Presten ESV Compact Deluxe

Thanks to places like the Bible Design Blog and, many of us have gained quite an education on the ins and outs of high end bible bindings. Never have so many been able to identify the difference between  full and semi yapp covers or have been able to distinguish between goat and calf skin. It’s been a tremendous honor to be here in a time where so many are calling for more bindings from publishing houses to break outside of the bonded leather status quo that has encapsulated many a believers bookshelf.

The one problem that has risen from this education (as I humbly see it) is that the more we know, the more we demand. It’s human nature really. We get A, we want B. We get B, then suddenly C looks so darn appealing. To that end, it seems that no sooner than a publishing house or binding house releases a new edition that there are the select few that begin to find it’s faults and wish that it just wasn’t so.

Let’s face it, a producer of bibles cannot exactly stop on a dime when it come to halting a production run mid stream to insert 2 more ribbons or add 1/8 of an inch to its front and back covers.

Finally, however, there is an alternative on the horizon. An alternative that strives to compete with those big houses to produce a much smaller production run of high end bibles that are 100% custom and designed by the customer and for the customer.

Paul Presten of is now offering all of the popular text blocks in his own custom top quality bindings. Bindings that can be hand selected by the customer just as you would build your own teddy bear at your local Build A Bear.

You want 4 ribbons? He can do it. You want Goatskin in red? He can do it. You want a custom color no one else offers to match an existing edition you already own? Paul is your guy.

About 2 months ago now, Paul approached me via email asking me to help him gather ideas and thoughts for a burning desire of his to offer Allan’s quality bindings  in a more custom fashion. After about 150 emails (literally), the first edition of those discussions is this one. I’m calling it the Presten ESV Deluxe Compact and it is based on a Crossway Deluxe Compact in blue with silver gilding. I chose silver for this edition solely because it was different. I have yet to see a high end bible with a silver text block, so I though this would be a good time to see what one would look like.

Since none of the other producers of quality bindings currently offers a compact, I knew Paul would be the guy to do it. But to go one step further, I wanted it in full yapp goatskin. None of that sissy semi yapp, mind you. We’re talking full yapp cover-touches-cover kinda’ yapp here. I know of only a few full yapp bindings there are out there, but none in a compact form. And why not for Pete’s sake? The compact form is the perfect place to institute a full yapp because it is these little books that take the greatest beatings. They are thrown in bags, slipped into back pockets, and tossed into glove compartments. The full yapp protects the text block from accidental damage and water stains all the while forming a sort of casing to hold those beautiful pages.

Next I knew I wanted spine bands. Again, the big guys don’t do it. Crossway does, of course, but again, they do not offer a compact in a premium binding. So I asked Paul if he could do it. “No problem” was his reply.

Finally, I knew I wanted 3 red ribbons for following along with a reading plan. Again, not a problem for Paul.

I chose black goatskin because I’m a traditionalist of sorts. I like simple and I like tradition. Most colors will in some shape, form, or fashion grow old over the years and red on black is as classy and high end as you can get. The look never grows old. As I later found out, the goatskin Paul uses comes from the exact same region as Allan’s goatskin! Way cool!

So after a few months of going back and forth via email, this little edition is the end result and I must say, Allan’s better watch out because Paul means business. I say that tongue in cheek of course because Paul is a one man band offering his years of experience to produce a limited amount of custom high end bibles to those of us who are picky about our bibles and who want more than what the current offerings can offer.

He assures me he can make just about anything you can think of.  How about a red PSR with full yapp? Maybe a SCR in tan or cordovan? Got a favorite edition you would like to have a companion for in the same color? Why not get it in another version with identical finish and color?

The possibilities are limitless.

Sure there are binders out there that can offer custom work. But you will not likely find one with such a burning passion for Gods word who will do what the others will not, such as full yapp covers (most binders shy away from them) and custom colors on unique text blocks. He can even take one of your existing favorites that has seen better days and rebind it in high end goatskin and make it better than when it was new. If you want an edition that isn’t cookie cutter and looks like the rest of the pack, maybe it’s time to consider a handmade edition crafted by a skilled artist.

In conclusion, if you want customization in your bibles and want to support a fellow believer with years of book binding experience, you really need to give Paul Presten a call or drop him an email. He will work with you to build that perfect edition you have floating around in your imagination…even if it takes 150 emails.

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About Matthew Blair

Sinner saved by grace.
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3 Responses to Presten ESV Compact Deluxe

  1. Derek Jones says:

    Very interesting post, I’m naturally curious as to the cost.

  2. John Comito says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! I want one! Mr. Presten sounds terrific. Good for both of you having the patience to see this project through, and indeed well worth the effort.

  3. I have a hard cover KJV that I would love to have rebound it is a smythe sewn and has wide margins but the hardcover is cumbersome at times but I got a really great deal on it and wanted a wide margin KJV so alas.

    Thanks for the insight and I might get ahold Paul indeed

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