Holman Full-Color Cowhide version KJV Study Bible Review Rating 9.0

If you read my review of the Hardcover Holman Full-Color KJV Study bible, you may recall that I intended to get the leather bound version and accidentally requested the hardcover version from them.  It actually worked out well though because during the review I felt that the hardcover version would be an excellent desk reference KJV Study bible if that was what you were interested in.  Upon finishing the hardcover version review, I requested the one I really wanted to review – the premium black genuine cowhide version.  I was very happy to see the bible show up in the mail a couple weeks ago.  I am doing this review after using this bible for myself for a couple of weeks to get a good feel for it.


In full disclosure, I was not required or requested by B&H Publishing to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


QUICK SUMMARY: 9.0 out of 10

**See all sections below for full detailed review**

Very similar to my review of the hardcover version, I really like this study bible.  I may be a little weird, but the smell and feel of genuine leather (especially cowhide like this version) is very nice.  From what I compared, the inner contents of the cowhide version has the exact same, nicely opaque paper and full-color printing as what is in the hardcover version.  In fact, from what I can tell, they used the same printed book block in both the hardcover and cowhide versions of this bible.  If you like carrying a very nice study bible as your normal bible and prefer the King James Version, then I would highly recommend this easy to use bible to you.  Here are a few of the high-level differences between the cowhide version and the hardcover version:

  1. Obviously, the cover is MUCH nicer and more durable with this version
  2. Silver gilding in the cowhide leather bound version (shiny edges of the pages that are an aesthetic addition) – see my observations about the gilding in the details below…
  3. Rounded corners of the printed pages in the cowhide version



Type of Bible:  Study Bible
Publisher: Holman Bible Publishers (2012)
ISBN-13 of Bible Reviewed: 978-1433603785
Printing Location: United States
Bible Version: KJV
Price: At the time of writing this review, the cheapest place to get this book is at Christianbook.com.  They have it for $109.99– suggested retail from the publisher is $179.99. Please note that these prices do not include any potential shipping charges.

If you would like to purchase this Bible, please support my blog and purchase by clicking any of the links to Christianbook.com on this page like the one below.  If you want it in a different format, Click Here for those links listed below in this review.

603780: KJV Study Bible--genuine cowhide leather, black KJV Study Bible–genuine cowhide leather, black
By Holman Bible Publishers

Holman Bible Publishers is excited to present the KJV Study Bible, a new edition modeled after its own 2011 ECPA Christian Book Award-winning HCSB Study Bible, where every well-conceived study help is practically placed on the same page spread as the related biblical text. It also features 15,000 study notes, 141 photos, 62 timelines, 59 maps, 40-page concordance, 20 articles and essays, 16 illustrations and reconstructions, 15 charts, and a helpful glossary of 17th century expressions relative to the KJV’s signature phrasing.

Other details include a two-column text setting, center-column cross references, the words of Christ in red, one- and three-year Bible reading plans, a notes section, four-color presentation page, and two-piece die-cut gift box..

Check out its wealth of features:

  • Full-color page designs
  • Full-color maps, charts, and reconstructions
  • Extensive book introductions and commentary notes
  • 40-page concordance
  • Essays on practical and theological issues
  • Feature-length articles on the origin and transmission of the Bible
  • 141 photos
  • 62 timelines
  • 59 maps
  • 20 articles and essays
  • 16 illustrations and reconstructions
  • 15 charts
  • A helpful glossary of 17th century expressions relative to the KJV&rsquo;s signature phrasing
  • Self-pronouncing text
  • Two-column text setting
  • Center-column cross references
  • The words of Jesus in red
  • One- and three-year Bible reading plans
  • Presentation page
  • Family Registry
  • Two ribbon markers
  • Silver page edges
  • 9-point text size
  • 9.50″ x 7.00″ x 2.25″

Physical Characteristics:
  • Genuine cowhide leather
  • Smyth sewn
  • 2 ribbon markers (black and gray/silver)
  • Words of Christ in “red” text (see comments below on this)
  • 2,240 pages (not including Pre-Scripture Text Pages and final Maps at end)
  • Type size is 9 point (for scripture – it’s smaller for Study Notes)
  • Dimensions: 7 1/8” wide (outside spine to cover edge – cover hangs past pages by about 5/16″) x 9 1/2″ high (top edge of cover to bottom edge of cover – cover hangs over top and bottom of pages by 1/4″ each) x 2 1/16” thick (including cover thickness)
  • Approximate weight: 4 lbs.


Pre-Scripture Text Pages (same as hardcover version)

  • Presentation page
  • Marriage page (much like a marriage license)
  • 2 pages of Births
  • 1 page of Marriages
  • 1 page to record “Occasions to Remember”
  • 1 page to record Deaths
  • Table of Contents
  • Books of the Bible with page numbers (in page number sequence)
  • Books of the Bible (arranged alphabetically)
  • Introduction to Holman KJV Study Bible by Jeremy Royal Howard (General Editor)
  • Features of the Holman KJV Study Bible (explains how to use it)
  • 5 pages of Contributors (Editorial and Study Notes)
  • 4 pages of List of Maps, Illustrations and Charts
  • Abbreviations used in the KJV Study Bible
  • God’s Plan for Salvation with a toll free number to call the Evangelism Response Center to talk to someone about Jesus (888-537-8720)
  • 3 pages of Steps to a Classic (explains some history to the KJV translation) by Ed Blum (General Editor)
  • 16 pages of Epistle Dedicatory and the Translators to the Reader (full)
  • 9  pages of How to Read and Study the Bible by George H. Guthrie
  • 7 pages of Origin, Transmission and Canonization of the Old Testament Books by Jeremy Royal Howard (General Editor)
  • 5 pages of Origin, Transmission and Canonization of the New Testament Books by Jeremy Royal Howard (General Editor)
    • NOTE: This is actually located in the pages between the Old and New Testaments on pages 1564-1568

Scripture Text Pages (same as hardcover version)

  • Each book starts off with a nice introduction that includes the following:
    • A brief summary statement
    • Circumstances of Writing
    • Message and Purpose
    • Contribution to the Bible
    • Structure
    • Outline of the book
  • Holman Study Notes on the lower portion of each page of biblical text (approximately 15,000 of them per the publisher … and no, I did not count them to verify)  🙂
  • 141 Full-color photos throughout giving a nice example of biblical places and ideas
  • Cross References
  • 59 full-color maps that are very nicely done
  • 16 illustrations and reconstructions showing mock ups of some biblical buildings and locations
  • 15 charts
  • 20 Articles and Essays
  • 62 Timelines putting into perspective when a book was written and what is contained in it

Post-Scripture Text Pages (same as hardcover version)

  • Table of Weights and Measures
  • 18 pages of King’s English (glossary of terms used in the King James Bible like “gainsay” which is to “deny or contradict” for example)
  • 50 page concordance (not exhaustive by any means, but then again, if you’re a serious bible study person, you probably have a separate concordance like Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance or something similar).
    • NOTE: The advertisements show it as a 40 page concordance, however unless someone was using some new kind of math, it looks like it’s actually 50 pages (starts on page 2183 and ends on page 2232). So we apparently get 10 bonus concordance pages!   🙂
  • One year Bible Reading Plan
  • Three year Bible Reading Plan
  • Art Credits page for Photos, Illustrations/Reconstructions and Charts.
  • 8 additional full-color maps


OK, this is the part where I get to tell you about how I like or dislike this bible in a detailed manner.  What I typically try to do is do a quick glance over the entire book at a high level to get a feel for it.  Then I will go in depth in a shorter book such as Philippians so I am comparing the same thing from bible to bible.  That gives my reviews a certain consistency to them.


Ease of Use: (same as hardcover version)

I would say that this bible is very easy to use.  I’m not going to go into the readability of this version vs. that version.  To any bible reader/student, the tools and layout/design of this bible are done nicely thus making the usability very high in my opinion.  The extra-biblical reference materials and commentary have a very natural flow to them.

Study Tools Helpful & Informative: (same as hardcover version)

  • Quite a lot of study notes – as I mentioned before, some don’t go into much detail while others do go quite deep.
  • Glancing through a few of the Essays, they are pretty good, most of which are from authors with a Baptist background.
  • Maps are done nicely in color; however on some of the maps, the font size is very small which would make it hard for some people to read without some kind of magnifying tool.
Cowhide Holman KJV Study Bible - Map showing Ehud and the Moabite oppression found on page 418
Map showing Ehud and the Moabite oppression found on page 418
  • Reconstructions and illustrations (hand drawings) are done well.
Cowhide Holman KJV Study Bible: 8th century B.C. Hebrew house
8th century B.C. Hebrew house on page 1470
Cowhide Holman KJV Study Bible: New Testament Jerusalem
New Testament Jerusalem on pages 1744-1745
Cowhide Holman KJV Study Bible: Solomon's Temple reconstruction
Solomon’s Temple reconstruction on page 738
Cowhide Holman KJV Study Bible: Olive press reconstruction
Olive press reconstruction found on page 888
  • Charts are done very cleanly. For example, on page 465, there is a very clean chart showing the family of David.


Cowhide Holman KJV Study Bible: Family of David chart
Family of David chart on page 465
  • The book introduction pages are done very nicely and give a great background to each book of the bible.  This includes a timeline for each book as well which helps the reader to get an idea of the timing of the events surrounding the time of when the book was written.

Does Commentary Convey Biblical Truth: (same as hard cover version)

From the quick glance through hitting multiple random commentaries, it does seem to have a pretty solid foundation.

Durability of Bible:

I would say that this appears to be a very durable bible.  The only disappointment I had was that the edge of the cover is not sewn which not only gives it a nice look in my opinion, but also gives it some more stability long term.  Not a huge issue – just an observation.  This bible is Smyth Sewn (or section sewn), which means it will hold up better than most “perfect bound” or glue back bibles (similar to general paperback books).  I would easily consider this version a “carry around with me” study bible.

Cowhide Holman KJV Study Bible: Smyth sewing example
Example of the Smyth sewing in the maps on the last pages.

Leather bound cover and spine:

Please note that I have a personal preference toward leather bound books – especially the finer leathers like cowhide (there are some others that are nicer yet, but VERY expensive usually).  I have to be honest with you – I keep wanting to hold and touch this bible – the cowhide leather has such a nice soft feel to it and it has a very nice texture.  It is much nicer than the typical leather bound books.  The cowhide has a nice leather smell, which I like quite a bit. Yes, I’m one of those weird people that smell books when they get them.  Only the outside of the cover is the cowhide.  The endsheets (inside of the book that secures the printed pages to the cover) have a leather-like synthetic material, which is fairly typical in bible production these days unless you want to pay a lot more (hundreds of dollars) for your bible and get nicer endsheets.  In my opinion, these endsheets are perfectly fine the way they are.

Cowhide Holman KJV Study Bible: cowhide leather cover texture
The cowhide leather has a very nice texture and soft feel to it

Fun Fact (at least to me it is)…This bible has what I would call a square back vs. rounded back.  A round back book using the exact same paper and same number of pages will have a slightly thinner spine thickness than a square back.  This is due to how the printed signatures are folded – for example, if you take a bunch of paper and fold the sheets individually and then stack them up, you will see that even when pressed down, folded edge will always be slightly thicker due to the fold.  With this bible which has a square back, you can see that right at the spine (due to the folded signatures) it is slightly (maybe a hair more than 1/16”) thicker than if you were to squeeze and measure the thickness just little ways away from the spine of the book vs. on the spine itself.  Keep in mind that not many book publishers do the rounded back as that was more needed for the older manual book binding methods with all of the cords and strings that they used to bind the book.

Cowhide Holman KJV Study Bible: Slight spine flare due to squareback binding
You can see the VERY slight flare in the spine in this
shot. VERY minor and very normal in modern
bound books.
Cowhide Holman KJV Study Bible: Spine flare drawing
Drawing showing spine flare and how medieval
bookbinding methods used the rounding method
for their backbone/spine.

The spine has the ribbing that is done in older style of bindings where they secure the spine of the pages together more securely.  In the older manual method of bookbinding, this is done by sawing a “divot” perpendicular to the spine of the pages and then gluing in a nice thick “cord” to secure the pages even more.  This caused a raised “rib” on the spine of the book where the cord was.  However in the case of this bible, the ribbing is strictly done in the spine of the cover and is not securing the actual pages in any way, so it really is more of an aesthetic look than anything.  With that said, some people like the look and some don’t.  I personally like the looks of it, but would rather have it be an actual backbone ribbing vs. just aesthetics.  Maybe I’m just being an old-school medieval book binding purist. Lol
The spine also has gilded (see section below explaining gilding) text on it – at the top showing “KJV” to let you know what version.  In the middle it shows “STUDY BIBLE”, then at the bottom, it shows the Holman logo.

Cowhide Holman KJV Study Bible: Decorative ribbing on spine
Here you can see the decorative ribbing they put on the spine
as well as the spine gilding.


Gilding of the pages:

The gilding is the gold or silver foil edging of the pages that you see in many bibles.  You can’t easily see it by looking at a single page, but with the bible closed, the edges of all the pages look either gold or silver.  For the cowhide version of this bible, the gilding is silver.  I’m not sure that I have a preference as to gold vs. silver for gilding.  Again, this is really just an aesthetic addition to any book that makes the book look nicer.

Time to be honest… I think I may be a little O.C.D. with this, but I did actually go through every single page to separate the pages due to gilding.  I have always done this with gilded books.  When I first get a gilded bible in my hands, I start to “fan” through the pages to separate the pages because gilding will tend to make the edge of the pages “stick” together a little bit.  One interesting fact for this bible is that for any pages where the full color bleeds off the page (extends to the very edge of the page), the gilding made it stick in the corners a little more than normal and the fanning of the pages didn’t separate them.  I will have to do some investigation to see why that may be from a print process standpoint.  It did this in my Chronological Life Application Study Bible as well for the pages that bled to the edge.  To safely separate the pages of the full-bleed color pages, I simply separated the pages a little on the face of the book and then used my finger to pull the upper and lower corners separate.  Once that was done, just opening the page like a normal page turn separated the pages very easily with no issues.  Not a big deal at all and most people could safely be a little more aggressive than I was…. I don’t like my bibles to have creased or folded pages if I can avoid it.  I told you I’m a little O.C.D. with some things.  🙂

Cowhide Holman KJV Study Bible: Silver gilding on page edges
This bible has silver colored gilding on the edge of the pages.
Cowhide Holman KJV Study Bible: full bleed pages separated a little harder due to gilding
Here you can see how the full-bleed pages held together a little
more than the other pages.  To not damage the pages, I separated
the pages at the face (shown in pic) and then simply ran my finger
between the pages to the very corner then opened the page as normal.
You don’t have to do this if you prefer – I just like to be careful.  Plus
not many of the pages have full bleeds on them – mostly the book
introduction pages and some of the initial pre-Scripture pages.

Rounded Corners:

This bible has the typical rounded corners that you see in the vast majority of leather or “leatherlike” bibles.  As a note, the hardcover version of this bible does not have the rounded corners.  Personally, I like the rounded corners from an aesthetic as well as functional purpose.  The bibles that don’t have rounded edges in my opinion tend to get bent or damaged corners more easily than those that have rounded edges.  So, rounding the corners is a way to reduce wear and tear on the pages.  This wear and tear can happen just from long term turning of pages, which hopefully happens a lot for you rather than the bible not getting opened.

Cowhide Holman KJV Study Bible: Cowhide Rounded Edge
Cowhide version has the nice rounded edges which will help
the pages with wear and tear.
Cowhide Holman KJV Study Bible: Hardcover has squared edges
Hardcover version has the squared edges. One of the many
reasons I would classify the hardcover version as a desk
reference bible.

Typeface and Print: (same as hard cover version)

  • Scriptures appear to be approximately 9 point Times Roman font, which tends to be fairly standard size and font used in many bibles.
    • The study notes are substantially smaller in point size (maybe a 5 or possibly 6), but it is done in a very clean font (similar to an Arial or Verdana possibly).
    • Study Notes verse number references are done in that nice light blue color and the text is black.  When a portion of the study note quotes directly from Scripture, the publisher put those quoted words in a bold font.
  • Scripture text and the commentary text (and maps and charts) are very clearly separated by a tan colored horizontal bar separating the two areas into an upper section (scripture) and a lower section (study notes, maps, charts, etc.)
  • The section headers (such as “Saul in Damascus” for Acts 9:19-22) and the chapter numbers are in a very pleasing blue color which gives it a nice distinctness from the actual scripture text which is in black.
  • The actual verse numbers are in a slightly lighter blue hue.
  • The center-column cross references are distinguished nicely by the verse being in that same lighter blue and the actual cross reference being in black.
  • Words of Christ are in red, but you may notice that the color is closer to the magenta side vs a true red.  Some people would interpret this color as a darker pink.  It doesn’t look bad – just different from what I would normally expect.
    • NOTE: from a purely technical perspective, true red is obtained by using 50% magenta and 50% yellow on a printing press in two separate printing units.  Sometimes you could argue that the printer had too little yellow giving the Words of Christ this pinkish-magenta hue.  However this is not true because, for example, if you look at pages 1738 and 1739, the Words of Christ in Luke 21:14-17 are directly “in-line” a color separator bar and then also with a full-color map directly across.  If the yellow was too low, this color map and the color separator bar would look different.  It does not.  Therefore the color appears to be an intentional design by Holman.  Plus, the color seems to be pretty consistent throughout the Gospels.
  • There is a descent amount of room to write in the outside margins to write in if you desire (just about 3/4″ margin)
  • Paper used for this bible is a nicely opaque paper so you don’t get nearly the show through that you do with other bibles that use cheaper/thinner paper.
  • Full color maps, photographs, charts, timelines, and other content are done very nicely and the print is very good quality.


Ease of Use (same as hardcover version):

Reading and studying in Philippians and Is very easy to do with how the publisher laid out this bible.  Starting with the book introduction to the study notes – all very well done.

Study Tools Helpful & Informative (same as hardcover version):

Again, the book introduction is very nicely done giving some great background to Philippians as well as the overall message of the book, covering church unity, freedom from legalism, stewardship, and more.  Cross references seem to be very solid depending on which portion of the verse you are focusing on (which would be true with any cross reference in any bible).  Study Notes are done very cleanly and concisely without getting too wordy.  I would have liked to seen more of the cultural and historical background of Philippi given in the study notes, however.

Does Commentary Convey Biblical Truth (same as hardcover version):

The commentary in Philippians seems to be pretty solid.  As mentioned previously, the notes don’t go into great depth, but overall, I would say they seem to be very helpful  A little more on the history and culture would be good to cover, however.



Below, we have the overall ratings that I would give to this particular bible with a 1 to 10 range.  Keep in mind that when I am doing these ratings, it is based on the physical makeup, format, extra-biblical content and value of the bible, not rating the Word of God itself as that would be off the chart  🙂

Quality:  9.4 (I would classify this one as very well made.  Not the highest quality bible that you can get, however for the price it is VERY well made. To get a better quality bible, you would be spending more than $300 or more.)

Appearance: 9 (same as the hardcover version, the layout and colors are nicely done – I personally like the color scheme of the Chronological Life Application Study Bible a little better as it seems a little “softer” to me vs. the more harsh red-ish earth tones of the KJV Study Bible – just personal preference though. You may prefer the color scheme of this bible more)

Value: 9.1 (I personally like leather bibles that are sewn better simply because they feel better in the hand to me personally and are typically made better and will last longer.  Since this one is actually cowhide and has a very nice feel to it, I have no issues giving it a high rating.  I do wish it had edge stitching on the cover, however as I would be willing to pay a few extra dollars for that look.

Innovation: 9 the full color pages seem to make it much easier for me personally to read and use this bible.  How to study the Bible section is very practical and will be handy for many users.

Other/Wildcard: 8.5 (the study notes are pretty good, although in some areas, they are a tad weak.  I have seen other study bible notes that have more detail.)

Overall Rating: 9.0 out of 10 (see note about Value above)


Bible Formats and Options:

Here are some of the different formats that this bible comes in per the publisher.  You can simply Google the ISBN number to find where you can get your desired version;

ISBN: 978-1433603785 (Black Genuine Cowhide – This review)
ISBN: 978-1433600340  (Jacketed Hardcover – already reviewed HERE)
ISBN: 978-1433603150 (eBook)
ISBN: 978-1433600388 (Black Genuine Leather)
ISBN: 978-1433600395 (Black Genuine Leather Indexed)
ISBN: 978-1433600357 (Saddle Brown LeatherTouch Indexed)
ISBN: 978-1433603631 (Lavender LeatherTouch)
ISBN: 978-1433600333 (Saddle Brown LeatherTouch)
ISBN: 978-1433604362 (Father’s Edition Black/Tan LeatherTouch)
ISBN: 978-1433614378 (Turquoise Mother’s Edition LeatherTouch)
ISBN: 978-1433600333 (Saddle Brown LeatherTouch)


Company Summary:

In 1993, A.J. Holman Bible Company was acquired by Broadman Press to form B&H Publishers.  Then in 2014, B&H Publishing combined with Lifeway Church Resources.  They are based in Nashville, TN and have roots that go back to 1738.


Please leave a comment or question and I will try to respond a.s.a.p.

– Michael

This entry was posted in B&H Publishing, Genuine Cowhide, Holman, KJV, Study Bible, Study Bible Reviews, Word of God. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Holman Full-Color Cowhide version KJV Study Bible Review Rating 9.0

  1. Pingback: Tyndale Full-Color Chronological NLT Life Application Study Bible: Review – Rating: 9.1 | The Christian Reviewer

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