The Bible is sometimes called the greatest story ever told. Its typography, on the other hand, leaves much to be desired. Unlike the layout of novels, the layout of the Old and New Testament discourages reading the book from cover-to-cover.

A new Kickstarter project by Santa Cruz typographer Adam Lewis Greene is hoping to improve Biblical literacy. Called the Bibliotheca, the project is a new printing of the Old and New Testaments that is designed to be read from cover-to-cover.

The idea behind Bibliotheca is simple: What if we printed the Bible as if it were just another long book? Instead of trying to cram the 726,000 words of the New International Version of the Bible into a single volume, Bibliotheca splits it up into four attractive hardcover volumes, two each for the Old and New Testament.

his is designed to make the typographical layout roomier and more psychologically approachable. Couple that with the adoption of a larger, custom sans serif font, line lengths optimized for readability, and the abandoning of verse numbers, and you have a Bible that wants to be read like a short story collection-- even if its page-to-text proportions are based on the dimensions of the Ark of the Covenant (and they are!)

Available now on Kickstarter, the Bibliotheca set can be preordered now starting at $63.

Co.Design

Redesigning The Bible With Readability In Mind

The goal of the Bibliotheca project is to print a Bible that you'll want to read cover to cover.

The Bible is sometimes called the greatest story ever told. Its typography, on the other hand, leaves much to be desired. Unlike the layout of novels, the layout of the Old and New Testament discourages reading the book from front to back. Normally printed as a single, 2,000-odd page volume with microscopic, two-columned text, the Bible's typography is designed with reference, not readability, in mind. No wonder that while 73% of Americans say they are Christian, only one in five Americans will cop to actually reading the Bible on a regular basis.

A new Kickstarter project by Santa Cruz typographer Adam Lewis Greene is hoping to improve Biblical literacy. Called the Bibliotheca, the project is a new printing of the Old and New Testaments that is designed to be read from cover to cover. Greene's goal is to put readability first.

The idea behind Bibliotheca is simple: What if we printed the Bible as if it were just another long book? Instead of trying to cram the 726,000 words of the New International Version of the Bible into a single volume, Bibliotheca splits it up into four attractive hardcover volumes, two each for the Old and New Testament. This is designed to make the typographical layout roomier and more psychologically approachable. Couple that with the adoption of a larger, custom sans serif font, line lengths optimized for readability, and the abandoning of verse numbers, and you have a Bible that wants to be read like a short story collection— even if its page-to-text proportions are based on the dimensions of the Ark of the Covenant (and they are!).

It might seem like a relatively strange way to present the Bible, but as Greene points out, the verse and chapter numbers we associate with the Bible as reference points are actually relatively recent additions, having first been introduced in the Medieval era. He also argues that the Bible was originally meant to be experienced, not as a spiritual encyclopedia, but as literature.

"Today, our contemporary bibles are ubiquitously dense, numerical, and encyclopedic in format; very different from how we experience other classic and foundational literature, and completely foreign to how the original authors conceived of their work," Greene writes.

Of course, good type alone won't be enough to keep most readers from skipping ahead during some of the Holy Bible's more bloviating passages. And while Greene's Kickstarter video on the project uses all of the clichéd Christian imagery of an Arrested Development gag, the spirit and spirituality behind the project seem earnest.

Available on Kickstarter, the Bibliotheca set can be preordered now starting at $63.

Add New Comment

12 Comments

  • David White

    The design looks really good, and for some, reading it from the start onwards might be the thing. I don't think I'd get too far, myself: the Bible's not always that readable - it's a challenging and dense set of books by myriad authors, written over centuries, and a sustained narrative progression is maybe more to do with our modern idea of the 'shape' of conventional single, unified books. The bible I use (and it is there to be used, not admired) is grubby with scribbles, notes, cross-references, underlinings, post-it residue, etc., and I find the verse numbers quite useful in locating where you want to look. Eugene Patterson's 'The Message' versions do a nice job though without the verse numbers and are worth checking out, and there's a lot to be said for just taking a short passage - a verse or three - and really looking closely at it, like they do with those step-by-step bible-readers - you can get a surprising amount of from it that way.

  • Ze Forte

    set it up like a comic book... i'd especially like to read and re-read those incest and adultery parts.

  • bpocock

    It isn't enough to tighten the read, and drop the verse business.

    Many curious atheists and Christians haven't read the Bible because it reads like a 1970s computer manual.

    That's why I wrote 'Bobo's Bible: A Dude Version of the Holy Bible,' a clear – and faithful – version for people with a sense of humour.

    Here's a sample...

    Leviticus 18: Incest No-Nos and Other Sex Rules

    Every incest combination is a no-no. Also, no gay men action. No sex with animals (even chickens).

    There were more options than just man on woman sex. Also, a bit of leeway with distant relations. Sex with your mother-in-law was not forbidden – it's just insane. Great grand parents and great grand children is not expressly forbidden, just monstrously wrong. I'm guessing both these scenarios would involve people who are beyond all help or redemption.

    Non-related lesbian sex is okay! Everybody loves lesbians.

    http://www.amazon.com/Bobos-Bible-Dude-Version-Holy-ebook/dp/B00H2A1WHG

    Bobo

  • eeklipzz

    uxfindings.blogspot.com: Great idea, but I doubt that changing the font style and removing the reference numbers is going to cause this book to lure the avid reader to it's pages. Quite simply, it is still failing to harness the power of the visual. These days, we are acclimated text coupled with visual representation, imagery, visualization, etc... Some may even say that when a book doesn't have pictures, or some visual aid, that it is now a tad antiquated.

    By putting it into this new layout, the user may actually be turned off at it's sheer mass. Ideally, it would need to have pictures included, but also be downsized without losing content.

    I'd buy a bullet list bible as long as it had pictures and bible verse numbers so that I can visualize what I'm reading, and then seek the full text out when I'm interested.

  • david

    Other examples of design + typography in service of accessibility, legibility and the experience of the reader: Bradbury Thompson's design of the Washburn College Bible.: "…Thompson increased legibility by using Jan Tschichold’s Sabon typeface. He also arranged the text in phrases and separated them where the reader would naturally stop." http://bit.ly/1oNbdgC

    And though they are extracts, of "The Pocket Canons," designed by Angus Hyland/Pentagram (series conceived by Matthew Darby; Cannongate Books, publisher): "…A striking language of black-and-white photography was employed and combined with a strong graphic grid and a clear sans serif typeface. The tonal balance and typography holds the whole series together." http://bit.ly/Ue4Nz3