Video by Joseph McMahon and Daniel Williams | Cinematography by Eric Schleicher | Intro music by Michael Gungor and Tyler Chester | Outro music by Chris Zabriskie
“Every element has been carefully considered to make reading a pleasurable experience.”
“Invites readers to pick up the central book of Western civilization and engage with it on its own terms.”
“Bibliotheca is a labor of love, obsessively beautiful, lavishly minimalist, every detail pondered yet rendered with such breathtaking simplicity that something very difficult has been made to look easy.”
What is Kickstarter Gold?
From Kickstarter: “Some of the most inventive projects in Kickstarter history are back – with a twist . . . Now through July 31, a group of over 65 exceptional artists, designers, musicians, and makers will be back on Kickstarter, putting new spins on ideas from their past projects . . . Participating creators were specially selected for their creativity, ingenuity, and past success on Kickstarter. We’re spotlighting them because they do excellent work.”
We are extremely honored to be invited to participate. And it just so happens we are nigh upon the three-year anniversary of Bibliotheca’s launch, June 27, 2014. Preparing for Kickstarter Gold has a been fun way to look back and reflect.
With the same $37,000 goal as before, I'm keeping things simple and bringing back a few of my favorite rewards that are sold out or were only available during the campaign, but I'm also adding a couple limited-edition items I hope you'll find interesting.
What is Bibliotheca?
If you haven't heard of the project, Bibliotheca's 2014 Kickstarter video is a good place to start.
But in summary, Bibliotheca is a five-volume, typographically minimalist edition of the Bible that was originally funded on Kickstarter in 2014 and published in 2016.
It stems from the idea that the ubiquitous form of “The Bible” – ultra-thin paper, two-column pages packed edge-to-edge with densely spaced type, numbers and navigational elements strewn about, bonded leather, etc. – is not the only, or even the best way to encounter these foundational ancient texts.
By removing all the added material, separating the text into several volumes, and applying age-old principles of book design, Bibliotheca is meant to provide a fresh alternative to the reader who wants to enjoy the biblical library anew, as great literary art.
Using simple, quality materials curated from across Europe, the books were printed and bound by the skilled craftspeople at Kösel, a book manufacturer in Germany founded in 1593.
The translation featured in Bibliotheca is a fresh, scholar-reviewed update of the 1901 American Standard Version. (Read more about the translation below.)
Bibliotheca features an original typeface, optimized for readability and prepared exclusively for this project.
Kickstarter Gold Rewards
Note: All copies of Bibliotheca that are included with rewards are from the first printing of the first edition. For information about the difference between the 4- and the 5-volume sets, scroll to the very bottom of this page.
- Bibliotheca Companion Notebook
- Bibliotheca Super Limited Edition Hand-bound 5-Volume Set (Not posted – coming soon. If you're interested, I recommend pledging $1 to get project updates.)
- Bibliotheca Paperback Set
- The Deluxe Edition: Bibliotheca Clothbound 5-Volume Set housed in the Solid Walnut Slipcase
- The Solid Walnut Slipcase a la carte
- Letterpress Prints (remaining from the first and only printing)
Bibliotheca Paperback Edition
The paperback edition was intended to be a more economical and bare-bones option for backers of the original campaign. It would feature the same sewn binding, dimensions, and premium paper as the clothbound edition. There were no details beyond that; nobody (including me) knew what they would look like. For that reason, relatively few people backed the project at that reward level. But now I can show you exactly how it turned out.
Some folks who own both the clothbound and paperback editions have told me they prefer the latter because they feel they can toss it around a bit more. We made a very limited number of these, and after sending the pledged copies to backers, there are only about 200 of the five-volume and 100 of the four-volume sets left, only available as rewards here.
Bibliotheca Companion Notebook
When production of Bibliotheca was finished, there were a few leftover tons of our very special, made-to-order paper. (It’s standard practice to order some overage in case of problems in the production process – we ordered a total of something like 130 tons.) I wanted to put this paper to use, but I wasn’t sure how.
A friend of mine, as he was examining a sample of the above-lauded paperback edition, mentioned that he would love to have a blank notebook of the same size and construction. A grand idea, I thought, and a worthy application of the extra paper.
A notebook, a sketchbook, a journal—there are no rules. (It’s actually unruled.)
Bound in sturdy, charcoal paperboard made from 100% recycled material; the same dimensions as Bibliotheca; and, of course, the same premium Austria-made, wood-free, acid-free, age-resistant, stone-based paper we used for Bibliotheca.
Solid Walnut Slipcase
Made in Michigan of U.S.- or Canada-grown walnut. Can be made to fit either the 4-volume (sans Apocrypha) or 5-volume clothbound set.
This was a popular reward during the original campaign. We made a handful of extras in the first round of production, but they sold out quickly. (Although, as I write this, there are still a few of the 4-volume slipcases available for immediate shipment at our store, but if you can wait several months for a new round of production, the reward level here on Kickstarter is a lower price.)
As far as I'm concerned, the walnut slipcase adds the final touch.
After the original campaign, we printed a higher number of these than were backed in case we needed to replace items damaged in transit, etc. The first print, “Christogram & The Four Evangelists” is an edition of 900, and “The Four Living Creatures of Ezekiel’s Vision” is 700. Kickstarter Gold seemed like a good opportunity to make the remaining prints available: We have just 50 of “Christogram” and 100 of “Ezekiel’s Vision” spread out across various rewards.
On the Translation (for the Geeks)
“By presenting an unfamiliar translation in an unfamiliar format, Bibliotheca delivers an experience that is especially revelatory.”
“This began as a design project, and it is certainly magnificent in that regard alone. But the greatest feat here is the exquisitely poetic new translation.”
The 2014 campaign surpassed our goal nearly forty times over. This created new possibilities for the project. The most significant development was the decision to carry out a more in-depth overhaul of the exceptionally literal 1901 American Standard Version (ASV) than initially planned. (The ASV is a revision of The King James Version, maintaining its essential style but making many improvements to the translation where three centuries of textual criticism and advances in ancient Greek and Hebrew lexicography had shed light.)
Before the campaign launched, I was planning to go through the text with some bookish friends and simply replace archaic pronouns and verbs (i.e. “thou” with “you,” “doth” with “does”), Young's Literal Translation close at hand for comparing difficult passages. With the extra funding, we were able to hire a managing editor to develop a style guide for updating the archaic language and punctuation in the ASV, a team of professional copy editors to apply the style guide across the text, a few research editors to examine complex issues, two veteran Bible proofreading companies to check for errors and ensure consistency, and seven PhD biblical language experts holding positions at Emory, Oxford, Fuller, Wheaton, and other reputable institutions to review the text.
“Without damaging the literary quality of the base translation, we were able to suggest many changes that would bring the translation up to par with where textual criticism and Greek [and Hebrew] lexicography currently stand, not to mention alert Adam to a few all-out mistranslations of the original Hebrew and Greek in the ASV (every translation has them).”
–David DeSilva, Trustees Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek, Ashland Theological Seminary; PhD Emory University, MDiv Princeton Theological Seminary, AB Princeton University
Essentially, our approach was to update explicitly archaic words and grammatical structures (“Go ye out” became “Go out”) but also to preserve, as much as possible, the markedly literary quality of the ASV.
We’ve named this revision The American Literary Version.
What’s the difference between the 4-Volume Set and the 5-Volume Set?
The extra book in the 5-Volume Set includes the collection of texts commonly called “The Apocrypha” or “Deuterocanonical Books,” various assortments of which are included in the Catholic and Orthodox canons and considered by them to be an authoritative second part of the “Old Testament.” They are not included in the Jewish or Protestant canons.
Before I launched the campaign, when I imagined Bibliotheca would be a small affair, I had decided not to include the Apocrypha in the set. But when things started taking off, many people asked me to add it. I hadn’t accounted for a fifth volume in my production costs, so I set a stretch goal: If the campaign hit $1 million, I would add the Apocrypha as an optional volume. Hence the existence of the 4- and 5-volume sets.
These are ancient Jewish texts, most of them predating the New Testament. They are invaluable to our knowledge of this period of Jewish history and literature and in understanding the world in which the New Testament authors lived. And, like the rest, it’s great reading.
Risks and challenges
This is a low risk project.
If we meet our goal, we'll place an order for walnut slipcases with our Michigan-based manufacturer. We’ve already done a large round of production with them, so we know our costs and turnaround.
The clothbound sets, paperback sets, blank notebooks, and prints are ready to ship. If you back a reward that includes the walnut slipcase, all of your rewards will ship with the slipcase when production is complete in December.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)