Disclosure: Zondervan provided this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to post positive comments; my opinions are my own.
Crossway, Cambridge University Press, Broadman & Holman, R. L. Allan and Sons, Schuyler, Thomas Nelson (Harper Collins), and now Zondervan (Harper Collins). What do all these publishers have in common? They all publish deluxe/premium Bibles in various English versions and at varying ranges of the pricing spectrum. The closest in materials and price point to the Harper Collins Premier Collections are from Crossway and Holman. We will compare the Crossway and Holman editions today as well.
I am reviewing the Large Print Thinline NIV and I will compare it to the the Holman CSB Large Print Ultra-thin Reference Bible (LPUT) and the Crossway ESV Large Print Bible.
Product Description from Zondervan
This NIV Premier Collection Bible features a soft, fine goatskin cover and many other quality finishes such as art gilding, edge lining, and three thick ribbon markers. The NIV Premier Collection Bible combines fine craftsmanship with ultimate readability and portability. It features the new Zondervan NIV Comfort Print font expertly designed for the New International Version (NIV) text, and delivers a smooth reading experience to complement the most widely read modern-English Bible translation.
- Hand-bound in a supple goatskin leather cover
- Smyth-sewn and edge-lined construction for flexibility
- Art Gilt page edging, with gilt line and perimeter stitching
- Exclusive Zondervan NIV Comfort Print typeface
- Three satin ribbon markers, each 3/8-inch wide
- Premium European Bible paper, 36 gsm
- Black-letter text
- Family record section
- NIV Large Print Thin-line $149.99
- ESV Large Print in Top Grain Leather $139.99
- Holman CSB LPUT-$129.99
Cover Material and Binding:
- NIV: Black Goatskin with edge-lined leather liner and smythe sewn binding.
- Crossway: Black calfskin with edge-lined leather liner and smythe sewn binding.
- Holman: Black goatskin with edge-lined leather liner and smythe sewn binding.
Winner: Tie between Zondervan and Crossway.
Among all three, we have the top Bible in its translation and class. Zondervan’s goatskin is quite wonderful. It is smoothly ironed with just the faintest sense of grain. That scent, which only a true book aficionado will love is there; it is intoxicating and it is what I look for most when I open a new Bible. This leather is infinitely more touchable than the Holman and that is part of what sets Zondervan apart; your first sensation when you interact with your Bible is how it feels. It should feel natural in your hand, not too cumbersome, loose but not so floppy that it falls out of your hand if you use it one handed.
When you look at the leather, you will notice tiny variations in the skin and you need to know that this is not a defect. Many times you will see “blemishes” in leather goods and this is a natural result of using real animal skins. I have come to look for these little variations as they make it more unique.
A goatskin leather cover and a sewn binding guarantees your Bible will last for a lifetime, which is exactly what Zondervan guarantees.
Side note: Both Holman and Crossway beat Zondervan with a tighter binding.
- NIV: 11.4-point comfort print font type
- Crossway: 11.5-point font type.
- Holman: 9-point font type
Zondervan uses what it calls a comfort print font that was designed by 2/k Denmark, who also designed the typeface on the Holman and the similarities are obvious when you look at the two Bibles. Zondervan and Crossway give us true large print fonts.
While Crossway offers Zondervan stiff competition, the Comfort Print from Zondervan is, far and away, the easiest font that I have read. Zondervan and 2/k Denmark teamed up to create a font family that is very easy on the eyes and is intentionally designed to minimize eye fatigue.
All 3 Bibles use a 36-GSM Bible Paper but this time Holman is the clear winner.
Zondervan’s paper is sufficiently opaque to be easy to read. However, there is a bit of a shine so it can be challenging in the pulpit. I have a tendency to be mildly peripatetic and so there was not really a major issue with the shine.
The remainder of the review will focus exclusively on the Zondervan and my thoughts…
Zondervan gives 3 satin ribbons- Navy blue, light blue, and standard blue. The color variation is an offset to the blue under silver art gilding and is another feature designed to make the Bible easy on the eyes.
We have a double column paragraph format that is text only. For classroom teaching, this is an ideal layout. When you are standing before your learners and bringing the Word, you do not want any distractions. Some of my colleagues prefer to preach from a single column format but I just cannot do it. I have taught from a double column for so long that I can’t function without that layout.
As a pastor’s Bible:
The Large Print Thin-line NIV is very portable and fits nicely into my laptop bag. It is very easy to use one handed. Because of its portability, it went with me for one-on-one discipleship, on a hospital visit, and into the pulpit. Overall, I found it to be very practical. If I had one complaint it would be that the sewing is loose enough that the Bible feels very floppy; I would like to see it sewn a little tighter.
Is anything missing?
That is a tough question to answer. A concordance is definitely left out and I’m not sure why. I would like to see end of verse references and a few lined pages for notes. The absence thereof is not problematic, more of nit picking on my part.
Would I recommend the Large Print Thin-line? Who should buy it?
I do recommend the NIV and so I recommend this by default. As for who should buy this particular Bible, I would primarily recommend this edition for someone who is teaching the Bible on a regular basis and especially for missionaries. In my personal opinion, it is the most practical Bible that Zondervan offers.
Zondervan’s sheer size as a publisher enables them to offer a very high quality Bible at what is a fairly low price point for the premium class. Many Christians only have one Bible and it needs to be a good one; when I say a good Bible, I mean a high quality edition that will easily last 25 years or more.
I am glad to see that the world’s best selling English Bible is available in a format worthy of Sacred Scripture. I am also pleased to see that Zondervan is offering a price point that will be more accessible to many Christians.