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March 04, 2008


Brian in Fresno

It is a real shame this project didn't turn out better. I'm a little surprised the with the reputation Paul Sawyer seems to have that he let this one go. I would have thought the cover not laying flat would have been a dead giveaway.

Michael Swoveland

Now that I have had my Sawyer rebind for a month or so, I'll offer a few comments on Matt's along with impressions on mine a month on:

1. I am still in awe of the Nigerian goatskin, it looks great and the feel is just amazing. I would not consider a rebind in any other leather. Mine has a very fine grain to it, Matt's seems to have a bit more coarse grain (that is a little more pleasing to my eye). Sawyer seems to use thicker boards under the leather, while the leather itself is very supple, the boards have something of a springy quality that makes the covers a little more stiff. That said, I read mine (almost) every day and it has grown more flexible during this first month. It looks like Matt has a smaller Bible than mine and I am sure that makes quite a difference as well.

2. From looking at the photos above of Matt's Bible open, his spine looks very tight. If it started as a glued spine that was sewn at Sawyer's that could explain the problem. Paul mentioned that mine was already sewn into very small autographs, so he did not need to do anything in that respect. I notice an unusual bend in Matt's spine that suggests to me that it is sewn very tight, my guess it that is what makes his covers stick up when the Bible is closed.

3. I love the look and feel of the silk endpapers, but have noticed that the silk does fray ever so slightly and you get very fine threads at the edge.

Overall I am very pleased with mine, if I had it to do over again there are only one or two minor points I would change. I do not believe I could have achieved just the look I was after from anyone other than Paul Sawyer However, when you opt for the rich feel of this thick goatskin you do give up some flexibility. This is not as much an issue with a larger Bible like mine, but I can see where a small Bible might be too stiff. I think Mark's point about starting with a sewn binding is critical, the smaller the autographs the better.

My advice: If you are going for a specific look, which in my case was an antique, hand bound Bible, consider using Paul Sawyer. If on the other hand you care more about having a super-flexible cover, you might want to look at other binders or at the very least talk with Paul about flexibility in advance.

Bob Burns

What was it about the original genuine leather binding on the ESV Wide-margin Bible you did not like in the first place that made you opt for a rebind? I've not read a thoroughging review of the ESV wide-margin that touches on those issues.

Bob Burns
San Francisco

Mark (the other one)

The reward of a nicely done rebinding job must be deeply satisfying. At the same time, the risk looks high, even with binderies that have a top notch reputation.

Thanks to the courageous among us who make this a great site from which to learn.


The reason this "rebind" did not go well is because you can't churn excellence from something that's not bound well in the first place. When books have glue "paperback" type bindings there are no joins, cut off or otherwise. There are no signatures in glue bound books. It's one page stacked on top of another until the book is done and then glued. The pages are measured, printed and cut to be glued. In order for a book to have signatures (i.e. several sheets of paper folded and sewn in the middle) the printer has to print the pages in such a way as to make this possible. In other words "glued binding" printing is sort of like your printer at home. It's a one page at a time sort of thing on a much larger scale. Thus when sewing a glued binding it will inevitably wind up tight because it was never designed to be sewn in the first place. That's why in my opinion it isn't, and never will be, worth the money to rebind a glue bound book. Look at the top of the bible you're thinking about purchasing. Does it have a straight line or something that looks like tiny hills? You may have to pull the headband back a little to tell. The straight line is glued. The "hills" are sewn and this is the type that can be and is worth being rebound to your particular likings. All of this is one reason I get a wee bit ticked at publishers who charge 60 or 70 dollars for bibles that are basically glorified paperbacks (not to mention printing issues). For that amount of money there should be no reason for a bible not to be sewn. Thanks and I hope this helps.


Bob- the reason I opted for the rebind was because the genuine leather was cardboard like and would not aways lay down flat. The ESV wide margin rebind I did with mechling turned out great and was a world apart from the genuine leather.

Shaun- I understand what you are saying...I agree. Although eventhough this rebinding turned out tight, the rebinding I did with mechling using the say edition turned out great and is VERY flexible. That is why I figured it was something with the actual rebinding. The bible was more flexible before I sent it off to Sawyer.

patrick thatcher

where I can buy some cowhide leather covers that will slip over new bonded leather or hardback bibles and look almost as a leather bond bible...maybe 100 patrickt777@hotmail.com

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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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