Illustrated Faith: A $100 Bible?

How much would you pay for a Bible? There's a certain point when companies are just being unreasonable. The price of the Day Spring Illustrating Faith Bible has me questioning the values of the company. I refused to pay that price and decided to make my own.
I was watching youtube video on Bible Journaling, and saw a pretty cool Bible. I followed the links and ended up on the page for Day Spring's Illustrating Faith Bible.[1] Somebody, please explain to me who thought it was a good idea to sell a Bible for $100 and why people are actually buying it. I don't remember the part in the Bible where any of God's prophets charged outrageous amounts of money to hear God's Word, nor do I remember the part where other people in God's kingdom charged or were charged to use their respective gifts. Whoever at Day Spring came up with this price was not just trying to get compensated and make a living, they're down right greedy and to use a phrase I've been using a lot lately, "pimping out Jesus."

How To Do It Yourself

I already make my own journals, so I can say with confidence, that Bible did not cost $100 to make. I would estimate $50-$60 for production, which may justify a price tag of $60-$70 if you must make a profit. How do I know? Because I did the math and made my own.

Printing

The biggest hurdle I had was printing. The Illustrating Faith Bible is 9x9, but I wanted to make mine a little bigger, maybe 10x10 or 11x11 so that I could have bigger print and/or less pages. Unfortunately my printer can't handle a width greater than 8.5. I found two ways to get their size of 9x9 or larger: have it professionally printed or buy a printer that handles larger sizes.

Professional printing, due to the size requirement and sheer number of pages was quoted at $200, which is insane for black and white printing. At that point, you might as well just buy Day Spring's Bible, right?

There are printers that will print these custom sizes, and while they were cheaper than professionally printing the pages, they still had a price tag of over $100. If you're an avid crafter/journal-er, you may already have a printer than can print any size for your pages, which means this isn't a problem for you. If it's something you wish to get into, it may be worth the investment. I decided to scale down and settle for 8.5x8.5 pages, since this is the only project I envision needing this functionality. However, if I had chosen to, say, mass produce Bibles at a custom size, I would have bought a printer and the cost of that printer would be spread out across each unit sold. For example, if the printer cost me $150 and I only make one Bible, I had to spend $150 in printing costs, but if I make 100 Bibles, I only spent $1.50 for each Bible in printing cost.

Of course, printing isn't just the printer being used, but the paper and ink needed, as well. You can get a ream (500 sheets) of standard white paper for anywhere from $15 to $20; I paid $17.49. That works out to about $0.03 per sheet. For the ink, I have a Brother printer that uses toner instead of ink cartridges. I can print roughly 3000 pages with one toner cartridge. The cartridges cost me $80.59, this works out to be a little less than $0.03 per page. Day Spring's Bible has just shy of 1000 pages. Depending on the translation you use (perk of creating it yourself) and the font size you choose, you may need more or less pages. Assuming you ended up with 1000 pages, the paper would cost $15-$20 (remember 1 sheet = 2 pages) and the printing would cost you a little less than $30.00.

You'll notice in the pictures I have, I chose to handwrite the text for my Bible instead of printing the text. I chose this because it helps me memorize scripture and I'm currently in a Bible Study group where we are going through the Bible chapter by chapter. This may not be a feasible solution for most people, which is why I include the estimates for printing the full text.

Cover Page

Day Spring's Bible has faux leather for a cover. I used laminated cardstock and chipboard for mine. I did this because I was in a rush and didn't care about the cover. I couldn't find faux leather exactly, but I did find vinyl covers. You can get them pre-punched for binding, or do it yourself. Once again, bulk pricing is against people who only want one notebook, but for someone who mass produces things (*cough* Day Spring *cough*) or creates journals often, the price isn't too bad. You can get 100 covers for somewhere between $36 and $50 (they may charge a little extra to have the cover cut to the desired size). Worst case, that's $2 per cover sheet and you need 2—one for the front and one for the back. So that's a worst case charge of $4. The laminated cardstock + chipboard cost me about half the price

Binding

Once you have all your pages and your cover, all you have to do is bind it. You could take it to a store like FedEx or Staples to have it bound if you don't have a binding system, or you could do it yourself. Unfortunately, I don't have an estimate for professional binding, because I've been doing my own binding for the past 5 years. I've more than paid off the machine that punches the holes in the paper. I was able to buy 25 2" coils for $44 way back when, but the company I bought them from has since gone out of business. The closest thing I could find to what I have was 100 coils for $300. That would be $3 for the coil compared to the $1.48 I paid. Of course, there are other binding methods (discs, comb, etc.) that could be less expensive.

Total Cost

In total I paid about $50 to create the same product. What agitates me about this price is that I know everything costs less when you buy in bulk, so I know Day Spring could get many of these costs down because they produce mass quantities of similar products. A $50 production cost is on the high end, if an average Joe like me can get create it for the same price. I'm not a professional and I don't have access to the suppliers or the bulk pricing that Day Spring does. Even if we include fancy packaging and foiling in the cost and ignore the better pricing they have access too, the Bible would still only cost $60 to produce. That's $40 of profit for them. That's 60% of the product's value! So you're paying them 160% what the product is worth.

Conclusion

Make no doubt about it, Day Spring is over charging, but creating the Bible yourself is probably problematic if you aren't an avid journal maker and don't already have binding tools on hand. That's what Day Spring is counting on. Of course, at the end of the day, most translations of the Bible are copyrighted (did not realize a man could copyright the Words of God, but #ThisIsAmerica), so printing more than 500 verses may or may not get you into trouble and unless I get in league with publishers for the rights to print the Bible, I can't create a competing product to offer for a cheaper price.

References

  1. "Illustrating Bible". Day Spring; visited December 2019
  2. "Vinyl Binding Covers". Binding101; visited December 2019
  3. Bill Muehlenberg. "The Bible and Copyright Law". Culture Watch. June 23, 2017
  4. "Public Domain"

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About

Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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