Holman is quickly stepping up their game. I am posting this review at the peak of the fame of the CSB Single-Column Wide Margin Handcrafted Bible which they released last month. Early 2020, they published the CSB Verse-by-Verse Reference Bible, and CSB fans considered it as the first CSB Bible in the market to truly have premium quality. Everything in it received a premium treatment — from its box to its cover, paper, and ribbons.
Just like the ones we see in premium Bibles today, the CSB Verse-by-Verse Reference Bible comes in a sturdy, beautifully-designed two-piece box. It is neat having only the CSB logo and some texts printed on the cover. The most recent premium Holman Bibles have the updated design showing the Holman Handcrafted Collection logo which is the name of their Premium Bible line.
The goatskin leather cover of this Bible is absolutely impeccable. It is thick yet flexible, and it supports the text block really well. It reminds me of the leather used in the Thomas Nelson NKJV Maclaren Bible. It is perimeter-stitched and leather-lined with art-gilt. It also has a semi-yapp which looks really nice especially when the Bible lays open. Its spine has some minimal gold stamps. However, instead of the usual raised spine hubs, it has three tooled bars. While it is really dependent on preference, for me it could have been much better if they chose the other way. I strongly believe that raised spine hubs are far better on Bibles – aesthetically and durability-wise. I hope they consider that in their future premium releases.
Aside from the top-notch leather cover, the text block of this Bible is also outstanding. It is smyth-sewn and edge-lined, so you could be very confident of its quality and durability. It has a red-under-gold art-gilt edges, black head and tail bands, and three beautiful double-sided satin ribbon markers in black, red, and gold. I love that this Bible lays really flat with no trouble. It is very nice to use in personal reading, studying, and preaching. It measures 7.25 x 9.75 x 1.5 inches and weighs 2 lbs., 9.9 oz. I do not struggle carrying it around at this size.
The paper that Holman used in this Bible is also praiseworthy. It is white and highly opaque with just a minimal ghosting. The pages are easy to turn and has no glare under direct light. It has a thickness of 36 gsm, and seems fit for writings and notes. One of the best Bible papers I have seen thus far.
Aside from the physical aspects that you consider when choosing and buying a Bible, the text, readability, and layout are absolutely of foremost importance. Afterall, these are the ones that will greatly determine your overall Bible reading experience. This Bible is typeset in the traditional verse-by-verse, double-column format, and it has wide margins. The overall layout is clean and spacious. Verses are easy to follow, and the references are easy to find. The texts are highly readable at 10-point Bible serif font (as indicated in the box, but sources and merchants online say that it is actually 9.5-point). It follows the usual two-color setting of red and black. Cross-references are neatly organized in the end part of the second column of each page while the translation notes act as footnotes. Links are in red for an easy look-up. This Bible is so neat. The layout, typeface, generous margins perfectly complement each other!
Some extras include a presentation page, the CSB concordance, and some maps printed on non-glossy paper. It retails for $149.99 and is also available in a bonded leather edition. At this price point, you are definitely getting far more than what you pay for. This Bible is printed and bound in China.
Holman did an excellent job in the CSB Verse-by-Verse Reference Bible. I am totally impressed by its quality, material, and construction. I only have it for almost a week now, and it is already one of my favorite go-to Bibles. It provides an exceptional Bible reading experience. I highly recommend it!
Disclosure: A review copy of the CSB Verse-by-Verse Reference Bible (ISBN 9781535990615) was provided for review by Lifeway, from whom you may purchase a copy.