A brief evening at the bookstore…

I finally had a chance to get to the local Northwestern Christian bookstore and see some of the new Bibles that are out. I especially wanted to see the new printing of the NLTse Premium Slimline Reference Bible, which Rick Mansfield recently reviewed on This Lamp. I was a bit let down after reading his review, but wanted to see the edition for myself. I’m glad I wasn’t holding my breath…

First, I would debate calling this a Reference bible. Very lightweight on the references, maybe one note every 10 verses. Compare that to my NASB Reference, which seemingly has 2-3 cross-reference notes per verse. If you’re going to call something a Reference bible, make sure that it has reference features. Other than a slightly smaller “Large Print” font size, I’m not sure what the difference between this edition and the 2005 Slimline Reference (Large Print) Bible is. What makes this “Premium”? Tyndale claims 100 more pages in the new edition, but I didn’t have time to do an exhaustive comparison.

Second, a slimline edition with very thin paper. I don’t understand Tyndale’s obsession with slimline Bibles. Surely they have a place in the contemporary market, but it seems like every NLTse except the Life Application is a slimline or a compact (even worse!). I hate paper that sticks together and feels like cellophane.

Third, red letter edition with bright red (pink) letter text. I spent a long time looking for a hardback NLTse that didn’t have this awful pink ink and finally found one in the new yellow Text Edition. I had previously received information from Tyndale that they were in the process of switching inks for all their printings, but evidently it didn’t make it to the production run I looked at. Worse is that the Select edition (with calfskin cover) due out this fall will probably have pink ink too! Maybe Tyndale needs to find a Yink:

“This one, I think, is called a Yink.
He likes to wink, he likes to drink.
He likes to drink, and drink, and drink.
The thing he likes to drink is ink.
The ink he likes to drink is pink.
He likes to wink and drink pink ink.
SO… if you have a lot of ink
then you should get a Yink, I think.”

Is there any good news for Tyndale? Well, I’d previously received some correspondence that indicated they were working on a “slimline center column reference edition” that would replace the vastly superior NLT1 Complete Reference Bible. But another email suggests that the publication date may be after 2008! With that amount of leadtime, may I advocate that Tyndale consider adding an inch or two to the outside margins? And drop the slimline binding and the pink, er red, ink. Give us a boring black leather full-size Reference bible with single column black letter text, inside margin references and 1-2″ of outside margin space. Please!

With a sigh I wandered down the aisle into the ESV section. The ESV has significant shelf space here in Minnesota and there’s a wide selection of editions to choose from. I was interested in the Single-Column Reference Bible, but found the layout to be very distracting. The ruled lines between the text and margins were a very poor design choice to my eye. And it suffers from the same tissue-thin paper as the NLTse – the ink bleedthrough was incredibly annoying. I moved a foot down the shelf and found the new ESV wide margin bibles. Not a lot to choose from and the leather editions were still in shrinkwrap. But there were several hardbacks unwrapped to look at. If I didn’t already have a blue ESV pew bible, I’d be taking a very hard look at the wide margin campus hardback. For all of the criticism that Crossway receives for binding quality (usually deserved), I do have to say that they make a very sturdy economy hardback – and it has better (thicker, less glossy) paper than the fancy editions. It was very tempting to buy despite the fact that I’ve stopped using the ESV…

All this makes me appreciate my trusted NASB Update Side Column Reference Bible from Foundation Publications even more. How they can produce such a high quality Bible with a sewn binding for under $50 is a mystery to me, but it remains the standard against which I measure all other Reference Bibles. I’ll be most interested to see the TNIV Reference Bible due out this fall… and has anyone actually seen the HCSB Reference Bible in action?

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One Comment

  1. Ron
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 7:10 PM | Permalink

    Oh the frustration to try to find what one is looking for in a Bible. I also had high hopes in the ESV Single Column Reference Bible. Like you, I was so disappointed with the ultra-thin see-thru paper in this Bible! I could tolerate the lines between the text and references, but the paper is just way too thin. One can see the text through a couple of pages, even with the somewhat light print used in this edition.

    It seems I also am continually returning to my NASB Update Single Column Ref Bible or Ultra-Thin Large Print by Foundation Publications. I love the quality of both these Bibles, which are both the calfskin editions. I agree with so many others on wondering how Foundation can produce such high quality Bibles at the price they sell for. They are the best value in a quality Bible if you like the NASB, and I do. Why can’t other companies take a few lessons from these fine folks.

    In my opinion, I have not found either an ESV or a HCSB that comes close to the quality of the Foundation Bibles. So, I guess I’ll continue to make the good old trusted and loved NASB my ‘go to’ Bible.