Finding classy and well-made Bible covers is surprisingly difficult, even on Amazon. Christian Book Distributors fares a little better. But you still have to wade through some, uh, options.
Plain canvas would be just fine. Full grain leather? Even better.
That’s the Leather Bible Cover from Saddleback Leather Company. No, not that Saddleback. This one.
Saddleback’s cover comes in four color options: Tobacco, Dark Coffee Brown, Black, and Chestnut (pictured above).
Here are a few more images, to introduce you:
The Bible slides right in:
That’s the UBS5 Greek New Testament, which, as you can see, is a little short for the cover, but otherwise is a great fit.
A closer look reveals consummate stitching:
The closure mechanism is easy to get used to, and even allows you to slide a pencil or pen inside:
The Chestnut color is deep and rich. The leather is sturdy! So much so when it first arrived that I didn’t believe it would soften over time, but it has. It lays flat with no issue, as a result. You just have to make sure you handle the Bible cover (and enclosed Bible) rather than build a shrine to it on your shelf-of-leather. (Uh, no, I don’t have one of those.)
It looks, feels, and smells delicious. No complaints at all on the appearance, construction, design, and feel of the thing. Top-notch.
Let’s talk about fit.
A dictum of reviewing is that you review a book (or piece of gear) on its own merits, in accordance with its aim. It would be unfair, for example, to lambast a print book for not being as keyword searchable as its electronic counterpart. Print never claims to give you search results with a single click. (Not YET.)
So, to be fair, the cover’s product page says:
Buy this cover AND THEN go buy a Bible to fit
And it gives you the dimensions of the (opened) cover: 12 ½” W x 9 ½” H.
However, I think it’s fair to ask: how many people buy a leather Bible cover before buying a Bible? Usually you realize that a certain Bible has become your mainstay: through 52-week sermon series on Romans (chapters 1 and 2), through holidays and family reunions, through major life events, through years of semi-failed reading plans… and then you go get a cover worthy of the Bible.
Saddleback currently offers just this size, so you’re limited in your options. This cover is nowhere near big enough to work for the kind of Bible many folks would want to put into a leather cover: a Study Bible.
However, user reviews indicate this beautiful cover is good for slimline Bibles (ESV, NIV, NKJV). And the product page is clear along these lines, so you just have to be sure you know what you’re getting.
The Greek New Testament above is the best fit I found among my Bibles. I was disappointed that my not-that-big Greek-English New Testament didn’t fit:
Before I laid eyes on the cover, I had dreams of my Septuagint fitting in, but…
Even the portable paperback edition of N.T. Wright’s Kingdom translation didn’t go in:
I got really excited that my since-discontinued TNIV Bible (which I’m pretty sure is “slimline”) would be the last Bible I’d put in the cover:
But it was not to be:
In fact, this was a real downside to the cover–this Bible and a small hardbound notebook both got bent in my efforts to wedge them in. I didn’t push too hard, but you really have to be sure your Bible is small enough for this thing to work. Again–the product page is clear here, but one might wish not to have so many misses in matching beloved Bible to beautiful cover.
This Greek-English edition of the Apostolic Fathers is a nice fit:
And don’t forget about books! That’s actually another good option, if maybe a little superfluous:
I wish I had more to contribute to what needs to be a running list somewhere on the Saddleback Website of “Bibles that fit this cover.” My Greek New Testament has a happy home now–and smells really good. I hope Saddleback will consider expanding its sizing options.
In the meantime, if the fit is right, it’s hard to imagine a nicer cover. Saddleback uses the best leather, and their workmanship is excellent. People who buy from them tend to buy more than one item over the course of a lifetime.
Saddleback’s site is here, with a ton of products that will make you want to “go leather or go home” (I hope I’m not giving anyone any Bible cover phrasing ideas). You can also check out my review of their pen/sunglasses case. The Leather Bible Cover (reasonable retail price of $49) is here.
Many thanks to the awesome people at Saddleback Leather for sending the Bible cover review! I’m really grateful they sent it, and I would have been embarrassed had anybody seen me rip into the UPS package the way I did when it arrived… though that did not influence the objectivity of the review.
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