Crossway’s ESV Reader’s Bible – Review

Crossway’s ESV Reader’s Bible 001

The ESV Reader’s Bible was designed for reading in mind. Rather than cluttering up the text with distractions such as numbers and links, section headings, and footnotes, this Bible presents to the reader just the text of Scripture. This creates a Bible that is perfect for reading.


  • Reads like a book


  • Construction quality may vary


  • 2011 ESV
  • Cloth hardcover
  • Slip case
  • Sewn binding
  • 9-point font
  • Black letter
  • Single column
  • Paragraph format
  • 2 Ribbons
  • 4 Maps
  • 8 x 5.5 x 1.5
  • SRP $29.99
  • ISBN: 9781433544149

Buy from Amazon: ESV Reader’s Bible

Buy from Crossway: ESV Reader’s Bible


I’ve lately been drawn more toward hardcover editions. Most hard covers are cheaply made and lack style. This one is what I’ve been looking for. This one is cloth and looks and feels like an old book. It is two-tone with burgundy and greenish-grey and has four spinal hubs. It comes in a slip case that adds to the elegance. I don’t know why I like the cover and slip case as much as I do, but they’re part of what draws me to read this edition. The binding is sewn and it has no trouble staying open at any page. It feels great in the hand and it’s a joy to use.


The paper has the slight cream tint that I like. To me it looks and feels like the paper from the Large Print Personal Size that I reviewed earlier. It’s thin, but not too thin. The opacity is a little better than a Clarion. The line-matching improves readability and removing all the distractions improves it even more. My review copy has a few bendy-wavy spots that cross through most of the Bible on the outside edges. This is why I gave it a con for variation in construction quality. It really isn’t bad; especially for the price. The font looks like a 9/10 and is sharp and consistent. It’s about a medium boldness. It is black-letter and about a semi-bold darkness which I think is the perfect boldness for a font.


The text is presented in paragraph format with no verse numbers or section headings. Chapter numbers appear in the margin next to the first line of the chapter. The numbers are smaller than normal chapter normal chapter numbers and are in a nice red font. I think I would rather have the chapter numbers in the center of the page like a standard book. When you take into account that some chapters break in the middle of a paragraph I can see why they didn’t do this. The paragraphs are like any standard ESV. It’s not like a novel where every character’s dialog is in a new paragraph. Poetry is set to verse and OT quotes are centered. The chapter and verse numbers appear at the top of the page in a beautiful red font. The book names are also printed in the same red font. The red fonts are gorgeous. Each book starts on a new page on the right side. There is plenty of margin space, 5/8’s margins, on both sides of the text ensuring that the text remains far away from the inside gutter.


The maps are different from all other Crossway Bibles that I’ve reviewed. They have more of an old book look to them. There are only 4 and they’re primarily yellow and grey. They’re printed in thick paper that’s not shinny or glossy. They cover The World of the Patriarchs, The Twelve Tribes of Israel, Palestine in the Time of Jesus, and Paul’s Missionary Journeys.


The two ribbons are brown and long enough to use all the way to the corner. They are thin, but it fits this Bible. Thicker ribbons would have looked odd due to the size of the text block.


The more distractions a Bible has the harder it is for me to read it. The ESV Reader’s Bible takes away those distractions and leaves behind the ideal reading Bible. If you’re an ESV reader you owe it to yourself to make this your daily reading Bible.

Buy from Amazon: ESV Reader’s Bible

Buy from Crossway: ESV Reader’s Bible


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Crossway provided this Bible free for review. I was not required to give a positive review- only an honest review.

About The Author

Randy A Brown

WordPress writer by day, Bible reviewer by night, pastor all the time. And there's also that author thing.


  1. John M

    I’ve had mine for about a week. It is a beautifully designed bible. For plain reading the paragraph format is much more natural for me.

    I just wish someone would take these innovative designs and apply them to the KJV which is my main bible.

    Thanks for the review Randy.


  2. Tom

    I was in the market for a large print, personal-size Bible, but kept seeing promos for the Reader’s Bible. I felt guilty ordering both, but I did. Now I’m glad I got this edition. It is nicely produced, and the layout style really does make a difference when reading. My only wish is that the paper was a bit more opaque. Despite the nicely aligned type to minimize the bleed through, it still bugs me just a little. Still, I would definitely recommend this Bible.

  3. Jyoti VU3BGI

    well good for those who can afford nice and big letters but not having the verses is not a good idea. only in the heading is not useful

  4. Don Denison

    Dear Randy:

    I enjoyed reading your review of this bible. These reviews allow me an opportunity to see bibles that I would otherwise not even look at. This bible seems to be well suited for casual reading, the binding and cover give good support for hand held reading, this is a very good thing, many bibles are wonderful in their binding, lovely to look at and to handle, but fail to give the support needed for one handed reading. I am coming to believe that hard bound books are better suited to these needs.

    I would though miss cross references and notes, either center column, on the side, or the bottom, these though would be useless without the verses that I have come to depend on for memorization and reference. God’s Word is so full of information that I find it impossible to read it without at least verse numbers. I have recently been catching up on books I have read in the past, the current one is Milton’s Paradise Lost. Epic poems don’t have verse numbers as such, but are furnished with line numbers which function in much the same way. These numbers are essential for study or reading in depth; going back and finding a given passage for further thought or memory work is almost impossible without something like line numbers or verses. This leaves books, and bibles as well with out these study aids pretty much useless for the way I read literature like these. The bible can be read in a casual way to be sure, but considering that it is the Word of God given to us by the Lord himself, I seldom read it as merely a piece of literature, at a minimum I think we need at least line numbers, as in Paradise Lost, verse numbers in the text just before each verse would be better, even if the bible is printed in paragraph form, these need not be large, but just large enough to be seen if looked at carefully. Because of these failings, I don’t think I would buy a bible without at least small verse numbers in the text. If Epic Poems require line/passage numbers, surely God’s Holy Word deserves at least that much printed on the margins. I guess what I am saying is that for me, reading of the Bible is never casual, requiring me to refer back to earlier passages, or even comparisons with related books or passages.

    Yours in Christ

    Don Denison

    • John M

      Hi Don,

      I like all the options the Lord has blessed us with. I use the bible in two main ways.

      The first is for general reading. I try to read several chapters a day if possible. This is to get the broad themes of scripture in my head. If I come across something needing more study I write it in a note pad for later study. The main goal is to cover chapters. Doing this has given me a good general overview of all the bible and really acts as a self cross referencing system in the brain.

      The second use is for detailed study with a wide margin bible, cross references, concordances and other study aids.

      Both of these methods of study completement each other but the tools (bibles) that are optimal for each task are very different.

      For reading, plain text, paragraph, large print bibles are great. For detailed study I want verse by verse and cross references.

      In any case, that is what I do and I really value these additional options like reader bibles.

      Comments welcome.

  5. Don Denison

    Dear John:

    I also take notes and use notebooks, preferring this to writing on the pages. I have repented of marking up books after having often gone back and found myself wondering why I ever made the notes or highlights that I thought were important many years ago. Many mark up their reading, I once did but have given it up. I have found verse numbers very useful for the notes I make, and are also a help in memorization.

    We all have different ways of learning, and individual likes and dislikes, reviews like this one allows one to make informed choices, the features one likes in a bible are sometimes of no consequence to others, but it is nice to know what different versions offer. I could probably write several pages describing what I think I need in a bible and give good reasons for thinking that way, but one’s choice in a bible is personal, it has taken me at least four during my current search to understand what works for me and why it does so.

    Yours in Christ

    Don Denison

    • Ann

      I returned mine. I found the ghosting and the text layout difficult to read. The text isn’t lined up nicely. I was very disappointed as I was hoping to give many as gifts. I love the idea and the size, just not the quality.


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