Originally created 08/15/98

Books of Bible printed pocket-sized



LONDON -- The book of Revelation has the image of an atomic bomb cloud on its cover. A woman's figure adorns the front of the Song of Solomon.

This is the Bible packaged for the modern age.

Canongate Books, a small publishing house based in Edinburgh, Scotland, is putting out 12 Biblical books as separate, pocket-sized editions, complete with introductions by leading authors, including Doris Lessing, Fay Weldon and A.N. Wilson.

The company is aiming for a new generation of secular and religious readers, many of whom may never have read any of the Scriptures.

"I think they will be for all sorts of people," said editor Claire Paterson. "A lot of people will read the separate books for the very first time."

The company has chosen the King James version of the Bible, first published in 1611 "during an extraordinary flowering of English literature," Paterson said.

The dozen Biblical books chosen include the four Gospels, Genesis, Exodus and Proverbs.

They will go on sale this fall in Britain for $1.65 each. American publisher Grove-Atlantic Inc. has a licensing deal to distribute the first series in North America next spring.

Weldon is writing a forward for Corinthians, Wilson for Matthew's Gospel and Lessing for Ecclesiates. The forward to Genesis is being written by a genetic scientist, while Revelation has an introduction by novelist Will Self.

The idea was hatched a little more than a year ago when a friend of Canongate's chairman, Jamie Byng, asked why he had never seen the Bible published as separate books.

The company plans to publish another 12 Biblical books at Easter. Paterson said crime novelist Ruth Rendell had agreed to contribute the introduction to Romans.