Back in June, Iyov posted an excellent photo essay titled "Bible paper bleedthrough," using photos from my review of Cambridge's Pitt Minion NKJV to illustrate just how bad the problem of thin, translucent Bible paper really is. In my review, I described the paper as "relatively opaque," saying the ghosted print image from the reverse of the page was "faint, and not pronounced enough to be distracting." Iyov then used the photos illustrating the review to argue that my assessment shows just how far we've sunk:
"...we have become so accustomed to bleedthrough that four layers of text can quality as 'relatively opaque.'"
Fair enough. Far from bucking the verdict, I feel the need to confess. Not just on the paper issue, but across the board. My frame of reference when writing about today's Bibles has increasingly become . . . today's Bibles. Increasingly, I find myself saying, "It's not perfect, but compared to a lot of what's out there, it isn't bad." This represents a shift in perspective. Originally, I judged everything in comparison to my Platonic ideal of a Bible, whereas now I probably indulge too much in the art of the possible. Old Mark believed every Bible should be printed on luscious, entirely opaque paper, with sewn signatures and a quality leather binding. New Mark is pretty happy if just one of those things is achieved. Two sends him over the moon. It's a study, my friends, in declining standards.
"There are many problems with Bibles being produced today: poor bindings, poor editing, overly small margins, and poor typesetting. But the biggest problem by far is Bible paper bleedthrough."