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ESV Bibles Enhanced and Upgraded for Kindle

Over the past three and a half years Crossway has been pleased to meet its readers on the ever-growing Kindle platform with the ESV Bible (free), the ESV Study Bible, and now the ESV Student Study Bible. The Kindle hardware and software continues to improve, which has pushed us to re-think how to present our feature-rich Bibles in the simplest and most straightforward way possible. Note: some advanced features will only work on the Kindle 2 or Kindle 3 hardware.

Recent updates and changes:

  • All maps and illustrations are now in color (if using the Kindle app on a color-enabled device).
  • We have provided a list of charts, maps, diagrams, and illustrations in the table of contents to facilitate access to our content.
  • We have added cross-reference entries.
  • We have added our concordance with direct access to each entry.

How to update to the latest ESV for Kindle?

If you have already downloaded a copy of the ESV from Crossway for Kindle, you will need to contact Amazon’s customer service to request an update. Or, if Amazon has already contacted you by e-mail with information on the new update, follow their instructions. While there are tremendous benefits to updating, one downside is that your notes and highlights will be erased. Whenever an eBook is updated by the publisher on the Kindle platform, notes and highlights are reset and are un-retrievable.

Accessing Study Notes and Footnotes:

All study notes and footnotes in the ESV Bible, Kindle Edition, are represented as links. Use your Kindle’s 5-Way Controller to select and activate a link, and use the BACK button to return to the Bible text.

  • The dagger icon (†) links to a study note about one particular verse.
  • The double dagger icon (‡) links to a study note about a group of verses.
  • A number inside brackets ([1]) links to a footnote.
  • A superscript letter (a) links to a cross-reference list.

Direct Access to Any Concordance Entry:

  • Press the MENU button.
  • Select Index.
  • Type c followed by .. (two periods), then the desired concordance entry. (example: c..atonement)
  • Press Enter (↲).

Direct Access to Any Verse:

You can use Kindle’s index feature to navigate directly to any verse you choose. This feature is not available on the Kindle 1 or any Kindle applications.

To gain direct access to any verse in the ESV Bible:

  • Press the MENU button.
  • Select Index.
  • Type the two- or three-character abbreviation for the desired book, followed by a space. Use the exact book abbreviations below.
  • Type the chapter number, followed by a space, and the verse number. For the five books that have only one chapter (Obadiah, Philemon, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude), leave off the chapter number.
  • Press Enter (↲).

To navigate to the beginning of any chapter, leave off the verse number. To access the first chapter of any book, you need to type only the abbreviation.


  1. To go to Matthew 28:19, press MENU, select Index, type mt 28 19, and press Enter.
  2. For 2 John 8, press MENU, select Index, type 2jn 8, and press Enter.
  3. To go to the book of Luke, press MENU, select Index, type lk, and press Enter.

Abbreviations for Direct Access:

Old Testament
Book Abbrev. Book Abbrev.
Genesis ge Ecclesiastes ec
Exodus ex Song of Solomon so
Leviticus le Isaiah is
Numbers nu Jeremiah je
Deuteronomy de Lamentations la
Joshua jos Ezekiel eze
Judges jdg Daniel da
Ruth ru Hosea ho
1 Samuel 1sa Joel joe
2 Samuel 2sa Amos am
1 Kings 1ki Obadiah ob
2 Kings 2ki Jonah jon
1 Chronicles 1ch Micah mic
2 Chronicles 2ch Nahum na
Ezra ezr Habakkuk hab
Nehemiah ne Zephaniah zep
Esther es Haggai hag
Job job Zechariah zec
Psalms ps Malachi mal
Proverbs pr
New Testament
Book Abbrev. Book Abbrev.
Matthew mt 1 Timothy 1ti
Mark mk 2 Timothy 2ti
Luke lk Titus ti
John jn Philemon phm
Acts ac Hebrews heb
Romans ro James jam
1 Corinthians 1co 1 Peter 1pe
2 Corinthians 2co 2 Peter 2pe
Galatians ga 1 John 1jn
Ephesians eph 2 John 2jn
Philippians php 3 John 3jn
Colossians col Jude jud
1 Thessalonians 1th Revelation rev
2 Thessalonians 2th
September 9, 2011 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Bible News,Digital News,E-Books,News,Uncategorized | Author: admin @ 12:44 pm | (59) Comments »


  1. I don’t think just deleting the book and reloading it will give you the new version. In the past, Amazon has sent an email out asking the user to authorize the replacement of the current book with the updated version. You can also call Kindle support to have the change made.

    Comment by Ralph — September 9, 2011 @ 1:43 pm

  2. Will there be an update for the .epub version? I have been using the Nook Color for several months now.

    Comment by Matt Pierce — September 9, 2011 @ 1:53 pm

  3. Thanks for the update! I’m excited to get full-color on my iPad.

    Comment by Caroline — September 9, 2011 @ 3:25 pm

  4. Ralph, great observation. We’ve updated the post.

    Comment by Andrew Tebbe — September 9, 2011 @ 3:52 pm

  5. Will these features be available on the iPod/iPhone/iPad ESV Bible app in the near future?

    Comment by Caleb Allen — September 9, 2011 @ 5:09 pm

  6. Love that you guys released a free version. I love it and use it. However, have you considered changing the in-text headings to a smaller font? Compared to the biblical text the in-text headings are huge to the point of almost being a bit ridiculous. A simple bold would be easy enough to see for reference and wouldn’t be as distracting.

    Comment by Rich — September 9, 2011 @ 6:08 pm

  7. I have only a week ago downloaded the Kindle for PC version. The footnote links do not work. Will this upgrade solve that? From the notes at the end of the book the links back to the passage do work but not in the direction that one really needs it to work: from passage to note.

    Otherwise I love that this is available and free!

    Comment by mel — September 10, 2011 @ 6:12 am

  8. Is the ESV Study Bible updated too? I have that on my kindle app for iPad.

    Comment by Curtis Martin — September 10, 2011 @ 5:50 pm

  9. I called Amazon and they pushed the update to my Kindle. Love the new concordance feature — thanks for giving us the new version for free!!

    Comment by Caroline — September 12, 2011 @ 8:06 am

  10. Mel, we’re aware of the problem and are working with Amazon to fix it. Thanks for your patience!

    Comment by Andrew Tebbe — September 12, 2011 @ 4:30 pm

  11. Curtis, the ESV Study Bible has been recently updated.

    Comment by Andrew Tebbe — September 12, 2011 @ 4:32 pm

  12. We’re sorry if anyone was not receiving updates from Amazon. There seemed to be some confusion on their part, but we’ve cleared it up and it should work fine at this point.

    Comment by Andrew Tebbe — September 20, 2011 @ 4:01 pm

  13. I used the online Amazon Kindle support CHAT app on their web page to get the updated ESVSB. I also asked for the updated ESV plain Bible and the ESV MacArthur Study Bible updates, but they said there were none.

    This page does not make clear which ESV kindle is updated beyond the Study Bible.

    Is the MacArthur ESV SB and the plain ESV 2011 text available yet?

    Comment by Jonathan Bach — September 21, 2011 @ 1:54 pm

  14. I’ve talked with Kindle Support twice and they cannot tell me how to get this new version. Any ideas anyone?

    Comment by Russ — September 22, 2011 @ 5:44 pm

  15. Is the 2011 text available in Kindle yet for anything beyond the ESV Study Bible? The free ESV text-only Kindle?

    Comment by Jonathan Bach — October 28, 2011 @ 1:53 pm

  16. Is it possible to download the new version while keeping the old version (to avoid losing my own notes)?

    I’d be willing to pay for it again.

    Comment by Richard — November 23, 2011 @ 4:42 pm

  17. I have the Kindle Fire and just downloaded the ESV Student Study Bible. I printed your “Enhanced and Upgraded for Kindle” instructions, but they refer to an “Index” button. I cannot locate it. I’m trying to get to the Concordance Entry (Menu, Index, type c..antonement, Enter)I tried to use the search button for the Index, but it didn’t work.
    Also tried the “Direct Access to Any Verse” (Menu, Index, typed mk 3) No luck without knowing the Kindle Fire “Index” button.
    I couldn’t find anything on the Kindle Support page either.
    Can you help me?

    Comment by Melissa — December 2, 2011 @ 2:00 am

  18. Melissa, unfortunately, the Index or “Direct Access to Any Verse” option is not available for the Kindle Fire at this time. The Fire does not support this feature, however the touch screen should allow readers to move around quickly using the menu, table of contents, and links within the text. We would encourage readers to reach out to Amazon customer service if this is an important feature that they would like to see included in the Fire capabilities.

    Comment by Andrew Tebbe — December 2, 2011 @ 3:40 pm

  19. With the Kindle Touch I have the same experience as Melissa (17), no index button.

    Comment by Paul — December 20, 2011 @ 8:06 pm

  20. Paul, we’re aware of the problem and are working with Amazon to develop a solution. Sorry for the inconvenience!

    Comment by Andrew Tebbe — December 21, 2011 @ 7:28 am

  21. I’m using a kindle keyboard with the ESVSB and the direct search/link to the concordance doesn’t work. If I go to index and enter c..atonement, for example as directed, it takes me to colossians.
    I have deleted and re downloaded but to no avail.

    Any suggestions?

    Comment by Jules — December 26, 2011 @ 5:53 am

  22. I just got the Kindle Touch and returned the fire because of not having the index. My Kindle Touch has the index “button” but is still not indexed after being up for about 4 hours. Is this normal or is indexing still a problem? I can wait for the fix if it’s just temporary, otherwise, I’m just going to go back to the paper version and return my Kindle. Thanks for your help Andrew!

    Comment by CathyV — December 29, 2011 @ 6:37 pm

  23. Jules and Cathy, I’m following up on both your questions, but since we’re in the holiday season it might be a couple days before I can get a definitive answer. I’ll post replies to comments as soon as I hear back. Thanks for your patience!

    Comment by Andrew Tebbe — December 30, 2011 @ 8:46 am

  24. Well, it looks like I’ve “figured” it out. I don’t necessarily like the way it’s laid out but it works. I have to hit menu, then go to index, then search indexed items and then I can find my scripture verses. It takes a little longer, but then again typing for me is easier on the touch than the keyboard or fire….so it’s a win/lose situation I suppose. Thanks for the awesome searchable Bible to begin with. I wish more developers would come out with Bibles like this.

    Comment by CathyV — December 30, 2011 @ 12:10 pm

  25. Cathy, I was just about to respond with instructions, but it seems you’ve figured it out. We’ll continue working with Amazon to improve the functionality of our Bible products on Kindle. Hope you enjoy the Kindle Touch!

    Comment by Andrew Tebbe — January 3, 2012 @ 7:04 am

  26. Jules, to ensure that you have the most updated file, please contact Amazon customer service to request the most recent file. Once you receive the file, try the concordance again. This should resolve the issue. Please let us know if this does not fix the problem.

    Comment by Andrew Tebbe — January 3, 2012 @ 7:05 am

  27. I have the Kindle Touch, I can get to the index but when I try to search it keeps saying it’s not indexed yet. I’ve had the Bible since early December so I would think it would’ve indexed by now? I just deleted it from my library and downloaded it again to see if it would fix the problem…it hasn’t. I’m not sure what to do.

    Comment by Teann — January 7, 2012 @ 2:05 am

  28. Teann, Unfortunately, on the new Kindle Touch device, the indexing feature is not as easy to use as the previous Kindle device. Instructions for using the index feature on the Kindle Touch are included in the updated file available from Amazon. Please contact Amazon customer service to request the new file.

    Comment by Andrew Tebbe — January 9, 2012 @ 8:35 am

  29. Today I contacted Amazon customer service about getting the updated ESV study Bible for my Kindle Keyboard, so that I would have the cross-reference and concordance features made available by Crossway in Sept 2011. I already received the direct access verse navigation update in March 2011 and am pleased with that improvement. Amazon “pushed” what they said was their latest version of the ESV study Bible to my Kindle, but the newly downloaded version lacked cross-references and the concordance. I called back and tried a second download, with no success. I see from these comments that some customers are successful in getting the new features from the Amazon downloads. Do you have any suggestions for what I should do next?

    Comment by Martha — March 26, 2012 @ 5:02 pm

  30. Martha,

    I’m sorry to hear about your troubles downloading the updated ESV Study Bible for kindle. A number of people have had some difficulty getting the updated file from Amazon. I’m afraid this is something they have to do on their end, however. So I would recommend trying again. If you still have no luck, let me know and we’ll see if we can figure something out. Hope that helps!

    Comment by Andrew Tebbe — March 27, 2012 @ 9:39 am

  31. Thanks for suggesting I try again with Amazon customer service to get the updated version for the ESV study Bible. The phone call took over an hour and included much trial and error, but once a Kindle technical specialist came on the line, the problem was solved fairly quickly. Here is the solution: After the old version of the ESV study Bible was deleted from my device and the updated version was downloaded to my device by Amazon, I had to restart my Kindle by going to Home>Menu>Settings>Restart. (I should note that restarting by sliding and holding the power switch to the right for twenty seconds did not work in my case.) The ESV study Bible that then showed up in my home directory had the indicator “new” next to it, and it contained the cross references and concordance that I was seeking. The Kindle specialist said I could have done the same thing without calling customer service (delete old version from device, download new version from my Kindle library on Amazon, restart device), although I have not verified this.
    I hope this will be helpful to other customers who are having similar trouble.

    Comment by Martha — March 27, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

  32. Martha, this is hugely helpful! I’m glad you finally got it all sorted out, and am sorry it took you so long. Thank you very much for detailing the process here. I’m sure it will be really helpful for others in the future, and for us to have as a reference!

    Comment by Andrew Tebbe — March 27, 2012 @ 3:05 pm

  33. Just a suggestion for how to make the kindle touch easier to navigate: When you click ‘Go To’ it brings up the book (e.g. Genesis) and then below that lists each subsequent chapter so it looks kind of like this:

    Genesis 1
    Genesis 2
    Genesis 3
    (and so on)

    If it were to have:

    Without all the chapters listed that would make it much easier to get to books of the Bible, similar to the iPhone app. The HCSB for kindle does this well, if you were looking for ideas.

    Thanks again for a great (free!) Bible translation!

    Comment by Nathan — May 1, 2012 @ 12:49 pm

  34. Nathan, thanks for the suggestions. I’m not completely familiar with the ins and outs of ebook formatting, but I’ve passed your comments on to our ebook team. Thanks again!

    Comment by Andrew Tebbe — May 1, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

  35. Nathan, I’ve just been told that we’re releasing an update later this week that will address just that issue. It should be available for update from Amazon within a couple weeks.

    Comment by Andrew Tebbe — May 1, 2012 @ 3:07 pm

  36. Will the new update also address an easier way to navigate to the Index? I would love it if even one step could be removed…..Instead of having to say “go to index”, then click “search index”….either just “search index” directly from book….or when you choose “go to index”, then “search index” is already selected. I hope so!!!!! :)

    Comment by CathyV — May 1, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

  37. Cathy, I’m not sure if what you’re describing above will be included in the new update or not. We’re continually looking to improve our ebook editions, so if it’s not included in this update it’s certainly something we’ll look into for the future. That said, we are often limited by what the Kindle format allows.

    Comment by Andrew Tebbe — May 2, 2012 @ 8:50 am

  38. Dear Andrew,
    Is there a way to contact somebody from your ebook team, who can help me with a short hint or an example how to develop the index feature when assembling an ebook? I tried and like this and found especially useful for bibles, but can not find any description about it, not even in the amazon publishing documents.
    I am working on a Kindle version of a bible on my native language, and I can put all the other features into it except the index. So I would appreciate any help. Thanks.

    Comment by Istvan — May 9, 2012 @ 1:50 pm

  39. Istvan, thanks for your comment and your work in getting the Bible published digitally in other languages! Unfortunately, I’m afraid I don’t have the knowledge to answer your question—our ebooks and their indices are processed and converted by another company.

    That being said, try searching Google with “creating indices for ebooks.” It looked like there may have been some helpful tutorials in the search results.

    Comment by Ted Cockle — May 9, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

  40. Hi,

    I have a problem on the iPad Kindle app accessing a footnote on a word that also contains a xref. It does not seem to differentiate between the two. For example (from Gen 32:2):

    u 1

    If I try to access footnote 1, it selects the entire words, and takes me to xref ‘u’. I have not been able to figure out how to make it select the footnote. Any suggestions? Thanks.

    Comment by Scott Cranston — May 10, 2012 @ 12:09 pm

  41. Scott, I just replicated the problem on my iPhone Kindle app. This is a problem with the Kindle format itself (i.e. the same problem doesn’t occur with epub files). I’ve passed it on to our digital team to see if they have any ideas. In the mean time, I’m afraid all I can suggest is to navigate to the next footnote and to check it that way. I know that’s not a great solution, so if I hear anything I’ll be sure to pass it on!

    Comment by Andrew Tebbe — May 10, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

  42. Scott, I just heard back from our digital team. The problem lies on Amazon’s end, and we’ve already made Amazon aware of it. They suggested you contact Amazon customer service to give them a customer’s perspective (might speed things along a bit!).

    Comment by Andrew Tebbe — May 10, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

  43. On my Kindle Touch I updated on 5/8. I wish I never did that!! I do not like AT ALL the new way the ESV has to get to a book or verse. Way too many steps and too time consuming. By the time I barely get the stuff typed in the passage has already been read. I like the old way that was just a couple steps. The new way is much more difficult and time consuming, some update!!! I so wish I had never updated or there is a way to go back to the old way. Even the directions there are given on this page are incorrect. A step is left out. I had to google it and find out the proper way. Bad information does not help!

    Comment by Sue — May 11, 2012 @ 8:07 am

  44. Sue, I’m sorry to hear about your displeasure over the new Kindle upgrade. As Amazon’s Kindle format continues to evolve I’m afraid we need to release updates to our files to stay current with their system. I know this recent update fixed some other issues but I realize navigation may not be optimal. I’m forwarding your comments on to our digital team.

    Comment by Andrew Tebbe — May 14, 2012 @ 10:31 am

  45. Today I purchased an ESV MacArthur Study Bible for my Kindle Fire. I can’t seem to get “Direct access to any verse” I press the MENU button, but I don’t see anywhere to select index. All there is on the menu is “Cover”, “Table of Contents”, “Beginning”, “Location . . .”, “Sync to furthest Page”, “Book Extras”, and “my notes & marks”
    Also the maps are only gray and blue. Is that what you consider colored? How do I know what version I have. Did I download an older version?

    Comment by Gayle — May 15, 2012 @ 8:06 pm

  46. Gayle, yes, the Kindle Fire has had problems with some navigation issues. We’re aware of the problems and have been in contact with Amazon to work through them, but at this point I’m afraid the ball’s in their court to sort it out on the software end. The maps in the interior of the MacArthur Study Bible are duotone (gray and blue), but there should be full-color maps in the back.

    Comment by Andrew Tebbe — May 16, 2012 @ 11:15 am

  47. Be very careful with this new version! If you have notes, highlights, and bookmarks in the old version, the new one will obliterate them. I found out the hard way. Tons of notes and bookmarks gone. If you do not want to lose your work stick with the old version! There is absolutely no warning that this will happen. It just offers to update, and when you do everything is lost. I spoke with Amazon customer service and there’s nothing they can do to restore what was lost once you update. I’m not at all happy about this. Just keep this in mind before you click the update button.

    Comment by DJ — June 3, 2012 @ 10:24 pm

  48. DJ (comment #47) — all your notes and highlights are saved in the My Clippings text file on your Kindle. If you copy that to your computer, you can save your notes. I know it’s a bummer if they aren’t in your Kindle file anymore, but they are not lost completely.

    Comment by Caroline — June 4, 2012 @ 10:04 am

  49. Is the Kindle version available on Amazon United Kingdom similarly updated? When using ‘Click to look inside’ it appears to lack the cross-references and concordance. If it is not yet updated, do you know when it will be please?

    Comment by James — June 10, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

  50. James,

    Thanks for your question. The file should be updated across the board despite the out of date sample. I’ll open a ticket straight away to have Amazon fix that. Thanks for your excitement about the ESV, and please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any further questions!


    Comment by Ted Cockle — June 11, 2012 @ 11:52 am

  51. Has the navigation (for searching verses) on the Kindle Touch been fixed? I just got the Kindle today and would love to purchase the ESV Study Bible assuming the navigation is more user friendly compared to what I’ve heard. As soon as I learn that it’s been fixed, I won’t hesitate to purchase.

    Thanks and God bless.

    Comment by Aaron — July 26, 2012 @ 8:40 pm

  52. i’m reading this article on my own kindle, incredibly excellent article

    Comment by tablet — September 11, 2012 @ 6:05 am

  53. I purchased the ESV Student Study Bible for my Toshiba Excite. But I’m not seeing the Index underneath the menu. Is there a way to tell what version we have, to know if it’s the latest? i.e. I would feel more confident arguing with Amazon if I knew I had version 1.5 when they can push me 2.0. I’m not 100% sure the missing Index button has to do with my tablet.

    Comment by Scott — October 1, 2012 @ 12:18 pm

  54. Navigation in the current (late 2012) 2nd gen kindle fire is non existent. There is only a goto which gives a fully expanded table of contents listing thousands of items. This is totally useless for study purposes. Please post compatibility warnings on Amazon and/or fix the problem.

    Comment by Dennis — December 10, 2012 @ 1:44 pm

  55. Andrew,

    On the Kindle Touch reader, you can’t look-up a definition of a word in the ESV Study Bible that has a super-script (letter for list of references) in front of the word. For example, if “a” is the super-script in front of the word “building” then the Kindle thinks the word is “abuilding” and can’t find the definition. This isn’t a big issue but just wanted to point out a problem in case it can be fixed by your digital team in the next release.

    Comment by Tim — January 6, 2013 @ 4:38 pm

  56. I am extremely inspired along with your writing talents as neatly as with the layout in your weblog. Is that this a paid subject matter or did you customize it yourself? Either way stay up the excellent high quality writing, it is rare to look a great blog like this one these days..

    Comment by kindle fire review — January 28, 2013 @ 10:11 am

  57. I don’t quite understand how you find the 2 John chapters of the bible as well as the others. Why isn’t it there like all the rest of the bible?

    Comment by Vicky Ficker — February 2, 2013 @ 5:40 am

  58. A great enhancement would be adding the chapter jumps that some books have: clicking the left and right arrows jumping by chapters!

    Comment by Arley — October 6, 2013 @ 3:54 pm

  59. I was at church this morning and when to go to 2 Tim 1:8. I can no longer jump to a verse/chapter. I can only to a location of 407639 or less.

    Why the change? Why no announcement. Without the ability to go to a book chapter verse the program has lost a great deal of its ability to help us worship.

    Comment by GREG Q — March 16, 2014 @ 4:31 pm

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