Paper too thin on ESV Bibles?

ESV Single Column Reference - Premium Calfskin LeatherFor 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


Stuart Hackett
Customer Service/Credit Representative
Good News Publishers/Crossway Books & Bibles

I hope this helps in your shopping decisions, especially if you are an ESV fan. (For good deals on ESV Bibles, try Amazon or Westminster Bookstore)

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

9 thoughts on “Paper too thin on ESV Bibles?

  1. Alex, the SCR is a great book! At this point I am using the Deluxe Heirloom Reference which uses 27lb paper as opposed to the 21lb paper on the SCR. I do however plan to switch to using the SCR. I think that I will use the red pigment liners in 005 for notes and the 01/02 for underlining. I do not see the paper as being too thin on the SCR and the bleed through in my opinion is not as annoying to me as it has been to others. If Crossway were to use the same paper as on the Deluxe Heirloom, the finished book would be over 2″ thick. I plan to write a full review of the SCR and a couple other ESV’s soon.


    jesus saenz

  2. Jesus, I look forward to your reviews;-)

    Mark: I love the WTS Bookstore and just received a new shipment of books from the WTS bookstore earlier this week! (It’s great how you guys take such care in cardboard/shrinkwrap packaging for shipping!) The thing is, I’m also planning on getting that Amazon Student Visa card, which would give me $30 credit for Amazon… which would make it even cheaper 🙂

    I’ll edit my post though for WTS though!

  3. I must admit I was given pause for a moment when I saw that you were getting book reviews from Jesus! (Then I saw the previous comment.)

    Thanks, Alex, for your kind words about our service. And can’t blame you for using the Amazon Visa card if that works out better for you.

  4. I know, Jesus, I recognized your name.

    You did indeed cause a stir when your Blog Partners request email arrived in our inbox. Our email program just displays the part of the email address before the @ sign, so I had great delight in telling my coworkers that Jesus apparently has a blog and wants to sign up for our program. For a moment I thought, “This will be bigger than when we signed up Tim Challies!”

  5. Alex, have you thought about making a “blank” Bible instead? I am in the process of constructing one, and I think it can be done reasonably cheaply. The method I’m using is the one pioneered by Tony Reinke. He takes you through all the steps and gives you options for steps you might not be able to duplicate on your own.

    Tony’s index with all the “blank” Bible posts can be read here. Enjoy!

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