Choosing the Right Bible Cover Material

A Crash Course in Cover Materials for Bibles

Let’s face it: there are a lot of options when it comes to choosing a Bible, and one of the more puzzling factors is how one cover material differs from another. We hope this crash course on Bible cover material will help you the next time you’re looking for a Bible for yourself or as a gift.

ESV Bible Cover Options

1. Paperback

2. Hardcover

3. Imitation Leather

4. TruTone

5. TruFlat (available 2015)

  • Offers a middle road between TruTone and paperback; it’s thinner than TruTone, but more durable than paper
  • Can be heat burnished, stamped
  • Example: ESV Holy Bible, Value Edition

6. Cloth over Board

  • A thin cloth material is stretched over a durable board
  • Opportunity for creative designs
  • Example: ESV Reader's Bible

7. TruTone over Board

  • The TruTone material is stretched over a durable board
  • Opportunity for creative designs
  • Example: The Psalms, ESV

8. Bonded Leather

9. Genuine Leather

10. Top Grain Leather

  • Hide that has not been sanded, buffed, or snuffed to remove imperfections (or natural marks) on the surface of the hide. The grain remains, allowing fiber strength and durability.
  • Opens flat right out of the box
  • Edge-lined binding
  • Example: ESV Large Print Thinline Reference Bible

11. Calfskin

  • Soft texture
  • Durable
  • Opens flat right out of the box
  • Edge-lined binding
  • Example: ESV Study Bible

12. Goatskin

  • More pronounced grain than calfskin
  • Highly durable
  • Opens flat right out of the box
  • Edge-lined binding
  • Example: ESV Heirloom Thinline Bible

Matching a Cover with the Typesetting

You may be wondering how Crossway decides what cover options to offer for a particular line of Bibles. Each Bible edition we publish is designed to serve a specific purpose, so it follows that the cover should match the purpose of that Bible.

For example, the ESV Economy Bible is designed for bulk distribution and is the most affordable ESV edition (less than $3.00 per Bible). It wouldn’t make sense to produce this value edition with a high-end calfskin cover, thus driving up the retail price.

Representing the other end of the spectrum, the ESV Heirloom Single Column Legacy was designed with premium materials to last a lifetime. The premium goatskin cover is designed to protect the Bible over the course of many years, giving owners the chance to pass along the Bible to future generations. Thus, a paperback version of the Heirloom Single Column Legacy would contradict it’s very purpose and design.

How Do I Choose?

In order to answer this, you might as yourself these two important questions:

1. What is my price range?

  • The 12 options above range from cheapest to most expensive

2. How do I want to use the Bible edition?

  • Do I plan on engraving it?
    • TruTone, genuine Leather, bonded leather, and top grain leather do well with foil stamping
    • TruTone covers do well with heat stamp/burnish
  • Will I be traveling with it?
    • Hardcover, TruTone over board, or cloth over board editions would be more durable than a paperback cover
    • Hardcover editions keep the book block more rigid which can lead to fewer bent pages

Final Considerations

1. Younger readers may be best served by a hardcover edition

  • Hardcovers tend to be more lightweight and therefore easier to hold
  • Hardcovers protect the binding from day-to-day wear and tear

2. Did you know that TruTone covers come with a lifetime guarantee?

3. Cloth Over Board editions have many advantages

4. Consider investing in a high-end cover material

  • High-end leather (top grain leather, calfskin, goatskin) covers will last a lifetime
  • Crossway offers a lifetime guarantee on all leather editions

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