In my earlier review of the new Standard NRSV and Go Anywhere NRSV published by Harper Collins, I mentioned the NRSV XL only in passing. At the time of writing, I hadn't seen one in person. Now I have, and I'm both impressed and baffled.I'm impressed because, of the three editions available, the XL has by far the best cover. It's imitation leather, but not hardback like the Standard and not as bulky, textured and two-toned as the Go Anywhere. Instead, the XL is offered in an attractive solid tan and an even classier dark brown. As the name suggests, the XL is a bigger Bible -- the official trim size is 7.5 x 8, and the essentially square format is actually quite attractive. In spite of the size, it feels good in the hand. Opening it up, the layout is impressive, too. It's a large print Bible. The copy on the Harper Collins site assures us that "no one will feel that they have been relegated to ugly and bulky larger print editions by purchasing an XL," and they're absolutely right. The XL looks good, and the interior (unlike the Go Anywhere) rivals the Standard NRSV in elegance. Now here's why I'm baffled: once again, it feels like some great pieces were on the design table, but they were assembled the wrong way. The cover feels great and looks great, but the XL is just too big. I understand it's a large print -- but I don't need one. If you do, and you like the NRSV, there is no downside. Both the Standard NRSV and the Go Anywhere appear to have sewn bindings, so presumably the XL does too (I didn't check). But I would like the Standard much better if it had a cover like the XL. By putting the most attractive color/cover options on the most specialized of the three offerings, it seems like Harper Collins has missed an opportunity. What I'd love to see, in a future run, is the interior setting of the Standard NRSV reduced down to about 75% of its current size, with the same tan and dark brown cover options as the XL. (And while I'm wishing, I'd put two ribbons in it, as well.) Then you'd have the ultimate NRSV and probably the most attractive Bible at the low end of the price range.
J Mark Bertrand