About this project
The Kickstarter campaign is over, but you can continue to pre-order Bibliotheca at bibliotheca.co, until I place the final order with the printer.
If you'd like additional updates about Bibliotheca, please sign up for our newsletter.
With three days left, the funding for Bibliotheca nearly doubled in two days.
Reaching one million is a real possibility. It's certainly a stretch, but that's why they call it a stretch goal!
If we get there:
- I'll be able to add the Deuterocanonical Books (commonly called the Apocrypha) as an optional fifth volume, available for each set ordered. I don't have all the details worked out (whether it will delivered at the same time as the other four or what color it will be). There will be an alternate slipcase size to fit the extra edition for all those who backed the wood slipcase reward levels. Since the Deuterocanonical Books were not released in the ASV, I will be using the translations from the English Revised Version, of which the ASV is the direct American revision. For those of you unfamiliar with the Deuterocanonical Books, there's a bit more information in the FAQ section, or take a look at Update #28 for the same info.
- Also, if we hit the mill-mark, I'll be able to include a traditional book board slipcase with every full set. These would be covered in a nice paper or cloth material. I don't have more details on these either, but I assure you they'll be a nice addition.
NOTE: It has been brought to my attention that some people do not realize that this Kickstarter campaign is the only guaranteed way to acquire the set. To be clear, this is not a fundraiser for an edition that you will be able to order after the campaign. Because the project is fully funded, this campaign is, in effect, a limited pre-order. If you have questions about how to order the set now, please follow this link:
https://www.kickstarter.com/help/faq/backer+questions — If you scroll down a little to "How Do I Pledge?" you will find written instructions as well as a video on how to select your reward.
Again, though it is my hope that the success of this project will allow for this set to be made available beyond this campaign—perhaps even in different translations and languages—at this stage I cannot guarantee it will be made available again.
The literature of the Bible was experienced by its ancient audiences as pure literary art—written or oral—with none of the encyclopedic conventions we are accustomed to today (chapter divisions, verse numbers, notes, cross references, etc.). Furthermore, the texts were appreciated as individual works of literature, which gradually accumulated into what we recognize as the biblical anthology (Biblia, meaning Books). It wasn't until the middle ages that navigational conventions were added and the many texts were combined into a single volume (The Bible, meaning The Book, singular).
Today, our contemporary bibles are ubiquitously dense, numerical and encyclopedic in format; very different from how we experience other classic & foundational literature, and completely foreign to how the original authors conceived of their work.
By separating the text into several volumes, and by applying classic & elegant typography, Bibliotheca is meant to provide a fresh alternative to the reader who wants to enjoy the biblical library anew, as great literary art.
Design & Production
Here are few highlights about the design:
- Time-tested typographic methods geared toward an exceptionally fluid reading experience: optimal type size, line length (words per line), leading (space between lines), and margins
- Original typeface, designed and "set apart" exclusively for Bibliotheca—traditional, clean and legible
- Original, classically proportioned, sans serif typeface for titles
- Separated into novel-size volumes (the shortest at around 450 pages, and the longest at around 650 pages)
- Page proportion and text block based on the dimensions of the Ark of the Covenant as specified in Exodus (the actual size of the page is 5.25 x 8.75 inches)
And here are a few highlights of the production:
- Quality, flat-opening sewn binding (including the paperback edition!)
- Offset printed; perfectly clean, hard lines (not dot-based like digital printing)
- Opaque, tactile, off-white, acid-free book paper (not "Bible paper")
- Ribbon bookmark
- European-style rounded spine
- Foil stamp on spine
The minimum I've set here is not about making a profit. If we hit the minimum and no more, all the funds will go back into the manufacture, freight and delivery of about 500 four-volume sets (2,000 books). I have not factored in the time I've spent designing the project or the incentives, nor the time I will spend editing and typesetting the text, overseeing the production of the books and incentives, and packaging the books and incentives to send to you. Unless this project really takes off, I'm a volunteer. Maybe this is foolish of me, but my goal is that these books get made so that we can all enjoy them.
If the order goes over 500 sets, the cost per unit begins to go down, but the cost of ocean freight goes up, so I won't see any profit unless we absolutely destroy the minimum.
The books will be printed and bound by an industrial book manufacturer of the highest caliber. Though I haven't made a final decision on the manufacturer yet, I have narrowed it down to four great options—two of which are in the US, and two of which are in Germany. I am considering the two companies in Germany because they make exceptionally high-quality books with the utmost precision and attention to detail. In the US that type of quality is difficult to come by on an industrial level, though not impossible.
- Printing and Binding in Germany: $18,000 for 500 sets / 2,000 books. (500 is the minimum order for offset printed books.)
- Ocean Freight from Germany: $4,500
- Note: If the books are made in the US they will cost more to manufacture, but shipping in bulk will be cheaper. It balances out almost exactly.
- Distribution (sturdy packaging materials + shipping from me to you): $15 each for 500 sets = $7,500
To cover the cost of rewards, and since the above numbers are only based on estimates from the book manufacturers and freight companies, I've added $4,000
- Kickstarter takes 5%, and Amazon takes 3-5%
- That put's us at about $37,000
In addition to the set itself, I've tried hard to provide interesting and worthwhile incentives for you, including some nice letterpress prints of some of my artwork, a custom-made solid wood slipcase for the set, and some bibliophilic paraphernalia.
Clarification on embossers: A custom emboss will be made for you and it will come with an actual embosser for you to use on as many books in your library as you like.
The choice of Translation
The Short Version:
It's formally literal (close to the syntax and idiom of the original languages), and its English is beautiful, sophisticated and literary.
The Long Version:
1. The ASV was the first major alternative to the King James Version (1611) and the Geneva Bible (1560) for American readers in nearly 300 years. Much had been discovered about the ancient languages & cultures in that span of time, and the translators of the ASV applied that knowledge while preserving the beauty of earlier translations.
Conversely, the translators of the ASV were committed to as much formal accuracy as possible, and therefore it is superior to most in preserving the idiom, repetition, and syntax of the original languages.
At times the English of the ASV can be overly flowery/convoluted where the original Hebrew or Greek is comparatively terse/concise. So, as a supplemental text, I will occasionally incorporate the syntax (word-order) of Young’s Literal Translation (YLT) of 1862 (though I am using the revised edition of 1898), which was even more committed to formal literalism than the ASV. Although it is at many points overly technical and even unintelligible, sometimes Young’s translation is profoundly closer to the economy of means of the original Hebrew and Greek than the ASV. (This is probably owing to the fact that, unlike the committee of the ASV, Young was not concerned with preserving the style of the King James Version.) My basic rule is that I use Young’s translation only if it is closer to the syntax of the original languages, and is at least as intelligible as the ASV.
More Information about Editing the ASV with the YLT:
Since the launch and funding of this project, I've discovered there are quite a few out there who are understandably concerned about the amalgamation of the ASV and Young's Literal Translation.
Before I get into this I would like to state that I did anticipate, for this campaign at least, that I would not, and could not, please everyone in this regard. Although, I hope the success of this project will allow me to make this set available in other translations and even languages in the future.
One's preference of translation is ultimately a matter of personal taste and theological bent. I chose the ASV because it is my favorite complete translation; the one among all I would change the least (besides, obviously, the redundant archaisms). And Young's would be on the same plane if it weren't for his strange, yet defensible, choices with grammatical tense.
I appreciate, and view as unsurpassed, many aspects of both translations I've chosen to utilize. The ASV was aiming for a formal literalism beyond that of the King James, but was also concerned with preserving the excellent literary character of the English. To that end, it even reintroduced phrases and vocabulary from earlier translations, as far back as Tyndale, the father of the English Bible (whose excellent but incomplete translations I considered incorporating as well). Young strove to remain true, more than any other English translator before him, to the syntax, idiom, and grammatical tense of the Hebrew and Greek.
In short, I regard both of these translations as authoritative and excellent as any contemporary translation—and I am not alone in that opinion. I have chosen them because I believe they suit the aim of this project: to provide a rich, engaging literary experience of the biblical literature in English.
One very important note: I would like to be clear that the use of the YLT will be extremely minimal. I am estimating less than 1%. Also, the changes will be mainly to syntax, not vocabulary.
The ASV has, "[ . . . ] male and female created he them."
Young has, "[ . . . ] a male and a female He prepared them."
Let's say I decide that the use of two consecutive pronouns, "he them," in the ASV is too strange. I would not then change the ASV to Young's,
"[ . . . ] male and female He prepared them."
"[ . . . ] male and female he created them."
It's only the syntax, under Young's authority, that I've adopted; the only change being the placement of the words "he" and "created." I will not be making choices on a whim, but only in places such as this, where intelligibility and readability are in question.
Perhaps the above example is not the best, since I am not sure I would actually change the ASV here, but it does illustrate my approach. Sometimes this approach will result in the rearrangement of an entire sentence in which Young has been more frugal with his words, but again, only if clarity in the ASV is an issue.
I will be faithful to the meaning and the sense of the ASV. Even in places where I disagree, I will not change the meaning or the sense.
The Name of God
The name of God in Hebrew ( יהוה ), is most commonly represented in contemporary bibles as "The LORD." This comes from a Jewish tradition that replaced the name of God when spoken aloud with "Adonai" (Lord) out of reverence for the Holy Name.
Somewhat controversially, the translators of the ASV chose to represent the name of God as "Jehovah," a word coined in English by Tyndale. Jehovah is the German transliteration of the Hebrew letters (J-H-V-H) with the vowel sounds of Adonai placed between the consonants. This was controversial because adding vowel sounds suggests pronunciation, which is prohibited by Orthodox Judaism; for that matter, the actual pronunciation is lost to us.
I have gone one step further—or one step backward, depending on how you look at it—and will be using the English transliteration of the name of God; that is, YHWH, set in all small capital letters. This way, pronunciation is not suggested, but the name of God is still represented, rather than replaced.
This seemed appropriate to me because the name of God in Hebrew is indeed a unique personal name, not an honorific title preceded by a definite article (i.e. the master, the king, the lord). It is my opinion that using "The LORD" in place of the name of God creates an impersonal barrier between the character of God and the reader that does not exist in the earliest manuscripts, and was not intended to exist by the original authors. As a simple example, there is an obvious disparity in the two statements, "I, the king, care for you," and "I, George, care for you." Even if George is the king, it is significant if he has chosen to use his personal name when speaking to you rather than his honorific title.
Notes on the Typography
I started by learning how to hand-write the letterforms that have evolved into our traditional book typefaces, and from there dove into the meticulous world of type design. After over three years in the making and dozens of iterations, this project is the debut of this "set apart" typeface.
It is a traditional book typeface, and as a rule should not draw undue attention to itself whilst being read. Its rhythmic and spacious quality is designed for fluid readability. I have designed accompanying italic and small capital alphabets as well. The typeface is currently untitled.
As is the case with all book typefaces, I have drawn from the theories and forms of many type designers before me. It is impossible to design a book typeface free from the influence of Nicholas Jenson. Others, such as Eric Gill, Hans Mardersteig, and especially Bram de Does & Gerritt Noordzij, have been my instructors by way of their theoretical and practical contributions to type design.
The sans serif (or "gothic") typeface is based on the essential forms of the capital letters in my book typeface, and I will be using it as the titling face throughout the volumes.
A note on the text alignment
Books are most often justified, meaning every line of text is made the same length. This is achieved by adding or subtracting space between words from line to line, and sometimes by "tracking-out" the type or squishing it closer together. We are all used to this convention, and though it can be very legible if done well, in itself it does not contribute to fluid reading. If the space between words is too great reading can become choppy, and if too narrow, the words run together. And then of course there is noticeable difference of spacing from one line to the next, creating a patchy textblock overall.
Alternatively, I have used left aligned, or left ranged text (like the text you're reading now), in which the same optimal amount of space is placed between every word so there is never push-and-pull from one line to the next, and so the native spacing (kerning) built into the typeface is never compromised. While this causes the right edge of the text block to be ragged (which in no way detracts from legibility), it actually contributes to fluid reading because there is consistent rhythm in word-spacing.
Risks and challenges
Some of the challenges I will face if the project succeeds:
I hope to deliver before Christmas. That said, the time it will take to edit, typeset, manufacture, and ship the books in bulk is difficult to gauge.
Since this project is so close to my heart, it's been really important for me to be intimately involved in every step of the process. Some of these steps are in my comfort zone (design, layout, typesetting, file preparation), and some of them are completely new territory (editing the translation, directly overseeing the manufacture and shipping of the books). There has been a huge learning curve for me already, but I have done as much research as possible to prepare, and, with the advice of a few friends in the publishing business, I am confident this project will turn out beautifully.
Please email me with any questions.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter