The cover of the Bible is a very important feature and should be chosen carefully. I recommend buying the best cover you can afford. A badly made cover will greatly shorten the life of the Bible, whereas a Bible with a high quality cover has a better chance of lasting a life-time. Here is a short glossary of Bible cover terms.
Smyth Sewn – also known as ‘Section Sewn’. This is the highest quality book-binding available. It is library quality and archival safe. The pages are physically sewn together in sections, known as signatures, using binders thread. Usually around 24 pages, the signatures are folded over to make individual sections of the book. The sections are then sewn together, creating the text block. The text block is then glued into the cover using a fabric backing, imitation leather, bonded leather, or real leather.
Genuine Leather – pigskin. This is the cheapest and most popular of real leathers.
Berkshire – pigskin. Another term for Genuine Leather.
Bonded Leather – chopped ham. Left-over leather pieces are glued together using glues and resins to form a leather-like cover. In general, bonded leathers will not last. They tear apart under regular use. Like all leathers, there are various qualities of bonded leather. Cambridge uses 100% real leather fiber. Cambridge bonded leathers will outlast some genuine leathers.
Calfskin – a higher quality leather used for fine bindings. It is usually soft and flexible, which increases with use.
Goatskin – Goatskin and Highland Goatskin (also known as Real Morocco, or simply Morocco) have a natural grain. All other leathers have a grain that is stamped onto the leather. Goatskin is very durable and soft.
French Morocco – taken from calfskin. Durable and flexible, though not as soft and flexible as calfskin, it is still a high-quality leather. It is an economical alternative to calfskin.
Imitation Leather – imitation leather is a man-made material that is made to look and feel like leather. There are many variations of imitation leather and they have different names such as Kirvella and Leatherflex. Usually, the higher quality imitation leathers will look and feel soft and be very durable. The cheaper imitation leathers will feel like tough plastic.
Hardcover – hardcover Bibles are made like any other hardcover book. This is one of the cheapest covers (the cheapest is paperback). Hardcover Bibles are not usually made with the same quality bindings as leather-bound covers. Hardcover is a great alternative when buying study Bibles for your library that will not be used as your primary carry Bible.
Lining – the lining is the material on the inside of the cover. It ranges from paper to calfskin leather. Many Bibles use bonded leather or imitation leather for the lining, but there are some Bibles that have real leather.
Yapp – this is the leather that goes beyond the edge of the pages. It is available as full Yapp and semi Yapp.
Overcasting – This is vertical stitching that is inserted at the middle of the first and last section to add strength to the binding. Overcasting is found in higher quality Bibles.