Choosing the Right Bible Cover Material

What’s the Difference?

Bibles come in a variety of options and at various price points. In many cases, the price of an edition is determined in part by the cover material used for its binding. We hope this crash course on Bible cover material will help you decipher the differences and inform your decisions on which is right for you.

ESV Bible Cover Options

1. Paperback

2. Press Grain Paperback

3. Hardcover

4. Imitation Leather

5. TruTone

  • Made of soft, flexible synthetic material
  • Comes in a vast array of creative designs
  • Backed with a lifetime guarantee
  • Example: ESV Study Bible

6. TruFlat

  • At a price point between TruTone and paperback; this is thinner than TruTone, but more durable than paperback
  • Can be heat burnished or stamped with a design

7. Cloth over Board

  • A thin cloth material stretched over a durable board
  • Comes in a variety of fabrics and colors
  • Example: ESV Reader's Bible

8. TruTone over Board

  • The TruTone material is stretched over a durable board
  • Comes in a variety of designs
  • Example: The Psalms, ESV

9. Bonded Leather

10. Genuine Leather

11. Top Grain Leather

  • Leather hide has not been sanded, buffed, or snuffed to remove natural imperfections. The result is both supple and durable.
  • Lay-flat binding
  • Edge-lined binding
  • Backed with a lifetime guarantee
  • Example: ESV Large Print Thinline Reference Bible

12. Natural Leather

Durable material that softens with time and ages well
Has a more unfinished, matte appearance
Backed with a lifetime guarantee
Example: ESV Single Column Journaling Bible, Brown, Natural Leather, Flap with Strap

13. Calfskin

  • Soft texture
  • Durable
  • Lay-flat binding
  • Edge-lined binding
  • Backed with a lifetime guarantee

14. Goatskin

  • More pronounced grain than calfskin
  • Highly durable
  • Lay-flat binding
  • Edge-lined binding
  • Backed with a lifetime guarantee
  • Example: ESV Heirloom Thinline Bible

Matching a Cover with the Typesetting

Each Bible edition we publish is designed to serve a specific purpose, so cover options produced for each line of Bibles 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).

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. 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 consider the following things:

  • Cost (options above range from least to most expensive)
  • Intended use (will you be travelling with it or will it remain on a shelf?)
  • Durability (do you intend to keep your edition for many years?) Read about our lifetime guarantee and return policy here.
  • Gift options (will you want to engrave it? TruTone, bonded leather, and top grain leather can all be either or heat stamped)
  • Weight
  • Design (TruTone and Cloth over Board editions tend to come in more cover designs)

Related Resources


Crossway is a not-for-profit Christian ministry that exists solely for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel through publishing gospel-centered, Bible-centered content. Learn more or donate today at crossway.org/about.