Making a better Bible is harder than it sounds—even if you’re given more than a million dollars to do it.
Adam Lewis Greene, creator of the Kickstarter-funded Bibliotheca, learned the intricacies of the process as about 15,000 supporters waited through two years of production delays.
When his project to create a four-volume, single-column Bible raised $1.4 million—ranking among Kickstarter’s top 10 campaigns of 2014—the California-based book and type designer found himself overwhelmed at the scope.
Transforming the Bible from its familiar reference-packed pages to a format more like a novel proved to be far more complicated than removing chapter and verse numbers and footnotes. In addition to sorting out design elements and materials, producers had to choose how to present a text that readers have seen the same way for generations.
The timeline was pushed back as Greene used the additional funding for a professional revision of the American Standard Version (ASV), complete with copy editors, Bible scholars, and proofreaders to change archaic words like thee and thou and update verses whose translations have improved since the ASV’s original 1901 publication.
Then came the typesetting, as the team decided how to space each book of the Bible without the typical divides. For example, passages of Isaiah traditionally printed as prose got line breaks like poetry, a better reflection of their Hebrew format, said Greene.
“What I did not expect was that, through this process, my admiration and reverence for the text would deepen as it has—maybe tenfold,” he said. “This literature is so complex and interwoven. The deeper I dig, the more I discover.”