Interview With Paul Cline of evangelicalbible.com

A few months ago I was able to ask Mark Bertrand of the Bible Design Blog a few questions regarding his opinions on the topic of bible design and binding.

Now, this month I was able to interview Paul Cline of evangelicalbible.com. I asked him his thoughts on the same subject, as well as some personal questions regarding himself as the owner of eb.com.

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself personally.

I was raised in Southern Africa (my parents are missionaries) until I returned to the US for university.  I went to William & Mary in VA for undergrad and Duke for graduate school.  I have 4 children.  I am an adjunct professor at our local community college.  I am an ordained SBC pastor and am a church planter.  I am also the founder and owner of evangelicalbible.com. (Does it sound like I have time for hobbies?)  I am an avid reader and student of world history.

2) How did evangelicalbible.com come to be?

evangelicalbible.com came into existence for 2 reasons.

First, as a church planter with 4 kids living in the San Francisco area one always needs supplemental income.

Second, Bibles and Bible translation has always been of keen interest to me.  I started selling books on Amazon.com marketplace, but realized we could do a lot better with our own website.  I was immediately drawn to the ESV translation because it represented the “RSV with a faith lift.”  The RSV had been my favorite translation previous to the ESV because of its accuracy and poetic rhythm.

3) What is your personal all time favorite bible?

Good Question.  Though I don’t use either Bible, my 2 favorites are the Allan Longprimer 53 and the Cambridge Concord Ref. Goatskin.  Both of these Bibles are about as well built as can be expected.

4) I understand you have worked side by side with Allan’s to produce the Allan’s Reader. Can you share what your relationship is with Allan’s?

evangelicalbible.com and R.L. Allan and Sons are partners, not competitors.  We were contacted about 4 years ago by Allan who asked us if we would consider stocking their ESV line.  After a few attempts we decided to give it a try.  Since then, evangelicalbible.com has become the official US distributor of the Allan Bible.  The owner of Allan, Nicholas Gray and myself share a lot in common beyond Bibles.  Nicholas has lived in South Africa and Zimbabwe and we actually have mutual missionary friends who live in that area.  That shared African experience goes a long way.

One of the unique aspects of Allan andevangelicalbible.com is that we are truly customer driven.  The upcoming NASB is a perfect example.  Our customers continually asked us to have Allan bind the NASB.  We had a conference call with Allan who approved the plan.  We then went back to our customers and asked for their favorite typeface.  After our survey we went to Lockman (publisher of the NASB) who sold us the relevant Bible sheets.

As for the Reader’s…It was actually in some aspects a resurrection of the former ESV Deluxe Reference Bible.  We thought that the ESV would benefit from a bit more legible typeface. Allan agreed with our insight and decided to obtain the sheets…The same will be done with the Oxford Brevier Wide Margin…..

5) What is your best selling bible of all time?

In terms of sheer volume we sell more ESV pew Bibles than any other Bible.  After pew Bibles-the Allan ESV1 has been our best seller for the past 3 years.  It will be back in print this September.  The Allan Goatskin Longprimer comes in close 2nd followed by the Cambridge Pitt Minions.

6) What changes would you like to see take place in the actual production of bibles today?

First, I am always concerned that evangelicalbible.com not take on a ‘snobby’ image of ‘Bibles for the elite.’ As a church planter and street evangelist, I proudly hand out 100’s of 25c NT paperbacks (though I prefer paperbacks with the OT as well)…and proud of it. Having said that, the Bible is a special book for Christians.  A cheaply bound novel may not be a bad investment if it is only read once or twice.  Our customers are people who study and use their Bibles daily. It therefore makes sense to have a Bible that is legible, durable, practical, and elegant (to some degree).  Many publishers seem more focused on the design of the Bible cover than the integrity of the paper, and the binding in general.  I wish more publishers were concerned about binding integrity than ‘glow in the dark’ covers.  Allan publishers are an exception here.

Their goal is truly to give you a Bible that will truly allow you to use it without it disintegrating over time.  I have also been impressed with the Bible manager at Cambridge UK, Chris Wright.  He has come out with many innovative and durable Bibles-they have in many ways pioneered the Single Column typeface which show up in more translations than the NIV.   Cambridge truly spends a lot of time examining every detail of Bible manufacturing before they bind one.  Cambridge went through a challenging period with some poor quality binding material a few years ago, but we recommend their current line without reservation.

7) Do you find that bible publishers are now listening to people like yourself and Mark Bertrand and implementing your suggestions and ideas?

Ironically it is the higher end Bible publishers that are the most willing to listen to new ideas and suggestions.  Even though Allan and Cambridge are 2 of the oldest and most prestigious of Bible publishers, they are the most willing to hear new ideas.  Since we partner with Allan, we literally have a ‘team’ spirit when discussing future editions.

8) If you could change one thing about evangelicalbible.com, what would it be?

I wish we had the resources to answer phones.  We will likely add this feature to our store soon.  I also wish British Bible publishing was a bit more reliable….I know it’s difficult for our customers to see their favorite Bible go out of stock for 6 months at a time.

9) How many bibles do you personally own?

I own about 6 Bibles, 5 of which were gifts.  I bought an ESV Large Print Bible, which is the one I use daily.  It is both legible and doesn’t have ref’s-which are a distraction for me.

10) What advice would you give to someone purchasing their first high end bible who is new to this area?

Research before you purchase!

Consider:

1. Translation

2. References or not

3. Legibility

4. Paper Quality

5. Binding, ie. Pigskin, Calfskin, Goatskin…

6. Size, etc.

It is important to realize that all Bibles have their strengths and weaknesses.  The customer needs to find the Bible that best suits his needs in a Bible, understanding that there is no Bible that can meet all of your needs at the same time., ie. “I want a Large Print, compact, light in weight, wide margin, opaque paper, thinline Bible that can fit into my coat pocket!” All Bibles have ‘trade-offs.’  Please take time and research the Bible that best suits your particular needs.

11) What was your first bible?

A dark brown hardback NIV.

12)  If you could say one thing to bible publishers today, what would it be?

I’ve said a lot above.

13) Share with us anything else you would like us to know about eb!

evangelicalbible.com is devoted to bringing the message of faith and repentance to our desperately lost world.  Please remember that we have an apologetics aspect to our business.

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About Matthew Blair

Sinner saved by grace.
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9 Responses to Interview With Paul Cline of evangelicalbible.com

  1. Paul F Cline says:

    Hi son, this is your dad. Great interview, enjoyed reading it. Short little testimony. When we left for Africa in 1980 you were 8 years old. I had a fear and concern of taking you off to a place far away and with what I preceived as not providing you with adequate education opportuntites. In our mission training I had seen a film of kids sitting under an Acaia Tree repeating what the teacher was saying. However, the schools you attended equipped you so very well. I was very wrong and you got a superior education; much more than just text books. In my fears I have and am still learning to “take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ”.

    You wrote above in your interview of the working relationship with Nicholas Gray, “that African experience went a long way”. God took my fears of education for you and it became a sea of experiences and relationships that bear fruit today. Praise bo to God.

    Blessings, Dad

  2. Johanna says:

    Dear Dad.
    Your the best in the whole world…I LOVE YOU SOOO MUCH 🙂

  3. Erik says:

    Matt,

    Thanks for providing us with a very insightful interview with Paul Cline. It’s always good to know the background of the ‘big wigs’ like Cline and Bertrand. 🙂

  4. Edward Simmons says:

    I’d love to see an large print bible Allan bible in Highland goatskin. Any chance of that happening anytime in the near future? I know there are lots of people who would be interested in this product. By the way love your website. I’ve purchased a couple of bibles from you.

  5. Thanks Matthew and Paul, great post and always good to know some history of the people and companies we do business with. I’m looking forward to seeing the NASB from Allen when it comes out. Anyway, thanks again, and if I can put in my 2 cents; push for an NKJV from Allen! God Bless!

  6. Valerie says:

    Interesting interview. Thanks Matthew.

  7. Sam Oates says:

    It always blows me away when I see young guys like you actualizing in ways that Glorify God and respond to Jesus’ great commission. Thanks for evangelicalbible.com. I have bought at least one of my Allan bound bibles from there and was impressed with the service. I also would really like to get the NKJV in an Allan highland goatskin as well.
    On a different note, I am involved in a jail ministry and Crossway has been very generous in providing nice seconds at a very reasonable price. Please take note that they are partners in the great commission as well.
    Sam Oates

  8. John says:

    Greetings and Blessings To All,

    A superb interview. It is wonderful to learn about the persons and eventful roots of EB.com.

    I have bought bibles through the website. I have wondered about the people there whom are dedicated to performing such a glorious mission.

    I know that EB is fond of the ESV. I do like the KJV immensely and would love to see more editions of that by Allan. My wish list is for a nice KJV by Allan with a thumb index and a high quality cover. Any chance of my wish becoming a reality?

    God Bless and continue to shine light on the true way Home.

    John

  9. Marie McRae says:

    I am one bible owner who is blessed that the “African experience” which Paul Cline & Nicholas Gray share has brought them together as workers in His Vineyard. Praise our Lord for the wonderful way He brought these two together, and for the beautiful fruits of their labors!
    Thank you for this chance to get to know more about Paul – and EvangelicalBible.com.

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