Well, my first “FIRST LOOK” post of the ESV-CE mahogany bonded leather mysteriously disappeared so I am going to re-post the photos I took with a few comments. In sum, I think this is a great bible. I love the size, feel, and look of it. It meets a need that I have always had for a thinline bible, even though it isn’t labeled as a “thinline” edition. It is pretty darn close to what I have wanted in my “ideal bible.” This bible opens up flat, has a sewn binding, and contains all the same text, references, and maps as found in last year’s first offerings from the Augustine Institute. The dimensions are 9.25 X 6, with a thickness of a little over 1 inch. While the cover is clearly bonded leather, I will say that it has a very nice feel and texture to it. The paper is not thick, but the printing is bold. Over the past couple days I have had no issue reading from it in various settings and lighting.

It seems to me that the Augustine Institute is fully committed to producing well-made, beautiful, yet useful editions of their bible. With hopes of reference, premium, and even study bibles coming soon in the ESV-CE, now is the time to consider showing your support for the work the Augustine Institute is doing. I am saying this as one who has not always been a fan of the ESV translation. I also did not receive this edition for free from the Augustine Institute in order that I create a positive review for it. This ESV-CE mahogany bonded leather bible is just a really great bible. I will be using it daily for study and teaching. It will be sitting next to my favorite reading bible (MSGCE) for the foreseeable future.

Enjoy the photos, I am happy to answer any questions:

42 thoughts on “FIRST LOOK: ESV-CE Bonded Leather (Mahogany)”

  1. Tim,

    On your original post I had commented and asked about the quality of the bonded leather (including making a snarky remark about “quality” and “bonded leather” being incompatible words), but it seems you think the bonded leather is of a higher quality than usual. Is that true? It certainly looks nice judging by the photos. Maybe it’ll last. I did wonder if it’s stiff like typical bonded leather.

    After they made the prices more reasonable, I broke down and purchased the hardcover edition (I had told myself I’d never buy a bonded leather bible again). I have to say, this is a very beautiful bible, even in hardcover. The quality is exceptional, and I agree with your assessment. I almost wish I had ordered the bonded leather edition after seeing your post and photos. But, on the other hand, the hardcover edition is so nice, too, that I’m happy with it, and only paid $30 as opposed to $65.

    They fixed the glaring typo on the Foreword and lowered the prices. I still think the bonded leather’s a little more expensive than it could be, but overall, I have to say they’ve knocked it out of the park and I look forward to (hopefully) premium leather editions and study Bibles in the future. For all the snakry comments I’ve made about this, I repent in dust and ashes! (Sort of. I still wonder if they had the good sense to pay attention to the comments on Marc’s original post and lowered the prices due to the complaints!)

    Thanks for your post, Tim.

    1. Leighton,

      As you know, I am not a big fan of bonded leather bibles. I am pretty confident that most will not last the test of time, say 20 years or more. I have seen people who have loving read their bonded leather bibles for many years, but they have to put them in a bible cover/case or they use rubber-bands to keep them together. So, I am suspicious, in general, of the durability of bonded leather. That being said, I think the Augustine Institute did a really nice job with this one. Bonded leather is bonded leather, so there is no way of getting around it. But it does have a nice feel to it….as much as bonded leather can. It is easily the nicest bonded leather bible I have. The key with this bible, at least for me, is that it is sewn and looks to be constructed quite well. Perhaps it will last a while. It should last until more high quality editions come out in future years. But who know, may be I will like this one so much that I won’t consider getting a premium. I still don’t think it should cost $65. Somewhere in the $40-45 range seems right. But I do get that they are just starting out and hopefully these purchases will help support any future editions.

      1. Tim,

        Thanks so much for the thoughtful response. I take it to heart because I do know your appreciation for quality.

        Hopefully, as you say, the Augustune Institute will be able to provide a premium leather option at some point. In the meantime, they’re doing really good work.

    2. Thanks Tim for your post. I’m glad to hear it went beyond your expectations! It does look beautiful. The price on the bonded leather is still a bit too much right now for me, a poor graduate student. But I might come back someday, especially if the price goes down. If I do, I will definitely go for the mahogany like you did!

      And thanks Leighton for mentioning how you liked the hardcover. Since they cut the price down to $30, I went ahead and bought the hardcover with the design I liked. Excited to see it and compare it to my Ignatius RSV2CE hardcover!

      1. Alfredo,

        I bet you won’t be disappointed. I’m very impressed with the quality of the hardcover. It’s the nicest hardcover bible I own. I love the color (beautiful blue) and design on the front. I, too, really appreciate that it’s so thin. It fits easily in my computer bag. As Tim mentioned, the font is dark and easy to read. And the sewn binding seems super solid. I couldn’t believe I received it the day after I ordered it, even using their cheapest shipping option.

        I have an RSVCE2 (the bonded leather one with the gold design on the cover) that I had rebound in premium leather by Leonard’s some years ago. I like that there are mini-introductions and a few notes scattered throughout. But the ESVCE sounds better to my ear so I think this will be my primary reading bible. I’ll likely use it for catechesis,, as well.

  2. I’m impressed by how thin it is versus the other Bibles shown. Do you have an Ignatius RSV-2CE (bonded leather edition) to compare it to? That’s the thinnest Catholic Bible I’m aware of, but this new ESV-CE looks significantly thinner.

  3. Surly Hermit,

    I have an RSV2CE (which I had rebound) and did compare it to. The ESVCE is about 1/4 inch small length. The width is ever so slightly smaller than the RSV2CE as well.

    1. Sorry, missed a few words there, a reminder to not post at 4:30 in the morning. Surly, it is smaller all around by about 1/4 of an inch. The width is every so slightly smaller. Hope that helps.

      1. Very helpful, thanks. Having spent time with both translations now, I for one wouldn’t mind seeing the ESV-CE eclipse the RSV-2CE in popularity – and I think that’s a very real possibility with the number of new editions and formats being released.

        1. It’s a real (and a most likely) probably that the ESV-CE will eclipse the RSV-2CE in popularity for two very important reasons: 1) the Indian Catholic Lectionary will be based on it and 2) the England, Wales and Scotland Catholic Lectionaries will be based on it.

          Those two reasons alone should almost certainly guarantee that the ESV-CE will become more popular than the RSV-2CE.

          1. That’s true. RSV-2CE lectionaries do exist but are only used by a few very small dioceses – the Anglican Ordinariates, primarily. (They seem married to the RSV-2CE for some reason, apparently that’s the translation used in their upcoming divine office books.)

  4. I would also like to comment that I appreciate both the box it came in and the letter from Dr. Gray is a nice touch. Little things like this help to make it clear that they are serious about their aims for the ESV-CE.

  5. I think its great they are making nicer versions of this. I purchased the paperback some months ago and like it. The one design flaw I see on this one is that the spine is very busy and redundant. It doesn’t need to say ESV Catholic Version and English Standard Version Catholic Edition.

    1. I kind of wonder if there’s some reason that it does! Maybe “ESV Catholic Edition” with the ESV logo was required by Crossway for some reason as a description of the brand, and “English Standard Version Catholic Edition” is required for some reason as a description of the text itself. Notice, for example, that Crossway themselves seem to publish their bibles with a lot of “busy-ness” on the spine. In fact, Augustine Institute is basically following their exact format (although admittedly, the addition of “Catholic Edition” makes it slightly more cramped): https://evangelicalbible.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/IMG_4658.jpg

      I suspect the Augustine Institute realized this problem but had to do it this way. Either way, I actually like it as it is, because like I mentioned somewhere keeping the format very close to an actual Crossway copy of the ESV makes this feel like me and my evangelical friends who are doing a bible study together really are using the same bible.

  6. I looked at the hardcover in person yesterday, side-by-side to the original.

    The text-block looked identical. Of the two, I actually slightly preferred the original slipcased paperback…

    1. Too bad the WoF Bible uses the NRSV, an inclusive language translation. So I’d only be interested in the extra-biblical apparatus.

  7. Using the atc edition and it actually looks like it with the ghosting, font size and layout since both editions dimensions are similar, if not same. I think Augustine institute is using the same design standards as them. Only noticble differences are the gold edges, might be better cover design and paper, they advertise it as anti-coated paper on their site.

  8. How does the hardcover compare to the bonded version? Does The Augustine Institute plan on releasing a single column format? As a graphic artist, I’m drawn to different typographical treatments. I’m sure it drives some folks crazy :). Single column is much cleaner and more pleasing to my eyes. I think the various Sheed and Ward releases in the 40s and 50s had that in mind. Regardless, I’m very interested in this translation… looking forward to receiving my ESC-CE hardcover soon.

    1. Eric,

      I do know they plan more editions in the future, but I don’t know which ones. I would love a single-column ESV-CE. I will often read from my Knox and MSGCE just because of that format.

    2. I would love a single-column format, I’d buy that right away!

      Also, I got my hardcover ESV-CE in the mail today. I love it! It is very similar in size to the Ignatius RSV2CE hardcover, but a good deal thinner.

      It arrived quite promptly. Ordered on Friday morning and got here by today (Wednesday).

        1. Tim, if you don’t mind me asking, did you use the free shipping? I broke down and ordered the bonded leather one and it shipped a week ago, on 9/21 but there’s still no tracking available, even though I was given a tracking number. Was that how it was for you? I contacted the CM but no response yet. I’m probably going to call CM tomorrow but thought I’d see what your experience was.

          1. Just wanted to follow up: I contacted CM and and a kind gentleman helped me out. If I recall, the free shipping is media mail (or something like it) and may take longer than those of us who most often use two-day shipping are used to. After more than a week following it being sent out of the CM warehouse, my package was still not in the mail system, so I (wrongly) assumed it had gotten lost. Though I was looking forward to it, I wasn’t as concerned about the length of time of delivery— I do have other bibles, after all— as I was that it had gotten lost or damaged; I mistakenly thought that if a tracking number showed “Label Created,” etc. for over a week with absolutely no progress, it meant the package must lost in the void (that *has* happened to me before). Soon after I spoke to the man at CM, the package suddenly appeared on the grid and showed movement.

            So… my suggestion to anyone who wants their ESVCE Bible sooner than later is to spend the extra $8 for FedEx Ground. Otherwise, the free shipping they offer for orders over $50 may take a little longer to arrive— but it is free, after all.

          2. Leighton,

            Sorry I didn’t see this comment. I ordered it via FedEx as you mentioned in another comment. It only took 3 business days. I would use FedEx in the future when ordering through CM.

  9. Thank you Timothy,
    I appreciate it. Sounds like Augustine has some irons in the fire. One can hope a single column is in the works :). Thank you.

  10. If the powers that be at Augustine Press are reading this, I hope they include a more portable full bible in the future. I own a ESV that approximately is 6 3×4 by 4 3×4 by 1. I see an ESV thin line on Amazon that is 5.38 x 1.17 x 8.38 inches. I realize that this is a little smaller than the current edition but it would make a big difference in terms of portability. Something between those two in terms of volume would be ideal.

    1. Devin, all my “portable” bibles are located inside my Kindle Paperwhite. Nothing beats a Kindle for portability. 🙂

        1. In regards to eye strain, a Kindle Paperwhite is far easier on one’s eyes than trying to read a “travel” bible in an 8-point, 7-point (or smaller) sized font.

          For a reader edition bibles, a Kindle Paperwhite is nearly perfect: easy to read, easy to carry, easy to keep track where you left off. Where Kindle’s usually fall short is when one is trying to read a well-annotated study bible on them. Large study bibles usually don’t format well into easy to navigate and easy to read e-books.

  11. Can you tell any difference in paper quality between the paperback and bonded leather editions? One of my chief disappointments with the paperback was the remarkably cheap feeling paper in it.

  12. Anyone remember the leather shop and bindery that Tim would send his bibles to for some nice supple goatskin?

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