Back last summer I bought a Holman CSB Hand-size Giant Print Reference Bible at our local Barnes & Noble bookstore, and I figure now is a good time to write about how it is holding up.

Now I have other Bibles that I haven’t written about in this way, but this is the first Bible I have bought in recent memory that wasn’t either bonded leather or hardcover, and so that is my particular area of interest. The Bible I bought lists its cover as “imitation leather”. I don’t know if it’s polyurethane, or what it is. I have a hard time telling it from bonded leather, except it lacks that special … uh, “warmth” shall we say, that leather Bible covers have, even the bonded ones.

But even though it doesn’t really feel like leather, the black cover looks great, and it is proving to be quite durable. Plus, with frequent use it is becoming softer and more flexible, much as one would expect from a real leather Bible. And the gold lettering on the cover is also holding up very well. So as far as the cover is concerned, I am really quite pleased, pleased enough that I would buy another with the same type of cover with few qualms about it. It’s just that … well, it’s not leather. It doesn’t quite feel like leather, and it doesn’t smell like leather.

The binding is actually sewn! It’s a cheap Bible, and it’s sewn! Now I’m no expert, and I can’t tell you if it’s actually Smyth Sewn or some cheaper version of it. But it is clearly sewn, and it lays flat, from Genesis through Revelation. I can even hold it in the middle at its spine, and it droops almost exactly like you would expect a fine, leather Bible to droop. Of course, since I suspect it to be a cheaper version of sewing, I don’t really know how well it will hold up over years of use.

In my opinion, the weakest part of this Bible is the “gold-stained” page edging. It tends to look more like bronze, and is only moderately shiny, and it’s wearing off rather quickly. If anything makes this Bible appear cheap, this is it. I would have much preferred the old red edging they used to put on Bibles (particularly the cheap ones) or a color-coordinated edge color, like we frequently see in hymnals and such. (Can you imagine a black Bible with black page edging?) Also, the ribbon is very narrow. I can’t imagine it would cost that much more to make these bibles with a ribbon that’s an eighth of an inch wider.

The printing is claimed to be 10 point, and I’m sure it is, although I find it hard to accept that as “giant” print. I would call it large, but that’s only relative to the infinitesimal print in so many Bibles these days, particularly those aimed at the kids, who are not yet suffering from presbyopia. (Their day will come!) Anyway, the print is clear, if a little bit light. (Now if they’d just make it available in black-letter as well as red-letter!) I have gotten used to the “end of paragraph” reference system, although I don’t really care for it too much. And another thing that used to drive me nuts is the “bullet notes”, the little dot next to words that are defined in the bullet notes section in the back. It’s a nice idea, but it’s a bit distracting. And another thing, please make the text notes and cross-references a little larger. This is a “giant” print Bible, but even so, those notes so often are too small to read without a magnifying glass. That really needs to be addressed.

There are also a few things I would like to see the Bible manufacturers take out of the Bibles. This cheap little Bible has about 8 or 10 pages at the front for family records, who was born when, who married who when, who died when, etc., etc. Now I can understand having that in a “Family” Bible (you understand what I mean), but in a cheap little Bible like this one, it seems rather silly. Get rid of all that, although you could probably keep the “presentation page”.

Another thing I find in this Bible is a section on “How can I be saved?” Now I’ve walked with the Lord for 40 years; I don’t need that. It’s just extra pages to me. I can see its value if the Bible is bought by or given to a person who does not know the Lord. But it also seems to me this kind of thing needs to be reserved for the “outreach” editions.

Finally, I have found that the maps in the back are almost worthless for someone with less-than 20-20 eyesight. The printing is simply too small. Also, there are too few of them, and they are too simple. They’re not good for much more than to get some idea where Jerusalem is, and where Nazareth is, and so on.

Hey, I didn’t realize there are so many things about this Bible that bug me! But the fact is, I have been extremely impressed, over all, with the quality of this Bible (considering it’s a cheapie). In fact, I am seriously considering getting myself another, HCSB Giant Print Bible (14 point) for a more serious personal Bible. It’s a bit larger Bible, with larger print, but I would retain the imitation leather cover and make it blue this time. (I wonder if the blue one has gold or silver stained edges.)

Anyway, those are my thoughts now, after using this Bible frequently for several months, and heavily the last three months. I’ll probably write more about it if I see some unexpected wear, or other looming disaster coming. But for now, I think it’s a very nice Bible, a wonderful translation, and a good one to recommend.