JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES love the Bible more than any other publication. We study it regularly and use it to teach others about the good news of God’s Kingdom. (Matt. 24:14) Therefore, our brothers spared no effort to ensure that the materials used to produce the 2013 revision of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures in English would be both attractive and durable.

When brothers from our printery in Wallkill, New York, U.S.A., discussed the prospective design of the new Bible with the president of a bookbinding company, he said, “The Bible you seek does not exist.” He added, “It’s sad but true that most Bibles are designed to look good on a coffee table or a shelf—not to be highly durable.”

 Some earlier editions of the New World Translation did not last very long. Therefore, brothers at our Wallkill printery carefully examined cover materials, adhesives, and binding methods in order to produce a Bible that would withstand intense use in various climates. Based on their findings, they produced prototype Bibles and had them field-tested by Witnesses in several countries with extreme climates.

After six months, the Bibles were returned, and the brothers made improvements and sent out another batch of prototypes. In all, more than 1,690 Bibles were field-tested. A few of them received rough treatment by accident. For example, one Bible was run over by a car, another was left out in the rain overnight, and another was submerged in the floodwaters of a hurricane.

In 2011, while the field tests were taking place, new high-speed bindery equipment was purchased for our printeries in Wallkill and in Ebina, Japan. Not only was there a need to print enough Bibles for the initial release but there was also a need to produce Bibles at both printeries that would be identical in appearance.

Curling Covers

At first, the covers did not stay flat

Early in 2012, the two printeries began producing the 1984 edition of the New World Translation, using some of the new cover material. However, the new binding machines used a glue and a liner material in the cover that had not been field-tested, and the covers curled markedly. So production was stopped.

The makers of one of the materials admitted that the curling effect is a well-known problem in the bookbinding industry, so they felt that it could not be solved.  Rather than switch to a hard cover, however, the brothers were determined to produce a Bible with a cover that was flexible, durable, and attractive. After nearly four months of testing many combinations of glue and liner material, they found a combination that enabled the printery to resume production of Bibles with flexible covers that would now stay flat.

The bindery at the Wallkill printery

The release of the revised New World Translation was scheduled for October 5, 2013, at the annual meeting of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. The printeries received the electronic files of the finalized text on Friday, August 9, 2013, and began printing the next day. The first completed Bible was produced on August 15. Over the next seven weeks, the printeries in Wallkill and in Ebina operated day and night to produce and ship over 1,600,000  Bibles, enough for every person who attended the annual meeting to receive a copy.

While this Bible is beautiful and durable, its life-giving message is even more attractive. The day after she received her new Bible, a sister from the United States wrote, “Now that we have the new edition, I’m able to understand the Bible better.”