Since first receiving my ESV Clarion Reference Bible last summer, I’ve come to love this Bible, and it has even become my main, go-to English Bible for most purposes. I am excited to have a chance to review one of the latest additions to the Clarion Reference Bible line–the NKJV in black calf-split . I think I have an idea of some of the questions that people thinking of investing in this Bible might be wondering, so I’ll focus this review on answering those questions:
How is the calfsplit leather?
On the whole, I really like this cover, more than I expected to. It has a nice leather scent to it out of the box, and it appears to be thicker and sturdier than its slightly pricier cousin, the brown calfskin. Cambridge situates their calfsplit option between calfskin and french morocco in quality but, honestly, I almost prefer it over the thinner calfskin on the ESV Clarion and KJV NCPB. The downside is that the calfsplit is much, much more stiff, as the pictures below show.
As a result, this question is impossible for me to fully answer right now because of the way that stiff Cambridge leather casings have a tendency to loosen up with time and break in beautifully, the way other leather products built to last tend to do (think: leather construction boots or the baseball mitt that eventually conforms to the exact shape of your hand). I imagine (but can’t know for sure) that the calfsplit leather will break in beautifully.
If this is the case, then I would probably rank the calfsplit casing edition as the preferred option of the Clarion Reference Bible, all things considered. The goatskin edition, which is certainly much nicer, I’m sure, and much more flexible given that it is the only edge-lined option, retails for a full $90 more than the calf split option. In my opinion, that’s a big chunk of change, especially when you are tacking that $90 onto an already hefty Cambridge price-tag, where even imitation leather copies don’t come cheap. The calf split leather may not be on a par with the goatskin, but it is leagues better than the “genuine leather” Bibles you are going to find in most bookstores. For the price, this may be the best option.
Does anyone out there have any extensive experience with one of these calf split Bibles from Cambridge? If so, please share below how well it broke in (or didn’t).
What about the page-curling?
The short answer is: I really didn’t see any, or at least nothing comparable to the widely reported issues with the ESV Clarion.
How is the line-matching?
Again, line-matching is where the lines on each side of a page match up, and this tends to make reading easier because it cuts down on ghosting (or bleed through). As I recently reported, Cambridge has detected some less than perfect line matching on their ESV Clarion and intends to make it better with the next print run. It’s important to know how well executed the line matching is because it is a big part of what is supposed to make the Clarion special, with a print that is unusually clear and large for the Bible’s size.
A full report is beyond my ability to give. However, I did take the time to read a substantial chunk of this Bible, often comparing it with my ESV Clarion. I came away with the distinct impression that somehow the NKJV edition was clearer and easier to read, and that I saw less grey-haze seeping through the page when I looked at it at a glance. So, my impression so far is that the line matching has been executed quite well. In any event, the Bible is indeed quite readable for its size.
What else makes this Bible different?
First of all, like the latest ESV Pitt Minion Bible, the NKJV Clarion uses the new maps that Cambridge seems to be switching over to, not the old Moody maps. I would guess that all future printings of the Clarion Reference Bible will have the newer Cambridge maps. No one set of maps has any clear advantage over another.
As for the calfsplit edition, it is distinct in that it does not have the art-gilt page edging. Art-gilt edging is nice, to be sure, and may help justify paying the higher price for the calfskin or goatskin edition. This, again, is a matter of personal preference, and you’ll have to decide if it’s worth the money or not. guess that all future print runs of Clarion Reference Bibles will do the same. In the long run, as I’ve noted before, the costs and benefits involved in this trade are about equal, and most purchasers aren’t even likely to notice the difference.
Finally, I’ll note (in the nit-pick category) that I’m not enthused about the choice to use black ribbons, where the black goatskin edition has red ribbons. Some people will prefer the more demure black on black monochrome. For my part, I like to see either red or purple with black.
On the whole, though, I am quite pleased with this edition. Problems associated with the ESV edition–line-matching and page curling–are not to be found here to my eye. Surprisingly, I really like the calf split leather, which is thicker and maybe sturdier than the calfskin cover. And, not insignificantly, it is the most affordable option available. Considering all of these things, I would recommend this Bible to NKJV readers looking for a nice, sturdy, single column reference Bible.