The recently released ESV Premium Thinline Bible by Crossway combines high-quality materials and practical functionality with a rather affordable price tag. It’s not the cheapest premium Bible on the market. That said, with an MRSP under $200 and an average selling price of $120, the quality of this Bible outshines the cost.
The cover is a beautiful black pebble grain goatskin. Its leather lined with what appears to be cowhide. It has four raised hubs and simplified stamping down the spine. To my hands, the cover has a more rubberized feel and is a bit firmer and more consistent than other recent goatskin Bibles produced in China by Crossway (i.e. ESV Preaching Bible). To be fair, I really wasn’t sure how I’d like it given my familiarity and preference for the Heirloom series. That said, after about two weeks, I found myself enjoying the feel of the ESV Premium Thinline Bible more and more. It has a more rugged feeling than most goatskin Bibles and, while it opens flat anywhere in the Bible, it’s not floppy or awkward to hold while reading.
The Bible is printed on high-quality Bible paper. I wasn’t able to find any information on the weight of the paper, but I’d confidently guess that its 36gsm or more. Its really nice paper for a Bible printed in China. The paper is very opaque and would be great for notes, highlights, underlines, etc. The text is very clear, very readable, and very consistent. I found the pages easy to turn without sticking, and because of the paperweight and opacity, there is minimal ghosting. It’s advertised as 8.5pt. However, when compared to the Heirloom Thinline (see photos), it appears to be closer to 9pt. The red-under-gold art-gilt page edges are subtle and elegantly executed.
The layout of the Bible will be familiar to those who have used the ESV Thinline Bible before. It’s a text-only layout with footnotes. That means no references. The ESV Premium Thinline Bible is slightly larger than your standard Thinline Bible, as seen in comparison next to the ESV Heirloom Thinline Bible. The Bible is marketed to have the same interior as the ESV Premium Pew Bible. This makes it attractive to pastors using the ESV in corporate worship. That said, in my review, I found no material difference in pagination between the ESV Premium Thinline Bible and ESV Heirloom Thinline Bible. This means that both Bibles have identical interiors, with the latter merely being on a smaller scale than the former. The size and portability of the ESV Heirloom Thinline Bible are unparalleled, and the ESV Premium Thinline Bible stands in its shadows here. That said, for preaching or teaching, the slightly larger text and slightly larger footprint make the ESV Premium Thinline Bible a better candidate.
The ESV Premium Thinline Bible has very few flaws not found on other premium Bibles by Crossway. The ribbons are thin and lackluster, and the maps are printed on glossy paper. The flaw I found unique to the ESV Premium Thinline Bible, and this may be the copy I received, is that the raised hubs are cut too short for the spine. That is, the raised hubs stop short of either end of the textblock. This is seen rather clearly when next to the ESV Heirloom Thinline Bible (or any other Bible from the Heirloom series), which has the hubs melt into the front and back cover. Nevertheless, I do like the depth of the raised hubs and the simplicity of the spine.
The ESV Premium Thinline Bible is a fantastic new addition to the roster of Bibles by Crossway. It’s a bit larger than previous thinlines. The text is slightly larger. The goatskin cover is beautifully constructed and built to last. The paper is thicker than other thinline bibles, and the text is very readable. If you’re in the market for a new Bible or want to enter into the world of premium Bibles, then I can’t think of any better option than the ESV Premium Thinline Bible. It combines high-quality materials and practical functionality with a rather affordable price tag.