Itsy Bitsy Bibles

FrontstackSome pastors are going to hate me for this. They send me e-mails all the time, and their biggest complaint is the small type size used in so many Bibles. How can … mature … eyes be expected to read these things? I know some of my readers would be happy to see legislation passed prohibiting type under 12 pt., and I feel for them. Still, I just love small Bibles. No, let me take that back: I love tiny Bibles, itsy bitsy ones. The kind you can slip in a jacket pocket and forget about. The kind you can carry with you everywhere. In this roundup, I’ve collected three of the smallest editions in my collection: a Compact ESV rebound by, a Cambridge Crystal Reference KJV bound by Allan’s, and a Little Oxford Bible.

Let’s start with the biggest and work our way down. The Compact Thinline ESV is small. The type is just over 6 pt. and the trim size is a mere 3.75 x 5.75. It offers a concordance but no references. Old eyes may find this edition unusable, but I happen to like it — so much that I have six or seven of them lying around in various bindings: two Collins editions from the UK in hardback and paperback, two of the original bonded leather ones, a TruGlo, a bonded leather Portfolio, and this one in soft calfskin from

Leatherbibles_2If you visit their website, you’ll see that this edition is no longer available — and for good reason. For some reason (possibly the adhesive binding), the Bible simply won’t lie flat. In the photograph here, you can see that the inner part of the binding near the spine is kind of pinched together, so that the pages only spill out flower-like after the first half inch or so. Needless to say, that makes for a difficult reading experience. Having said that, the leather is attractive — comparable to the soft calfskin used in Nelson Signature Bibles — and it comes with two ribbons.

CrystalThe second Bible in the line-up is from R. L. Allan’s. It’s a Cambridge Crystal Reference KJV bound in goatskin, measuring 3.75 x 5.5. The type size is comparable to the ESV, but the font seems a little more readable. When you consider how small this Bible is, under an inch thick, it’s amazing to think that this is a reference Bible complete with a concordance. The goatskin cover feels exquisite, but it’s a subtle luxury that only makes itself apparent with use. I wish I’d had this Bible back when I attended a church that used the so-called Authorized Version from the pulpit, because the features would have come in handy at this size. I’m not sure how this Bible, which is roughly the same thickness and width as the ESV Compact Thinline and a quarter inch shorter manages to pack so much onto the page (and offer wider margins to boot), but it does.

LittleoxfordThe last and smallest Bible in our diminutive line-up is the Little Oxford Bible. Like the Compact Thinline ESV, it offers no references, but it comes in at a mere 3.5 x 5. The sewn binding is quite supple, though it doesn’t quite lay flat. The covers are French Morocco and have acquired a nice patina from use, though the ribbon is now a bit frayed. I’ve never encountered a smaller Bible that was actually usable — and this one is emphatically usable, assuming you have good eyes.

The portability of these tiny Bibles is amazing. They’re designed for the hand and the pocket, not the shelf. They aren’t as easy to read as larger editions and perhaps they’re smaller than they reasonably need to be — but as far as I’m concerned, they’re wonderful. Thanks to these itsy bitsy books, you can take a Bible with you anywhere and read to your heart’s content.

19 Comments on “Itsy Bitsy Bibles

  1. Hi Mark,
    Steve Pfleghaar up here in Elk River, MN. We met at the WV Weekend and then I got to see this past summer at Northwestern. Ok enough of that it does not matter anyhow.
    Question 1: I got my new Wide Margin ESV and I do love it however it did not take me long and I had to start glueing the binder together on the corners. I thought I would email the people at ESV but I know how they are down there and they would probably just tell me to return it (they are great people). However the point is Wide Margin=notes=time. So like No I do not want another bible and I do not want to transfer more notes that have been ground out over the last 25 years. Just charge me extra and build me a cover…
    Question 2: Tery and I love doing inductive bible study. We have been using Kay Arthur’s stuff and they print out the portions of scripture in the back in wide margin big font with lots of spacing. Great for notes. Do you know how long it will be until ESV does something like this. Also what am allowed to do if I print out some of my own portions?
    Question no. 3: Are you doing well?
    Steve Pfleghaar

  2. Great to hear from you, Steve. All is well in South Dakota. I can understand your frustration re: the unraveling cover. My wife’s in a similar situation with her laptop — the case has a crack, but she can’t send it for repair because the thing is in constant use. This is why I haven’t “committed” to another wide margin recently. I’ve been using the Journaling Bible until I find something that looks like it will stand up to heavy use. One option, of course, is to have the wide margin rebound before use — too late in your case, of course.
    I’m not sure what is and isn’t allowed re: printing out the ESV text, but my guess is they’re pretty reasonable about it. One thing you might consider, if you’re handy, is emulating one of the Blank Bible projects indexed over at the Shepherd’s Scrapbook site (there’s a link at right, under “Rebinding Links”).

  3. I have been on the search for the “perfect” bible to bring along, I have my eyes on a sword , the cambridge wide margin KJV in Goatskin…but i also need a “dagger” in portable format, i always want a bible with me. Now i have been looking at the Allan site and i wonder if anyone seen one of these ?
    Oxford Reference Ruby Edition Highland goatskin, lined inside in dark blue leather, full yapp edges. It measures 4 1/4 x 5 3/4 i thought this was good for a bible With concordance, subject index and dictionary of proper names and maps.
    It sounds very lovely

  4. Dear my christian friend,
    i am with much pleasure to write you this letter how are you? i hope grace of our almigthy God you are fine as i am please firstly let as give the thanks to the lord who has protect this year. And please the main aim for writing you this letter is that i am a member of church of village ministries. and now we are coming to do a crusade and please we dont have any christian materials which will share amoung those who will be vissited to the crusade so please we begging you on our kneels that please kindly send us a box of bibles and i hope the almighty God will bless you and your church .goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life . i will end my massage hear byeeeeeee
    hope to hear from you
    waiting for your reply.
    P.O.BOX SE 385

  5. Hi,
    I love small bibles too but I am looking for a compact parallel bible, any two versions apart from The Message. Does such a bible exist, I have been looking for a while but I have been unable to find anything.
    I look forward to hearing from you soon.

  6. Have you heard about THIS?
    ESV / HCSB Parallel Pocket Bible.
    Features: 2007 ESV text along side the 2009 HCSB text
    # Coming: February 1, 2010
    # Genuine Leather: 2288 pages
    # Binding: Sewn
    # Language: English
    # Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 5.3 x 2.4 inches
    # Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
    Neither have I – because I’m not actually being serious – but hoping that someone reads this posts and does SOMETHING to make this happen!
    But seriously…
    I wanted to ask you Mark if such would be feasible for a publisher to do in terms of the physical dimensions, font size, binding? After all they do have a 4-translation brick that includes these two translations??
    P.S. – I based these dimensions off this product: HCSB Graduate’s Bible, which is very compact, but unfortunately NOT a parallel bible (it’s also a paperback)
    What are Crossway and B&H waiting for??? Hopefully someone there is reading your blog and this post in particular 🙂

  7. 29 Sept 2010 WHERE DO YOU GO FOR HELP? To Whom It May Concern, my name is Kenneth Rodriguez and I am inquiring as to how to obtain FREE Spanish KJV or NIV New Testament Bibles. We are a small church here in the Panhandle of Florida that has on going missions to Mexico and Haiti, we also handle and distribute locally, the USDA free Food Bank Distribution for the indigent and needy. We are a church that wants to make a difference locally and even in other countries! I am inquiring as how to obtain FREE copies of the NEW TESTAMENT BIBLE in the SPANISH LANGUAGE. Our mission is to bring the unsaved to the Lord Jesus Christ when we go to these other countries. In doing so we would like to have resources, especially a copy of a New Testament in Spanish, to help reinforce their newly acquired salvation with Jesus! Our next Mission Trip to Mexico is set for early February 2011 and we NEED the Spanish New Testament Bibles on hand before that date to take with us. It would be such a blessing for those newly saved converts to be able to have a copy of the Word of God in their hand once we have to leave, as to have a way to be able to grow and continue their walk with God. We have been able to take pamphlets with us but that just is not enough for them!. On our return trips, the children and even adults, previously led to the lord have their tattered, worn pamphlets in their hands, just CRAVING MORE of the Word of God! SO PLEASE, PLEASE help us with this request as soon as possible. We are estimating the necessity of 500 to 800 possibly even 1000 Bibles needed for this mission trip. One thousand contacts with Bibles in hand to pass out is our goal this trip. If there is anything else you require to know from us just let me know and I would gladly respond. I know you all must be very busy, but this matter is just so absolutely important to us all here! Thank you so very much for listening to my request and may God place it on your hearts to help us out! PLEASE HELP US TO SPREAD THE GOSPEL! Amen Amen Amen

  8. Does anyone know if Allan’s Oxford Ruby Text Edition in Black Imitation Leather has a sewn binding?
    I would appreciate any information! Thanks!

  9. Rob, I would email Allans and ask. They’ll get back to you quickly.
    FYI: there is one on Ebay right now for $24.99. Don’t buy it if you were looking at it. It costs about $8 direct from Allan.

  10. Thanks for the information, John! I will send them an email.
    If anyone has additional information on this Allan Bible, please let me know.

  11. I’m looking for tiny Bibles (complete NT in one edition, and complete OT in another edition), around the size 2×3 inches or smaller! I’ve seen them many years ago, but cannot find one anywhere …
    If you have any helpful information, please contact me: < ...vja 4 him at vj and re ws dot com...>>
    Thanks and god bless.
    — Jim

  12. Just wondering were can I but The little Oxford bible? looks very nice and portable.

  13. Bill thank you for the help. But I found out that The little Oxford bible has been discontinued.

  14. I am looking for an ESV small bible with just the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs and with all verses on single lines. It is much easier to preach from and take notes from a single line verse bible. Is there a version out there like this? I would love it to be in high quality leather of some kind. Is it possible to order a bible the way you’d like it?

  15. Hi:

    I have a Cambridge Pitt Minion 8 font size bible right here in my coat pocket. I bought it in Jerusalem Dec. 6, 1993. It was a cambria bonded leather which is basically junk from day one. I don’t know why they make good bibles bound in this, no excuse for such a crime. The cover is falling apart, but it has been a good bible. I remember when the bible book stores were full of good leather cover bibles in the 1970’s. Now people won’t spend the money for a bible so you can’t easily find the ones with good leather covers. I also have a Crystal, that also ended up in Jerusalem. An excellent small bible with concordance. Still have it, once again cambria bonded that fell apart. Cambridge went to printing bibles which were excellent but had covers that fell apart. A couple bucks more would have made all the difference in the world. I collect old bibles and give them away again and have bibles from the 1930’s which covers are still better now than ones made today.

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