harder than you might feel comfortable with. I have found the glued binding particularly tough. Don't break it back all at once, but gradually going from front to back, 50 pages at a time, force it open more and more. The black and orange are only $6 each so what are you worried about? After about an hour of man-handling, you'll be surprised to just what degree of Bible yoga you can achieve with this glued-only binding. Makes it considerably easier to read.

I have the orange model (the color grows on you) and I've found a nice coat of carnauba wax makes the cover feel nicer to the touch and it resists soiling.


Biblica now lists a "premium edition" of TBOTB...
but it's not clear from the picture and description that it isn't just a different cover. Anyone seen one???

The sage ones are gone and the orange ones are selling for $4.50, so this might be just the next print run?

Sure would like to see this in a nicer binding!


Well I didn't buy a premium edition, but I did pick up a "The Books of the Bible New Testament", Biblica item 1801, which has the same cover style, so I'm assuming it has basically the same features as the Premium.

I was hoping it would be, like many NTs, a larger print version of the entire TBOTB, which I should have been able to figure out from the dimensions and the page count, was not going to be the case. So I was sort of set up for some disappointment anyway. In addition, the paper in the NT turns out to be off-white, which goes nicely with the brown cover, but is actually harder to read than the white paper of the early editions of the TBOTB that Mark has pictured at the top of this page. Additionally, this new paper has more of a newsprint feel to it, so if that's a feature of the "premium edition", it ain't very premium.

Again, assuming the Premium is like this NT, the binding is identical, still just a perfect-bind, i.e. tear-out scratch-pad binding. The cover is a glossy finish, less resistant to smudging than the old models, which was Skivertex, or something like that. (This is assuming you didn't use my carnauba wax trick posted above.) And to my neurons, the old cover just had a nicer tactile feel to it than this glossy stuff. So if you don't have a TBOTB, I'd sure urge you to get one before they possibly sell out of the old "nice white paper" editions. The orange one (#822) is a particularly good bargain right now at $4.50--just the cost of a visit to St. Arbuck's.

If you've never read from a Bible without versification or even chapter numbers please consider getting one of these. It's a wonderful reading experience. And I've grown to really dig their book ordering as well. Try it.

If only they had a truly premium edition! In the same order, I picked up one of Biblica's #802 TNIV Thinlines for the princely sum of $5. What an incredibly nice Bible for under $15, let alone $5! Smyth-sewn signatures, relatively luxurious TruTone-style cover in an elegant maroon...nice hinge... I tell ya' it breaks in nicer than a $50 Crossway ESV--all that's missing is page gilding. So why can't they bind the TBOTB like this???

Bob Z.

I just bought one of these and am very happy with it--it is so much easier to just sit down and read the Bible without verse numbers, footnotes, cross-references, and all that clutter. The newest version of this Bible is using the NIV 2011 rather than the TNIV, and while it is difficult to get a good look at the type in your picture, I think the newer ones might be using a different font. At least, comparing the samples given on Biblica's website, the newer ones seem to look better to me. This edition is being released as four volumes: Law, Prophets, Writing, and New Testament; only the New Testament is currently available.


@BobZ, although as a translation I find NIV11 pretty indistinguishable from TNIV, I agree the new setting is much more attractive. The font has more "serifs" and puts more ink on the page. Plus, comparing the two examples you allude to:


shows there's ~20% fewer words per line which I find considerably helps readability. Of course that means there's 20% more pages, 480 in the NT instead of the original 400, but if the newest Biblica approach is a 4-volume set, no one should complain of individual volume bulk.

It appears Zondervan will be releasing TruTone bindings of these (complete 66-book NIV11 canons) in early September as ISBNs 978-0310402466 and 978-0310402077. They're being advertised with 5% more pages (not 20%) than the blued paperbacks we're both used to, so the layout may not quite track the Biblica pdf above. However I'm hoping they'll be sewn as most of Zondervan's latest editions have been. Zondervan's implying they're the same "creative" book ordering as the Biblica originals, which I think is a huge marketing blunder, but I admire the adventurous spirit. I guess we'll see. Just hope the paper's not too thin or transparent.

If anyone can provide more details on the TBOTB project, either at Biblica or Zondervan, I'd love to hear more.


make that "glued" paperback
I have an orange and a black paperback, but not a blue one.


Biblica's halfway through the 4-volume set so it appears the project is going ahead. Both the NT (Vol 4) and OT History (Vol 1) are now out in NIV11 with what I consider improved typesetting. (Wish the margins were just a little larger.)

Zondervan's single-volume editions (ISBNs given in my 3/4 email) have now been delayed to Nov 6 per Amazon. The stated dimensions given there are weird to say the least. CBD shows an August 17 release; I've requested clarification.


Biblica's halfway through the 4-volume set so it appears the project is going ahead. Both the NT (Vol 4) and OT History (Vol 1) are now out in NIV11 with what I consider improved typesetting. (Wish the margins were just a little larger.)

Zondervan's single-volume editions (ISBNs given in my 3/4 email) have now been delayed to Nov 6 per Amazon. The stated dimensions given there are weird to say the least. CBD shows an August 17 release; I've requested clarification.


I just received a Zondervan brown TruTone, ISBN-13 = 978-0310402077 and am very pleasantly surprised. IT IS A SEWN BINDING. Not Layflat glued technology. It has a single ribbon marker but no page gilding. However the page corners are liberally rounded, which is a must in a durable volume. The inside cover pages are thin, cheap, construction paper, although a good coat of carnauba wax can strengthen these quite a bit. And I suspect the Trutone was the cheapest non-paper cover they could use. But the Chinese build quality is excellent. The puckering of the "hide" cover at the corners is absolute uniform and perfect. The stitching on the cover edges is perfectly straight and uniform.

I'm not a fan of TruTone. But this one has an interesting feature. Instead of being "buttery soft", it has an almost microscopic surface texturing that gives it an almost incredible non-slip sense in the hand when reading. I suspect it will not glide on and off a bookshelf very well either but I think this one's going to be out on the coffee table most of its life. (Hopefully it won't strip the varnish--I worry about that a bit with TruTone.)

And the paper is simply incredible by today's standards. It has the feel of old India rag paper. Incredibly thin, nearly 2000 pages (1000 sheets) in a 1-1/8" thick text block. Yeah, there's some bleed-through, but it's better than the Italian textblock in my Crossway Legacy, which has thicker paper to boot so should be expected to be more opaque.

Compared to the paperback TBOBs, this one has a more traditional serifs font so is even easier on the eyes. It's NIV-11, which is pretty much the same as the original TNIV version. If you like the original, but want an even better product, get the Zondervan TruTone.

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • Welcome to BibleDesignBlog.com, a site devoted to innovative design and quality Bible binding. Read the reviews, explore the extensive comments, and feel free to join in. The links in the righthand column give you access to all the reviews, every category (including rebinding projects and "eye candy"), and links to other sites that might interest you.
My Photo


  • 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.

Books by Bertrand

Bible Reviews