Sunday, June 17, 2012

Review: ESV Clarion Reference in Brown Calfskin

Cambridge's ESV Clarion continues their successful Clarion series, placing a modern, elegant layout in classic Cambridge bindings. The Clarion will near perfection for readers looking for readability and a single column setting.


The brown calfskin edition is a relatively new option in the Cambridge lines, falling below the price of the goatskin editions but above the calf split. The calfskin is soft and nicely textured with a stamped rather than a natural grain. While calfskin can be softer than goatskin, this edition features a paper lining rather than a leather lining, which means the goatskin edition will be more flexible. The calfskin edition will be for those who appreciate the texture and color and prefer a stiffer binding, contrasted with the more flexible or floppy goatskin binding. The stitching around the edge of the leather is missing as well, replaced by stamping.

As I mentioned in my review of the KJV Clarion, the size, 7.5 inches tall, 5.5 inches across and 1.75 inches thick, may not be ideal for all. It’s about an inch to a half inch shorter than many mid-size Bibles, but the excellent layout and readability will answer many objections. Some may prefer a larger Bible, some may prefer smaller, but this size and shape is becoming more popular and is very close to Crossway’s Single Column Personal Size Reference. The size fits nicely in the hand and makes it manageable and flexible without two hands or the need to rest it on the table or on your lap.

The sewn binding and supple leather flexes well, but maintains a degree of rigidity and strength, which may keep pressure off the binding.

Unlike the goatskin KJV Clarion, this edition will not open flat at Genesis One, but it does lie flat in most positions. The only major drawback to this edition is the thickness of the paper. It remains fairly opaque, but the pages seem prone to fold, curl and wrinkle.

The calfskin edition features art-gilt pages with red under gold, though the edition I was sent features a large scratch on the guilding. I’m not sure if Cambridge intentionally sent me a left over damaged copy to review or if this was an accident. I personally am not concerned as the guilding on my Bibles always gets roughed up, but those who are more particular about such things should be aware of the possibility of receiving a slightly damaged guilding.


The genius of the Clarion is the layout. The spaciously placed single column text is paired with a bold and distinct 8.75 font font. The Clarion is one of the most readable Bible’s I’ve ever seen and the prominence of white space, especially in the poetry sections, is pleasing.

The combination of the single column setting with a large, modern font will please many. The proportions and layout aesthetics in this edition will hopefully set a standard in the industry.

The Clarion lacks book introductions, but includes a table of weights and measures and a thorough 96 page concordance, as well as the classic Cambridge maps and map index.

The ESV Clarion in Calfskin is an excellent edition and Cambridge has maintained its usual standard of excellence. For calfskin fans, this edition will be pleasing; however, my assumption is that most will find the goatskin a higher quality and the calf split a better value. As the middle priced edition, the calfskin edition suffers as probably the least quality per dollar. That said, anyone approaching this edition with a knowledge of what it is should be more than pleased. It is an extremely readable, well crafted, and well designed single column Bible for everyday reading and study.

My thanks to Cambridge for providing this review copy. I have provided an honest review.

182911: ESV Clarion Reference Bible, Goatskin leather, black ESV Clarion Reference Bible, Goatskin leather, black
By Cambridge
648296: ESV Clarion Reference Bible, Calf Split leather, black ESV Clarion Reference Bible, Calf Split leather, black
By Cambridge