I’ll get back to the current series shortly. But I was thinking as I was walking the mall this morning that there are a few things I need to say about the physical, leather and paper, print Bibles that I prefer so much.
As I am aging, my eyesight is not what it used to be, and I now prefer large-print Bibles. Of course, what is large print to one publisher may not be to another, and font points are not always the best measurement of readability, either. And readability is really what it’s all about.
I have a nice little NKJV, the Giant Print Personal size one, and overall it’s a little gem! It’s small and thin, really easy on the hands and easy to carry, and except for the Gospels it’s easy to read. The print is relatively dark, and about 10-11 point font. It always amazes me how some publishers can put such large, readable type in such a small Bible! But then I get to, say, Matthew 5 and the Sermon on the Mount, and suddenly it becomes a sea of orangish pink, and very difficult to read.
Then there’s my NASB Large Print Personal Size. It’s thicker than the NKJV, but the font is slightly smaller. It’s always been advertised as 9.5 point font, but it is so dark that I would have guessed it to be at least 11 or 12. It’s very easy to read, and when you get to Matthew 5, the dark red ink is also easy to read. It’s a center-column reference Bible with lots of text notes, and even those notes and references are very easy to read. It’s no wonder I have used and used this Bible, to the point that it’s falling apart. I’d love to buy another one of these, but I’d much rather it was available with a real leather cover instead of the silly bonded leather that falls apart under the heavy use I give it.
I also have a ESV single-column reference Bible; you may remember that Crossway sold it for a few years. This is not the small, thin, personal size Bible that uses the single column text they sell now, but it’s the big, heavy, full-size Bible they used to sell. The font size is 11 pt, and it’s in a verse-by-verse format, and it’s black-letter, so I don’t have to worry about the silly red letters. It’s great! The font, though it’s 11 pt, is light enough and the letters are thin and fine enough, that it seems smaller than 11 pt., but the fact that it’s a verse format makes this particular Bible easier to read than it normally would be. Letter spacing, word spacing, spaces between lines of text, margin width, these all factor in. I don’t normally like single column Bibles, but this one is easy to read.
Not so the cross-references and text notes! They’re tiny and nearly unreadable! It kind of negates the advantages of a larger-print Bible. I have noticed that Crossway has had a bad habit of doing this; their notes are not commensurate in size with the text itself. My other Bibles are much better in this regard, particularly the NASB.
My current favorite NIV is almost everything I like in a Bible, large print, double column text, black letter, center column references. The reference font is also big enough and shaped properly and spaced properly so that it’s easy to read. Why can’t Crossway do that in a larger Bible?
But once again, the NIV has a bonded leather cover that’s already showing serious signs of wear after less than 2 years of usage. Genuine leather is so often more expensive, so one has to try and balance the benefits against the higher cost. I just can’t justify the extra cost when it comes to a lot of my Bibles. My ESV has the new, soft-feel imitation leather cover, and it is starting to show a little wear, but nothing like it would if it were bonded leather. I think in a low-cost Bible the imitation leather is the way to go. Just make sure it’s not the old-fashioned cardboardy imitation leather that was little better than a paperback. And there are still some of those for sale these days, be aware!
Well, I said this was to be a short aside, and it’s turned into a long aside. Sorry about that. Now we’ll get back to our regularly scheduled program…