Crossway ESV Reader's Bible with Slipcase

Crossway ESV Reader’s Bible with Slipcase

The ESV Reader’s Bible is a unique Bible designed to immerse the reader in Scripture “precisely as it was originally written–namely, as an unbroken narrative.” To achieve this, Crossway has removed chapter headings, verse numbers, cross-references, and footnotes. They did, however, keep chapter numbers but moved them to the margin. They also provide guide passages at the top of each page .

This is not your typical Bible. Typical Bibles look more like reference books than reading books, and unfortunately, as a result, many people use them as such. What undoubtedly started as an effort to ease navigation through a library of books has led us  to practice cherry picking and considering, as Gordon Fee describes it, “every verse a paragraph.” People look up verses now the way they look up definitions. The context of verses within passages, within books, within the whole of Scripture is often lost.

So here is a book that reads like a book. And I have to admit that even after falling in love with premium leather bindings, the hardcover binding of the ESV Reader’s Bible adds to the “this book is meant to be read like a book” effect. Its handy size is also very comfortable to hold.

28 CoverLet’s take a look at the details. The ESV Reader’s Bible comes with:

  • Cardboard slipcase (hardcover edition only)
  • Sewn binding
  • Trim size: 5-1/4″ x 7-3/4″
  • Presentation page
  • Single column paragraph format
  • 9 pt. font
  • Line matching
  • Words of Christ in black
  • Red accents for page numbers, guide passages, and chapter numbers
  • No verse numbers
  • 3 maps
  • 2 ribbons

Let’s start with those ribbons. Nobody ever starts with ribbons, right? Crossway takes a lot of hits on their ribbons, but these are quite nice. Long enough to swing out through the page edges, smooth satin, and well cut. Not very wide at 6 mm, but proportionally a good fit for the size of this Bible.

23 Ribbons


Crossway seems to be married to 9 point font these days. I tend to prefer a larger font, but the Reader’s Bible is typeset well, and I found the font size to be comfortably readable.

24 Open

31 Open


The Crossway Legacy is similar in format to the Reader’s Bible, but with a few more characters per line, and of course, chapter and verse numbers, notes and section headings:

Left, Legacy; right, Reader's

Left, Legacy (original, not Heirloom); right, Reader’s


The ESV Reader’s Bible is printed on Apple Thin Opaque 20lb, 30 gsm paper. J. Mark Bertrand tells us in his first review of the Reader’s Bible that this paper has 84% opacity. This surprised me as it seems to have significantly more ghosting than the Schuyler Quentel NASB, which has different paper but the same opacity. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that my ESV Reader’s Bible suffers not only from ghosting but also from bleed through. The ink literally bleeds through from the back of the page, leaving speckles on the front. Take a look:

Close up of bleed through.

Close up of bleed through.


The bleed through is particularly bad in this section of Matthew, but it does appear throughout the Bible in varying degrees. In my review of the Schuyler NKJV, I demonstrated how the black paper trick mitigates ghosting. Unfortunately, black paper doesn’t do much for bleed through. It’s better, but the ink is still visible.

16 Bleed Through

Black paper behind the page.


Mark told me that a flip through his Reader’s Bible did not reveal the same issue, so my copy may not be representative of the whole. If you have an ESV Reader’s Bible, please let me know in the comments if you have this type of bleed through. It is rather unfortunate. The ESV Reader’s Bible is meant to offer a smooth reading experience, and the speckled paper is a distraction to me. Otherwise, the format is wonderful for reading.

The 45 gsm paper in the Schuyler Quentel NASB also has 84% opacity, and here is how these Bibles compare:

Left, Quentel NASB; right, Reader's

Left, Quentel NASB; right, Reader’s


I took photos in 3 different settings while preparing this review. During one of those sessions, a little something odd occurred.

Page curling.

Page curling.

Page curling.

Page curling.

Page curling? In an ESV Reader’s Bible?! First I’d heard about it. These photos were taken in my church’s fellowship hall. I’ve used this Bible in our worship hall and read it at home. The fellowship hall is the only location that produced page curling. My pastor witnessed it and suggested that the radiant floor heat in the fellowship hall contributed to it. Something to add to the Great Page Curling debate.

Bottom line? Even with the bleed through and occasional page curling, I recommend the ESV Reader’s Bible for anyone who is interested in reading Scripture in an uninterrupted flow without the distractions of verse numbers, footnotes, and cross-references. The format really does make a difference here. Academically, I knew that it would. The experience was more than I’d expected. A book entitled Book that reads like a book. Imagine that!

34 Open


The Hardcover can be had for less than $20 at Amazon and CBD. It’s also available in TruTone for under $30. And if Crossway ever releases the ESV Reader’s Bible in a Genuine Leather or better cover, will carry it, too. (I work there. You know I had to link it. 😉 ) Leather over board would be lovely.



Quentel 006-001a

[Edited to add: this review was written before I started working for the publisher.]

When Schuyler first announced their plans for their new Quentel line of Bibles, and that they’d be starting with the New American Standard (NASB) translation, my heart went aflutter. If you’re an ESV or KJV reader, there is no shortage of high quality or premium editions to choose from. Not so with the NASB. So now there would be, not just a premium NASB, but one in a totally new format. Schuyler’s original line of Bibles (available in ESV, KJV, and NKJV) were re-printings of existing textblocks. Like taking your favorite Bible and improving the paper and binding. (I reviewed the Schuyler NKJV back in October.) The Quentel, on the other hand, is a totally new typesetting. 

The Quentel provides:

  • Goatskin covers with full leather lining
  • Perimeter stitching
  • 11 point font
  • Double column paragraph format
  • Line matching
  • 45 GSM Bible Paper (most opaque in the industry)
  • 6 x 9 trim size
  • 12 mm margins (approx 0.5″)
  • 45mm bulk (thickness) – approx. 1.75”
  • 4 x 1cm ribbons
  • Art-gilt edging with gilt line (gold line inside the cover)
  • 9mm yapp
  • Smyth sewn
  • Black letter text (chapter numbers, headers and page number in red)
  • More than 95,000 entry cross references
  • Concordance, 4,025 (20,000 Scripture references)
  • 6 presentation pages
  • 27 pages of extensive Oxford maps 

As J. Mark Bertrand has already written a very thorough review of this Bible at the Bible Design Blog, and as I am a co-admin of the Bible Design Blog’s Facebook page, it would seem rather redundant of me to even attempt to do the same, but let me tell you what I think of it as one very happy customer.

I saved up for this Bible for months. Premium quality comes with a premium price tag; there’s no getting around that. Much of the cost of the Quentel is related to the 45gsm paper that Schuyler chose. It’s the heaviest paper currently on the Bible market, and it makes a difference. That paper combined with line matching means less ghosting. Ghosting, that shadow that creeps onto the page from the text on the page behind, drives me batty. That’s the technical term. Ghosting on modern Bible paper is, unfortunately, a given, but it is greatly reduced in the Quentel.

Quentel 038-001a

Got ahead of myself there for a moment. Let’s start with the outside. The Quentel is available in Black, Dark Brown, Imperial Blue, and Firebrick Red. I purchased the Firebrick Red edition, and it is just as beautiful in real life as it appears in photos. Gorgeous! The leather liner is plum, a lovely contrast to the red. The cover is edge-lined with perimeter stitching for added durability. Page edges are red under gold art gilt. The only embellishment on the cover is a blind stamped Jerusalem cross that Schuyler has adopted as their logo. Simple and elegant.

Quentel 008-001a

The goatskin is flexible, but this is not a floppy Bible. The binding is strongly reinforced, which is necessary for a textblock this size. This thing is very solid; there’s no sense that it will flop out of your hands.

Inside, the typesetting is designed by 2K/Denmark and printed in the Netherlands by Jongbloed. The paper is 45gsm, super smooth, and that creamy white that Jongbloed is known for. It looks like it might be ever so slightly brighter than the other Jongbloeds I have (the Schuyler NKJV and TBS Windsor), but I couldn’t capture the difference in a photo. I thought I was just imagining it, but my pastor commented on it as well. I wonder if it is due simply to the increased opacity of the paper. The font is 11 point and crisp. Great for my bespectacled eyes. The red chapter numbers, page headers, and accents are striking only because we’re not used to seeing that in a Bible. They’re not at all distracting, however.

There were a couple of concerns I had when I ordered my Quentel. One was that there are so few words per line and that that might lead to eye fatigue as my eyes jumped line to line so quickly. Several hours into reading it already, and that hasn’t been a problem. Another concern is actually my own short-coming. I am very easily distracted. Remember “SQUIRREL!” from the movie UP? Yeah, that’s the family joke about me. There are so many translation notes and cross references in the NASB, that I sometimes struggle just reading a reference Bible. Every superscript is a call to the margin. Not so in the Quentel. The superscripts are completely unobtrusive; there when I want to refer to them, but not distracting. Placing the notes and cross references at the bottom of the page also makes for an uncluttered reading experience.

Quentel Full Page 

There was some concern among the Facebook Bible crowd and at the Bible Design Blog website that the binding would curve in with the spine when the Bible was opened flat. Mine does not do that; it curves away from the spine.

Quentel Spine Curve

Spine curve

Any drawbacks?

Let’s be honest: it’s big. ESV Study Bible big. This is a desk Bible or a curl up on the couch and read it on your lap Bible (my favorite method). You could also haul it to church and read it on your lap there. But big is the trade off you make for thicker paper and larger print. It’s worth it. It is heavy, but at 3lb, 5-7/8oz, it comes in at about 8-1/4oz lighter than this ESV Study Bible in TruTone:

Quentel 054-001a

Quentel 056-001a 

(Special thanks to my youngest son for allowing me to borrow his new ESV Study Bible in the interest of science.)

The concordance. I’m torn on the concordance. It’s beautiful, which is saying a lot for a concordance, but I do wonder how functional the red ink is when the font is so small. Fortunately, the superbly crisp print helps here. Also, fortunately, I don’t spend much time in the concordance.

Quentel Concordance


Overall, I am extremely pleased with this Bible. It is beautiful, well-made, and highly readable. What more could you ask for in a premium edition? If you’d like more information about Schuyler Bibles, this Quentel, and upcoming editions, please visit

Schuyler NKJV, top; Schuyler Quentel NASB, bottom

Schuyler NKJV, top; Schuyler Quentel NASB, bottom

Quentel 070-002a

A little fun. ;-)

A little fun. 😉

Several years ago, I hit the internet in search of a new Bible case. The first thing I learned was that most Bible cases can damage your Bible if you use them according to their design. (Don’t tuck your cover into those pockets. It puts pressure on the hinges of your Bible’s binding.)

The next thing I learned was that there is a world of better Bibles beyond what you’ll find at your local Christian bookstore. I stumbled upon The Bible Design Blog and got lost for days.



One of those better Bibles is published by Schuyler.

Schuyler NKJV in black Cantara goatskin.

Schuyler NKJV in black Cantara goatskin.

Schuyler NKJV 120-001a

The Schuyler NKJV is actually a reprinting of Nelson’s Single Column edition in paragraph format. Only better. The Schuyler presentation, printed and bound in the Netherlands by Jongbloed, includes:

  • Edge-lined Cantara goatskin cover with perimeter stitching
  • Smyth-sewn binding
  • Red under gold art-gilt page edges
  • 3 ribbon markers
  • 32 gsm paper
  • Words of Christ in black
  • Several Bible reading plans
  • Concordance
  • Maps

Before we get into more photos, the copy of the Bible I received for review lacks the art gilt page edges, so they are white. Any Schuyler Bible you purchase will have the art gilt.

Unlike Bibles you’ll find at a typical bookstore, the Schuyler cover reveals the natural grain of the leather; it is not pressed. This means each cover is unique, and it also improves its flexibility. The polyurethane lining, though not leather, still allows for a very flexible cover.

Schuyler NKJV 181-003a

Can your Bible do yoga? 😉

Schuyler NKJV 128-001a

There are 8 pages at the beginning for presentation and family records, and 8 full color maps at the back. Schuyler also includes 16 blank pages between the concordance and maps.

The page layout is my favorite feature of this Bible: large print (10.5 pt. bold) with generous line-spacing, single column paragraph. You open it up, and it says, “Read me.” It looks like a book you’d want to curl up with, not reference material. Very inviting. To give the text even more room to breathe, Schuyler widened Nelson’s inner margin. The text doesn’t get anywhere near the gutter when you’re reading this Bible.

Single column paragraph format.

Single column paragraph format.

You may have noticed the lack of cross references. This is not a reference Bible, but it does place the translation notes that the NKJV is known for at the bottom of the page.

Jongbloed used the smooth, creamy paper they are known for with a weight of 32 gsm. This is heavier paper than you’ll find in most Bibles, but it is still thin. Thin paper is a necessity when you’re printing a 1,808 page book you expect people to carry around with them, but it does have its drawbacks. Remember, this was originally a Nelson textblock. Unfortunately, Nelson did not use a new printing technique known as line matching. Line matching means that the lines of text on each side of the page are in the same space. They match. This minimizes any “ghosting” on the page, where text from the back side of the page will show through to the front. Sometimes, ghosting will show through for 2 or 3 pages.

Interestingly enough, there are many pages in this Bible that do have line matching. It seems, however, that the matching gets thrown off by any chapter headings. Here is an example of how this looks in the Schuyler:

No line matching vs. line matching.

Up close.

Up close.

Note that the page on the right has line matching, but the page on the left does not. The page without line matching looks like it has shadows or gray boxes around the text. The page on the right is clearer and easier to read. (Pardon my iffy photography skills.) This level of ghosting is unfortunate in what is otherwise an excellent reader.

There is a simple remedy for ghosting if you have a Bible without line matching, and that is to slip a piece of black paper behind the page you are reading. The shadows will disappear.

Without black paper:

Schuyler NKJV2 008-001a

With black paper:

Schuyler NKJV2 010-001a

If you’re in the market for a NKJV, and ghosting doesn’t bother you, the Schuyler is a lovely Bible. If ghosting is an issue for you, you could try the black paper trick. The Schuyler NKJV is available for purchase, in black and brown goatskin, through  for $185.

Have you read your Bible today? 🙂

Schuyler NKJV 149-002a