For a while now, I have been planning to purchase the ESV Single Column Reference Bible in the Premium Calfskin Leather. It is a superb Bible that lies plump flat when you open it, with large fonts, wide margins, a single-column layout with full cross-referencing, where every verse (of the updated 2007 ESV text) starts on a new line. It is the ideal Bible that I want for teaching/preaching due to its large, single-column text which makes finding a verse quickly very easily.
(Check out a review of the ESV Single Column Reference here. A great alternative to ESV’s SCR Premium Calfskin is the Allan’s Reference ESV, reviewed in its Tan Highland Goatskin and Black Highland Goatskin; do note that the Allan’s is not SCR but has the Classic Reference layout, is the old 2001 ESV text, British-ized, and is uber expensive with the current exchange rate!)
The only downside to the ESV Single Column Reference is the thickness of the paper for making notes/underlining/etc. — the paper is very thin, too thin actually for intensive notetaking (as reported by numerous customers online).
I have a pocket ESV and a Classic Thinline, and recently just received the ESV Literary Study Bible, and can testify that this is a big issue for me — the text on the other side of a page is seen and your pen markings can easily bleed through to the other side. Even when I use these new Staedtler pigment liner pens that use archival ink, bleeding cannot be avoided, though I try hard not to keep my fancy pigment pens on the Bible pages long. For this reason, I contacted the ESV publisher, Crossway Bibles, recently to voice my concern.
Here is the email response I received from Crossway (emphasis mine):
Dear Alex S. Leung,
Thank you for taking the time to express your disappointment with the paper quality of our ESV Bibles, and specifically our Single Column Reference Bible.
We do not have any immediate plans to publish the Single Column Reference Bible with thicker paper than the editions that are currently available. Single column formatting, as you may know, dramatically increases the number of pages in a Bible (mostly due to the poetry sections, where each line of poetry takes up an entire line of paper space). In order to keep the Single Column Reference Bible from being too thick, we used a relatively thin paper in it.
Some folks have informed us that they would appreciate having thicker paper in these Bibles regardless of the size implications. Please be assured that we take all feedback from Bible readers very seriously. What you have said is important to us, and it will be given due consideration.
In the meantime, it may interest you to know that our blog recently linked to another blog post where a gentleman discusses the use of archival quality pens in Bibles, which among other things seems to reduce bleedthrough. This post may be accessed at http://www.esv.org/blog/2007/10/pens.write.bible
Customer Service/Credit Representative
Good News Publishers/Crossway Books & Bibles
To see the original email I sent to Crossway, click here:
From: Alex S. Leung
Sent: Wednesday, October 24, 2007 8:56 PM
Subject: ESV Single Column Reference
I am inquiring about the ESV Single Column Reference Bible, and am particularly concerned about how the paper is too thin in it. I am planning on purchasing the Premium Calfskin Leather edition of this Bible, and want the paper to be thick enough to write notes in the margins, underline/highlight text, etc. without bleeding through. From my research online and in Lifeway Stores, I have found that many current owners find that this is a major setback for this great Bible and have verified these claims personally by checking the Bible in store.
Be that as it may, I beseech thee to print these Bibles on thicker, heavier paper!
I currently own an ESV Compact TruTone & Classic Thinline Bonded Leather. I am happy with the Bibles, but both also have this same ink-bleeding-through-page issue also when I write on the pages.
I hope you are hearing this demand from your customers! I look forward to your response & any information on how long before new paper can be expected in these Bibles.
Grace and peace,
Alex S. Leung