One thing that was not on my short list of priorities when I started exploring premium Bibles was the thickness of the Bible. As with many things with Bibles, this is largely subjective. I don’t think I have ever previously prioritized a “thinline” Bible. When I saw that Zondervan’s new Premier Collection line had a Bible with a combined focus on a thin book with a large easy to read type I was intrigued. Since neither thickness nor font size had been concerns for me in the past, I was also a bit skeptical. But the Zondervan Premier Collection NIV Large Print Thinline Bible has made a great impression.
The cover of this Bible is nearly identical to the Zondervan NIV Heritage Bible, which I previously reviewed here. This Bible is bound in a goatskin leather cover. I like this cover even more than the Heritage simply because it is larger. The additional size (10” x 7” compared to 9” x 6”) make the cover feel even more soft and limp, which accents the strength of an edge-lined Bible. If you like leather with pronounced grain, this will not be your favorite cover as It is very smooth to the touch. Another quality that this Bible shares with the Heritage is that the edge-lined tab is not an issue for one handed reading. You can roll the cover and a few hundred pages around the back of the Bible from either the front or the back with no problem at all. This has become my favorite part about using these Bibles.
The advertised thinness of the Bible also relates to the main concern I have about using this Bible: It is so thin and floppy with this profile that I wonder if it would be easy to use when preaching or teaching if you are holding the Bible open using only one hand. When I hold the Bible in one hand, with the spine in about the middle of my hand, the far columns on both pages fall away from my hand enough that it would be difficult to read. As I was first using this Bible, I found myself thinking that because of its larger font and thinness that it might be an excellent preaching Bible, especially to take on the go. Ultimately, I don’t think I would use it for that purpose. The font size will still make for more comfortable reading for the vast majority of people who would use this Bible. And I suspect the main way Zondervan expects readers to interact with this Bible is either reading it open on a flat surface or holding it in their lap.
This is a double column Bible that uses a paragraph setting. The advertised font size is 11.4 point, which is a nice increase from the 9 or 10 point font you will find on most Bibles. The font is noticeably larger than the NIV Heritage Bible. This Bible uses black ink exclusively throughout the text. (This is different than both the Heritage, which uses blue as a secondary color to accent things like section headings and chapter numbers, and the Thomas Nelson NKJV Single Column Reference Bible, which I reviewed here, and uses red as a secondary color.) Most readers will be used to a text that is entirely black, so this is not a complaint. Another question many people have about Bibles is whether the words of Jesus are highlighted in red text. This Bible is not a red-letter edition.
There is one main change I would make to the layout: I would like this edition to use line matching, which means that the lines on one page match the lines on the opposite side of the same page. This minimizes the distraction of seeing the text on the other side of the page when you are reading. The pages in this Bible are thin enough that I think this would have been worth the additional layout challenge. (The Schuyler Quentel uses line matching, for example.)
This Bible is not a reference Bible, as a result it does not have many of the features that are standard in those Bibles. This reflects an intentional design choice on Zondervan’s part. This Bible prioritizes large print and a thin profile. To maximize the size of the type and keep the Bible as thin as possible, Zondervan chose to skip references. For the same reason, the Bible does not have maps or a concordance. This Bible is really just the Bible, but a very nice one! To state this positively, the main features of this Bible are that it has the largest font possible in a Bible that is this thin. (Mine is almost exactly one inch thick, including the covers.) The Bible has three satin ribbons that are 3/8 “ wide. I like the design choice here in three different shades of blue. The ribbons add a nice touch of color to the black goatskin cover.
The decision to skip a concordance in a thinline Bible makes sense to me. I am conflicted about whether a Bible designed to last a lifetime should lack references, as this seems to me to be very important for studying the Bible and being able to see how one passage connects to others. Both NIV Bibles that have been published by Zondervan in the Premier Collection line lack references. (Zondervan will release a single-column NIV reference Bible in the Premier Collection line this fall, which I am very excited to see.)
While the lack of references give me some pause, I would recommend this Bible to someone who wants a readable font size in a relatively portable Bible. This is not a compact travel size Bible, as the page dimensions above demonstrate. But it is more portable because it is so thin. And you would never get anywhere close to 11.4 point font in a compact Bible! Given the decisions and priorities that Zondervan had for this Bible, they have done a great job producing a Bible that is wonderful to hold and a delight to read. This Bible is also a great deal. You can often find it online for about the same price as a bonded leather Bible, which is far inferior in quality and feel to this goatskin cover. The Zondervan Premier Collection NIV Large Print Thinline Bible was available on Amazon.com for $84.04 as of this writing, which is the cheapest it has ever been on Amazon. This is an excellent large print thinline Bible with a great cover at as good of a value as you are going to find.
Kevin M. Watson is Assistant Professor of Wesleyan & Methodist Studies at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. Want to know more? Click here.
Zondervan generously provided this Bible to me for review. As always, I was not required to give a positive review of this Bible, only an honest one.