Lent 5 – Monday
I use Bibles a lot. I read them. I go through them. I study them. I meditate over them. Some of my Bibles are “beater Bibles”. Ones that I carry around with me everywhere so that I can crack open the word of God when needed or when inspiration hits me. As the name suggests, they are beaten up good (like my NIV Compact Reference Bible which has survived numerous trips overseas and back and the daily slog in my Crumpler bag though it is on the verge of falling apart now). Others are on tables and shelves in my room where they are consulted when I’m preparing Bible studies or if I’m just curious about how a passage reads in another translation. And there is an abundance of translations that I use (in no particular order):
- New International Version
- Today’s New International Version
- New Living Translation (2nd edition)
- ESV (original and 2007 text update)
- ESV with Apocrypha/Deuterocanonicals (thank you Oxford University Press for this one!)
- Revised Standard Version
- Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition
- New Revised Standard Version (including full Apocrypha and Deuterocanonical canon)
- The New American Bible
- The Jerusalem Bible
- The New Jerusalem Bible
- The CTS New Catholic Bible
- The New English Bible
- The Revised English Bible
- Clementine Vulgate
- King James Version
- The Revised Version
- The American Standard Version
- New King James Version
- Orthodox Study Bible
- New English Translation of the Septuagint
- The Knox Translation of the Holy Bible
- The Douay-Rheims Bible
- The NET Bible
- The New American Standard Bible
- Holman Christian Standard Bible
- The Message
The number of English translations is ridiculous these days. What that means is that there is a plethora of Bibles that one can choose from when they walk into a Christian retail outlet. Enough of a plethora to give one a big headache. Bibles of every type of binding, colour and price point.
So I will never understand what is compelling Koorong to do this. It is great for those in need of NIV Study Bibles though (as at March 2010).
They are trying to clear out their old stock of the 2002 edition NIV Study Bible (which has since been superseded by the 2008 revision). And in 2011, the NIV and TNIV will be consigned to the publishing dust heap when Biblica (the new name for the International Bible Society) will publish a revision of the NIV that doesn’t quite go as far as the TNIV did in terms of gender neutrality (though it will probably still garner a lot of bad press from conservative SBC and Reformed congregations [Baptist, Presby or otherwise] who will either push the ESV [a translation that I do like and use regularly] or the HCSB [a translation I have used on-and-off but I’m indifferent on]).
So why is it that I am able to pick up a 2008 Zondervan reprint of the 2002 revised edition in burgundy colored top-grain leather with thumb-indexing for AUD$32.00? Brand new too (still sealed in the plastic wrap).
Yes, you read correctly. Thirty-two Australian dollars. Marked down from the original clearance price of AUD$69.95. And if I remember correctly, back in 2002 when I first got a NIV Study Bible in black colored top-grain leather sans thumb indexing, that set me back AUD$110.00. Now, said black NIV Study Bible has a number of binding issues that come from me using it too much without much care in my handling of it. To get that one rebound, it would cost me well over AUD$32. So now I have that here at home and still pull it out occasionally to remember the good old times I had with it when preparing Bible studies for the youth group at EMP.
But enough of the nostalgia. Please explain this to me:
Regular top-grain leather bibles (sans thumb indexing, there’s probably only about 5-10 of those left) are still selling at Koorong Springwood for AUD$59.95.
Bonded leather editions are selling for AUD$29.95 and hardbacks are AUD$19.95.
What on earth is possessing the managers at Koorong Springwood to sell off these thumb indexed versions for $32.00!?!?!?!?!
Back in the day, the burgundy NIV SB in top-grain would have set me back about AUD$140 retail. I asked the guy who served me at Koorong Springwood this afternoon and he had no idea and was quite surprised at the price.
Why go the bonded leather route (unless it is a good quality bonded leather, like the stuff that comes out from Cromwell Leather Group) when one can get an actual leather binding for only a few bucks more? Granted, it is nowhere near as nice as the highland goatskin that R.L. Allan’s use for their leather bindings, but of what is available on the market today, I’d rather take this in burgundy than the multitude of Bibles in every darn color known to man. And for limpness, it’s certainly there. Though, I suspect that’s mainly due to the fact that when one opens up roughly at the middle, there’s about a thousand pages of Bible paper on each side of the cover.
And at least the binding is sewn (though it’s also probably reinforced with glue) so it lays flat on a table, and it is not printed and bound in China (somehow in this day and age this is still one of those Bibles that is printed in the USA and probably assembled there too, so the quality control is still there). The gold gilding (now it’s usually silver gilding) is probably sprayed on, but so far from running my finger up and down the pages when it is closed, not much residue has come off (unlike other Bibles from most publishers these days, including Zondervan’s at the bottom end of the range).
But if you want a leather bound Bible that will last you for a long time coming, grab one of these top-grain leather bound ones at Koorong while they are still there. Bonded leather is still one of my banes when it comes to Bible bindings, but then again, having a copy of the Great Book bound in bonded leather (or trade paperback) in your hands is still better than not having one at all. And like all things Biblical, better for you to use it and put its contents it into practice rather than having one of these for show.
Honestly, it’s craziness in the Christian retail bookworld at the moment. Sheer lunacy.
Now if only Harper Collins (or any other publisher) can put out a well bound NRSV edition at an affordable price… The Compact Go-Anywhere Thinline in black bonded leather is close to good as one can get at a low price point that is still usable, but its bonded leather binding is still too darn stiff though it’s softening up under my punishment regime – this one looks like it will be my next beater Bible for travel overseas and in my day bag.