I decided to peruse a copy of the Genuine Leather (GL; not the more recent Genuine Cowhide Leather) edition of the HCSB Minister’s Bible at a local Christian bookstore the other day, and I was pleasantly surprised by what I discovered. The “genuine leather” was quite pleasant to the touch; I would easily say that this is the best unspecified “genuine leather” I’ve seen on a Bible in the last decade. Compared to most of the cardboardish, stiff GL Bibles out there today, the leather was quite supple, flexible, and attractive–with slightly raised hubs on the tastefully decorated spine making for an aesthetically pleasing overall package. It’s not premium leather, mind you. But it’s nicer than some of the Cambridge French Morocco Bibles I’ve handled, and I’d say it’s only a notch down (if that) from the very nice cowhide on Nelson’s special brown cowhide KJV Study Bible that just came out. In fact, it seems to bear a resemblance to the “hand finished morocco” used on the KJV Holman Legacy Bible that J. Mark Bertrand raved about some time ago, seen here:
This leads me to two quick observations and one question for everyone out there.
Observation 1) If you’re looking to buy a copy of the HCSB Minister’s Bible, unless you absolutely have to have the latest text edition (the GL version does not have the most recent updates), you should really give this one a look. The imitation leather version feels tacky, is unattractive, and costs about the same as what you will pay for the GL if you buy it through vendors on Amazon (or more). And, while the cowhide edition is certainly nicer and is reasonably priced, the GL is still cheaper than the cowide and a great value. Besides, while the GL isn’t as flexible as the cowhide, it’s still quite supple, and this is one of those Bibles where a bit of rigidity is advantageous. This is a single column Bible with wide margins made precisely for preaching and teaching. So, if the cover is too floppy the purpose is defeated; half of the single column text, not to mention your sermon notes written in the margin, will droop down and out of view every time you pick the Bible up. This is the kind of Bible you need to lay flat when you walk around with it, and the GL has just enough “structure” to serve the purpose.
All in all, this GL is a good buy, and it would serve as a great “Pastor Appreciation Day” gift for Pastors who use the HCSB.
Observation 2) Why aren’t there more high quality Genuine Leather Bibles like this on the market these days? I am glad to see all of the beautiful, high-end Bibles in cowhide, calfskin, and goatskin., but current genuine leather editions are just awful–I’ve handled some old bonded leather Bibles that feel better and more durable than today’s genuine leather. Has the industry fudged their standards, such that they are allowed to amalgamate their leather with other by-products and still call it “genuine leather?”
In any event, I’m a big proponent of encouraging churchgoers to own a Bible that will hold up well and is aesthetically pleasing, and I wish there were some more affordable options out there. Let’s face it, those of us who are enthusiasts might save up and bargain hunt for a nice calfskin edition, but most people just can’t see themselves plunking down a full $200 MSRP (hint: *never* pay MSRP) for the rare calfskin edition on the shelf at the local Christian bookstore. If Holman can produce a more affordable edition like this that is still nice, why can’t we see more Bibles like this?
And the Parting Question: So, I’m curious to know–do any of you out there own a fairly nice genuine leather edition of a Bible out there? Any older Bibles out there labelled “genuine leather” that would put today’s GL Bibles to shame? Or, are there any recent, high quality GL Bibles that are exceptional? I’d love to know about them!