Cambridge NIV Single-Column Text Bible
As much as I like the Pitt Minion, if you ask me to recommend a Cambridge NIV, that's not the answer I'll go with. Instead, I'll sing the praises of the NIV Single-Column Text Bible. Take a look:
The page measures 6 1/9 inches x 9 1/8 inches, which makes it a high wider and a hair taller than the typical hardback novel. A little over 1500 pages, and 1 3/8 inches thick. According to Baker, the US distributor, the type is 10 pt. Palatino. Leading — i.e., line spacing — is comfortable. The text column is perhaps a little bit wider than I'd like, but all in all, this is an elegantly proportioned, downright beautiful setting.
Knowing my affection for single column Bibles, it should come as no surprise that I like this one. Unlike many attempts, the Single-Column Text Bible doesn't cram the words into a too-small space. Instead, they have room to breathe, which makes for comfortable reading. Every translation should be available in a format like this. Once you've experienced it, I can't imagine going back.
The close-up above gives a better idea of the text column, and also the level of bleed-through. I recommended the Single-Column Text Bible to a reader, only to hear back that he'd returned it in disgust because the bleed-though made it impossible to read. Well, okay. But that hasn't been my experience. I've gotten nothing but pleasure from this setting.
It's a more conservative approach than my favorite single column layout, the original edition of the New English Bible. While the NEB moved chapter and verse numbers to the margin, the Single-Column Text Bible keeps them in their traditional location. I prefer the NEB approach, but think it would be a bit of a stretch to say the superscript numbers are a distraction.
The layout does one thing I find irritating: it indents the lines immediately following section headings (for a better look, click on the photo for an enlarged view). This redundancy offends my inner typographer, but it's not something most people notice. As you can see, the Single-Column Text Bible comes with two black ribbons, art-gilt (i.e., "red under gold") page edges, and a gilt line running around the inside of the cover.
Speaking of the cover — did I mention it was goatskin? As you can see below, this particular copy has an attractive grain. The boards underneath the leather are a bit stiff, so I'd classify the cover as flexible rather than limp, more akin to the feel of the Pitt Minion ESV.
So if you're a fan of soft calfskin or limp highland goatskin, this cover isn't going to give you as much joy. Even so, it's pleasant to handle. Not soft, but certainly flexible.
This is a text Bible, which means there are no reference notes in the margin. At the base of the page, you will find the occasional translator's note, however. Note how, in the photo above, the red-and-gold band forms an inverted V when open. I wouldn't want you to see the photo below and assume I'd stressed the spine. That's just the way this edition looks when it's open.
The "Bible yoga" shot demonstrates that, in spite of the stiffer boards, this cover has some flex to it. And if you're unconvinced, the "newspaper roll" below will hopefully get the point across. Ordinarily, I use smaller Bibles in church, but I've given this one a try recently and found it quite good in that role. The weight of the text block flexes the cover, giving it a limp feel — but not so limp that you worry it will slip from your grasp.
One more shot to convey the cover's flexibility. Below, some levitation. With the spine supported, the cover slopes gracefully downward. The gilt line and striated art-gilt edges are particularly evident in this shot.
Compared to a compact edition like the Pitt Minion (below), the Single-Column Text Bible is still a handful. But guess what? The improved reading experience makes the extra size not only tolerable but welcome. I'm not saying the Single-Column Text Bible is perfect — no Bible is — but for pure reading enjoyment, I can't think of a better setting of the NIV.
So if you want a single column setting, don't mind a Bible the size of a hardback novel (albeit quite a bit heavier), then the Single-Column Text Bible is worth checking out. Cambridge markets this as a Family Bible, including pages up front for genealogy, notes, and "family events." There's something a little strange about a single column Bible — a forward-looking format, if you will — including these traditional (and somewhat specialized) features. I haven't filled mine out. In fact, I tend to forget they're even there. If you're into family history, you might find these pages a bonus. They're elegantly produced, at any rate.
The Single-Column Text Bible has been around awhile, and I'm always surprised it isn't better known. If you've used one before, I'd love to hear what you think. If you're interested in checking them out for yourself, here are the Amazon links: