ESV Cambridge Clarion Update: What’s the Deal with the Page Curling? And other Questions . . .

Curling Clarion Page Edges

It seems that the edges of the pages tend to curl inward on many (but not most) copies of the ESV Clarion Reference Bible. The issue has decreased with use for me, but it took a while and never went away 100%.

As promised, I have contacted the good people at Cambridge about pages that have a tendency to curl and about the initial run of text blocks that were discontinued in the UK. I have received a helpful and detailed response, and here is the short version:

A quick snap of the page curling from a slightly different angle.

A quick snap of the page curling from a slightly different angle.

1) Will Cambridge replace my Bible with a new one if I don’t like the way the pages curl?  The short answer: No.  Although the tendency of pages to curl at the edges has been commented upon frequently enough by owners of the ESV Clarion to warrant some attention of both Cambridge and their printer, it is not a defect for several reasons (it does not impair reading, thin Bible paper is susceptible to such things normally, there was no failure in the printing process that produced it, it is thought to diminish with use, etc.).  Therefore, It is *not* true that Cambridge counts this as a defect and will replace every copy with another Bible from a second run upon request.  Moreover, not all Bibles were affected; in fact, I get the impression that customer feedback seems to indicate that most Bibles were not affected.

2) So, what’s the deal with the first print-run of Bibles in the UK?  The answer to this question was a bit more complex.  Evidently, Cambridge was informed about the 2011 ESV text revisions late in the typesetting process when page numbers were already fixed and this resulted in some last minute scrambling resulting in a typographical error and having some effect on line matching.  There was no “recall,” but the distribution was stopped once the typo was discovered–within days.  Very, very few of these Bibles made it into circulation anyway, and those were only sold in the UK, not via Baker in the US.  The typo was corrected–which accounted for the delay in distribution that some people have described as a “recall”–and no ESV Clarion Bibles purchased today through Cambridge in the UK or Baker in the USA will have the typo.

3) So, how’s the line matching on the ESV Clarion?  Line-matching refers to the way that some Bibles are printed so that the lines on each page match up with the lines on the back of the page to cut down on bleed through and enhance clarity.  Potential ESV Cambridge Clarion customers commenting in several forums say that they want to know how well this has been executed in the ESV Clarion.  For my part, I’ve not found the line matching to be problematic on my ESV Clarion, which I have used quite a bit (although I’ll return to this question in a future post reviewing the new NKJV Clarion).  Nevertheless, Cambridge has been ever vigilant in looking for ways to make a good thing better.  So, for the second printing, the inter-line spacing has been adjusted and therefore the line matching will be improved.  I’m not sure when that second printing will be.

Also, the gentleman I corresponded with asked that I summarize our correspondence in my own words, rather than simply directly quoting him at length; it is best if Cambridge reps can avoid getting directly entangled in the quagmire of trying to explain complex and sometimes confusing publishing issues via the blogosphere.  This makes sense to me, and I totally understand where he is coming from.  So, dear internet interlocutors, it would probably be best if you do not directly cut-and-paste lengthy e-mails from publishers in general, and certainly from Cambridge in specific, unless you have explicit permission from a representative to do so.

I am very grateful to the Cambridge representative who took the time to respond to these questions.  I hope that this has been helpful for those of you who are wondering.

On the agenda:
I have recently received a review copy of the black calf-split NKJV Clarion Reference Bible from the good people at Baker.  I am really excited to tell you what I think about this Bible, so I plan to post a review in the next week or so.  Also, Some aeons ago, I set out to write a two part review of the personal size KJV New Cambridge Paragraph Bible bound by Lego in Black Calfskin.  So far, I have only published the first part of that two part review.  I plan to finish the second part of the review soon.

About hjimkeener

Education: B.A.: Moody Bible Institute GCTS: Knox Theological Seminary M.Div.: Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Ph.D.: Baylor University Ministry Experience: I have served as a Youth Minister, Associate Pastor of English Ministry, and a pulpit supply preacher. Teaching Experience: In addition to teaching in various volunteer and professional ministry settings, I have taught as a University Professor (Teaching Fellow; Baylor University) and as a Seminary Professor (El Seminario de la Iglesia Presbiteriana de Bolivia). I have also given lectures and sermons in Spanish.
This entry was posted in Bible Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to ESV Cambridge Clarion Update: What’s the Deal with the Page Curling? And other Questions . . .

  1. David Dewey (UK) says:

    I have one of the first Clarion ESVs made available in the UK before the recall, and certainly the pages do curl somewhat. How can I check to see if it is one of those with a typographical fault, as it has never been made clear what exactly three fault was?

    • hjimkeener says:

      David–I’ll see what information I can round up for you.

      • David Dewey (UK) says:

        Hi again. Yes, I have one of the misprinted Clarion ESVs, with Old in Ex 34:1. I think I shall keep it for its curiosity value. . But it is hard to think this one misprint caused all the fuss. Also, as there is no change from earlier editor in this verse, I can’t why the update was the cause of the problem. Thanks

      • hjimkeener says:

        Glad we could be of help :0)

  2. Richard says:

    David–check Exodus 34:1. I have one of these misprint ESV Clarions in Calfsplit (purchased from a UK bookseller) and “Lord” is misspelled “Lod.”

  3. shawn k says:

    I might buy the NKJV Clarion today. Are you digging it so far?

  4. David Dewey (UK) says:

    A problem with all printed ESVs is the limited concordance. The Classic and Study Bible editions have a 14,000-word entry concordance; other editions, Clarion included, have even shorter concordances. My NIV reference Bible has a 35,000-word concordance, and I have an old RSV with 23,000 entries. I know with the availability of electronic Biblest there are other options when it comes to locating references to particular words, but I would still like to see a printed ESV with a much better concordance. I notice the ESV-for-Kindle has a concordance with a far higher number of entries. I wonder what people think: whether there is a demand for a printed ESV with a better built-in concordance?

    • hjimkeener says:

      Interesting point, David. I find the concordance on the ESV to be sufficient for my purposes, usually, and it seems comparable to what I would typically expect. But then, it all depends on what you use a concordance for and how important it is to you.

  5. Pingback: Back in . . . Black: The NKJV Cambridge Clarion Reference Bible in Black Calf Split Leather | For His Lovingkindness is Everlasting.

  6. Steve says:

    I am really disappointed that Cambridge will not replace my ESV Clarion. Though the print is of good quality, the functionality has been affected. For example, if I have it open to the curled areas isolated between Psalms and Isaiah, just the small breeze of someone walking by will curl the page up into the gutter. If I happen to close the book without checking to see if there’s a rolled up page then it folds up. It’s simply a mess. And it has not diminished with use. I’ve never seen this in ANY Bible I’ve ever owned. For the amount we pay for these Bibles I would expect it to be free of such oddities.

  7. hjimkeener says:

    You make a good case, Steve, but I can see Cambridge’s point of view on this, too. I will say that, while I had the same experience as you describe for quite a while, my problems did, in fact, pretty much go away over time.

  8. Jacob says:

    Have you found out yet they’re coming out with the second printing of the Cambridge edition?

  9. Frank says:

    Baker/Cambridge was kind enough to replace both my ESV Clarion and my NKJV Clarion. Each of them had the page curl problem (the ESV worse than the NKJV). I did not want another ESV so they sent me an NASB instead. The replacement NKJV still has a slight page curl problem. I have a love/hate relationship with that Bible. I have put it in its box and put it on the bookshelf many times, only to get it down again, later. Now, I mostly just use the Schuyler NKJV – waiting for a better quality NKJV to be produced by anyone!!

  10. Steve says:

    I sent mine back to Baker and asked in emails and an enclosed letter if they could replace it with a second print copy. They sent me a replacement and it had the exact same problem. I emailed them back and they said they have no way of knowing what printing it is. It turns out that (where I first bought it) confirmed that they do have the second printing. They are going to exchange it, so we’ll see how it turns out…

  11. Norm says:

    After reading your article I’ve concluded that the page curling is basically the result of thin paper, which in time will somehow correct itself? And, since Cambridge does not view the page curling as a defect they apparently have no intention of making any improvements? If you don’t mind me asking, what would be the adverse effects of printing a Clarion using the same paper that is found in the BCP/KJV Heritage Edition? Other than being a little thicker I really don’t see any downside and I would actually purchase a Clarion with the 45gsm paper. Being both editions are similar in size and page count I really don’t understand why no one has compared these two editions side by side, it seems like a no-brainer to me. Wouldn’t this simple solution solve the problems with page curling and also the issue with single column text and opacity?

    • Adam says:

      Hi Norm
      I’m afraid I can’t agree with you about the ESV page curling. It is a problem that happens on a very particular section of the text block (as a previous contributor mentioned) – around Isaiah and some psalms. I have had 2 ESV Clarions now since they were first printed and the problem has not diminished IN THE SLIGHTEST. Most of the bible is fine, but these sections seem eternally determined to curl at the slightest encouragement!! 😉 I’ve actually given up on the Clarion because of this.

  12. Norm says:

    Since I don’t own either edition I just discovered there’s a 300 page difference between the Heritage BCP/KJV and the Clarion, so I assume whatever 300 additional pages would add to the thickness of the BCP/KJV Heritage would be equivalent to the same thickness as a potential Clarion using the same 45gsm paper.

  13. Norm says:

    Hey Adam,
    It’s not me your in disagreement with, but Cambridge. Jim’s article states Cambridge does not view the page curling as a defect, so therefore I just assumed they will not attempt any improvements. I was merely attempting to understand the logic of Cambridge’s stance on the page curling issue, so I listed my statements with a question mark. If it’s not a defect or a discrepancy as stated by Cambridge, then why the anomaly as you mentioned with the paper? I do have bibles with thin paper, but with no excessive page curling. However, Jim the author quotes a Cambridge Representative mentioning thin paper being susceptible to page curling, but not a defect or a printing mishap. In my opinion it either must be a bad run of paper from the manufacturer, sort of like a bad run of copper tubing for an AC system, if too thin in certain areas once pressurized holes will develop and then leaks. Maybe the paper is thinner over certain sections than others, or maybe the paper has been effected by heat, I really don’t know. Personally I do not own a Clarion, however I did purchase one for a niece who’s away at college. I offered up the idea of Cambridge doing a print run of Clarions with 45gsm paper as a solution to the page curling. I’ve estimated the overall thickness of a Clarion with this paper too be approximately 2 1/4″, which would be fine with me, but since thin is apparently the current market standard, I’m not holding my breath.

    Cambridge quotes: “It is not a defect for several reasons , thin Bible paper is susceptible to such things normally, there was no failure in the printing process that produced it, it is thought to diminish with use, etc.). Moreover, not all Bibles were affected” .

  14. Steve says:

    Is the page curling just a problem with the ESV Clarion or all – NASB, NKJV? I’m interested in the ESV. Do you think it is a problem with ESV Clarion’s purchased now or just the first run a couple years ago? Or maybe they are still sell the same batch. Also, have you found that the page curling does go away with time and use?

    • Steve says:


      I can confirm both ESV and NASB have it. The ESV has a big section in the middle and some in the NT where curling is extreme, and mild everywhere else. I had the first printing for a year and the curling did not go away. The second print ESV is actually worse.
      The NASB is not nearly as bad and noticeable only once in awhile when there is a marked change in humidity — I haven’t quite figured it out yet, but I think it may also serve as a barometer 🙂 It has become my everyday bible since I have moved away from the ESV.
      It’s a flaw in the paper that Cambridge/Baker/the printer, whoever, will not address. If you decide to order one keep in mind that you cannot return it to Baker/Cambridge for the curling “feature”, as they do not recognize it as a defect.


      • Steve says:

        Thanks Steve. That’s interesting that Cambridge has done another printing and would end up with same issue. I’ve never had that on any other bible.

  15. Norm says:

    Someone smarter than me will have to put all of this together, but here’s a couple of articles that may cover the problem with the page curling in the Clarion. One is very short and the other is in-depth.

  16. Norm says:

    Here’s another link with a much shorter possible explanation:

  17. Garrell says:

    Just purchased a Cambridge Clarion ESV. I could win the gold at the Olympics with this curling. It curls at every page no matter where I open it- table of contents, Job, Psalms, James, even the concordance curls. However, I will continue to read it and see if it cures over the next few weeks.

  18. norm says:

    What little I know about printing and paper and based upon what little I have read I wonder if the issue with page curling is the result of Cross Grain Printing?
    Quote taken from an article Accounting For Paper Grain,
    “Books bound cross-grain will cause text and cover sheets to move in different directions, resulting in waviness and a weaker overall product.”

  19. hjimkeener says:

    So, here’s a brief update on my experience, fwiw: The curling on my ESV Clarion has gone away altogether. The NKJV, however, didn’t seem to have much curling at all at first, but I read it for a bit and the pages actually began to curl over time. Go figure.
    Judging by the comments in this thread, it’s starting to seem as though the curling issue is quite common with the Clarions.
    Norm–thanks for kicking around the internet to scare up some explanation for us.

  20. Steve says:

    You mentioned Cambridge was going to address improving the line matching for the ESV Clarion on a seconding print edition. Is there anyway to determine if this has happened yet 2 years later? I would think so but maybe second prints don’t take place this soon. If it has would it indicate second inside cover? Didn’t want to order another until I know it is the right one. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s